Lynda Rodolitz

July 4, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

Lynda RodolitzTruth in advertising is always welcome, when it comes to cabaret shows as much as anywhere else. For her recent show at Don’t Tell Mama, “Lynda Rodolitz Is Off Her Rocker,” the subject certainly nailed her self-description. Oh, she may not be certifiably insane, but she played a crazy lady very well, consistently (and delightfully) throughout her sui generis set. Directed to a fare-thee-well by Lennie Watts, backed by a band any sane-acting singer would kill for (musical director Steve Ray Watkins on piano, Matt Scharfglass on bass, Donna Kelly on drums) and looking something like a demented gypsy in her flowery shawl and overly feathered hat, Rodolitz sashayed through 14 mostly less-familiar songs that documented a largely upbeat form of insanity. There was no depressive crazy stuff here—as she made clear in her opening number, “I Only Wanna Laugh” (Bill and Patti Jacob), with the lyric “even though the joke’s on me.” Rodolitz’s other stated mantra for her show was “blessed are the cracked, because they let in the light.”

She looked and sounded at times like Edith Bunker enjoying some ditsy, Outer-Borough beyond-merry widowhood [I know Edith died before Archie in “real” TV life, but give me this one] with a touch of Betty Hutton at her zaniest and a “mumble, mumble, mumble” sample to underscore it. “Who’ll Tell the Diva?” (C.P. Burke) shined a delicious light on stars who think they’re not crazy. “Single Man Drought” (Jimmy Roberts, Joe DiPietro) blamed the lack of potential lovers for a woman’s going off-kilter. A Cole Porter pairing, “You Do Something to Me” and “You’ve Got That Thing,” provided more subtle shifts of blame for wacky behavior. “Party Hat” (Joe Iconis) told the tale of a woman so lonely on a Saturday night that she plopped  a topper on her reluctant cat for a pretend evening of revelry. This number had the added treat of Watts making a cameo appearance as the cat, who really hates his mistress, as it turns out.

But my favorite number of the evening was “Santa’s Turn,” a brilliant mash-up of “Santa Baby” (Joan Javits, Phil Springer, Tony Springer), the ultimate avaricious doxy anthem, and “Rose’s Turn” (Styne, Sondheim), the ultimate nervous breakdown as depicted by a show tune. My second favorite was Rodolitz’s encore, Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years,” which she sang straight and movingly, as if to say even crazy people can have the occasional moment of sane reflection. Unfortunately, at the end of what should have been the end, she added an understandably uncredited coda, a not-brief-enough rant about how she was not wearing underpants! I guess you can take the girl out of the asylum, but…

Lynda Rodolitz Is Off Her Rocker
Don’t Tell Mama  –  June 6, 16

Category: Reviews


About the Author ()

Robert Windeler is the author of 18 books, including biographies of Mary Pickford, Julie Andrews, Shirley Temple, and Burt Lancaster. As a West Coast correspondent for The New York Times and Time magazine, he covered movies, television and music, and he was an arts and entertainment critic for National Public Radio. He has contributed to a variety of other publications, including TV Guide, Architectural Digest, The Sondheim Review, and People, for which he wrote 35 cover stories. He is a graduate of Duke University in English literature and holds a masters in journalism from Columbia, where he studied critical writing with Judith Crist. He has been a theatre critic for Back Stage since 1999, writes reviews for, and is a member of The Players and the American Theatre Critics Association.

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