By Don Heckman
The Gardenia Restaurant and Lounge, Hollywood’s cozy and amiable cabaret room, has long been one of the great cabarets in L.A., as well as the nation. Under the thoughtful direction of owner Tom Rolla, a former Broadway dancer, the room has continued to provide an engaging schedule of appearances by world class cabaret artists.
The many artists I’ve reviewed over the years at the Gardenia have all been impressive. But on Saturday night, Linden Waddell’s delightful presentation of a colorful array Allan Sherman’s song parodies placed high on my list of unique Gardenia memories.
Sherman is probably best known for his Grammy-winning sixties hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” the first of his many hilarious parodies of Great American Songbook classics by the likes of George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Richard Rodgers and Colel Porter, among others.
What singer/comedienne Linden Waddell has done with “Hello Again: The Songs of Allan Sherman,” however, is to create a performance that is far more than just a line up of Sherman parodies. Working with Director/Choreographer Janet Miller and Music Director and Accompanist Marjorie Poe, Waddell has shaped a remarkable collection of songs into a captivating evening of music and humor. Call it a theatrical piece, a delightfully humorous one woman show.
The music was virtually non-stop, only occasionally interrupted. Sometimes for a whimsical remark or an unexpected choreographic move, sometimes for some historical background from Waddell.
Without fail, the familiar melody start of every song, combined with Sherman’s often hilarious lyrics, triggered gales of audience laughter.
Among the examples:
“There Is Nothing Like A Lox” (from “There Is Nothing Like A Dame”)
“ Chopped Liver” (from “Moon River”)
“That Old Back Scratcher” (from “That Old Black Magic”)
“Harvey and Sheila” (from “Hava Negila”)
“Smog Gets In You Eyes” (from “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”)
And those are just a few of the titles from an evening’s worth of hilarious songs overflowing with gag lines in virtually every phrase.
So it’s no wonder that the packed audience at Gardenia gave Waddell a roar of final applause, the equivalent of a string of curtain calls. And although she had thoroughly earned all the response, she graciously shared it with Sherman, director Janet Miller and accompanist Marjorie Poe.
I’d also include Tom Rolla and the Gardenia as applause recipients, as well. And with good reason. Once again the Gardenia, this pleasant home for entertainment at its finest, has served up a memorable evening of music, along with an equally satisfying dish from Rolla’s prime kitchen.