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Performance review: 'Jackie Five-Oh!' at the Renberg Theatre

January 15, 2012 | 10:45 am

Jackie Hoffman

Don’t you hate it when you get a role in a Broadway musical, but it’s Grandma in “The Addams Family,” who doesn’t have her own song? Even Pugsley gets a song! And then the critics pan it?

Welcome to the cursed career of Jackie Hoffman. “In this era of dying newspapers, people were inventing newspapers to write bad reviews of ‘The Addams Family’ in,” she grouses in her latest solo show, “Jackie Five-Oh!” 

Running for just two weekends at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's Renberg Theatre, "Jackie Five-Oh!" is Hoffman’s first appearance here since “The Kvetching Continues” in 2005. She developed both shows with her director, Michael Schiralli, at Joe’s Pub in New York, where her long-standing Monday night cabaret-style gig has made her a cult star.

As her musical director and accompanist, the amiable Bobby Peaco, sings in his introduction (to the tune of “The Addams Family”), “She’s real New York and Jewy.” And in fact it’s easy to imagine a stereotypical L.A. audience responding with puzzled concern to her sour East Coast shtick. It almost seems as though an interpreter might be useful.

Fortunately the audience at opening night got all the jokes, even the darkest, most New York and Jewy ones, on its own.

In “Jackie Five-Oh!,” to commemorate her 50th birthday, Hoffman looks back on her Broadway career — which she sums up in her own version of the “Rent” anthem “Seasons of Love” as “12 total minutes of stage time” — and her even less impressive accomplishments in film and in romance (although she is married now, to a cute trumpet player who accompanies her on a few numbers). 

The diminutive figure with the spangled dress and bleached hair looks like your bubbe dressed up as Bette Midler. She has a wide expressive mouth that stretches into astonishing shapes as she does impersonations of family members, strangers and celebrities alike (her Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore are unforgettable) and performs acidic original show tunes (such as the blackly comic “Holocaust Movie”) in her alternately brassy and shrill bray. 

She makes no bones about pitching herself to casting directors in the crowd, and I worried that one would send her on to the big time. What would she have to complain about then? Don’t worry, I consoled myself, she’d find something. And she’d probably still sell her own CD in the lobby after the show.

-- Margaret Gray

“Jackie Five-Oh!” The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, 1125 N. McCadden Place, Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Jan. 22. $25. Contact: (323) 860-7300 or Running time: 1 hour.

Photo: Jackie Hoffman does her show at Joe's Pub in New York. Credit: Kevin Yatarola