AN EVENING WITH CAROL CHANNING
AT THE DUPLEX
Stu Hamstra, CABARET HOTLINE
It had been about a year since I had seen Richard Skipper's "An Evening With Carol Channing" show, so on Monday I returned downtown to catch this constantly changing act. Richard Skipper is amazing. After just a few minutes into his show, you begin to believe that you are actually witnessing a performance by Ms. Channing herself. He so thoroughly encloses himself with her personality, her mannerisms, her vocals, you allow reality to fade into fantasy. He reacts to events as Carol probably would, and even takes questions from the audience - and answers them adroitly and in detail - as Carol probably would. All the familiar songs are here including "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," but every once in a while, you are taken aback by a new song - yet one that fits right into Ms. Channing's personae. This time it was a new song by Karen Benedetto about being a "swing" in a Broadway show - learning several parts and always ready to jump in of the featured performer drops out. Early in her career, Ms. Channing was such a performer.
The show ran long, but who cared? Richard's guest was Quinn Lemley, another performer whose work I had not been able to see in some time. Lesson to be learned from Richard? In spite of the fact that you feel you are seeing Carol Channing, you are also aware that behind the make-up is a clever, confident and alert performer, ready to make any event, no matter how unexpected, a part of his performance. Don't get so caught up in your planned patter that a distraction throws you off course. Be so familiar with your material that whatever comes along, you can use it to your advantage. He amazes me!
(Richard Skipped continues on Monday nights at THE DUPLEX CABARET THEATRE (61 Christopher Street, NYC - 1-212-255-5438 - http://www.theduplex.com/) at 9:00 pm, with remaining shows on May 12th, 19th & 26th. There is a $20 cover, 2-drink minimum)