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October 3, 2017:

An Early Musical Halloween Show reviewed by Rob Stevens

On Sunday October 1, Kritzerland presented its first ever Early Musical Halloween Show at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal. I’m not sure if it would qualify as creepy, mysterious or spooky, but it was kooky at times and maybe even altogether ooky. Producer/host Bruce Kimmel chose nearly 20 songs from stage musicals as well as from films that dealt with sci-fi and horror themes; from throat cutting barbers to disfigured composers, from time travel to alien creatures. It turned out to be a fun evening and there was even Halloween candy. Newly turned 12-year old Hayley Shukiar started the show off channeling Angela Lansbury’s Mrs. Lovett (she even sported the pin curled side braids and an English accent) while extolling “The Worst Pies in London.” Is a sub-teen version of Sweeney Todd in her future? Eighteen year old Sami Staitman showed off her Wednesday Addams’ quirks with “Pulled” and then did a fun “Good Girl/Bad Girl” from Kimmel’s own The Brain From Planet X which she performed in at last year’s tenth anniversary concert. Also reprising one of her songs from the concert and the original production was Lauren Rubin with the Fifties housewife charmer “Here on Earth.” Rubin proved her versatility with the sexy “Touch’a Touch’a Touch’a Touch Me” from The Rocky Horror Show as well as the beautiful ballad “Someone Like You” from Frank Wildhorn’s Jekyll & Hyde. There are some people that say that Wildhorn writes scores for horrible musicals, not really meaning the shows have horror themes. I’m not one of those people for I like Wildhorn’s brand of power ballads and have usually enjoyed seeing stage productions of his work. But Dracula The Musical, whose World Premiere I saw at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2001, was a real horror but it did offer the haunting “Loving You Keeps Me Alive” which Daniel Thomas Bellusci delivered. Bellusci also channeled his inner nerd for “Grow for Me” from Little Shop of Horrors. Host Kimmel went into Sinatra/Connick mode to croon his ooky ballad “I Want to Eat Your Face” from his film The Creature Wasn’t Nice. David Burnham possesses a voice “like buttah” as I am sure SNL’s Linda Richman would say. Burnham has been absent from local stages for two years while he wowed Vegas audiences in a big Broadway revue. Thankfully he is back in town and singing better than ever as he demonstrated with his powerful “This is the Moment” from Jekyll & Hyde and soulful “Music of the Night” from Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. The other Phantom musical, the one with the much better book by Arthur Kopit and the beautiful score by Maury Yeston, simply titled Phantom was represented by two songs sung by Robert Yacko who played the role in one of the many regional productions the show has received. Yacko brought the house down later with his schizophrenic rendition of “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” done duet style by Dr. Frankenstein and his Monster from the film and stage version of Young Frankenstein. A delightfully scary presence on the cabaret stage in any month, the always wonderful Sharon McNight delighted the audience with her tribute to Eartha Kitt in “I Want to be Evil.” McNight’s version of Sondheim’s “I Never Do Anything Twice” is sheer brilliance. Even Hermione Gingold, who did the song on the 1979 Side by Side by Sondheim tour, would have to agree. Richard Allen served as Musical Director for the show and provided great accompaniment on the piano.


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