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FAMILY

Reliving Warm Memories With 'Mommy'

November 01, 1996|LYNNE HEFFLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Adults may know the unique voice of Didi Conn from her role as Frenchy in the film version of "Grease." Children will recognize it from Conn's bubbly starring role as Stacy Jones on the PBS children's series "Shining Time Station." Now Conn's remarkably engaging, impish vocals can be heard on a splendid new children's recording, "Mommy, Gimme a Drinka Water!"

This irrepressible musical evocation of childhood experience marks the return of a classic. With music and lyrics by Milton Schafer, it was originally recorded by Danny Kaye in the '50s. Here, with rich, sophisticated full orchestrations by Tony and Academy Award winner Jonathan Tunick, Conn captures a child's exuberance and spirit in witty, telling songs about sibling jealousy, agonizing over what to say in a thank-you note for an unwanted gift, playing in the tub, bedtime-delaying tactics and turning 5 years old.

Sung from the standpoint of a spirited, imaginative little girl, the songs also ponder the color of kisses--"Grandpa's are speckled like butterfly wings . . . Auntie Melinda's are watery pale"--and define seesaw bliss: "When I go up it's so much fun / I can stick my finger right into the sun. . . ."

One of the year's best.

* "Mommy, Gimme a Drinka Water," Verese Sarabande Records. CD: $12.98; cassette: $9.98. Widely available.

Engaging: American Sign Language expert and children's entertainer Gaia Tossing serves up fun and inspiration in "Sing 'n' Sign for Fun!," her new feel-good musical video for hearing and hearing-impaired children.

Tossing and an engaging group of youngsters perform tuneful and visually expressive songs, including "People Are Havin' Fun," "I Can Do Anything," "The Unicorn Song," "I Sign Like This" and "I'll Be Friends With You."

With inviting enthusiasm, Tossing and company demonstrate signs for words, letters and emotions for play-along participation.

The album ends with a touching anthem to a bright and hopeful future, "Open Your Heart America," and it's followed by a list of resource materials, plus information on free membership in "Gaia's Kidsign Club." The video comes with an insert with lyrics, sign word translations and the manual alphabet.

* "Sing 'n' Sign for Fun!," Heartsong Communications, $14.95 plus shipping. (800) 648-0755, Ext. 7.

*

Stage Notes: Fans of the long-running children's show "Halfway Down the Stairs," with Uncle Ruthie Buell, have a treat in store: On Sunday, from 8:30-9:30 a.m. on KPFK-FM (90.7), Buell begins the first of several shows in her "William Steig Festival," storytelling and music for all ages featuring works by the captivating cartoonist-author. . . . Talented singer-songwriter Jim Rule performs a mini-concert for families with songs from his new "Let It Shine" album at Pages Books in Tarzana on Sunday at 11 a.m. Information: (818) 34-BOOKS.

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