BWW Reviews: THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWTUNE: A TRIBUTE TO HAROLD PRINCE Fills the Night with Great Music
On the first Sunday of each month at Kritzerland at Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal, dinner cabaret nights are presented to packed houses. Due to the Oscars, this month's event was held on Monday, March 3, saluting THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWTUNE: A TRIBUTE TO HAROLD PRINCE whose career has spanned over sixty years and who, as producer and/or director is responsible for some of the greatest musical theater triumphs of all time. Mr. Prince just celebrated his 86th birthday, so what better time to celebrate his legacy? He has garnered twenty-one Tony Awards, more than any other individual, including eight for directing, eight for producing the year's Best Musical, two as Best Producer of a Musical, and three special awards.
Producers Adryan Russ and Bruce Kimmel (who also hosted the evening, adding in lots of background information to introduce each song selection) certainly know how to put a great show together! Music Director Richard Berent accompanied the many talented singers who filled the night with songs from Damn Yankees, The Pajama Game, She Loves Me, Company, Sweeney Todd, Flora, The Red Menace, A Little Night Music, Merrily We Roll Along, Cabaret, Zorba, On the Twentieth Century, and more.
A total of 20 musical numbers from the vast Harold Prince musical theater world comprised the evening's selections. Here are some of the highlights.
Josh Grisetti's powerful voice and stage presence, as well as his ability to really sell a song, added real pizzazz to "I Rise Again" and "Being Alive." Grisetti has the ability to really reach out and pull an audience into the songs with him.
Jean Louisa Kelly shared "Dear Friend" and "Vanilla Ice Cream" from She Loves Me, produced and directed by Mr. Prince in 1963, as well as a rousing "Cabaret" to close the show for which Prince won Tony Awards for Best Direction and Best Musical in 1967.
Ashley Fox-Linton, a lovely blonde with an even lovelier voice, added adorable comic mimicry to "Lovely" from 1962's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, produced by Harold Prince for which he won the Tony Award for Best Musical.
Jenna Lea Rosen teamed up with host Bruce Kimmel to open the show with "Two Lost Souls" from Damn Yankees, produced by Harold Prince in 1955 for which he won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Another wonderful number was Jenna's youthful and touching rendition of "The Glamorous Life" from Steven Sondheim's A Little Night Music which Prince directed and produced in 1973, landing him another Tony Award for Best Musical.
Sami Staitman's "You've Got Possibilities" from It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman (1966) which Prince produced and directed, and "Don't Tell Mama" from Cabaret in which she added local references such as living in Topanga, were lovely but could use a bit more animation to really sell the songs' lyrics.
Robert Yacko's warm voice and causal attire added a friendly take on "Hey There" and "Not a Day Goes By" from the Harold Prince produced The Pajama Game in 1954 which introduced choreographer Bob Fosse to Broadway and actress Shirley Maclaine to film after an agent in the audience saw her onstage as an understudy.
The evening's special guest was Terri White, most recently in the Tony Award-nominated production of Follies at the Kennedy Center, from which she lit up the stage with a rousing rendition of "Who's That Woman" complete with tap dancing! Prince won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical for the show in 1971 and Ms. White's rendition was the crowning achievement of the night.
Kritzerland shows have been jam-packed and I recommend you make early reservations for future first Sunday night of the month events by calling 818-754-8700. Your phone reservation will be confirmed. Dinner reservations: DOORS OPEN 6:30pm. SHOW STARTS 8:00pm!
Cover charge $15 + $10 food minimum + $4 facility charge. Yes! You can eat dinner and see the show for only $29!
Sterling's at The Federal
5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
The Federal Bar is adjacent to the El Portal Theatre.
The North Hollywood Stations for the Metrolink Red Line and Orange Line are directly across the street, north of Chandler on Lankershim. Parking is available - entrance for Federal lot is on Weddington Street (directly behind the building) at $3.50. There is also available street parking.
For information about Sterling's Upstairs at The Federal: http://www.msapr.net/Sterling-s-at-The-Federal.html
Photos by Karen Staitman