- Number of Discs: 2
- Released: August 9, 2005
- Label: DRG
Tracks on Disc 2:
- 2.Handicapped Lady
Personnel: Whoopi Goldberg (spoken vocals).
Audio Mixer: Cynthia Daniels.
Recording information: Lyceum Theatre, New York, NY (01/29/2005/01/30/2005).
Authors: Frank Scheck; Charles Isherwood; Joan Hamburg; Clive Barnes; Mike Summers.
Editor: Cynthia Daniels.
Photographer: Joan Marcus.
Critics smacked Whoopi pretty darn hard when she returned to Broadway after 20 years. One has to wonder whether Whoopi's involvement in pap and crap like Theodore Rex, Jumpin' Jack Flash, and Hollywood Squares had anything to do with a grudge they were still holding, a grudge that wiped away the memories of Whoopi's premiere on Broadway. The premiere that The 20th Anniversary Show sentimentally celebrates was a stunning debut that held thrilling promise, which in turn made the drab comedy that came after it all the harder to take (although Whoopi's rebirth in the world of drama pleasantly suited her). Opening this two-CD document of her Broadway comeback, "Fontaine" wipes away two decades of mediocrity as the philosophizing druggy waxes poetic on George W. Bush, the Iraq War, and everything else 2005 with an extra foul mouth (apparently the Broadway-oriented DRG label doesn't know who to phone for a "Parental Advisory" sticker). It's great to hear Whoopi's effortless delivery of this edgy and deep character seemingly all but forgotten by Whoopi herself, and although she has a tendency to slip into in her Whoopi voice instead of her Fontaine voice when delivering the most stinging darts, the darts do sting -- and that the dreadlocked one is challenging her audience rather than pandering to them is a delicious experience that is as thrilling in 2005 as it was in 1985. The critics' dismissal of the show becomes painfully valid during the next segment. Sagging butts and hair growing in all the wrong places fill the thin world of the new character, Luraleen, a woman who doesn't so much reflect on getting old as obsess about its most disgusting side effects. The track goes on for what seems like an eternity, but the second disc of this mixed bag shouldn't be chucked in the garbage, as much as the listener will want to after suffering through "Luraleen." Whoopi immerses herself completely in the heartfelt and waggish Handicapped Lady, a character who will draw you in straightaway and fascinate throughout the whole monologue. Whoopi convincingly and effortlessly slips between Handicapped Lady's dream world and real world. She elevates herself from comedienne to artist in the track and teaches everyone who ever stands alone on stage something about disappearing and letting the character take over. The 20th Anniversary Show is hard to recommend in total, and while audiences and critics couldn't just walk out of the theater during the trying midsection, home listeners have remote controls and "skip" buttons. They'll use them, and it will pay brilliant dividends. ~ David Jeffries