Sharon Carlson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sharon Carlson 

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Operatic comedienne Sharon Carlson returns to the local cabaret scene this week after an absence of some 20 years. Long one of Chicago's most reliable character actors (not to mention occasional motivational speaker, WTTW pledge-drive pitchwoman, and singing-telegram deliveryperson), Carlson is known for starring roles in such shows as Neil Simon's drama Lost in Yonkers at the Royal George, Bubbe Meises at Northlight, and the 1982 hit Summer Stock Murder at the Theatre Building, in which she delivered a Jeff Citation-winning performance as not one but three endangered divas. She's also active in regional and New York theater and recently finished a stint as talent director for the Disney Channel kids' series Out of the Box. But she seems to take her greatest pleasure in the comic concerts that made her a mainstay of 1980s nightspots like Tambourine and His 'n' Hers, and she'll return to that format for her Davenport's debut. Combining an elegant presence with a daffy camp sensibility, Carlson specializes in the sort of classical-music parody practiced by her idols, Anna Russell and Victor Borge. She has perfect timing and a voice that can travel at warp speed from rich lyric soprano to brassy belt. Her show Hot Flashes on the Road to Spandex, with pianist George Tenegal accompanying, is an evening of "original and obscure" selections, including songs by Summer Stock Murder composer Kingsley Day and the British comedy team of Flanders and Swann, as well as her own material. Saturday, February 8, 10:30 PM, and Wednesday, February 12, 8 PM, Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret, 1383 N. Milwaukee; 773-278-1830.

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