Ken Haller's latest cabaret foray, "The TV Show!" is a sheer delight, reveling in tunes that a lot of us grew up with emanating from the boob tube. It's an interesting approach, and Haller doesn't stick to just singing TV themes, but mixes in commercials, as well as tunes that were written for other mediums that reference the world of the cathode ray. All in all, it's a pleasant trip down memory lane with some familiar (and some less so) tunes that have permeated popular culture.
After pianist Al Fischer opens the proceedings with his own song, "Letty the Lesbian", Haller jumps right in to this interesting mix of music. Beginning with the prolific Steve Allen's "This Could Be the Start of Something Big" is a nice move since it was originally written for a Broadway show, but became his trademark theme from that point on. It sets the tone, and it's not long before Haller is reminiscing about his love affair with the television and some of the great shows that graced the small screen. "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" (from Cheers) is another fine choice and allows us to hear the complete lyrics.
After a turn through "Somewhere That's Green" (Little Shop of Horrors), the fun really begins with the seldom heard lyrics to "I Love Lucy". Haller then talks about the shows he grew up watching while running through a medley of "Bewitched", "I Dream of Jeanie" and "The Patty Duke Show". His first crush is revealed through a brief instrumental of "My Favorite Martian", and two takes on "Bonanza", with a second set of lyrics provided by Johnny Cash, follow. It's here that he talks about his father's fondness for the show, and it introduces a quick blast of "Best Friend" from The Courtship of Eddie's Father.
A cool medley of Barry Manilow written commercial jingles is a lot of fun, and brings back many memories (KFC, State Farm Insurance, Stridex, Band-Aids, Dr, Pepper, Pepsi, and McDonald's are all represented). Then Haller makes mention of the Broadway talent that used to write mini-musicals for television, allowing him to reference Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and Stephen Sondheim's Evening Primrose. More frivolity follows with Gilligan's Island's take on Hamlet being a highlight.
A more serious turn finds Haller examining the differences we all have with "It's Not Easy Being Green" and "I'm a Believer". He also mentions watching a DVD of one of his shows with his mother and her positive and personally affirming reaction to it.
Sexual tension on TV is discussed with a run through "Moonlighting", and Haller brings the show to a close with a melding of both versions of the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme, before wrapping up the performance with "I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together" (Carol Burnett Show)
This is a show that will travel well, touching a nerve with all of us who experienced this golden age of television themes.