BWW Reviews: Kritzerland Salutes the Sophistication of Noel Coward
review by guest reviewer Jim Spada
The Sunday, June 2nd Kritzerland Show at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal in North Hollywood proved another highly enjoyable evening from Bruce Kimmel and Adryan Russ. The composer celebrated in this show, Noel Coward, is perhaps more renowned for his lyrics than his melodies, but what lyrics they are! Clever, witty, or cynical, they come fast and they delight the intellect.
A typically terrific group of singers, under the musical direction of Lloyd Cooper, brought the songs-which were either composed by Coward or by others in the Coward style-to life. Kritzerland veteran Robert Yacko and John Sloman have similar baritone voices and strong masculine presences, but each brought his own stamp to the material. The fast-paced lyrics of "Don't Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington" tripped Sloman up at the beginning of the song, but he more than made up for it with a strong, amusingly impassioned finish. Yacko's standout was "Mad Dogs & Englishmen," an even more challenging lyric which he delivered flawlessly and with great comic verve.
The women of the ensemble acquitted themselves equally well. Eileen Barnett's lovely voice did fine justice to a medley of "Where Shall I Find Him?" and "A Room with a View." The perky Lisa Livesay offered a moving rendition of "Home Sweet Heaven," a woman's description of her life after life.
The Broadway veteran Susan Watson, who originated the role of Kim in Bye, Bye Birdie in 1960, is still in great voice and her version of "If Love Were All" was greeted with cheers from the delighted audience.
Thirteen-year-old Sami Staitman sang "Any Little Fish" with a voice and style beyond her years, and the even younger Oliviana Marie joined Eileen Barnett for the cute ditty "The Little Ones' ABC."
The very talented Jane Noseworthy gave the evening's best performance, of the hilarious "The Coconut Girl," in which the character condenses a two-act musical into four minutes. It served as the evening's fast-paced finale, and brought a second round of cheers from the audience.
As always, Bruce Kimmel did an amusing job introducing each song, serving as emcee, raconteur, and musical historian. He even sang a few lyrics from Coward's "gay version" of "Mad About the Boy," which were hilarious and risqué. Kimmel sang only one stanza since this was, after all, a family show.
All in all an evening with all the pleasures we come to expect from a Kritzerland show.