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by Stu Hamstra, Cabaret Hotline

I arrived at HELEN'S precisely at 9:30 pm, and got the very last seat in the room. I have never seen so many people packed into HELEN'S cabaret room since the place opened. It looked to me like they brought in a few tables and chairs from the dining room to handle the crowd. The show was called "Carol Channing In Concert" and starred Mr. Skipper as Ms. Channing. It was written and conceived by Mr. Skipper, who remains the most convincing Channing impersonator on the current performance scene. Richard was joined on stage by a trio of cute and talented lads (Edward Carignan, Adam Enright & Kristopher Monroe), dressed to the nines with suits and hats, providing back-up vocals and occasionally servings as foils for Channing/Skipper's clever lines. Behind them, on a stage nearly as crowded as the cabaret floor, was a 5-piece band led by Paul Stephan on piano. This was more than a cabaret show - it was bursting at the seams to become a full-fledged theatrical presentation. Bouncing along from song to song, story to story, quip to quip, Richard took us through that amazing cabaret "looking glass" where the unreal becomes the real and the pretend becomes the actual, so that when you step back out into the present at the end of the show, you honestly feel you have seen the genuine Carol Channing rather than the illusion. Every arched eyebrow, every gesture, every vocal inflection is duplicated on stage. It was truly a mind-boggling, entertaining and magical hour of cabaret!