by Adam Cohen
Linda Purl, actress/singer, held court at The Green Room 42, last week singing the heck of a ton of standards with panache. Born in Greenwich, Connecticut, and raised in Japan, becoming the only foreigner to train at the Toho Geino Academy. At the Imperial Theatre in Tokyo, she played the role of “Louis” in The King and I (in Japanese), “Bet” in “Oliver” and the role of “Helen Keller” in The Miracle Worker. And she showed off her Japanese with a bit of The King and I.
Purl is probably best known for her television turns on “Happy Days” as Fonzie’s late run girlfriend, as well as “Matlock” and as Pam Beasley’s mom on “The Office.” But she’s acted plenty and has a really pleasant, dramatic singing voice with solid intonation and melodic ease.
The evening opened with “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. She’s got a charming poise which was used to great effect on Vernon Duke’s “Autumn in New York” and Sondheim’s “Everybody Says Don’t.” A story about her then eight-year old son being driven to school and asking Linda what a blow job was led into “Children Will Listen.” Here she was joined by a ten-year old singer from Colorado, Nicole Esteban who wowed the house singing the counter point portion of the song. Purl ceded the stage to Esteban for a solo version of “Route 66.” The kid has chops and I’m certain we’ll hear from her shortly.
Purl recorded a trio of albums and has created a series of cabaret shows such as “Midnight Caravan: Celebrating the Great Ladies of the glamorous Nightclub Era.” She was joined at The Green Room 42 by Music Director/Pianist Tedd Firth, bassist Dave Fink and drummer Ray Marchica.
The set included “Come Fly with Me” and “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story. It was a wise set of songs that showed off her lovely voice and confident stage presence. She clearly chooses songs with meaning and she dives into the lyrics delivering dramatic, full voiced, renderings…very much making them her own. Here’s hoping she returns to the club scene again soon.
Linda Purl – October 17, 2019