Much a deux about Mercer

Linda Purl sings. That sentence is often followed by a question mark or an exclamation point. Despite an extensive stage and television career, fans of the elegantly beautiful star of “Happy Days” and “Matlock” are often surprised to discover that Purl’s as accomplished on a concert stage as she is on any other.

Lee Lessack also sings. That’s not a surprise. The boyishly handsome cabaret artist has been gathering fans since his debut recording in 1996. That self-produced CD also launched his bifurcated career as both performer and head of the independent label LML Music.

The pair team up at Rrazz Room this week in “Too Marvelous for Words” to celebrate the centennial of lyricist John Herndon “Johnny” Mercer. He’s the man behind more than 40 years of hits, including “Moon River” and “Blues in the Night.” The timing is near perfect.

“Johnny was born on Nov. 18, so we’re opening the same week, which is exciting,” Lessack says.

It’s a mutual admiration society for the two friends, who have worked together for several years.

“She’s such a wonderful actress,” Lessack says of Purl, “and so accessible and down-to-earth on stage. Add in a divine voice, and it’s really quite a treat to work with her.”

Purl lobs back the compliments: “He’s tall, dark and handsome, and sings like a matinee idol. What’s not to love?”

With very active individual careers, the challenge is to mesh their schedules for rehearsal and performing time.

“Fortunately, we’re both pretty quick studies,” Purl says. “We usually do this show in a large concert hall, so there will be some work involved in scaling it to a smaller venue.”

Part of that challenge will be mitigated by having John Boswell, who did all the arrangements, as musical director and accompanist.

Both artists don’t seem content with just a performing career. In addition to his music label duties, Lessack has expanded into concert booking operations for himself and his roster of Broadway and recording artists.

“It only becomes a challenge when I’m on the road performing and feel like I should be back in the office booking acts and recordings,” he says, laughing.

Purl — who also plays the mother of Pam (Jenna Fischer) on NBC’s hit comedy “The Office” — has a penchant for mountain climbing and
produces the annual California International Theatre Festival in Calabasas.

“It’s a ridiculous amount of work,” she says of the latter, “but always worth it!”

IF YOU GO

Linda Purl and Lee Lessack

Where: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. today-Wednesday 
Tickets: $35
Contact: (866) 468-3399, www.therrazzroom.com

artsentertainmentlinda purlOther ArtsSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Muni’s K-Ingleside trains will resume service after a long hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
K-Ingleside train to return on May 15

Announcement comes on the heels of pressure from Supervisor Myrna Melgar

Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs speaks to San Francisco’s new Guaranteed Income Advisory Group on April 16, 2021. (Courtesy SFGOV)
City launches task force to explore Universal Basic Income programs

San Francisco on Friday launched a guaranteed income task force that could… Continue reading

Demonstrators march from Mission High School towards the San Francisco Police station on Valencia Street. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Vigil, march honors those killed by police

Deaths of Daunte Wright, Roger Allen and others prompt renewed calls for defunding

A Recology employee stands at the comapany’s recycling facility on Pier 96 in 2016. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
Nuru scandal: Feds charge second former Recology executive with bribery

A second former Recology executive is facing charges for allegedly bribing ex-Public… Continue reading

Kiana Williams
Stanford’s Kiana Williams drafted by WNBA champion Seattle Storm

Kiana Williams is going from one championship team to another. A senior… Continue reading

Most Read