reviewed by Bonnie Weiss

You can probably count on one hand the number of comediennes who also have or had solid singing voices:  There’s Martha Raye, who started out as a big band singer, Kaye Ballard, Jo Anne Whorley (Laugh In) and the inimitable Carol Burnett.   And in film, there was Betty Hutton, whose singing voice was attractive, but very light.  Burnett had a good, solid Broadway belt, but when it comes to a comic with a voice that is both lovely and powerful, you can’t beat Darlene Popovic.

Some of you reading this may say, Darlene who?  The fact is Ms. Popovic has been performing in Bay Area theatre and cabaret for over 30 years, winning several awards along the way including several Bay Area Cabaret Gold, Critics Circle and Dean Goodman awards.   And she has brought her cabaret act to several venues nationwide.  Last week she brought her new – election savvy cabaret show to Feinstein’s at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco.  Called “Weapons of Mass Distraction: A Pre-Election Evening of Song, Love & Laughter” it was co-directed by F. Allen Sawyer and Bev Case.  Musical direction and accompaniment were provided by Joe Wicht.  

For the political segment of the show, Popovic selected songs from several Broadway musicals, with lyrics often altered to reflect current events.  Her engaging opening number from the off-Broadway musical, “When Pigs Fly” was a perfect choice.  It’s called “Laughing Matters”.  And boy, does it ever in this insane election year.)  With her delightful comic panache she performed a couple of altered lyric numbers from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black/Christopher Hampton’s “Sunset Boulevard” and a take off on the “Damn Yankee’s” hit “You Gotta Have Heart” with a satiric lyric penned by the original songwriters Adler and Ross

Popovic’s brilliant comic flair was beautifully showcased in her next segment on drinking songs.  (Evidently that’s one way to make it through these scary and absurd times).  One of her signature songs, which is also on her CD, “Vodka” was a hoot.  (She makes a hilarious comic alcoholic and her Russian accent is perfect.  The number was originally written for the 1925 Broadway musical, “Song of the Flame” with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein.

For the second half of her show, Darlene performed a few more numbers that highlighted her well-developed funny bone, like Irving Berlin’s  “Sadie Salome” (introduced by Fanny Brice in the 1909 edition of “The Ziegfeld Follies”.)  Like Brice, Popovic sang it with a spot-on Yiddish accent.  She also revived a delightful Cole Porter tune from the 1950 musical “Out of this World”.  It was originally performed by the great comic actress Charolotte Greenwood.  Popovic’s performance not only equals Greenwood’s in comic panache, but is vocally much easier on the ear.

The show also included a performance by a surprise guest - local singer, songwriter and satirist Tom Orr.   To the Porter classic “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”, he provided a wickedly insinuating new lyric with a new title, “My Heart Belongs to Pappy”.  In it he imagines that Ivanka Trump has a more than daughterly relationship with The Donald.  (Incest, anyone?)

As the show concluded, Popovic performed a charming, beautifully harmonized duet of “Two Lost Souls” from “Damn Yankees” with her musical director, Joe Wicht and a powerful rendition of the Kander & Ebb mega-hit from the 80’s, “New York, New York”.  She brought this highly entertaining evening to a close with a classic Irving Berlin number that offered a tip on how to avoid election stress and burnout:  “Let Yourself Go”.


(Concert Productions of Rarely Performed Musicals):

Event:                      " BAKER STREET"
                                   music and lyrics by Marian Grudeff and Ray Jessel  ("Guys & Dolls",  "Where's Charley?")

Dates:                    November 2nd through 20th, 2016

                     "SCROOGE IN LOVE" starring Jason Graee
Dates:                      To be announced

Info & Tickets:        
415/255-8207 or


"The costumes, the scenery, the makeup the props
The audience that lifts you when you're down.
The headaches, the heartaches, the backaches, the flops
The sheriff who escort's you out of town.
The opening when your heart beats like a drum.
The closing when the customers won't come."

Except for the sheriff, everything in this verse to Irving Berlin's classic "There's No Business Like Show Business" is vividly portrayed in a terrific new documentary about the 2003-2004 Broadway musical season. Called, "SHOW BUSINESS: THE ROAD TO BROADWAY", the film focuses on the trials and tribulations - from original concept to the Tony Awards - of four musicals: Stephen Schwartz's "Wicked", the Boy George bio "Taboo", the 'Seseme Street for Adults' puppet musical "Avenue Q" and Tony Kushner's biographical "Caroline or Change".

Director Dori Berinstein keeps the momentum going, with expert editing and dazzling cinematography. What's more, she covers all the bases: Rehearsals, performances, revealing interviews with producers, directors, performers, songwriters, choreographers and critics. Interviewees include actors Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Raul Esparza; composers Jeanine Tesori, Jeff Marx; playwright Tony Kushner; producers Rosie O'Donnell and Rocco Landsman, director George Wolf, critics Ben Brantley and Linda Winer, and more. In short, 'SHOW BUSINESS: THE ROAD TO BROADWAY' gives us a rich inside view of a complex, thrilling, and often maddening world.

"Let's go on with the show!"

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