By Dee Jae Cox
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.” ― Gilda Radner
There are few things that can make me laugh and cry simultaneously. So when I see a show that can reach in and tickle the funny bone while pulling on the heartstrings and cause the eyes to tear up with a touch of sadness, while laughing out loud at the humor, I know I’ve struck gold. Francesca Amari’s one-woman cabaret show, “You Make Me Laugh! A love song to Gilda Radner,” billed as a musical biography, brings to the stage the life and brilliance of comedienne Gilda Radner, in a compact evening of humor and poignancy.
Radner was one of those people that had the ability to play on so many levels of emotion. Her brilliance as a comedienne and the tragedy of a life cut short, dances across the spectrum of emotion and this poignant show pays tribute to the legacy of this incredible performer. Amari, has been on tour across the country with “You Make Me Laugh! A love song to Gilda Radner,” since its premier in 2011. This moving showcase is truly a tribute to a legendary comedienne and actress.
The show features Radner’s life from her early beginnings in Detroit to her career break with Toronto’s Second City, her marriage to Gene Wilder and her heartbreaking death at the young age of 42. Radner was a woman who broke ground when she was the first performer cast for the new show ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 1975 as one of the ‘Not yet ready for prime time players.’ She had a successful one-woman show on Broadway and she made films. Through it all, Gilda Radner was a comic genius.
Amari, a former adjunct faculty for Aquinas College, Western MI University & Grand Valley State University, teaching Drama in Education & Storytelling; as well as a teacher and director of children’s theater, relocated to California from Michigan in 2010. She has earned recognition from New York to Hollywood with her critically acclaimed cabaret shows.
Amari’s exquisite voice is apparent as she shows and tells the legacy of Radner’s life though song and story. And though clear to make the point that she is not impersonating Radner, her uncanny ability to recreate the persona of Radner, will leave you missing this much loved performer.
One of the legacies left by Gilda Radner was the establishment of the ‘Gilda’s Clubs’ first in New York, and then across the country. Gilda’s Club is a community organization for people living with cancer, their families, caretakers and friends. Free of charge and nonprofit, Gilda’s Club chapters offer support and networking groups, lectures, workshops and social events.
Part of the proceeds from “You Make Me Laugh! A love song to Gilda Radner,” were donated to Gilda’s Club Desert Cities in Palm Desert. (gildasclubdesertcities.org)
‘You Make Me Laugh,’ was presented at The Purple Room in Palm Springs, which is billed as the place where the locals go to play and is considered to be one of Palm Springs’ “original” ‘Rat Pack’ hangouts – where Frank Sinatra and the “Pack” would bring friends to eat, drink and play! It’s small intimate room and superior dining make this a top choice dinner club.
For show information and future performances visit www.francescaamari.com
The Purple Room, located at
1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264
For Reservations: www.purpleroompalmsprings.com or call 760.322.4422
Dee Jae Cox, is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project and the host of the hit radio show, “California Woman 411” in Palm Springs.