Review: ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!’

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (Brentwood Theatre, Los Angeles; 500 seats; $ 35 top) Michael Callan, in association with Michele Martin, presents "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh," a musical in two acts based on the song parodies of Allan Sherman , conceived and written by Douglas Bernstein and Bob Krausz, directed by Krausz. Associate producers, Mickey Blowitz, James Farentino. Music direction/piano, Thomas Griep; choreography, Lee Martino. Production design, Peter Roy; costume design, Susan Branch; additional keyboard, Lawrence Green; percussion, Terry Schonig. Opened and reviewed Jan. 25, 1997; runs until March 16. Running time: One hour, 50 min. Cast: Jim Doughan (Barry), Leslie Klein (Sarah), Jay Willick (Harvey/Kolodner/Mr. Goldfarb), Karen Needle (Sheila/Louise/Carlotta/Doris), Don Lucas (Morty/Uncle Phil/Nat). It is fitting that this musical based on the song parodies of Allan Sherman is being housed in the bare-bones, barn-like interior of the newly opened Brentwood Theatre. As conceived and staged by Douglas Bernstein and Bob Krausz, this show has the look and feel of one of those thrown-together Borscht-belt circuit revues with plenty of rim-shot one-liners and sarcastic asides to the audience. It all works because this talented five-member ensemble certainly knows their shtick, and there is just no escaping the irrepressible humor of Sherman's lyrics. Bernstein and Krausz have wrapped more than 30 Sherman songs around the life and times of young Barry Bockman (Jim Doughan), whose woe-laden summer adventures at Camp Granada are chronicled in the title song, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh," which Sherman penned over the music of Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" and was a spectacular hit recording for Sherman back in the early '60s. As young Barry grows into manhood, he courts his childhood sweetheart, Sarah (Leslie Klein), with such ditties as "Sarah Jackman" (to the tune of "Frere Jacques") and the wonderfully clever "One Hippopotami." Doughan is a lovable teddy bear as the insecure Barry, and Klein is perfect as his lifelong soulmate. The much-put-upon couple good-naturedly suffer the pains of adolescence ("I Can't Dance"), marriage ("Here's to the Crabgrass"), parenthood ("Crazy Downtown") and old age ("Like Yours"). Along the way, they are supported whether they like it or not by family, friends and a never-ending stream of Jewish humor. The five-voice ensemble numbers, such as "Good Advice," "No One's Perfect" and "The Ballad of Harry Lewis" (sung to the melody of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic") sound a bit puny in the Brentwood's cavernous interior, but that actually enhances the irreverent mood of the show. Individually, the company members are outstanding. Jay Willick and Karen Needle simply gobble up the scenery as Harvey and Sheila Jackman, who take over their daughter's wedding in the fanfare-like "Harvey & Sheila." Willick also offers great comic turns as Barry's teacher Mr. Kolodner ("Great Advice") and the nebbish Mr. Goldfarb, who sings a musical ode to his wife's appetite in "Grow, Mrs. Goldfarb" (to the tune of "Glow Worm"). Needle rips through her musical description of the widowed Sheila's vacation in Mexico ("Mexican Hat Dance") and is hilarious as the aged Doris, who joins Willick and Don Lucas in an old-folks-with-walkers dance routine ("Down the Drain"), imaginatively choreographed by Lee Martino. Lucas displays all the moves of the perennial Catskills emcee/standup comic in his portrayal of Sarah's joke-a-second Uncle Phil. As the adolescent charmer Morty Myer, he teams with Doughan in the tale of a reluctant Jewish knight, "Sir Greenbaum's Madrigal" (to the melody of "Greensleeves"), and rhapsodizes over his make-out moves in "Kiss of Myer" ("Kiss of Fire"). The backup trio led by music director Thomas Griep evokes memories of almost every house band that has ever played in every lounge in America, and they do it quite well. Peter Roy's tacky-looking set is perfectly suited to the cabaret mood of this work, and Susan Branch has come up with a never-ending supply of comical, tear-away costume pieces thatenhance each scene. --- Julio Martinez

