NY Music Review by Paulanne Simmons




The great Sophie Tucker, singer, comedienne and actress, died in 1966. But for those lucky enough to see Sharon McNight’s Red Hot Mama – The Sophie Tucker Farewell Tour, this sexy mama will once again come to life.

McNight has been portraying the legendary entertainer since 1996, and she is bringing the show back for its last hurrah – a four night engagement at the Metropolitan Room. That means for four nights the Metropolitan Room will be filled with warmth, humor and a repertoire that sparkles and sizzles.

Her hair in gentle waves, á la Tucker, McNight enters wearing a glittering black dress and holding Tucker’s signature white handkerchief wrapped around her fingers. She makes a few jokes about being big, sexy and Jewish. And the audience is entirely hers.

In a narrative filled with irony and easy humor, McNight, as Tucker, sketches the journey that turned a “nice Jewish girl from Hartford, Connecticut” into a red hot mama. The narrative includes marriages, divorces, arrests for indecency and encounters with celebrities that go back to Mr. Edison (he was, after all, the inventor of the phonograph).

But the heart of the performance is McNight’s perfect rendition of the songs that made Tucker famous – “Some of These Days,” “The Man I Love,” “My Yiddishe Mama,” “After You’ve Gone,” and many more delights.

Watching McNight, it’s easy to see how Tucker’s defiance of current views on gender, age and weight led the way for many performers who followed – from Roseanne Barr to Bette Midler. But if Red Hot Mama – The Sophie Tucker Farewell Tour is part history lesson, history was certainly never so entertaining.

Red Hot Mama – The Sophie Tucker Farewell Tour, through Aug. 3 at Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22 Street, www.metropolitanroom.com.  212 206-0440