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BWW Reviews: Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal Celebrates 2nd Anniversary with THESE APRIL FOOLISH THINGS

On the first Sunday of each month, Bruce Kimmel's Kritzerland Records' presents a supper club musical cabaret at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal in NoHo. Sunday, April 6, 2014 the group celebrated its two-year anniversary with THESE APRIL FOOLISH THINGS featuring Sandy Bainum, Zachary Ford, Madison Claire Parks, Jenna Lea Rosen, Sami Staitman, Shannon Warne, Robert Yacko, with special guests Andrea Marcovicci and Richard M. Sherman. Musical director: Lloyd Cooper. Associate Producer: Adryan Russ.

The evening's musical selections not only celebrated April Fool's Day and all things foolish, but also songs having to do with Spring or the month of April in general.

Host Bruce Kimmel started the evening by introducing his "Dreamgirls" Madison Claire Parks, Jenna Lea Rosen and Sami Staitman, whose soulful and feathery presence set the mood for the fun time ahead. Beautiful and classically trained Shannon Warne sang a combination of "The April Fools" (from the movie starring Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuve) and "These Foolish Things."

Twice during the evening were "What If" numbers, as in what if this song had been written by this other composer. The first was a cute parody from "The King and I" by Zachary Ford and Robert Yacko, but it was the second, which ended the evening, from "Sweeney Todd" in which Robert Yacko played the Demon Barber of the Federal, telling everyone to "Sit down, I'm slitting your throat" to the boat-rocking original from "Guys and Dolls" that had the audience roaring with laughter.

Jenna Lea Rosen and Robert Yacko added the first bit of humor in a combination of "Nothing/Something" from "A Chorus Line" with Jenna first singing a few lines as the non-student Morales with Robert taking over and singing his version of the story as the put-upon instructor not able to deal with Morales' inability to follow directions.

Bruce Kimmel reminded us that Sandy Bainum's flowing song compilation "April in Paris/April Love/I'll Remember April" included an Oscar-nominated song which lost to "All The Way." That song was "April Love" from the movie starring Pat Boone and Shirley Jones, the fourth most popular movie of 1957.

"It Might as Well Be Spring" did win the Best Song Oscar, sung this evening by Madison Claire Parks, the 19 year old granddaughter of Betty Garnett. Then to bring the laughter back onstage, Shannon Warne and Sandy Bainum teamed up on "Who Do I Have to Blank to Get Out of This Show?" All I can say is "blank it was funny!"

Sandy Bainum (pictured at left with Michael Sterling) seemed to be channeling Marilyn Monroe's throaty sexiness during "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," a jazz standard from the mid-50's.

The youngest performer in the show, lovely Sami Staitman, has a full raspy voice like the legendary Ethel Merman, which she fully utilized during "Some People" from "Gypsy." And the most current song of the night was "Pulled" from "The Addams Family," sung by their Goth daughter Wednesday in the show and by the lovely Jenna Lea Rosen this night, dressed in black fully demonstrating she really knows how to sell a song!

A highlight of the evening was an original song performed for the first time by Bruce Kimmel, who wrote the lyrics, accompanied by Richard Sherman who wrote the music. The song is titled "Two Roads" and speaks in a very positive way to the highway of life and the choices we make. It was a beautiful song and I am sorry the lyrics were not included in the program so I could quote them to you.

Zachary Ford's heartfelt rendition of "Letters That Cross in the Mail" told the story of overseas lovers getting their signals crossed in the days when it took weeks to get a response to a letter sent. And in the resulting down time, relationships could fail due to letters sent and received in the incorrect order. In this day of instant communication, the song reminded us that there was a time when patience was a virtue when it came to written communication. Now if a lover does not answer an email, Facebook message, or a Tweet within a few minutes we think they must be up to no good! His later rendition of "Younger Than Springtime" celebrating the happiness of love was one of the most beautiful renditions of the night.

The evening's guest entertainer Andrea Marcovicci, well known for singing at the legendary Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel as well as roles in films and on television, sang a medley of "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year/April Fooled Me" which could be the theme song of the East Coast right now, joked Kimmel.

It was easy to see how Ms. Marcovicci has engaged her audiences with her easy style and friendly way of making everyone feel as if they were her friend.

Kritzerland at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal evenings start with dinner selections ranging from delicious burgers and grilled chicken to appealing appetizers and salads. There is a full bar, and ordering the evening's "drink specials" and Sterling wines benefits LA's Next Great Stage Star 2015, the only musical theatre talent competition of its kind on the west coast, produced by Michael Sterling & Associates.

And if I heard right, the Sunday, May 4 event will feature the music of Cole Porter!

Attendance for all performances is by reservations only at 818-754-8700. Cocktail attire or upscale casual, please. 5:30 - 6:00 pm Dinner Seating, 7:00 pm Performance.

$29 General Admission Seating Base Price Includes $15 Cover

$10 Food and/or Beverage Minimum and a $4 Venue/Security Charge

Photos by Shari Barrett


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