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BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

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BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

Hard to believe, but Kritzerland turned 6 on Sunday September 4 at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal. Bruce Kimmel and his record company Kritzerland began their series of concerts at the Gardenia for the first year, then moved to Vitello's with Michael Sterling and onto the Federal four years ago. Kimmel and Kritzerland are joined at the hip; it's his brainchild ... and he brings all of his ingenious theatricality and cleverness to each show. This anniversary show was over.the.moon great with terribly eclectic, funny numbers and some absolutely wonderful talent. On board were steadies Sharon McNight, Nick Santa Maria, Ilene Graff and hubbie Ben Lanzarone, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sami Staitman and special appearance by composer Richard M. Sherman. Newcomers Marc Ginsburg, Reagan Pasternak and little Hayley Shukiar joined 'Guy Haines' for a heartfelt and laugh-filled concert. Wonderful Richard Allen served as musical director and accompanist for most of the songs throughout the 90-minute set.

For those unfamiliar with Kritzerland concerts, Bruce Kimmel puts each evening, which occurs the first Sunday of every month, together from scratch focusing on one composer. For this show, The Songs That Got Away 6, there was a mix of familiar and less familiar tunes - which is typical of all Kritzerland shows - but here, the emphasis was on a variety of composers and songs that should have been great big hits. For one reason or another, most were not. Kimmel always adds delightful anecdotes about the theatrical history of the songs, making the program enlightening as well as entertaining.

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

Highlights included: "Somewhere That's Green" from 1982's Little Shop of Horrors, which, like Roger Korman's little film from the 60s, has become a cult classic. Reagan Pasternak did a beautiful job recreating Audrey's innocence and sensitivity. She returned later with "Tell Me on a Sunday" from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance. Pasternak puts so much feeling into her interpretations, that she moved me to tears, particularly with the latter. I hope she does more of these cabaret shows. She's a fabulous talent.

It was so terrific to see Ilene Graff return. She is so warm, friendly and a downright strong vocalist. She performed "Love Revolution" from I Love My Wife that she sang originally on Broadway and later rendered "Whoever Your Are, I Love You" from Promises, Promises. Her interpretation of the latter was simply beautiful, one of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's fantastic songs. Accompanying Graff at the piano was her husband, the great musical talent, Ben Lanzarone.

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

Sharon McNight, always a dynamic performer, did a fierce and unforgettable rendition of "Some People" from Gypsy. Her deliciously comic moments came as Bette Davis in a duet with little Hayley Shukiar. Shukiar adorably essayed "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" from 1962's now classic cult film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? The second song from the film, also composed by Frank DeVol, "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" put McNight as Davis in a red wig and carrying an enormous martini glass with an olive the size of a golf ball. Her Davis impression was a killer and she brought the house down. Kimmel really surpassed himself on this one!

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

Nick Santa Maria did a fine "I Can't Begin to Tell You" from The Dolly Sisters replete with ukelele. His second number was the big brassy "Rockabye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody" that blew the roof off the joint, as he gave his all recreating a nearly perfect Al Jolson voice.

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

A real treat was the presence of Mary Poppins composer Richard M. Sherman who sat at the piano

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

and performed a song you would least expect to hear from the classy, gentlemanly Sherman Brothers. The song, from one of their very first musicals, was "The Good Time Girl", otherwise known as the VD polka. Great irreverent fun and wonderful work from this exuberantly talented, ageless man!

Another newcomer to Kritzerland Marc Baron Ginsburg has a powerful voice and put it to excellent use on Cabaret's "Perfectly Marvelous" and "Why Should I Wake Up?", sorrowfully cut from the current touring revival. His return combo of Anthony Newley's "Gonna Build a Mountain" with "Nothing Can Stop Me Now" was nothing short of electric.

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

Jenna Lea Rosen and Sami Staitman have matured into beautiful young ladies. They have also grown dynamically in their vocal presentations. They put a deliciously refreshing spin on "Anything You Can Do" from Annie Get Your Gun, letting two teenage chums go head to head. Rosen also soared with "Kickin' the Clouds Away" from My One and Only. Staitman had her riveting turn with "Wherever He Ain't" from Jerry Herman's Mack and Mabel.

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

Guy Haines, a running gag for Kimmel to sing himself, paid off doubly this time around with Kimmel performing a delirious rendition of "The Maladjusted Jester", Danny Kaye's number from the 1956 film The Court Jester. He later returned with 1952's slow ballad "That's All", made so famous by Sinatra, Nat King Cole and lately by Michael Buble.

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

This was one fabulous show! Let's not forget Doug Haverty's invaluable participation in the proceedings. He assists Kimmel with all the backstage details.

Join Kritzerland on October 2 when they pay tribute to composers Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens who wrote the gorgeous Ragtime and Once on This Island. Make early reservations as these shows sell out fast! Call (800) 838-3006!

BWW Review: KRITZERLAND Celebrates 6th Anniversary with a Big Dose of Panache

(photo credit: Karen Staitman Photography)


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