Janet Miller has been a golden port for anyone sailing the vast and stormy sea of the Hollywood Fringe for every year I’ve been attending. Her musicals are always smart, stylishly produced and never disappoint. That trend is solidly sustained for yet another year.
Conceived, written and produced by Linden Waddell — who also performs, with Miller directing — Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Sherman is exactly what it states itself to be, “a musical romp featuring the genius of Allan Sherman’s parody lyrics.”
Best remembered today for his classic “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” — which relates the lamentations of a youngster from his first day at summer camp set to the tune of “Dance of the Hours” by Italian composer Amilcare Ponchielli, —Sherman’s creativity is deserving of far greater recognition.
He narrated Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf in Arthur Fiedler’s version with the Boston Pops, he hosted The Tonight Show, produced Bill Cosby’s first three albums, wrote the lyrics and book for The Fig Leaves Are Falling, a Broadway show featuring the talents of a young David Cassidy, conceived the TV game show I’ve Got a Secret, and wrote a unique little volume called The Rape of the A*P*E*, a personal celebration of the sexual revolution’s victory over Puritanism in America.
On top of this he wrote over two hundred song parodies and put out eight albums of which three hit Billboard’s number one spot, and is the acknowledged inspiration for “Weird Al” Yankovic who carries on the noble tradition of musical lampooning that Sherman took to such heights.
Waddell’s homage to Sherman is both side-splittingly funny and poignantly heart-breaking as she recounts Sherman’s meteoric rise to its peak in 1963, when the currents of history (the assassination of JFK, the British Invasion of the Beatles and his own contentious divorce) seem to conspire to pull him beneath the waves and tastes of the national zeitgeist.
Sherman’s last years were a clustering of professional and personal calamities; bankrupted, the loss of custody of his children, alcoholism and the onslaught of crippling health issues leading to his death at the age of 48.
But it is not the man’s tragedy that Waddell laments, but his genius that she celebrates.
Accompanied by the impishly charming Marjorie Poe who also takes credit for the musical direction and arrangements, Waddell treats us to some of Sherman’s lesser known gems:
There’s “Skin,” Sherman’s exultation of the body’s largest organ, of which he had plenty, set to the tune of Damn Yankees’ “You Gotta Have Heart,” “Harvey and Sheila” the delight of any abecedarian, Cole Porter’s unforgettable “Night And Day” with Sherman’s addition of punctuation marks, “One Hippopotami” Sherman’s inspired wordplay song set to the Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley eleventh hour number “What Kind of Fool Am I?” from the seldom seen musical Stop The World – I Want To Get Off, and there’s “Green Stamps” set to the music of the Nilo Menendez’s torch song which became a Jimmy Dorsey standard “Green Eyes,” leaves you wondering where the heck did they get those coupon books. **
The show ends with an audience sing-along of Sherman’s biggest hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh”, and it is surprising how many of the audience members knew those lyrics by heart.
The show has one fault, and while the most desirable of all grievances it is also one of show business’ truest adages, that Waddell, Poe and Miller leave us wanting more; actually, craving more.
I would have loved to have heard Waddell’s rendering of There’s “You Went the Wrong Way, Old King Louie” appropriately set to “La Marseillaise,” “Rat Fink” (“Rag Mop”) and Sherman’s own swipe at one of the reasons for his plummet, set to the tune of “Pop! Goes the Weasel”, “Pop Hates the Beatles.”
This show earns a PLATINUM MEDAL.
A firm two thumbs held up to the stratosphere, PLATINUM.
♦ ♦ ♦
** If unfamiliar with the concept of “Green Stamps” find a nearby baby-boomer for clarification
(Note: In Featured Image, Show Creator/Performer, Linden Waddell)
Hello Again! The Songs of Allan Sherman
Asylum @ Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre
5636 Melrose Ave
For Show Schedule, Tickets and More Information:
Support the Voices of The TVolution
Like us on Facebook and Please Subscribe