Sunday, January 28, 2007

Carol Channing & Debbie Reynolds Concert

The Legendary Miss Carol Channing and Debbie Reynolds
Last night we went to see Carol Channing and Debbie Reynolds in concert at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. The show opened with both ladies singing "There's No Business Like Show Business", and immediately after Debbie left the stage for Carol to perform for the first half.
The moment Miss Channing began, her legendary presence was evident. She performed for a solid hour, and was fantastic. Considering that she is is 86 years old I am amazed with her ability to belt out the songs, tell jokes and work the crowd so well. She is still doing her classic "Carol Channing" vaudevillian shtick: the bumbling joke teller who gets ahead of herself with long stories that are hysterically funny. Miss Channing came across as very sweet, mixing in a variety of personal stories, recollections of her long career, impressions of other performers, (notably Tallulah Bankhead, Sophie Tucker & Ethel Merman), and sings several of her classic numbers. Songs including Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, A Little Girl from Little Rock, Hello Dolly, Razzle Dazzle and many others. Toward the end of her act, she was joined by her husband, Harry Kullijian whom she first met over 70 years ago, and married in 1993. They told a few stories and danced a few steps-it was obvious they were having the time of their lives together. In so many ways, Carol Channing overshadowed the act that would follow.
When Debbie Reynolds first came on stage following the intermission, I thought she was totally drunk. Slurring her words, stammering, stumbling, and squinting, I felt like it was going to be a long night. She seemed to sober up as she went on. As a true performer, "the show must go on"...and she did. Amazingly she pulled it off, although some routines were better than others. Its is largely the same act she has been doing for years. Still wearing her Vegas-style Bob Mackie sequin outfits, her years of professional experience seem to kick in and carry her act for her. She needs to update some of her material. The Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky jokes seem really old in 2007. She intertwined clips from her wonderful movie career, as well as some old movie bloopers, which were quite amusing. Her impression of Barbra Streisand was dead-on, and actually very very funny. Overall, Debbie Reynolds was entertaining, but I definitely saw a decline from the last time I saw her 3 years ago. Her voice does not seem as clear or strong. Normally I would have been more forgiving of a performer of her age, but following Carol Channing's bubbly energetic performance with a booming baritone voice, Debbie Reynolds came off more as a washed up lounge act still working to pay the bills.
I was delighted when Miss Channing returned to the stage at the end of Debbie's act for an amusing closing number. Overll, I enjoyed the show and am glad I was able to see these legends while they are still performing.

Carol Channing- practically my neighbor here in Palm Springs.

-Rick Rockhill

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hi –

Just had to comment on your great piece about the Carol and Debbie Show. I felt like I was there!!!

Fortunately, I will have the chance to see Carol on June 27th. She is coming to NH to do a benefit performance for our non-profit AIDS organization. We are thrilled and after reading your comments about her performance, I am even happier.

Anyhow, loved your writing style……..delightful.

My best,


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