Valerie Perri and David Burnham teamed up a year ago as Norma Desmond and Joe Gillis in Musical Theatre West’s revival of Sunset Blvd. Evidently their personalities and musical talents blended well and the resultant Together Again for the First Time was created and unveiled at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal on September 21. Unfortunately the duo won’t be teaming up again for a while as Burnham just got a six-month gig at Wynn Las Vegas as host and singer in a Best of Broadway revue. Luckily for those of us who got to see them team up, along with musical director/pianist Mark Vogel, it was “A Grand Night for Broadway.”
It’s hard to pick out highlights from their 90-minute set because nearly every number was a highlight. They started with a mash-up of classic tunes from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin—“Anything Goes/You’re Just in Love.” Later they recreated the classic Barbra Streisand/Judy Garland diva off—“Happy Days/Get Happy”—with Burnham channeling Garland. Who knew? Perri paid tribute to Streisand with a medley of “People” and “Don’t Rain on my Parade” as well as to Liza Minnelli with a rousing “Cabaret.” Burnham paid tribute to his older brother, who has been living out of the country for the past few years, with a soul-stirring “Bring Him Home.” He also paid tribute to his late mother with a heartfelt “I’ll Be Seeing You.” He gave a preview of his Vegas gig with a medley of Broadway hits ranging from “Luck Be a Lady,” “Razzle Dazzle” to “What Kind of Fool am I?”
Early in the show the duo shared audition stories of their first Equity jobs. Burnham replaced Donny Osmond in the National Tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and performed “Any Dream Will Do” and “Close Every Door” from the show. His mellow tones lovingly caressed the lyrics. Perri starred in the National Tour of Evita and gave impassioned renditions of “Buenos Aires” and “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” and proved she deserves to be called a “beltress” as Burnham often referred to her. Their onstage chemistry was playful and supportive. Perri did a devastating turn on “With One Look” and before her enchanting “Memory” shared the fact that the song was originally written for Norma Desmond in an early draft of Sunset Blvd. But because of rights issues it took many years before the show finally made its debut and the song was instead used in Cats. It actually works better for Norma than Grizabella. Burnham showed his range and versatility as well as chutzpah with “Can’t Take My Eyes off You,” with Broadway’s Tony Award-winning John Lloyd Young in the audience.
Besides accompanying the main duo, Vogel also joined in to form a trio at times, especially for a medley of pop tunes. He also joined up with Burnham for great renditions of “Unchained Melody” and “Bridge over Troubled Water” and with Perri on “When I Fall in Love.” The Trio finished the evening with “Somewhere” but not until they had the audience singing along to their medley from Hair.
Next up at Sterling’s is Gary Lynn Floyd in “When Gary Met Harry: The Songs of Harry Warren on Sept. 28 and Kritzerland’s 50th show on Oct. 5. 818-754-8700 or www.msapr.net