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BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 5th Anniversary with Style

On Sunday September 6 at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal, Kritzerland Records celebrated its 61st show and 5 year anniversary. On hand were affable host Kritzerland producer Bruce Kimmel, musical director extraordinaire John Boswell at the piano and a bevy of super talented singers who included: Brennley Brown, Hadley Miller, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sami Staitman, Robert Yacko, Damon Kirsche, Darcie Roberts, Sharon McNight, Jason Graae, and special guest star Tony Award winner Sammy Williams. What a cast and what a fabulous evening of entertainment entitled The Songs That Got Away IV!

Of course there were a few popular numbers like "Don't Rain On My Parade" from Funny Girl sung jubilantly by Darcie Roberts, "The Man I Love" in a curiously upbeat arrangement for the outrageous Sharon McNight and "Not While I'm Around"from Sweeney Todd, sung lovingly by Brennley Brown, but most were unfamiliar, as in all Kritzerland shows - beautiful tunes but less popular, some completely unknown like "Haiku", McNight's deliciously offbeat entry, or a brand new song by Kimmel "C C Brown's", sung thoughtfully by Robert Yacko, for a revue about unforgettable LA places, to be mounted in 2016.

Other highlights of the 90-minute show included: Rosen's beautiful "Here's That Rainy Day" in combo with "Now When the Rain Falls", Jason Graae's hysterically funny "Mimi" with mirror in hand, a lovely duet of "Better Than a Dream" by Roberts and Damon Kirsche from Bells Are Ringing, a clever and riveting "Ten Percent" by Damon Kirsche cut from Chicago, and Graae's lilting "She Touched Me" from Drat the Cat, which Streisand made famous with a lyric change to "He Touched Me". Sami Staitman offered a fun number from her one-girl musical Welcome to My World - accompanied at the piano by her musical director Alby Potts - which opens this weekend at the Grove Theatre in Burbank titled "Note to Boys". The piece de resistance was the appearance of Sammy Williams performing a medley of songs by Bruce Kimmel that he performed originally: "First Apartment", "Stages" and "Musical Comedy" all comedic, lighter fare, 360 degrees away from the drama of his Chorus Line solos. In the audience to support him were other Chorus Line champs Kay Cole and Ron Dennis. Williams is still a vital force onstage and hopefully, we will see him more often.

All in all, a wonderful show with sparkling performances. Kritzerland prides itself in having a theme from week to week, sometimes the music of a single composer. Kimmel offers lots of interesting and fun chatter about the songs. It is always enjoyable fare, thanks as well to co-producer Adryan Russ. In the months ahead, Kritzerland is cutting back a bit. There will be an October show and then one in December, and in 2016, the aim is to stage 7/8 shows instead of the usual 12 at the top of every month. Stay tuned!

composer richard sherman with darcie roberts

damon kirsche, darcie roberts

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From This Author Don Grigware