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"The show must go on."

by Elizabeth Ahlfors, Cabaret Scenes, June 15, 2006

Did you ever wonder how true that is? Any doubts vanished one evening after seeing this "Little girl from Little Rock" at Helen's Hideaway Room. Richard Skipper, performing Carol Channing in Concert, his loving tribute to the theatre icon, just finished the last word of his second song, The Beauty that Drives a Man Mad, when he fell to the floor. It was a startling and frightening experience, although after a few moments, Skipper was up, sans wig, apologetically making his way out of the room. Word came out that he had fainted due to the heat and a lack of food, was fine and would continue the show shortly.

Within a half-hour, the show returned with Skipper's impressive dedication to details that we have come to expect, the authoritative vocals, audience communication, sincerity, heart and deadpan wit. The enunciation and unique Channing vocal sound is exact, as is that slight stiff lean forward, those bejeweled hands pointed just so, and the phrasing and stress that make Channing's vocal deliveries so definitive; Richard Skipper has it all down as slick as the famous platinum bob.

This is not all about Skipper doing Channing. The show opened with a screen showing Carol Channing's own performances, including duets of Blondes (from Laugh-In), with Betty White, George Burns and Goldie Hawn, another duet with Miss Piggy, Channing as Marlene Dietrich, and from the Colgate Comedy Hour, Channing singing Hard-Hearted Hannah.

The best part of any Richard Skipper-Carol Channing show is the performer-audience interaction. Just as Skipper is only positive in his Channing tribute, his communication with audience members is as dead on as Channing's own direct innocence. In this show, she finds three "Jimmys" at a side table and creates a deadpan comic moment.

Carol Channing in Concert includes three backup singers, Edward Carignan, Adam Enright and Kristopher Monroe, and the Paul Stephan Group with Stephan on piano, bassist Ritt Henn, Claire Daly on sax, Brian Fishler on drums, and Marc Daine playing guitar and banjo.

Richard Skipper, not a diamond ring, is Carol Channing's best friend.

Richard Skipper continues at Helen's June 30 at 10 pm and July 5 at 9:30 pm.


ALSO FROM CABARET SCENES:

Your new Carol Channing show was a phenomenal job. It's a theater piece that can travel, so I suspect you'll be living with it for a long time, here and elsewhere. Apart from that, I'd love to see some regional theater take the gamble and cast you in the "Hello, Dolly" role.

Peter Leavy