In his own lifetime, Hal Linden has performed plays and musicals on Broadway, toured in shows and starred on TV's "Barney Miller," but until now he hasn't tackled a cabaret gig in New York City.
That changes March 5-16, when Linden (who sang "In My Own Lifetime" in The Rothschilds, winning a Best Actor Tony Award) performs Back to Broadway at Feinstein's at the Regency in Manhattan.
The show will include memories and songs from Broadway and shows associated with Linden, performed with a seven piece band. Linden, who recently starred on Broadway in The Gathering, won three Emmy Awards for his TV work. Native New Yorker Linden began his show business career as a clarinet player and a big band singer. His first break was understudying Sydney Chaplin in Bells Are Ringing in 1958.
His Broadway credits include Subways Are for Sleeping, Ilya Darling, Wildcat, The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N, The Apple Tree and revivals of The Pajama Game and Three Men on a Horse. His performance in the The Rothschilds won him a Tony Award and the attention of TV producer Danny Arnold, who cast him in TV's detective-squad comedy, "Barney Miller," in which he played the captain of a New York City precinct.
He appeared in such films as "When You Coming Back, Red Ryder?" and "A New Life." His recent stage appearances include Chicago, The Sisters Rosensweig, Visiting Mr. Green, A Christmas Carol at Madison Square Garden and I'm Not Rappaport. In 2001, when asked by Playbill On-Line how Broadway has changed since his early years in the business, Linden said, "It's gotten bigger and not as good. The concept of 'spectacular' took over for finer work. I don't think we've heard lyrics, for instance, to match Sondheim or Harnick in two or three decades. We substitute spectacle. I find that to be a major loss to the theatre. How much ground fog can you look at? A laser beam is a laser beam. Also, the whole era of rock and roll dulled our ear. Our creative ear, our listener's ear. It makes us think 'night' rhymes with 'life.' When the most important element of a musical is a lyric, it's hard to explain when it doesn't quite work. We want more. There are some talented people out there, but the audience didn't appreciate them. It's just gonna take time to get past that. Maybe a new generation'll pop up eschewing spectacle."
Feinstein's at the Regency, created with cabaret star Michael Feinstein, is at the Regency Hotel, 540 Park Avenue at 61st St. Back to Broadway plays 8:30 PM Tuesday-Saturday, with late shows added 11 PM Friday-Saturday. There is a $60 cover and a $39.50 food/drink minimum for the early shows, and a $60 cover and $25 minimum for the later shows. Jackets are suggested but not required. For information, call (212) 339-4095.
To view Playbill On-Line's 2001 Brief Encounter interview with Hal Linden, click here.
— By Kenneth Jones