Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sharon McNight

Sharon McNight is so psyched to do her show in Tucson, she’s bringing along a little bit of everything – which in McNight’s case, is quite a lot.
She sings, she dances, she yodels, she tells piles of jokes. In high school she also played flute in the marching band.
“And I have a master’s degree in directing,” McNight adds in her trademark gravelly voice, on the phone from her San Francisco home.  She is also noted for her research on the lives of Sophie Tucker and Mae West.
Re-imagining that information, McNight created and performed a one-woman musical based on Tucker that played off-Broadway as “Red Hot Mama.”
Then there is the versatile artist’s Tony Award nomination in 1989 for “Best Leading Actress in a Musical” for her performance as Diva in “Starmites.” Shortly afterward, Al Hirshfeld drew her caricature.
Another noteworthy piece McNight enjoys performing celebrates the screen legends Betty Grable, Betty Hutton and Bette Davis.
“I’m one of the few women who do Bette Davis,” she says proudly, noting most of those other entertainers doing Davis are men.
Some of McNight’s more colorful achievements include a party record (like they made in the 1950s) called “Songs To Offend Almost Everyone” that was so popular she recorded a second one – which included such tasty favorites as “Let’s Talk Dirty to the Animals.”
 “She can belt with the best and pour out a torch song like there’s no tomorrow,” said the San Francisco Bay Times, adding that her act also included some “bawdy ditties from World War II.”
Little wonder that in 2010 McNight was named one of the 50 most influential people in cabaret.
“What I do is more like a vaudeville act,”
McNight explained. “I’ve always admired Sammy Davis, who could do so many different things, but always called himself a variety artist.
“That’s what I am, too. A variety artist.”
But wait…there’s more. McNight’s signature piece, which she will be doing for Sizzling Summer Sounds, is her seven-minute version of “The Wizard of Oz.” You know the story. You know the characters. McNight does them all.
 There are several YouTube excerpts online. Check them out for yourself.
As for that yodeling part, if we are lucky maybe McNight will tell us all about the time Roy Rogers taught her how to yodel when both were on the Johnny Carson show.

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