BWW Reviews: A Mirthful Kritzerland Christmas III Plays Sterling's

On Sunday, December 1 Kritzerland Records presented its 40th show and annual Christmas presentation entitled A Kritzerland Christmas III at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal with special guest star Terri White. It was a beautiful evening of mostly familiar Christmas music with a few lesser known but still great tunes. This is the whole point of Kritzerland to spotlight those songs that somehow got away without becoming hits. On hand as well as dynamic Terri White were songsters Dan Callaway, Robert Yacko, Ashley Fox Linton, Lisa Livesay, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sarah Staitman, Kelsey Scott and nine year-old Hadley Belle Miller, under the super musical direction of Richard Allen.

Host Bruce Kimmel offered some funny repartee as usual calling the evening a potpourri of Christmas tunes, but specifying that it was originally supposed to include rap and be titled Christmas Wrapping! Believe me, it did get funnier and...highly informative. Did you know that "Jingle Bells" was first called "One Horse Open Sleigh" and was indeed a Thanksgiving, not Christmas hit? Did you know that Brenda Lee was only 13 when she rocked the country with "Jingle Bell Rock" back in the 60s? Only at Kritzerland can you eat, drink ,be merry and learn some fascinating trivia to store up for those eclectic holiday parties!! Kimmel as Guy Hanes offered a delicious spoken reading of "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises. When you hear the lyrics, they sound incredibly ridiculous and inane, but the song from Bacharach/David was one of the biggest hits of that show and a gigantic crowd pleaser!

Other highlights of the evening included: a gorgeous "Winter Was Warm" by Jule Styne/Bob Merrill from 1962 TV's Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol sung lovingly by the equally gorgeous Ashely Fox Linton, an unbelievably stellar rendition of "O Holy Night" by Dan Callaway, Kimmel's amusing "This Christmas" about celebrating Chanukah style sung by the uber talented Lisa Livesay, and a lovely "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" sung with sincere gusto by the silver throated Robert Yacko. The simply beautiful Kelsey Scott presented a sexy "Santa Baby", Sarah Staitman a rollicking ode to "Jingle Bell Rock", and precious 9 year-old Hadley Belle Miller offered Shirely Temple's "That's What I Want for Christmas" from the film Stowaway. Jenna Lea Rosen closed with "Happy Holidays"/"White Christtmas", displaying such terrific growth as a singer since I last heard her. The piece de resistance was special guest star Terri White offering Sinatra's "Christmas Waltz" in tandem with Bing Crosby's "I'll Be Home for Christmas". There was not a dry eye in the house. Pure gold from this stunning singer! There were also wonderful renditions of "Count Your Blessings", "Merry Christmas Darling", "Sleigh Ride" and "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" A nice surprise was "The Gift", an unknown song whose music is by Brad Ellis and lovely, lovely lyrics written by Adryan Russ, the prolific co-producer of all of these magnificent Kritzerland shows.

A truly fine evening of singing and holiday mirth! Join Kritzerland on January 5 as a group of all young performers salute songs of Broadway and Hollywood!

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Don Grigware Don Grigware is an Ovation nominated actor and writer whose contributions to theatre through the years have included 6 years as theatre editor of NoHoLA, a contributor to LA Stage Magazine and currently on his own website:

Don hails from Holyoke, Massachusetts and holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Education and Bilingual Studies. He is a teacher of foreign language and ESL.

Don is in his fifth year with BWW, currently serving as Senior Editor of the Los Angeles Page.

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