Jerome Elliott: Crawling Back to Broadway

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Jerome Elliott

Crawling Back to Broadway

Purple Room, Palm Springs, CA, April 21, 2017

Reviewed by Les Michaels for Cabaret Scenes

Jerome Elliott

Hollywood has been making films with actors and singers playing actors and singers since, well, the beginning of Hollywood, but Valley of the Dolls went to the extreme, garnering cult status and breaking the record for memorable one-liners. And that is where Jerome Elliott’s superbly performed new show Crawling Back to Broadway takes off, with your favorite Valley of the Dolls characters like Anne Wells, Jennifer North, Neely O’Hara, and the biggest and undoubtedly best, Helen Lawson. The journey begins with Elliott’s camped-up version of “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” (Dory and André Previn), whipping out a pair of pruning shears to cut off imaginary branches and, when the laughter reaches its peak, out come the hedge clippers. That’s followed by the roar of the audience with “Christina, Get Me the Axe” from yet another of Hollywood’s best camp films, Mommie Dearest.

From there, Elliott mixes stories of our leading ladies’ lives—and maybe some of his own—with songs which included “Birthday” (John Lennon and Paul McCartney), “You’re Gonna Hear from Me” (the Previns from Inside Daisy Clover), and back to Valley of the Dolls with “It’s Impossible” (the Previns). We learn how O’Hara went from being fired from Lawson’s show that morning, to learning and performing the song that night, to stardom literally overnight.

But success leads to loneliness when you are “Out Here on My Own” (Lesley and Michael Gore), and booze and pills, “White Rabbit” (Grace Slick). So, what do you do when you hit rock bottom?

You make a comeback, of course —-  in a piano bar in the West Village, singing “Pour Me a Man” (Fred Barton) from Miss Gulch Returns, for which Elliott earned a Desert Star nomination for his one-man tour-de-force at Palm Springs’ Pearl McManus Theater in 2015.

Then, crawling back up the ladder you find “It’s a New World” (Ira Gershwin and Harold Arlen), and find love, “Come Live with Me” (the Previns from Valley of the Dolls), and you decide “I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love” (Peter Allen and Carole Bayer Sager). So what if life’s a roller coaster with highs and lows, you roll with the punches to find “Time Heals Everything” (Jerry Herman), then rejoice with “High Flying, Adored” (Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber), where Elliott’s voice really shined. Once you’re “Where I Want to Be” (Benny Andersson/Tim Rice/Björn Ulvaeus), he delivered his message to all the Neely’s out there that you may lose everything, “But the World Goes ‘Round” (Fred Ebb and John Kander) and, to all the Helens, “I’ll Show Them All” (Steve Allen).

Closing the show, he punctuated the night with the quintessential Broadway anthem, “Applause” (Lee Adams and Charles Strouse).

Afterwards, he thanked his superb musical director and accompanist Charlie Creasy, and the Purple Room staff, including owner Michael Holmes, who deserves major kudos for making it one of the premiere live entertainment rooms in the country. Still wanting more, the standing ovation audience coaxed Elliott back for “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (Stephen Sondheim and Jule Styne).

I’ve been fortunate to see all of his many shows, and Crawling Back to Broadway is one of his best to date. I can hardly wait to see what’s next!

Les Michaels

Les Michaels is a singer, host, and producer known from his Cabaret Open Mic Mondays at Vermont for seven years and Guest Stars Cabaret in the Ten20 at Belage Hotel for three years. He moved to Palm Springs seven years ago and hosts Applause Wednesdays Cabaret Open Mic at Club Threesixty North in Palm Springs and Cabaret on the Green at AJ’s on the Green in Cathedral City. His Sundays in Summer Cabaret Series in the Arthur Newman Theatre at the Joslyn Center in Palm Desert is in its sixth season.