BWW Reviews: The Roar of Kritzerland as They Salute Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse
I can't help but borrow from the genius of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse when I affirm it was The Roar of Kritzerland, The Smell of the burgers at the Federal on Sunday May 5 - Cinco de Mayo, no less - as Kritzerland presented its 33rd show in its current home at Sterling's Upstairs at the Federal, entitled Once in a Lifetime: The Songs of Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse. And it was a lollapalooza of an evening! Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse together, and separately, are responsible for so many dynamic musical shows and films: The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd; Stop the World - I Want to Get Off; Doctor Doolittle; Two For the Road;"Goldfinger" and "You Only Live Twice", two of the greatest Bond movie themes ever written for that thrilling series of films, as well Bricusse's latest involvement with creating the book and many of the lyrics for Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde with music by Frank Wildhorn, and on and on. Quite a legendary list!
When I facetiously commented that Bruce Kimmel should come up with some new introductory material, I never dreamed that he would take it upon himself to open a show, as he did this time around with a quiet, lovely "A Wonderful Day Like Today", a perfect beginning to the dazzling 90-minute array of talent. On the bill with Kimmel were regulars Jane Noseworthy, Lisa Livesay, Sami & Sarah Staitman with great additions Michael Shepperd, John Sloman, Kathy Deitch and superlative guest stars Joan Ryan and David Burnham. Wonderful musical director Tom Griep accompanied at the piano throughout. There were more familiar songs for this show maybe because Newley and Bricusse have had more hits - at least songwise - than misses.
Highlights included: Lisa Livesay's lovely rendition of "Pure Imagination" from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and later rousing deliveries of "Once In a Lifetime" from Stop... in tandem with "Nothing Can Stop Me Now" from The Roar..., Jane Noseworthy's beautiful "Look at That Face", Kathy Deitch's delightfully versatile romp with "Typically English..." from Stop..., in which she portrays British, German, Russian and American women in practically one fell swoop, and later her simply stunning delivery of "Two For the Road" from the Audrey Hepburn/Albert Finney film of the same name, John Sloman's rollicking treatment of "The Candy Man" as well as dynamic "What Kind of Fool Am I?", and the Staitman sisters adorable and skilled in duet "Where Would You Be Without Me?" Needless to say there were three performers who stopped the show, Michael Shepperd being one of them with three stellar virtuoso performances on "Gonna Build a Mountain", "Feeling Good", and "Who Can I Turn to?" Special guest star Joan Ryan knocked the two Bond themes out of the park, especially "Goldfinger", and handsome David Burnham wowed with the closing "This Is the Moment" from Jekyll & Hyde. Truly delightful performances from one and all!
On an interesting note Stop the World - I Want to Get Off - you notice I abbreviated it previously, as it's, along with The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd, one of the longer titles in theatrical history apart from Newley's impossible flop Can Heironymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? That title takes the cake and must be in the Guinness Book of Records! Anyway, when Stop! was made into films, once in 1966 and again for television in 1978, both proved to be miserable flops, but produced some of the most thrillingly memorable songs ever written! Show biz, go figure!
Join Kritzerland on June 2 as they pay homage to the one and only Noel Coward, followed in July by British Musical Invasions of the 60s/70s such as Oliver! and Half a Sixpence!!
Photo Credit: Stan Mazin
David Burnham, who had to rush out to catch a plane