Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Sharon McNight is Electrifying With
Kristopher McDowell Productions presented the wonderful Sharon McNight in Songs to Offend Almost Everyone at the Eureka Theatre for one night on March 14. The audience at the Sunday night performance loved her delivery along with her witty commentary that was for adults only. You would not want to take your prudish aunt or your children to see his hilarious parody of songs with some sexually explicitness.
Sharon McNight has been entertaining audiences with her brassy delivery on both coasts since she was nominated for a Tony in her 1989 Broadway debut in Starmites, creating the role of Diva. She was also the recipient of Theatre World's Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut the same year. In the years since, she has done cabaret work in New York at Don't Tell Mama plus many appearances in Los Angeles and San Francisco. She is most famous for her tribute to Mae West, and her CD albums sell well.
Sharon McNight premiered her new cabaret act by taking songs from her two albums "Songs to Offend Almost Everyone" and "Offensive, Too." At the beginning of the two-hour show, she used every racial and sexual epithet to get them out of the way. As she stated, "political correctness should be shoved back into the closet." Her 20 songs maneuvered away from the old ethnic slurs of vaudeville.
Sharon remembered hearing the song "Brazil" when she was young, and she and other young friends, without the knowledge of their parents, substituted the word "brassieres." There were other songs that children in secret would parody. She said that the original "Parlez Vous" sung by World War I solders had naughty words. She then had the audience join in for a chorus of those suggestive words.
Sharon's first song was the relatively tame "The Dumber They Come, the Better I Like 'Em," which was mostly about dumb blonde jokes, such as blondes thinking "a mammogram is a telegraph from mother" and "Taco Bell is a Mexican phone company." Of course, the gist of the song is that they know how to make love.
Sharon said she researched a lot of filth for the show and some of the titles have an X rating. One about a sex act in the park is side splitting. The artist sings two of Tom Lehrer's great songs, "Old Dope Peddler" and "When You are Old and Gray," for the folks who have been married a long time. The lyrics are often not very romantic, for example, "you are contempt below my feet."
The saucy artist did a wonderful bit with an imitation of Marlene Dietrich about sitting on someone's face with the song "Merrilou;" Would you believe it is by a composer whose name is Durwood Douche? Chet Atkins, the country western singer, got a tribute when she sang "Jesus Wore a Rolex," a song that played just three days on the radio before it was removed from the play list due to the urgings of conservatives and the religious right. She sang it hillbilly style. Speaking of censorship on radio, Sharon sang the plaintive "Strange Fruit" which was made famous by the great Billie Holiday. The song was about blacks being hanged in the South by for minor infractions of the law.
Sharon sang the wonderfully acidic "Short People" by Randy Newman and impressively sang "God's Song" by the same composer. One of the swingingest songs sung by this brassy voiced singer was "Let's Talk Dirty to the Animals," with lyrics that are strictly X rated. Her vegetarian song about killing animals for food was uproarious, especially when she tried not to sing the word "bacon," which she loves. After the song, Sharon said "that's for the Jews in the audience." The show-stopper was "Dog in Taiwan," about the Chinese eating dog, with lines like "poach the pooch." This song has been made popular by The Man Company who plays mostly on the East Coast. There were several songs whose titles I can't mention but were funny just the same.
Sharon's most sparkling number was Sondheim's "I Never Do Anything Twice," which she sang at the end of the show. Her encore was "Goodbye Good Luck, Good Riddance," and she screamed this to the audience. Thee artist, backed by a great trio led by Joan Edgar at the piano, kept the two hour show running fast with her campy remarks and zesty references.