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BWW Reviews: KRITZERLAND CHRISTMAS Puts the Jolly in Your Holly

On Sunday December 7, Kritzerland presented its 52nd show Kritzerland Christmas III at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal to a packed audience enthusiastic for a dose of Christmas cheer.

The cast of fantastic singers included Kim Huber, Robert Yacko, Madison Claire Parks, Roger Befeler, special guest Jason Graae, and young singers Sami and Sarah Staitman, Brennley Brown, Paige Befeler and 10 year-old Hadley Belle Miller. Virtuoso pianist James Lent served as musical director for the event headed up by host Bruce Kimmel, who was in especially good form about to celebrate a birthday on December 8.

As in all shows there are some tunes less familiar, but in this particular show most were resounding hits like "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas", sung by wonderful tenor Robert Yacko, "Let It Snow" done justice by Sarah Staitman, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" sung nicely by Kimmel himself substituting for Guy Haines, a distinctive "O Holy Night" sung memorably by young up and comer Brennley Brown, Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song" beautifully delivered by the exquisite Kim Huber, "Count Your Blessings" from White Christmas delivered with loving care by fine tenor Roger Befeler, a rousing combo of "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" performed by 14 year-old Paige Befeler, daughter of Kim Huber and Roger Befeler, and a colorful closing combo of "Happy Holidays" and "White Christmas" sung ever so gorgeously by Maddy Parks.

the Befelers; husband/father Roger, daughter Paige and wife/mother Kim Huber

Of the lesser known variety there was a delicious "My Simple Christmas Wish" sung with overabundant spunk by Sami Staitman, and "That Man Over There is Santa Claus" from Here's Love sung adorably by 10 year- old Hadley Belle Miller, who has just been cast in the new Peanuts movie as the voice of Lucy.

Consummate comic singer Jason Graae bought lots of laughs in a slow ballad version of "Turkey Lurkey Time", usually delivered in fast, fast tempo from Promises, Promises, coupled with "My All-Purpose Christmas Carol" paying tribute to every December holiday on the planet. Fun turn as always!

In the finale, as well as audience participation with "Jingle Bells", James Lent played a jazzy, souped-up version of "Happy Birthday" for Kimmel, with the entire cast singing, wearing hats and blowing horns. It was an exceedingly entertaining evening and clearly a great time was had by all.

Be sure to join Kritzerland for their first show of 2015 this time on a Monday January 12, featuring all young performers. Reservations are a must: 818-754-8700:

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From This Author Don Grigware