By now it’s no secret that cabaret goddess Sharon McNight always has another show to do somewhere; this weekend, audiences in Los Angeles will be treated to her latest one-woman offering A Night With McNight at the M Bar, 1253 Vine Street at the corner of Fountain Avenue, on Friday the 29th and Saturday the 30th at 8 PM. Those further north can enjoy her appearance in Divas and Dames, a benefit concert for the Richmond-Ermet AIDS Foundation at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco, 609 Sutter Street at 7:30 PM, where she’ll make what is sure to be a stellar appearance alongside such personalities as Valarie Pettiford, LaToya London and Lisa Vroman. And this is but three nights out of three-hundred-sixty-five within this year alone, in which she’ll have a chance to delight audiences as only she can.

More notable than this, however, is the most recent appearance she made at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in late winter. McNight, who has been a longtime reigning empress for innovative theme shows, chose for this performance to go completely against the grain and unleash what she referred to as, “strictly variety…there ain’t no theme,”  and was a combination of her very greatest hits as well as a bit of uncharted territory. And not once, either for longtime fans or those just getting to know her work, did any moment not work to the hilt.

Oh, sure, certain Sharonesque elements were in place as always; there was her customary entrance from the back of the house sans microphone, this time on the captivating “Chloe.” And Ian Herman once again assumed his divine and rightful place at the ivories. But by the time she tore into the second number, a rendering of  “In the Meantime” that could very possibly only be rivaled by such an artist as Lotte Lenya, the small but powerful crowd (including Julie Wilson, Miles Phillips, Bobbie Horowitz and Dana Lorge) were eating out of the palm of her lovely hand. An exquisite version of Amanda McBroom’s “One of Those Days” is somehow miraculously trumped with “Put the Light Out” by Joe Cocker, proving that she’s as always at the very top of her game with a ballad of any genre. And a moment barely passes before she swings the pendulum back to comedy with the marvelous “Elf Song.”

Mary Liz McNamara’s “Christmas in Michigan” is nothing less than a thrill for spectators who’ve never heard the song before, and after a delicious “Rumble, Rumble, Rumble,” McNight pulls a comfortable rabbit out of her formidable magic hat with an ever-excellent rendition of Craig Carnelia’s “Just a Housewife,” in a version as always virtually unequaled by any other vocalist in the history of the song. She starts to wind up the evening with the chestnut “My Simple Christmas Wish” by David Friedman, performed so effortlessly as to make it apropos for any time of year, and then slam-dunks the crowd one last time with her now-famous Oz medley, always a delight for those familiar and a true laugh-riot for those uninitiated.

The simple truth is, the lady will always be unstoppable. Those reading these words in the great state of California MUST make it their business to catch Sharon McNight this weekend. And failing that, well, mark the words of this writer that there will be another opportunity very, very soon.


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