WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION
Darlene’s Latest Show:
A Pre-Election Evening of Song, Love & Laughter
Feinstein’s at the Nikko
Chanteuse and Bay Area favorite Darlene Popovic mades her Feinstein’s debut in her new solo show: WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRACTION – A Pre-Election Evening of Song, Love & Laughter – Nov. 2, 2016 at Feinstein’s at the Nikko.
The reviews are in!
San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle
“Everyone, whether they knew if or not, needed a distraction from the putrid character of this year’s election campaign. And there’s no one more up to the task than San Francisco’s own Fanny Brice, the inimitable Darlene Popovic. Through smartly chosen songs, a few sight gags and some well written banter, Weapons of Mass Distraction is the vehicle for Popovic to showcase her considerable comic skills and for a brief time, whisk us away from out stress and concerns.
Popovic opened with “Laughing Matters”, a Dick Gallagher/Mark Waldrop tune from When Pigs Fly. The song requests that we all keep our humor. Irving Berlin’s clever “The Secret Service” from 1962’s Mr. President is followed by “Just Leave Everything to Me”, a Jerry Herman tune from Hello, Dolly. Popovic sings it from Hillary Clinton’s perspective and when she sings “I’ll discretely use my own discretion, I’ll arrange for making all arrangements, I’ll proceed to plan the whole procedure, Just leave everything to me! “, we all get it.
Written and directed by F Allen Sawyer, with excellent support by musical director Joe Wicht, her songs are well chosen and include some seldom performed comedy tunes that are Popovic’s bread and butter. She mines the humor from nuggets like “Vodka” (G. Gershwin, H. Stothart, O. Hammerstein, O. Harback) sung in a heavy Russian accent, Cole Porter’s “Nobody’s Chasing Me” and Johnny Mercer and Gene DePaul’s “Whatcha-Ma-Call-It”.
Popovic, who cleverly utilizes special lyrical material introduced special guest Tom Orr, San Francisco’s master wordsmith for his take on “Bitch Slapped”, sung to the tune of Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s “It’s Witchcraft”. My set highlights were a hilarious cover of Irving Berlin and Edgar Leslie’s “Sadie Salome Go Home”, a Jewish man’s lament over his girlfriend’s choice to become a bawdy burlesque dancer. The 1909 specialty song was popularized by Fanny Brice herself and performed with in a Yiddish accent. It’s perfect for Popovic’s comic styling, as is the crazy “I Don’t Remember Lovin’ You” (H. Harlan, B, Braddock), a 1982 country hit for John Conlee. As the woman who can’t remember her husband, kids or drinking herself insane, Popovic is positively charming and very believable.
Her background in musical theatre has won her many awards and blends seamlessly into her cabaret shows and CDs. There’s not many performers singing the songs included in this smart show and we’re better off for it.”
For All Events
“The imitable singer, comedian, raconteur and actress Darlene Popovic made her debut in a one-night show at Feinstein’s at the Nikko this month. The presidential election was the theme of the 60-minute gig, aptly called Weapons of Mass Distraction. Popovic’s weapons were Kander & Ebb, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter. The show showed us the craziness of this election through 19 songs.
Popovic opened with “Laughing Matters” from When Pigs Fly and segued into Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Sunset Boulevard with new lyrics, then Irving Berlin’s “The Secret Service” from Mr. President. The artist was hilarious when singing “You Gotta have Skin” to the tune of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ “You Gotta Have Heart” to Donald Trump’s wig. There were satirical lyrics for the tune made famous by Fanny Brice, “Sadie Salome Go Home.” She excelled on the novelty songs “Have a Little Drinkee” and “Whatcha Ma Call It.”
Ms. Popovic did a rousing version of “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” from Kander and Ebb’s The Rink and a stimulating version of “Vodka” from Song of the Flame in honor of the Russian hacking of computers during the election season.
She puckered up when singing to Donald Trump to the tune of “I Wish You Love,” giving out the raspberries in place of “Love.” She also paid tribute to Donald Trump’s daughter when singing in country-western style, “My Heart Belongs to Pappy” with special lyrics by Tom Orr. She even found Hillary’s lost emails. She also sang in Serbo-Croatian “New York, New York” in honor of her grandmother.
Tom Orr was the guest star for the show. He wrote special lyrics for “Witchcraft” about the goings on of celebrities like the Kardashians. Joe Wicht agreeably accompanied on piano and he joined in with his vibrant voice on the Adler/Ross song “Two Lost Souls.”
Musical Theater Lovers United
“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.