Miki Howard – “The Good, Bad and Beautiful”; REAF GALA – Theatrical Event of the Season

by Buzzin' Lee Hartgrave on August 7, 2009

MIKI HOWARD IS A KNOCKOUT!

When she enters the room, it’s “Tropic Thunder” that will blow your mind. There are enough amps on that stage to hear her sing all the way to L.A. For sure – Miki Howard is NOT “Little Miss Sunshine.” She’s more like a mixture of Earth Kitt and Diana Ross. I’m surprised that her singing didn’t shatter a couple of the cocktail glasses on the table.

The Bad is not a Bad, Bad. This is the kind of Bad that is good as she brings out those soulful sounds. What a voice. It’s full of soul and talent. No one in the audience could sit still. They were like jumping jacks. She glides from great classic ballads to up tempo funky jams.

Howard’s homage to Billy Holiday gives the audience non –stop pleasure with Holiday’s “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”. Here is a sample of some of the lyrics:

“There ain’t nothing I can do, or nothing I can say,
Some folks will criticize me.
So I’m gonna do just what I want to anyway,
And don’t care if you all despise me.

If I go to church on Sunday
And I shimmy down on Monday,
It ain’t nobody’s business if I do.”

Howard’s first hit was on Atlantic and it grabbed the Billboard R&B top ten single slot with “Come Share My Love”. She followed that with a cover version of Glenn Miller’s 1949 tune “Imagination” and she sang it on opening night in a new Grand newly imagined version. And being the seductress that she is – Howard completely bewitched us. Where does she get all that energy?

Howard also has a great presence with a strong sense of humor. Kidding around she said about her energy: “I don’t take drugs. I can’t afford drugs – I have three children.” All evening Howard imbued just the right blend of humor, with intensity and exhilarating, heart-pounding sets like “Love Under New Management”.

In 1992, you might remember that Howard portrayed Billie Holiday in Spike Lee’s MalcolmX film. She also had a featured role in John Singleton’s “Poetic Justice” with Janet Jackson.

This Hot show at the Rrazz room even drew some big stars at the opening. There was Sally Kellerman Movie Star, Actress/Singer (The Star of the ‘Mash Movie’.) Kellerman is currently in ‘Teatro Zinzani”.

Wish I knew Kellerman’s beauty secrets. She still looks like she’s in her thirties. She readily admits though, that she really is 72. Unbelievable! The Paparazzi were in full force during the show, despite the warning to turn off all electronic gadgets. Everyone I saw, were filming Howard and Kellerman and snapping pictures. So much for warnings — but it added to the excitement of the evening.

There is only one little suggestion. A little variance of the Amps might take a Super Show to Super Star Status. Great sound for an out door arena, but up close and personal space, some of the lyrics were blurred in the Rrazz room.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) – trademarked-

WHERE: THE RRAZZ ROOM
AT THE HOTEL NIKKO

WHEN: THRU THIS SUNDAY.

TIX: http://www.therrazzroom.com/

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


Shawn Ryan helped REAF

PRIDE AND NO PREJUDICE – HELP IS ON THE WAY AT HERBST THEATRE

A JOY FROM START TO FINISH AT THE 15th ANNIVERSAY GALA AT THE HERBST THEATRE

The show opened with a spectacular “No Business Like Show Business with what seemed to be a cast of thousands. The Irving Berlin song got lots of pizzazz from the talents of Maureen McVerry, Woody Thompson, BaulPointPen and the 42nd Street Moon Singers.

Tyne Daly was enormously entertaining as she sang the marvelous “Some People” from Gypsy. She was just magical. Sharon Gless was also there, but was not listed in the program. I guess she was a last minute add-on. Her appearances were little “Jewels” of humor. She is so huggable. Everyone loved her.

Shawn Ryan left us incandescently happy with his “I’m Checking Out” from the movie ‘Postcards From the edge”. Ryan said when he came out on the stage. “I asked Tyne Daly. How can I top that? Do you have any advice (She preceded Ryan). Her Answer – Shawn said was – “Advice. No!”


Maureen McVerry helped REAF

Singer Weslia Whitfield soared with “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” from Oklahoma. Best I’ve ever heard. And from “Miss Spectacular” Maureen McVerry delighted us with “Where in the World is My Prince.” I’ll bet Jerry Herman knows.

And from Sondheim’s ‘Company’ Handsome John Lloyd Young weaved a wonderful spell with “Being Alive”. You know what? This is as sumptuous as Broadway gets. His rendition was fun, and a masterpiece.

Susan Anton set the stage on fire as usual with “Once Before I Go.” – a touching song from “The Boy from Oz” written by Peter Allen. It’s a story about the past and present. Anton is “Completely Unforgettable!”

Carole Cook has never been funnier. We should Gold Plate her and set her out in front of the Herbst for everyone to adore. You know – sort of like a female Oscar. She sang a bit of “No Business Like Show Business” from “Annie Get Your Gun”. She is Annie, and she’s gunning for you! Dressed in fluffy feathers and a Pink Gown – Cook says: “I look like I was dipped in a jar of Pepto Bismo. And yes, she did.


Davis Gaines helped REAF

The Handsome Davis Gaines (Phantom of the Opera) did an outrageous take on “Camelot” as he sings: “If Ever I would Leave You.” What a voice – even when he is having fun with the song – it can’t hide all that talent. It was a pure shot of adrenaline that poured over the stage!

This glorious show ends with a tribute to Nancy Lamott. The late singer who died much too soon left us with this song (seen on a huge screen) “Help is on the Way”. The name was adapted for REAF and means so much to so many people.

The funniest two guys on earth have to be the actors known as “BaulPointPen” (Ben McLain and Paul Peglar) – their “Audition number is flat out marvelous!” these guys are the greatest comics I’ve ever seen.

Also essential to this being the “Greatest theatrical event of the season are: Dave Dubrusky, Matthew Gallagher, Juliet Heller, Lisa Hensley, Tom Orr, Carly Ozard and Joely Fisher, Jeanie Tracy, Dancers Çate Caplin & Gary Franco – “Marvelous! And Melinda Doolittle who sang, “Home” from “The Wiz”. She was a huge hit with the audience. The Motown Medley (Cyrian Tabuena, Erwin Balza, Neil Stallings, and Rick Bailey have the hottest ticket in town at Pier 39.

EXTRAS: THANKS TO JOE SEILER, PRODUCER AND KEN HENDERSON, PRODUCER FOR THIS TRIUMPHAL CULMINATION. IT WAS BRILLIANT! AND NOTHING WOULD RUN SO SMOOTHLY WITHOUT ‘AL’ THE TICKET GUY.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

UPDATES: www.twitter.com/famereporter

The Photo of Lee Hartgrave Boy Reporter is by Jim Ferreira – Film Noir & Hollywood Glamour. www.lafterhall.com.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME HERE: leehartgraveshow@yahoo.com

PRESS STUFF: buzzmixer@mac.com

Podcasts, blogs, vblogs: web.mac.com/buzzmixer/

Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave

Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave is a longtime theater critic in the San Francisco Bay Area. His reviews appear each Friday in Beyond Chron.

More Posts

Filed under: Arts & Entertainment