‘Red Hot Mama’ the Sophie Tucker story

When the curtain parts, there stands a brassy, classy dame who grabs your attention and keeps it right where she wants it. Tony-award winning nominee Sharon McKnight stands center stage, soaking up the audience’s love and laughter as she reincarnates the tough-talking icon of early entertainment, Sophie Tucker. It’s Sophie’s spotlight, and she’s having a ball.

Sophie Tucker’s performing career had a phenomenal 60-year run, from recording on Thomas Edison’s scratchy cylinders in 1910 through shows at burlesque houses, vaudeville, and the Ziegfield Follies. In later years she recorded on radio and made several films. McKnight, who created the solo show, channels Sophie’s larger-than-life stage presence and powerful voice, needing no microphone to fill the high-ceilinged theater. Edison once told Sophie “You could audition in New York and never leave your home in Connecticut.” He probably would have said that to McKnight, too.

Sophie worked hard and long, performing

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