Carol Burnett Warms Hearts with "An Evening of Laughter and Reflection"

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Carol Burnett was live at the Stiefel Theatre in St. Louis Nov. 8, 2018.

Carol Burnett is a national treasure. Her groundbreaking television variety show "Carol Burnett and Friends" propelled her to super-stardom. Now 84, the legendary performer returned to St. Louis, Mo, where she once graced the stage of The Muny opposite Rock Hudson in "I Do! I Do!" This time she had the Stiefel Theatre stage all to herself for "Carol Burnett, an Evening of Laughter and Reflection."

This touring show is an approximately 90 minute version of Carol's unrehearsed question and answer segment that opened her television show for 11 seasons. The show opened with a big screen suspended above the stage showing Carol doing various versions of her famous Tarzan yell. The Carol Burnett and Friends credits were shown, and then the greatest comedienne in television history walked onstage to a standing ovation. 
 
Carol's graciously took all manner of questions from the audience. Some asked personal questions, seeking to know more about Carol's grandmother who raised her, or how she's coped with the tragic loss of her eldest daughter, Carrie. Others inquired about the show and working with Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner. Some asked for advice on how to grow their own careers in theatre and television. There were also a few questions and requests that I personally found to be rather strange, such as asking Carol to wish one lady's deceased mother a happy birthday, or telling Carol a story about her flight sitting next to alleged presidential mistress Stormy Daniels. A couple of locals offered to treat her to homemade toasted ravioli, the signature dish of St. Louis, but Carol's tour wasn't staying in town for long. 
 
Carol handled each query with the same charm, wit, and friendliness that resonated with her television audience. She found some way to relate nearly every question to some aspect of her career or personal experiences. Carol smoothly segues some of her answers to the screen behind her, relating her stories to clips from her show. The clips featured some of the best moments from the show, including the classic "Went In The Wind" skit featuring Harvey Korman channeling Clark Gable and Carol wearing a spectacular Bob Mackie "curtain dress" that now resides in the Smithsonian. Of course Carol couldn't resist sharing a clip of Tim Conway breaking Korman up, and "The Dentist" sketch was one of Conway's best "gotcha" moments on the show. 
 
Carol called for a chair towards the end of the performance, which was running just slightly longer than scheduled, and a stage hand brought out a director's chair, a side table and a large bouquet of flowers. He got two hugs and a kiss on the cheek for his trouble, but you could tell he was honored, as everyone in attendance was, to be in Carol's presence. She always made her audience feel like long time friends during the question and answer segment on her show, and that was no different here, some 40 years later. There were lots of laughter and some tears of joy in reflections of how Carol Burnett has touched so many of her fans' lives. If you have the opportunity to see "Carol Burnett, an Evening of Laughter and Reflection" on tour near you, don't hesitate to get tickets.                                                                                         
Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0