Red Hot Mama – Review by Bonnie Goldberg


For decades cabaret superstar Sharon McNight has graced night clubs and stages delivering her unique style of singing, one that is sultry and irreverent and just plain swell. Now she is directing her talents to bringing the brassy and bold voice of Sophie Tucker back, stronger than ever. Sophie Tucker was a zaftig superpower who lit up the vaudeville and burlesque circuits with her trademark show biz vamp and vigor. Until Sunday, March 11, Waterbury’s Seven Angels Theatre will light up as Sharon McNight’s alter ego of Sophie once again makes her mark.

“Red Hot Mama: The Sophie Tucker Story” is truly Sharon McNight’s baby, as she wrote, directs and stars in this bigger than life entertainer whose career spanned six decades. Tucker recreated herself as the world of show business changed, going into radio, silent films, talkies, recordings, night clubs as the trends transformed.

The daughter of immigrants, Sophie started singing at any early age, earning nickels and dimes by entertaining guests at her parent’s restaurant in Hartford, Connecticut. Marrying early, she had a son whom she left with her family to raise when she went to New York to advance her career. Often singing a hundred songs a night to earn fifteen dollars a week to support her family, she was forced to don black face because she wasn’t considered pretty or thin enough.

On stage, Sophie assumed a persona of bravado while back stage she endured many disappointments, like three failed marriages. McNight reveals telling pieces of her life as she belts out a parade of hit songs, like “Some of These Days” and “My Yiddishe Mama,” along with some wonderful sing alongs with the audience.

For tickets ($40-57 ), call Seven Angels Theatre, 1 Plank Road, Hamilton Park, Waterbury at 203-757-4676 or online at Performances are Thursday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. For an extra treat, go online to YouTube and request Sharon McNight for her whirlwind telling of “The Wizard of Oz” and “The Bacon Song.” What great talent for her and fun for you.

Come hear the story of a woman who called Fanny Brice a best friend, performed in the Ziegfeld Follies and entertained for the King and Queen of England, with humble beginnings and a headliner finish, none other than Sharon McNight as Sophie Tucker.