Linden Waddell: It’s All Relative

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Linden Waddell

It’s All Relative

Tom Rolla’s Gardenia,  West Hollywood, CA,  February 23, 2018

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

Linden Waddell

Linden Waddell is a complete entertainer—a magnificent singer, a talented comedienne who’s not afraid to laugh at herself, and a delightful hostess for a fast-paced evening of cabaret.

In a deliberately family-friendly evening, Waddell talked about ancestors, parents, siblings, spouses, friends, and pets, noting that every family is like fudge: mostly sweet, with a few nuts.

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Not one to do the expected, she entered the room wearing a light purple bathrobe with white polka dots and holding a cup of coffee, walking back and forth through the audience and singing a slow-building version of “Consider Yourself” (Lionel Bart, from Oliver!) to make the audience feel “at home.

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Once the song was done, she removed the robe to show off a sparkly purple outfit, then started talking about family with a full-voiced “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” (Harry Warren/Johnny Mercer)—including the rarely heard verse about the stork—that built to a bluesy version, complete with orange boa.

Noting how complicated family relationships can become, Waddell sang “I’m My Own Grandma” (Dwight Latham/Moe Jaffe)—a tongue-twisting, relationship-confounding song based on the writings of Mark Twain that may have left audience members breathless trying to follow the intricacies described, but enabling Waddell to show off her funny bone as well as her keen memory for lyrics.

She also demonstrated that keen ability on “Momisms,” a rapid-fire set of lyrics (by Anita Renfroe, set to the driving music of The William Tell Overture) about all the things mothers say to children from dawn till day’s end—an amazing tour de force. There was also a rousing performance of “Friendship” (Cole Porter) that included kazoo accompaniment by the singer and her music director, pianist Marjorie Poe.

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The tempo slowed down every so often—for a sweet, gentle “Errol Flynn” (Amanda McBroom) as a tribute to her father; a thoughtful “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Gene Lees) as a tribute to her husband of 28 years; and an intense take on “If He Walked into My Life” (Jerry Herman, from Mame) as a tribute to her children.

Waddell closed the show with a sweet and lovely “Everything Possible” (Rev. Fred Small), an uplifting song about being what you want to be (“You can be anybody you want to be/You can love anybody whomever you will/ … And know I will love you still”).

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Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach loves the music of The Great American Songbook and classic Broadway, with a special affinity for Rodgers and Hammerstein. He's been a professional writer for 45 years and a cabaret reviewer for five. Based in Los Angeles, Zwiebach has been exposed to some of the most talented performers in cabaret—the famous and the not-so-famous—and enjoys it all. Reviewing cabaret has even pushed him into doing some singing of his own — a very fun and liberating experience that gives him a connection with the performers he reviews.