Carol-ing at the Palace with Richard Skipper
by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
In "An Evening with Carol Channing," on July 27th, Richard Skipper brought his dead-on impersonation of the glittery, throaty Broadway diva to the Ice Palace at the Grove Hotel once more. There were countless laughs and smiles per minute, and a couple of serious moments, too, as Skipper-as-Channing took a "Look Back on My Past," reminiscing and romping through songs from "Hello Dolly", "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" and other works, with David Maiocco at the keyboard.
Skipper's Channing shared her happiest moments--being selected, in lieu of Ethel Merman, tired after a long run of "Gypsy", to create the role of Dolly Levi; making the movie "Thoroughly Modern Millie"; and learning she was "on Nixon's enemy hate list"! There were signature tunes "Hello Dolly," with the audience joining in, "I Put My Hand In," "Before the Parade Passes By,"
Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," "I'm Just a Little Girl from Little Rock," "Bye, Bye Baby" and "Jazz Baby." There were lyrics adapted to the occasion ("The Name on Everybody's Lips'll Be Carol") and audience members summoned to the stage for an impromptu dance with the diva. But between the laughs, who could say they were not touched by Dolly's poignant address to her late husband, Ephraim, or by Skipper/Channing's endearing "Mean to Me"?
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