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September 8, 2017:

The Songs that Got Away VII reviewed by Rob Stevens

On Sunday September 3 Kritzerland celebrated its 7th Anniversary by presenting The Songs that Got Away VII, its 80th cabaret show at Sterling’s Upstairs at The Federal. The evening was produced and hosted by Kritzerland raconteur Bruce Kimmel who provided detailed history as well as funny notes on the mostly rare songs sung by the talented cast of performers. As usual the anniversary show was comprised mostly of songs that were cut from the original Broadway productions or songs that never really made their way into the consciousness of most musical theatre aficionados. There were cut songs from Kander & Ebb’s The Happy Time, Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked and Pippin as well as a Sondheim song written for an aborted film version of Into The Woods. There was also a song, “Opportunity,” from a Sherman Brothers musical that never even made it to the workshop stage. However that will change in November when Kimmel directs a full production of Levi at Los Angeles City College. Young, energetic spitfire Hayley Shukiar’s rendition whetted the appetite of Sherman Brothers’ fans in the audience. Besides “Rainbows” (a song written for The Baker and the Baker’s Wife for Into The Woods and beautifully sung by Robert Yacko and Kerry O’Malley who played those roles in different stage productions of the musical) Sondheim’s very first musical Saturday Night was represented by the optimistic, uptempo “What More Do I Need,” perkily delivered by Sami Staitman. Roger Befeler channeled his inner Michael Rupert by singing “If You Leave Me Now” from The Happy Time as well as “Marking Time,” a cut song from Pippin. Jenna Lea Rosen didn’t need to don green makeup to deliver a poignant “Making Good,” a song Kimmel heard at the first table read for Wicked in 2000. This writer heard the same song sung by Stephanie J. Block at the final table read for the show in 2002. Although good, the song was eventually replaced by “The Wizard and I.” Rosen closed the show with a heartfelt “I Believe in You” from How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Kerry O’Malley brought down the house with the evening’s penultimate song, her moving version of “The Music That Makes Me Dance” from Funny Girl. The song was of course first introduced by Barbra Streisand in 1964. I always felt the best version I’ve ever heard was by Streisand’s standby, Lainie Kazan, who often sang it in her concerts and once sang it to this writer a capella during a phone interview. O’Malley comes in a close second to Kazan. Comedy was provided by the evening’s Guest Star, the Clown Prince of Cabaret Jason Graae with his oboe-sexual rendition of “Just a Gigolo.” I’m not sure if he was channeling Marlene Dietrich or David Bowie or Louis Prima or a combination of all three but a fun time was had by all. Graee returned later and showcased his more serious side and mellow tones with a put-together of “Maybe” from Annie and “One Last Kiss” from Bye Bye Birdie. Musical Director Alby Potts provided great accompaniment on piano throughout the 90 minute show.


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