"Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah"
Seven Angels Theatre, Waterbury
A troupe of zany, but gifted, performers have now landed on the Waterbury stage. Seven Angels plays host to a musical revue based on Allan Sherman’s endearing collection of song parodies. It offers a nostalgic return to an earlier era and a tribute to Sherman. Reaching his creative heights in the ‘60s, Sherman had the rare gift of turning well-known tunes—from rock to opera—into hilarious parodies, all of which focused on Jewish characters.
Sherman’s several albums served as source to Douglas Bernstein and Rob Krausz, who have shaped the material into one seamless musical piece. “Hello Muddah” traces the saga of one Barry Bochman, a “boychick” (loveable little boy) from his birth to old age.
The show offers several of Sherman’s best-known pieces, headed by the title piece, which begins, “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah, here I am at Camp Granada…” Others on deck are “Sarah Jackman” (“Frere Jacques”), “Grow, Mrs. Goldfarb” (“Glow, Little Glowworm”), “Shine on, Harvey Bloom” (“Shine On, Harvest Moon”), and “Won’t you come home, Disraeli?” (“Won’t you come home, Bill Bailey?”). Often, the word twists are brilliant. For example, in “The Ballad of Harry Lewis,” the “grapes of wrath” becomes the “drapes of Roth.”
While the show gets off the ground awkwardly, as it (tastelessly and unnecessarily) depicts the birth of Barry Bochman, it soon gathers steam and hits its stride. Director/choreographer Keith Andrews guides with a steady hand. All five performers—R. Bruce Connelly, Tessa Faye, Rebecca Rich, Jason Rosoff, and Jimmy Spadola—are in perfect sync with each other and with the material. They all strike just the right note of insanity. Comic timing is impeccable, as they come together in ensemble work. In addition, each is perfectly cast for the character he plays (all too rare in many Connecticut revues). Jason Rosoff is the wide-eyed, goofy Barry, who woos and marries Sarah Jackman (the luscious Tessa Faye). The excellent Rebecca Rich is well matched to R. Bruce Connelly, who plays her husband Harvey. Jimmy Spadola is a law unto himself, recreating to perfection the old-time Catskill Jewish comedian—loud, coarse, incorrigible.
There are no messages, no deep philosophies, to be mined here. But “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!” is sheer happy, mindless entertainment.
-- -Irene Backalenick
Oct. 12, 2007