Jennifer Roberts: She Loves Sheldon

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Jennifer Roberts

She Loves Sheldon

The Green Room 42, NYC, April 30, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Jennifer Roberts

For the wonderful lyricist Sheldon Harnick’s 100th birthday, Jennifer Roberts paid tribute to him with the appropriately named show She Loves Sheldon. A wide variety of his work was on display (happily not just his standards), and excellent musical arrangements by Tedd Firth illuminated both the words and the melodies. The show was a marvelous tribute. Roberts, with her flexible voice and immense personal charm, was the lovely center of it all. Lance Roberts directed with a light touch, and bassist Steve Doyle and Firth on piano provided excellent musical back up.

Because Roberts is a fine singer as well as a strong actress and comedienne, she was able to adapt to the many musical genres she offered throughout her show. From her breathless opener, “Tonight at Eight” (all songs have lyrics by Harnick and music by Jerry Bock, unless otherwise noted), she moved on to the very rare “Just My Luck,” which featured some exciting jazz-piano riffs. “The Ballad of the Shape of Things” (lyric and music by Harnick) was another early number from an off-Broadway review; in it Roberts used her eyes and body to convey the wickedness of the story being told while she maintained an appropriately innocent aura. After that came two songs cut from two of Harnick’s best-known hits, demonstrating that he wrote fine character numbers even if they didn’t quite fit into the shows they were written for. “As Much as That” was an early attempt at a solo for Perchick in Fiddler on the Roof, and the achingly beautiful “That’s How Much I Missed You” was cut from The Rothchilds.

Moving into more familiar territory, Roberts wisely assumed that her audience knew the shows she was drawing from, so she wisely included the lyrics as they were performed within the show. For the title tune from She Loves Me, she perched herself on the piano and found the ecstasy rather than the cuteness in the song. Her aching need and simplicity in “Will He Like Me?” served to demonstrate her ability to find the humanity in the characters she summoned up. “Ice Cream” was expertly acted, and a medley of “Movie Star” and “Gorgeous” (The Apple Tree) found all the lunacy in these numbers and in the contrasting characters who sang them.

Some of the songs were surprising, such as the early “Garbage” (music and lyric by Harnick) and “Someone’s Been Sending Me Flowers” (music by David Baker), two comic numbers typical of the off-Broadway revues of the 1950s. Some songs were surprising in the way they were presented, such as a very sultry “The Very Next Man” and the honky-tonk blues sound of “What Makes Me Love Him?” They were presented with wit and taste, which made them enjoyable outside of the context in which they were first presented. Roberts brought the evening to a fine emotional ending with a medley of “One Family” (music by Michel Legrand) and “In My Own Lifetime.” That made for a terrific ending to a satisfying program.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."