NEW YORK – There’s A Little Starch Left at Don’t Tell Mama
Somewhere in the flotsam and jetsam of the holiday, I forgot to pay special tribute to Lynn Henderson, who performed There’s A Little Starch Left – her new one-woman show – in December at Don’t Tell Mama. I am a friend of Lynn’s and had watched her for over a year as she prepared for this show.
This show was a dream come true. There are fewer experiences better than watching a Dream Coming True in front of you. Believe me when I tell you. It was the flame that made Henderson light up, and it was contagious.
She was glorious. As she will tell you, her voice is not Carnegie Hall, but her storytelling in the song is first-rate. As Marilyn Maye says, “Her great love for the art of singing comes through beautifully. Lynn delivers the lyric with understanding, honesty, and caring.”
Henderson is a woman of a certain age, as she will admit. And she has the wear and tear to show for it. So much wear and tear that one of the highlights of the evening was watching her raise her arm a bit above her shoulder height. This may sound like a boring bit of activity, but, you see Henderson is part elf. Not kidding here. Her eyes twinkle. They actually twinkle. And when she sings or tells a short story, you feel as though she has opened a secret door to an inner sanctum where few are allowed to go.
The time it takes to tie her shoes takes longer; the Brooklyn Bridge holds up its peeling paint and strength as inspiration; there is a little girl in the old girl, and she is thriving. Young men race to catch cabs FOR her, vying for the privilege. Aging is a kind of privilege, she tells us in “But Alive” (Strouse/Adams), where we feel part Jane Fonda and part Jane Austin. She quotes Diana Nyad, who said swimming looked like a lonely sport, but it was a team sport.
She sees teams everywhere. When there is loss of loved ones – a hazard of the road of aging – there are always the ones who are still here, and of course, there is music. “Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year” (Loesser) is a lament and rejoicing in Henderson’s skilled delivery.
The story of her heart operations slides into “If I Only Had A Heart” Arlen/Harburg and “Young At Heart” (Rogers/Hart).
As you age, you think about who matters to you, who will tolerate you. Getting old means you can say whatever you want, and the Universe MUST listen. You can call anyone “Honey”. You can start a conversation with anyone. You can stop wearing bras if you are so inclined.
Memories of idols – Lena Horne is foremost. Henderson has two albums under her belt, one of which was recorded at the same studio Horne used.
Henderson shares her accomplishments. She was competitive – running three marathons, Equestrian competitions internationally, Hiking and biking in Europe and Asia.
In the end, she tells us “We are born and die alone,” so one must must must learn to make friends with yourself. – leads us to “I AM My Own Best Friend” Kander/Ebb.
Bette David quoted, “Getting old ain’t for sissies,” precedes the lifting of the arms that made the packed house cheer. She talks of the daily challenges of not only walking but of re-inventing herself to her own amusement. “A Little More Mascara” (Herman) is a perfect soundtrack to this eternal activity.
When Spencer Tracy refused “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” he was challenged by his loved ones who said, “What are you going to do? Sit there and rot? You’re going to die anyway, so why don’t you die DOING something? Or, as they say in the marathon world, “To Finish Is To Win.” This leads us to “It’s Not Where You Start” (Coleman/Fields)
The iconic, “Here’s to Life” Butler/Molinary sums it all up and ties it with a bow.
She reminds us that there is a time in life when we have to welcome the kindness of friends as well as strangers – who knew Blanche Dubois would be a role model???
The show closes with a nod to the iconic Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle,” and this stunning evening comes to a close, but one hopes it is only a temporary pause and that Henderson will return very soon. We all need a little jolt of hope as we continue to put mileage on our own tires. And let’s hope she brings her Music Director, Douglas J. Cohen, and Bassist, Robert Sabin, with her. This is a great team.
Readers may also enjoy our reviews of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Encores! Once Upon a Mattress, Ibsen’s Ghost, Women on Fire: Fair is Foul, Aristocrats at the Irish Rep Theater, The Life & Times of Michael K at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Our Class, Rachel Bloom, The Eagle and the Tortoise, The Sweet Spot, and, The Days of Wine and Roses.