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Author Topic: Born to Diva  (Read 3021 times)
Midnite
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« on: May 01, 2003, 06:26:08 PM »

I don't know what came over me.

If you'd previously told me I'd one day attend a Donna McKechnie performance I would've called you crazy.  But she brought her show, which has garnered rave reviews elsewhere, to the new Colony Theatre in Burbank (quite possibly the most elegant small theatre in L.A.) and it was, after all, a chance to get together with Bette, so I figured why not?  What follows is my review of Sunday's performance.  If that doesn't interest you, you can skip to the bottom of this post to witness "I don't know what came over me, Part II". :D

"Inside the Music" is a one-woman autobiographical show that follows (through anecdotes and musical numbers, though sometimes confusingly) McKechnie's career as a dancer from its inception while a young girl in a dysfunctional family (her parents "never spoke") who found solace and inspiration in movies and eventually defied a judge and them to run off to realize her dream, and ends with the most exciting number-- a shortened though no less fabulous performance of "The Music and the Mirror" from A Chorus Line complete with huge mirrors that are revealed with a flourish.  It brought back wonderful memories of the first time I'd seen that show (sans McKechnie) at the Music Center some 25 years ago. Yes, I'm saying that Inside the Music's finale gave me a thrill; shhh, please keep that to yourself.


[From the biography section:  "Television audiences remember her from her days on Cheers,
HBO Musical Specials, NBC's Hullaballoo and the cult series Dark Shadows."]

Her singing was wonderful and very effective.  She has lost her slimness, but you'd never know it by her energetic dancing, nor is there any sign of the crippling arthritis she later tells us about.  She was accompanied by a trio of musicians, the piano player serving as conductor and also as participant during a handful of scenes requiring outside dialog.  In fact, the stage was empty if not for them and a single ballet bar that later disappears.  I am not fond of "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises, but how the heck she can still do those movements is beyond me.  She also performed "Inside the Music", a beautiful song Marvin Hamlisch wrote for her but which proves so difficult that she feigns a faint at the end of it, and you feel grateful it was dropped in favor of "TMATM".  Other songs from shows she appeared in include "A Secretary is Not a Toy" (Frank Loesser) from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying during which she dances the choreography created for her by Bob Fosse, "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" (Stephen Sondheim) from Company, "If My Friends Could See Me Now" from Sweet Charity, and "Boogie Woogie Blues" from A Class Act.

We've seen the theme before-- through determination you can realize your dream.  Yet while we all know how the story turns out, you get her message that she was never lucky in love.  When she sang "I Wanna Be Loved By You" early on, who knew it would become a major theme as she continued to tell her life in story and song?  Yet despite this frequent admission, you can't help but think she glossed over some of the negative aspects of her life while focusing on the positive; an example of the latter is a detailed and romantic monologue about meeting Fred Astaire which culminated in a performance of the song "Astaire".  Examples of the former are her all-too-brief mentions of Michael Bennett (whom she married and divorced twice) and Fosse.  Regarding Bennett-- she explains she met him while doing Hullabaloo and even seats herself on the stage steps with a promise to speak frankly, but she never quite lives up to that promise.

The second half is far more entertaining, and she begins it by entering from the rear of the theater.  Unfortunately, the audience for this matinee was positively geriatric, which detracted from my experience because her dialogue, which she delivered flawlessly, occasionally called for our input.  Save for a smattering of male fans, Bette, her friend and I were the young'ns at the performance.  The older crowd seemed most attentive during 2 points in the show--  when she performed numbers from her most popular shows, and when she spoke in great detail about her arthritis treatment, from the 18 Bufferins a day to the miraculous results she got simply from changing her diet and "no fussing".  I stood for her encore appearance, but I'm not sure if the other attendees were less impressed or if they just, well, weren't able.

There are several restaurants within walking distance of the theater, and ProfStokes and victoriawinters graciously drove out to join Bette and me for a fun dinner after the show.

And as promised¢â‚¬¦



Beware the lashes. ;)
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dom
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2003, 06:58:38 PM »

Thanx for the review and the pic, Midnite. I enjoyed both very much.

dom

PS - Beware the lashes - [lol2]
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Mysterious Benefactor
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2003, 07:04:21 PM »

What a great photo of you and DM. [thumb]

I'm sure there's at least one jealous member of the forum. [wink2]
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2003, 07:38:22 PM »

Hi, Midnite gorgeous pic of you and Donna!!!
      Love Anne :-*
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2003, 08:14:28 PM »

You look beautiful Midnite!  And thank you for the lovely write up and reivew about the show.

Deb
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2003, 10:01:46 PM »

I'm sure there's at least one jealous member of the forum. [wink2]

Jealous people reading the forum?  :o

I certainly hope they don't choose to lash out at Midnite.  ;D
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2003, 10:10:33 PM »

Its okay, Midnite, I'll still talk to you.

n
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ProfStokes
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2003, 11:09:33 PM »

Thank you, Midnite, for sharing your photo and show summary!

ProfStokes
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2003, 11:11:38 PM »

Thanx for the great review. Couldn't help but notice your gorgeous skin, Midnight. Since I am a derm nurse, you look mahhhvelous, darling, simply mahvelous.
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2003, 02:29:58 AM »

Sheenasma writes:
Quote
Its okay, Midnite, I'll still talk to you.

LOLOLOLOL!

But seriously, great review!  I remember her video from the fest and I wish I could've seen the whole show!  Sounds like and looks like you had fun!  And you had your pic taken with her!  And from the look on your face...she didn't say Queeennntin![vryevl]

Thanks for sharing this with us sweetie! :-*[/color]

Always, Minja  ;D[/color]
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Bette
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« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2003, 04:22:41 AM »

Great review, Midnite. And I have to say that for the most part I agree with you.   Though not the best one-woman show I ever seen  (especially having seen Elaine Stritch do HER  solo show in the same week) Mckechnie nevertheless was enjoyable to watch and I really enjoyed her singing.  The finale was nostalgic for me too, since I did see her in A Chorus Line in San Francisco many long years ago.  I loved your comments about the audience. It's been a long time since I've considered myself one of the younger members of an audience. :D

The best part of the whole day, though, was having dinner with DS friends.  Midnite and I never miss a chance to get together and we were lucky enough to be joined by Profstokes and Victoriawinters. If it really is the end for the yearly Fest, these opportunities to get together with other DSers  will be even more important.

One last thing about McKechnie--she looked much better in the lobby than she did  on the stage.  I guess stage lighting is not always flattering.

Bette
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« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2003, 05:19:24 AM »

yes, i will always drive for food and friends.  so nice to see all of you!  yipeee.  and yes we should try to get together whenever opportunity will present itself. 
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2003, 06:55:17 AM »

Nice picture Midnite!  You look great! I enjoyed reading up on the event too.

And what a great tan you have already!  I guess that's one of the advantages of living out on the West coast.  ;)

Thanks for sharing this.

Cassandra
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« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2003, 07:00:27 AM »

Very interesting!!  Thank you!  :)
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2003, 01:42:19 PM »

First of all - thanks to Midnite for the interesting review and what a great photo op!
If it really is the end for the yearly Fest, these opportunities to get together with other DSers  will be even more important.
What!I try to keep up on this kind of news but lately I haven't been able to access the board as much as I used to and completely missed out on this info. If someone could please direct me to more information on it I would really appreciate it.  If you don't want to post here you can email me.  Thanks!
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