STILL STRUTTIN is a show pulled together as a labor of love by the diminutive, dazzling, red headed pixie, Maybin Hewes Sherman, who originally created this review at the age of 70, performing it several times, as evidenced on You Tube.  Now at age 88 she has again assembled a new version.  “STILL STRUTTIN, with the Help of My Friends.”  It appears that they not only help each other but clearly enjoy working together.  The run will be September 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7:00pm at the Secret Rose Theatre 11246 Magnolia Blvd.

Maybin Hewes - STILL STRUTTIN - Photo courtesy of the artist.

Maybin Hewes – STILL STRUTTIN – Photo courtesy of the artist.

As the lights fade in the 60 seat – nearly sold out Secret Rose Theatre, strains of familiar Broadway melodies booms out over the quieted audience as the combo of two; pianist and Musical Director Ron Rose and percussionist Bill Paul begin the overture.   The performers singularly strut on stage, settling in a shadowed pose on four stools preset for each.  And the show begins.

Early on, it appeared that each were trying to get their footing both vocally and physically, attempting at first to be heard over the two-man musical team.  The performers were not miked so both words and vocals fought to be heard and understood at the initial kickoff.

At the start, the ensemble, two women and two men, donning black slacks and shirts; all with red hats, and touches of bright red accessories alternate between tentative and full on bravura.   This was their preview night that took on the appearance of a dress rehearsal with an audience.  The nice-looking performers, Sharon Pearlman whose lovely open face, often concealed by bangs, sang her rendition of “Ohio” from Wonderful Town, and a Harold Arlen song “Beautiful Sleeping Bee.” Perlman showed off her strong voice and intelligence with her performing prowess taking hold as the show progressed.   Victor Dickerson, whose lovely demeanor and engaging presence added to the ensemble.  At first blush, he appeared to have a light voice, even at moments attempting to find his pitch in the onrush of notes and rhythms of the combo.  However, as the show went on his ability as a song-and-dance man got stronger and more sure-footed.   His potential power as a musical performer certainly should be explored, although his ability as an actor was clear in his brief, nearly out of character, Shakespearean soliloquy.   On the other hand, Darhlene Dixon, whose experience was wonderfully confident as she bantered back and forth with Maybin about Mississippi, her times in New Orleans, and her sexy sultry rendition of “St. James Infirmary Blues” with a backup of supportive ensemble work, clarified her capable and comfortable presence onstage.  Mike Lambert’s emotional song, proclaiming “I’m Queer” with his impassioned backstory, at times a bit over the top, yet tugged at our hearts for him.

Cast of STILL STRUTTIN, with the Help of My Friends - Darhlene Dixon, Victor Dickerson, Sharon Pearlman, Michael Lambert. Photographer: Mitchell Roche

Cast of STILL STRUTTIN, with the Help of My Friends – Darhlene Dixon, Victor Dickerson, Sharon Pearlman, Michael Lambert. Photographer: Mitchell Roche

However, the highlights of the evening were done by its star, Hewes Sherman, with picture in hand, of her beloved daughter Amy Sherman-Palladino , the well-known creator of the hit TV show Gilmore Girls, Bunheads and the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,  Along with her authentically moving rendition of his is the only “Music that makes me dance.” From FUNNY GIRL Sung with an image of her husband Don Sherman held close.

Hewes Sherman also did her own Rap, assisted by the ebullient Amara Rose, a 12-year-old hip hop and tap dancer, and the granddaughter of the Musical Director Ron Rose.  Hewes Sherman also did her own solo tap work, which was amazingly musical and agile at any age.

The show also included a terrific, self assured monologue/reading by the wonderful story teller and writer, Lila Lee Silvern in her bright Red Satin tunic blouse, black pants  and gleaming white hair, doing a brief and chatty overview of the stories in her book of short stories, “Confessions of a Geriatric Prom Queen.”  With it’s 50 shades of Grey Hair and, Before a Colonoscopy… a senior Romance Story.

This ambitious show was directed by the consummate pro, Judy Rose, Maybin’s go-to director, who helped give shape to this taste of vaudevillian patchwork of music, dance, comedy, monologue, and heart.

With some tweaks, this has potential of being a lovely night at the theatre.  It is literally walking distance to the NoHo Arts District (if you live in the neighborhood) with street parking galore.  A lovely, enjoyable evening of musical memories.

“STILL STRUTTIN, with the Help of My Friends” continues its run September 14 and 15 at 7:00pm at the Secret Rose Theatre 11246 Magnolia Blvd.

Written by Joanne DiVito for LA Dance Chronicle, September 11, 2019

For more information about what is playing at the Secret Rose Theatre, click here.

Featured image: Cast of “STILL STRUTTIN, with the Help of My Friends”-
Darhlene Dixon, Sharon Pearlman, Victor Dickerson, Michael Lambert.  Photographer: Mitchell Roche