Melora Hardin’s ‘At the Watercooler’

Tallyhead K files this report on Melora Hardin’s show ‘At the Watercooler’ this past weekend.

The writers’ strike better end soon, otherwise Broadway will steal Melora Hardin for good. I went to see Melora Hardin tonight in her one woman cabaret ‘At the Watercooler.’ She was sensational.

She opened with ‘Raise the Roof’ from the musical ‘Wild Party’ (one of my personal fav musicals and songs). When the song ended, she shook off her nerves and mentioned that her daughters were in the audience. They sat with their father, Melora’s husband Gilbert, about one table away from me. They were incredibly cute and watched their mommy with proud eyes.

The next song was from her movie ‘You.’ Not only did Melora direct this film, but it was written by her husband and stars various members of her family. She sang the song that ends the movie which was written by her friend Paula Cole. It was a pretty ballad that showed off the emotional dedication Melora displayed throughout the night.

Melora explained that the next song was her version of career advice for aspiring entertainers. It was a passionate rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Everyone Says Don’t,’ an uptempo anthem about pursuing your dreams in face of constant rejection. It was very inspiring.

She then transitioned into another ballad, “Close to You” by Burt Bacharach and introduced the man behind the piano as her musical director Ben Toth. She eventually introduced the rest of her band but I didn’t catch all their names.

The next song was originally recorded by Doris Day at a studio called Radio Recorders at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. (It’s still there, if you want to visit.) She expressed that she always felt a kinship to Doris Day as an actress, mother, and to Day’s sex appeal. Melora quickly corrected, ‘not that I have much sex appeal,’ which we all know, she so does. The song was called ‘He’s So Married’ and at the end she dedicated it to her husband.

Then Melora sang ‘If I Were a Bell’ from Guys and Dolls. She told a story about how Isabel Bigley, the actress who originated the role of Miss Sarah Brown, was often abused by the composer, Frank Loesser, when she sang the song wrong. Melora admitted she was happy Loesser wasn’t in the venue tonight.

Then Melora launched into ‘Roxie’ from Chicago. This leads us back to my first sentence. Melora opened the number by talking about her recent audition for the role of Roxie in the current Broadway production. Her agent called and she was scheduled to audition in New York the same week Entertainment Weekly released those specialty Office covers. As all Tallyheads know, one of those covers sported a hot Roxie-like Melora with Steve Carell. She talked about how she wanted to use the magazine as a prop during her audition. She didn’t say if she used it but she auditioned and they wanted her.

Unfortunately, the schedule conflicted with the time she already set aside for ‘At the Watercooler.’ But she was pretty sure she’d have another chance at it. In fact, I asked her about it after the show and she sounded like she planned to take the role in the near future. She promised to keep her website and the Tally updated.

Melora continued the show with another emotional balled called ‘Good Morning Heartache.’ She gave such a heartwrenching performance she was a little dazed when the song ended and had to check the set-list.

After regaining her place, she referenced chatting at a watercooler as a segueway into ‘Girl Talk’, a cute uptempo song from the film ‘Harlo.’ The song was about the topics of girl gossip and during the bridge, the show’s main special effect occurred. Melora pinned up her hair and danced as bubbles shot from a bubble machine onstage into the audience. Her two little girls were in heaven.

Melora closed the night with a variety of her own songs. She talked a bit about her love for singing and songwriting and that, according to her mother, Melora wrote her first song at the age of 2. I didn’t catch all the titles, but one might be called ‘Nowhere to Go.’ Another was a very sensual number that involved Melora laying on the piano a la Michelle Pfeiffer in ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys.’

After the show, I stuck around to grab a picture. I was very nervous and was made even more nervous by my boyfriend who is a very shy person. All he had to do was take the picture but he still freaked out. But all that nervousness was unnecessary because Melora was a sweetheart.

I told her I was a fan from OfficeTally and she thanked me for coming. We took a picture and I asked about her Chicago audition. As I said before, she plans to keep us in the loop when she learns more.

I also spotted Craig Robinson at the show and in my attempt to get a pic with him, I kept glancing over at him a bit too much before and after the show. I think I freaked him out because whenever I spotted him, he was always on the complete opposite side of the room from me. By the end of my conversation with Melora, he was gone. I think he might be a ninja. If Craig happens to read this, I would like to profusely apologize for throwing you stalker eyes throughout the night. I was just trying to build up the courage to ask you for a picture.

Overall, ‘At the Watercooler’ was a brilliant night of song, and kept me singing in the rain as I went back to my car. Melora’s career is on a musical journey, so keep your ears open Tallyheads. And let’s hope the strike ends soon, so Melora can fit both Jan and Roxie into her schedule.


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