January 6, 2010

Buzzin – Lee Hartgrave

Florence Henderson – “Cineplex Huge!”

How does she look so young? -- You may ask yourself, as Florence Henderson glides up on the stage in a snazzy, but not overdone outfit.  In Henderson’s show there is substance and not a lot of empty glitter.

Here are some of the lyrics that are in the first song that she sings. It kids around with getting older.

I have been lifted,
Lipo - ed and molded
She’s shiny –
I’ll bet she’s been dipped in Wesson Oil!

(This special material that Henderson sings makes reference to the commercials that she has done in the past. One was Wesson Oil, and the other famous one was Polident Denture Cleaner.

Henderson tells us that her teeth are not Dentures. One guy asked her – “Åre they real?” – “I patted my chest thinking that what was he was referring to.” He said: “No, not there – your Teeth” Henderson has many stories to tell in this absolutely riveting performance. The audience, including myself was in stitches. It’s not many times that at a Cabaret show, you see an audience that jumps up and gives a standing ovation. And this happened not once, but three times.

There is a really hilarious bit that she does in the show that involves passing the hat.  The old hat has something to do with her Dad – but what she does with it in the audience gives you a chance to rub elbows with the star. You get one on one entertainment. Henderson has boundless energy that made the whole evening a magical, visual evening. 

It’s surprising what people throw into the hat. “One guy gave me fifty cents” – She said.  That was I – I don’t carry a lot of money around and that was all I had.  And then looking through the hat she said – “one lady gave me a packet of Equal.” And that was only the beginning of the fun filled evening.

She jokes about the Viagra Commercials. “It tells you on the label that if you get an erection that lasts for more than 4-hours is dangerous. It takes you longer than that to get to the emergency room” – she says. And continues with this: “Would you stop by my house first?” Then Henderson sings a song from a Jewish Musical “Wish You Were Here”.

She gives us lots of great tidbits in-between the great Broadway music from shows that she has been in. There was Oklahoma, the first Revival of “South Pacific” at Lincoln Center. Then she sang with the band and chorus “I’m In Love with A Wonderful Guy!” from South Pacific. Wonderful! Her voice is still strong. She’s more than a musical star – she’s a comic and a great storyteller. I loved this one: Since she was so wonderful in the Touring ‘Oklahoma’ they asked her to audition for the movie version. “I didn’t get it” – she sighed. It went to that “Bitch” Shirley Jones -- "Of course, I kid. Shirley and I are great friends.”

The audience gets into the act too. Amazingly they knew all the words of “The Brady Bunch Song”.  Here is what she says about some of the Celebs that she has worked with: “Paul Linde – Funniest Person I’ve ever known. He could just point at something and make me laugh. Gene Hackman tried out for a part on the Brady Bunch, but didn’t get it. David Merrick was kind of grumpy. Phyllis Diller said to me one day. “If you ever know someone who needs a Heart Transplant – go see Merrick, his has never been used!” She ended with this wonderful song – “My Heart Stood Still” – Here are a few lyrics”

If you could see all the people
They’re everything I was
And everyone I would be…
All the lights of me…

And you know what? My Heart stood still. This was one of the most satisfying entertainments that I’ve seen in some time. It’s Laugh-out-loud-funny, poignant and incredibly entertaining!

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) - trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


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