NYC’s fizziest variety show celebrates another year of jazzy stars and Broadway voices with The Best of Jim Caruso’s Cast Party, a benefit for The Actors Fund at Town Hall, Thursday the 23rd. Check out just some of the performers scheduled to appear: Stephanie J. Block (Wicked), wicked insult comic Lisa Lampanelli, friend of the Broadway Blog Julia Murney (Queen of the Mist), founding member of The Manhattan Transfer Janis Siegel, the dreamy Paul Szot (South Pacific) and of course your host, the ever-dapper Jim Caruso.
But topping the list for me is the one and only Linda Lavin. Sure she’s a Tony-winner who has given incredible stage performances in Other Desert Cities, The Tale of the Alergist’s Wife and Broadway Bound, but to this child of television, she’ll always be my Alice. Just seeing her name conjures images of shaggy Philip McKeon hair and kissed grits. What I’d forgotten, was how much singing Lavin did on the classic sitcom, her character’s dream to be a club singer providing ample opportunity for Lavin to show off her diverse talents (and for the little show queen in training to get a taste of Broadway supper club style.)
I knew I had to find an example from the show, however, nothing prepared me for the following clip. Seriously, you may want to sit down and not drink anything for fear of a huge spit take. In the Season 8 episode “Over the Hill Girls”, Alice and diner owner Mel’s mother (played by the legendary Martha Raye) are passed over for a nightclub singing gig because they are seen as too old. They decide to show everybody they’ve still got it with a number of their own. Cut to 6:55 and, well, prepare yourself…
I told you. Lord, do I hope Lavin does a reprise of this at Cast Party next Thursday.
While we’re on the nostalgia trip, let’s close things out by singing along karaoke-style with Lavin as she belts out the title tune to her TV series. Pure joy.