FOLSOM — “Too Marvelous for Words” presents some of the much-loved songs of Johnny Mercer — one of America’s great lyricists— and captures them at their most intimate. Linda Purl and Lee Lessack return to Three Stages in Feb. 14 in a powerhouse evening, dedicated to the heartwarming music of Georgia’s favorite son. Four-time Academy Award-winning songwriter Johnny Mercer comes to life as the two artists weave heretofore little-known stories with his timeless tunes, including Moon River, Autumn Leaves, Black Magic, My Shining Hour, Come Rain or Come Shine, and more.
“This duo is delightful; the songs are time-tested and classic,” Executive Director Dave Pier noted. It will surely warm these February nights, and is a perfect Valentine for our audience.”
Brought to the stage by TV actress and singer Linda Purl (originally Fonzie’s girlfriend on “Happy Days,” more recently on “The Office” and “Homeland”) and Lee Lessack (“Cabaret romanticism of a high order,” Billboard Magazine), the performance will feature some of Mercer’s unforgettable songs performed by two top-notch singers. Of Purl, Rex Reed of the New York Observer stated “serendipitously discovering this kind of beauty and talent is like seeing a unicorn on the subway.…” Of Lessack, the Chicago Tribune stated he’s “the best male cabaret singer to come around since Michael Feinstein!”
Born in Connecticut and raised in Japan, Purl’s television credits range from “Happy Days “as Ashley Pfister (Fonzie’s fiancée) to Charlene Matlock on “Matlock” to Joe Mategna’s wife on the acclaimed Supreme Court series “First Monday,” co-starring James Garner. Purl has more than 30 television movies credits to her name such as “Born Free,” “The Last Days of Pompeii” (with Sir Laurence Olivier), “The Manions of America” (with Pierce Brosnan) and “Like Normal People,” the award-winning docu-drama about a mentally retarded couple co-starring Shaun Cassidy. Purl’s feature film credits include Disney’s “Mighty Joe Young,” “The Walking Major” (with Toshiro Mifune), “Crazy Mama” (directed by Jonathan Demme) and “Leo and Loree” (produced by Ron Howard). Stage credits include Broadway: “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Getting and Spending”; Off Broadway: “The Baby Dance” (with Stephanie Zimbalist); and Off-Off-Broadway: “Hallelujah, Hallelujah!”
Purl is recipient of six Dramalogue Best Actress Awards and two Dramalogue Awards as Best Producer. She has received two Robby Awards for Best Actress, is a three-time nominee of the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Award for Best Actress and is the recipient of the Connecticut Critics’ Award for Outstanding Performance in a Play for her work in “The Baby Dance.”
Lessack’s graceful lyric baritone vocals and endearing persona have made him a shining star of the international concert scene. Billboard Magazine calls his singing, “Cabaret romanticism of a high order.” Touring extensively in the United States and Europe to sold-out performances and releasing five albums, Lessack has proven himself both as performer and recording artist.
Lessack’s newest concert is titled “Chanteur” and is homage to the Great French Songbook, celebrating music by Michel Legrand, Jacques Brel, Gilbert Bécaud and Charles Aznavour to name just a few. His fifth and most ambitious recording to date, “In Good Company,” features duets with music notables like Michael Feinstein, Maureen McGovern, Amanda McBroom, Ann Hampton Callaway and Stephen Schwartz. It has earned a MAC and Bistro Award for Best Recording of the Year.
Musical Director John Boswell has served as musical director for Judy Collins, Andy Williams and Bob Newhart. Boswell played the role of Moos” in the national tour of “Crazy For You.” Broadway/Off Broadway credits include “Crazy For You,” “The Secret Garden,” “Back To Bacharach And David” and “The Kathy And Mo Show: Parallel Lives.” Boswell also composed music for the HBO special “Kathy And Mo: The Dark Side.”
“Two Marvelous for Words: The Songs of Johnny Mercer” will be presented at Three Stages at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, (a special Valentine’s performance); at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15; at 2 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16; and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17. Tickets are $39 to $45. They may be purchased online at threestages.net or from Three Stages ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Three Stages is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.