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (Brentwood Theatre, Los Angeles; 500 seats; $ 35 top) Michael Callan, in association with Michele Martin, presents “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” a musical in two acts based on the song parodies of Allan Sherman , conceived and written by Douglas Bernstein and Bob Krausz, directed by Krausz. Associate producers, Mickey Blowitz, James Farentino. Music direction/piano, Thomas Griep; choreography, Lee Martino. Production design, Peter Roy; costume design, Susan Branch; additional keyboard, Lawrence Green; percussion, Terry Schonig. Opened and reviewed Jan. 25, 1997; runs until March 16. Running time: One hour, 50 min. Cast: Jim Doughan (Barry), Leslie Klein (Sarah), Jay Willick (Harvey/Kolodner/Mr. Goldfarb), Karen Needle (Sheila/Louise/Carlotta/Doris), Don Lucas (Morty/Uncle Phil/Nat). It is fitting that this musical based on the song parodies of Allan Sherman is being housed in the bare-bones, barn-like interior of the newly opened Brentwood Theatre. As conceived and staged by Douglas Bernstein and Bob Krausz, this show has the look and feel of one of those thrown-together Borscht-belt circuit revues with plenty of rim-shot one-liners and sarcastic asides to the audience. It all works because this talented five-member ensemble certainly knows their shtick, and there is just no escaping the irrepressible humor of Sherman’s lyrics. Bernstein and Krausz have wrapped more than 30 Sherman songs around the life and times of young Barry Bockman (Jim Doughan), whose woe-laden summer adventures at Camp Granada are chronicled in the title song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” which Sherman penned over the music of Ponchielli’s “Dance of the Hours” and was a spectacular hit recording for Sherman back in the early ’60s. As young Barry grows into manhood, he courts his childhood sweetheart, Sarah (Leslie Klein), with such ditties as “Sarah Jackman” (to the tune of “Frere Jacques”) and the wonderfully clever “One Hippopotami.” Doughan is a lovable teddy bear as the insecure Barry, and Klein is perfect as his lifelong soulmate. The much-put-upon couple good-naturedly suffer the pains of adolescence (“I Can’t Dance”), marriage (“Here’s to the Crabgrass”), parenthood (“Crazy Downtown”) and old age (“Like Yours”). Along the way, they are supported whether they like it or not by family, friends and a never-ending stream of Jewish humor. The five-voice ensemble numbers, such as “Good Advice,” “No One’s Perfect” and “The Ballad of Harry Lewis” (sung to the melody of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) sound a bit puny in the Brentwood’s cavernous interior, but that actually enhances the irreverent mood of the show. Individually, the company members are outstanding. Jay Willick and Karen Needle simply gobble up the scenery as Harvey and Sheila Jackman, who take over their daughter’s wedding in the fanfare-like “Harvey & Sheila.” Willick also offers great comic turns as Barry’s teacher Mr. Kolodner (“Great Advice”) and the nebbish Mr. Goldfarb, who sings a musical ode to his wife’s appetite in “Grow, Mrs. Goldfarb” (to the tune of “Glow Worm”). Needle rips through her musical description of the widowed Sheila’s vacation in Mexico (“Mexican Hat Dance”) and is hilarious as the aged Doris, who joins Willick and Don Lucas in an old-folks-with-walkers dance routine (“Down the Drain”), imaginatively choreographed by Lee Martino. Lucas displays all the moves of the perennial Catskills emcee/standup comic in his portrayal of Sarah’s joke-a-second Uncle Phil. As the adolescent charmer Morty Myer, he teams with Doughan in the tale of a reluctant Jewish knight, “Sir Greenbaum’s Madrigal” (to the melody of “Greensleeves”), and rhapsodizes over his make-out moves in “Kiss of Myer” (“Kiss of Fire”). The backup trio led by music director Thomas Griep evokes memories of almost every house band that has ever played in every lounge in America, and they do it quite well. Peter Roy’s tacky-looking set is perfectly suited to the cabaret mood of this work, and Susan Branch has come up with a never-ending supply of comical, tear-away costume pieces thatenhance each scene. — Julio Martinez

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!

Brentwood Theatre, Los Angeles; 500 seats; $35 top. Opened and reviewed Jan. 25, 1997; runs until March 16.

Production

Michael Callan, in association with Michele Martin, presents "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh," a musical in two acts based on the song parodies of Allan Sherman, conceived and written by Douglas Bernstein and Bob Krausz, directed by Krausz. Associate producers, Mickey Blowitz, James Farentino.

Creative

Music direction/piano, Thomas Griep; choreography, Lee Martino. Production design, Peter Roy; costume design, Susan Branch; additional keyboard, Lawrence Green; percussion, Terry Schonig. Running time: One hour, 50 min.

Cast

Cast: Jim Doughan (Barry), Leslie Klein (Sarah), Jay Willick (Harvey/Kolodner/Mr. Goldfarb), Karen Needle (Sheila/Louise/Carlotta/Doris), Don Lucas (Morty/Uncle Phil/Nat).
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