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BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Does Classy 35th Show to Honor the British Invasion of '60s & '70s Musicals

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On Sunday July 7, Kritzerland presented its 35th show The British Invasion, music from UK musicals of the 60s and 70s, at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal. I can only say to Bruce Kimmel, "good show, ole' boy"!

It was a delicious evening of some well-known songs from hits like Oliver!, Half a Sixpence and JC Superstar, but most of the material was from very unfamiliar shows, with many 'loverly', truly lovely tunes. Sensational musical director Shelly Markham was at the piano throughout the 80 minute set and the roster of gifted singers included, on the female side of the fence: Chelsea Emma Franko, Tessa Grady, Jenna Lea Rosen and guest star Kerry O'Malley; on the male side: Robert Yacko, Barry Pearl, and very special guest Tony Tanner (pictured left) who very successfully replaced Tommy Steele originally in the import hit Half a Sixpence.

Highlights of the night were Tanner's oh so charming rendition of the title song "Half a Sixpence" and his delightful patter about working with such great ladies of the theatre like Barbara Harris, Bea Lillie and Ruth Gordon. Pearl scored with Fagin's "Reviewing the Situation" from the most recorded show ever Oliver! and then returned in a delightful duet with Rosen of "I'd Do Anything" coupled with "It's a Fine Life" also from Oliver! An unlikely pair with uber flair! Yacko gave his all to "Some of Us Belong to the Stars" paired with "Something Different" from the show Billy (Billy Liar) and then returned later to bring down the house with "If I Ruled the World" from Pickwick. O'Malley's one solo "As Long As He Needs Me" from Oliver! was dynamically delivered. What an unforgettable artist! Franko was a devilish delight with "When Does the Ravishing Begin?" from Lock Up Your Daughters paired with "I Could Be the One" from The Card, composed by Tony Hatch, who, with Jackie Trent was responsible for most of Petula Clark's great hits like "Downtown" and "Don't Sleep in the Subway". Grady tapped her toes and our troubles away with "If the Rain's Gotta Fall" and later did a beautiful rendering of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, which was a hit recording before it played the stage, first as a concert then later a fully produced musical and hit film with Ted Neeley, Yvonne Elliman and Carl Anderson. Jenna Lea Rosen did an absolutely stunning delivery of "Where Is Love?" from Oliver! and even Shelly Markham got into the act with "My Favourite Occupation" from 1965's Charlie Girl. Everyone, including the audience, sang out "Consider Yourself" from Oliver! loud and clear after the finale.

As always, there was some wonderfully fun and enlightening trivia from Kimmel about the shows such as The Good Companions, which was turned into a musical in 1974 with music by Andre Previn and lyrics by Johnny Mercer and starring none other than now superstar Dame Judi Dench. I loved his opening joke about using an iPad to read his notes throughout the show, "A Jew and an iPad? That's an oxymoron!" Thanks as well to producer Adryan Russ for her invaluable assistance in all of these programs. Kritzerland will return August 4 with a salute to Meredith Willson (The Music Man) and Gene de Paul (Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Li'l Abner). Make early reservations, as most shows deservedly sell out - call 818-754-8700.

Photo Credit: Jim Spada


musical director Shelly Markham


left to right: Michael Sterling, Kerry O'Malley


left to right: Tony Tanner, Kerry O'Malley


left to right: Robert Yacko, Barry Pearl


left to right: Jenna Lea Rosen, Chelsea Emma Franko, Tessa Grady


left to right: Robert Yacko, Kerry O'Malley, Barry Pearl


left to right: Tony Tanner, Kerry O'Malley, Ed Donovan


left to right: Robert Yacko, Barry Pearl


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