BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Celebrates Third Anniversary with The Songs That Got Away Part II
On Sunday evening September 1, Kritzerland celebrated its third anniversary and 37th show at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal. Entitled The Songs That Got Away II, it featured a batch of songs from various composers/musicals that Bruce Kimmel considers great but that over time have received far less airplay than deserved. In short, they have just not attained a solid popularity. Many of these songs are familiar like "Some People" from Gypsy, but, it certainly did not gain the fame of, say, "Everything's Coming Up Roses"... but should have. Some of the lesser known but beautiful tunes like "It Must Be Spring" by Michel Legrand and the Bergmans are so good that it seems a shame it did get nominated for awards. Featured on this stellar program were dynamic singers Valerie Perri, Kay Cole, Jane Noseworthy, speciaLguest star Sharon McNight, Dan Callaway, Joshua Finkel, Jenna Lea Rosen, and sisters Sami and Sarah Staitman. John Boswell brilliantly served as musical director at the piano throughout the 90-minute set.
There were many, many great highlights in this show, too many to mention, but I will pull out the very best. The aforementioned "Some People" from Gypsy was given a sock.it.to.me punch by the terrific Sharon McNight. This gal really delivers the goods. Equal to McNight is Valerie Perri whose dynamite voice and acting really shaped the entire evening as she opened and closed the show: opening with "Buenos Aires" from Evita - she was Evita in the very first national tour - and closing with "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard, in which she recently starred as Norma Desmond for Musical Theatre West. Perri was another great addition to the show, as was Kay Cole, one of the original cast members from A Chorus Line. One of LA's superior director/choreographers, Cole essayed a touching "One Boy" from Bye, Bye Birdie and dueted with Jane Noseworthy on one of Kimmel's favorite Sondheim songs "Every Day a Little Death" from A Little Night Music. Cole has such a delectable way with a song, really focusing in on its mood and lyrics.
It was nice to see charmer Joshua Finkel join this cast with "Second Chance" from Kander & Ebb's flop Steel Pier and "She Touched Me" from another earlier Broadway turkey Drat the Cat, familiar because it was given a brilliant recording by Barbra Streisand on one of her first albums in the 60s. The lovely Jane Noseworthy, as well as the duet with Cole, turned 360 degrees from her usual lilting soprano voice ballads to perform a very amusing "Getting Married Today" from Sondheim's Company. It was a nice surprise to see her make this transition so well. Great tenor Dan Callaway scored with "It Must Be Spring" as well as the much lesser known "The Kid Inside" by Craig Cornelia from the eclectic musical of 1982 Is There Life After High School? Jenna Lea Rosen was just terrific with "Dear Mr. Gershwin" from Radio Gals, in which she managed to squeeze in a little tapping between bars. She also did a beautiful duet with sweet and adorable sisters Sami and Sarah Staitman "Three Friends" from Yearbook, a quite melodic song about friendship.
The comedy piece.de.resistance of the evening was "The Yiddish Sondheim" from Kimmel's fairly recent musical revue What If? The premise is what if well known composers wrote only for the Yiddish Theatre. The entire cast, except McNight and Perri, participated in this extravagantly hilarious mix of Sondheim favorites like "Beautiful Girls" from Follies with a change of lyrics becoming "Bar mitzvah Boys" and "Johanna" from Sweeney Todd turning into "Jewanna". Hysterical stuff!
Don hails from Holyoke, Massachusetts and holds two Masters Degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in Education and Bilingual Studies. Don is a teacher of foreign language and ESL.
Don is a member of the prestigious Road Theatre Company in NoHo and is in his fifth year with BWW, currently serving as Senior Editor of the Los Angeles Page.
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