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April 4, 2018:

The April Fools reviewed by Rob Stevens

The 86th Kritzerland show, The April Fools, actually took place on April 1 which this year was also Easter as well as falling during the observance of Passover. There were mini chocolate eggs on the tables but there was not a Matzo in sight at Sterling’s Upstairs at the Federal which was also celebrating its 6th anniversary. That’s a lot of celebrations to pack into one cabaret show but producer/host Bruce Kimmel stuffed the stage with a potpourri of oddly fun or funny odd tunes as well as some lovely ballads.

Teenager Hadley Belle Miller delivered Stephen Sondheim’s “Invocation and Instructions to the Audience” with Kimmel tweaking the lyrics to make them more apropos for the Sterling’s/Kritzerland audience. That set the mood for the hilarity to follow which included Robert Yacko’s rendition of “April in Fairbanks” from the revue New Faces of 1956, Maegan McConnell’s slyly wicked Cole Porter ditty “Tale of the Oyster,” Stanton Morales’s impassioned Robert Jason Brown ode to a “Shiksa Goddess,” and Sami Staitman’s “Here I Am” from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Kimmel himself provided the vocals for that ode to Spring, “When the Red Red Robin”.

The talented cast, ably aided by musical director/pianist Richard Berent, also delivered some lovely seasonal ballads or ballads just for a change of pace. Rubin did a lovely job with two songs—one cut “Sweet River,” one replacement “Love, Don’t Turn Away”– from the musical 110 in the Shade whose composer, Harvey Schmidt, recently went to the Brill Building in the Sky. Staitman, a soon to be graduating high school senior, reprised her role as Esmeralda in her school’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame with “Someday”. Morales delivered the joyous title song from She Loves Me while Yacko evoked Francophile memories of The Young Girls of Rochefort with “You Must Believe in Spring.” McConnell perfectly captured the melancholic yet hopeful tint in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “It Might As Well Be Spring,” while Rubin delivered the perfect bittersweet touch to Bacharach & David’s “The April Fools”. The evening was a pleasant way to spend a holiday, spring into Spring and enjoy a bit of tomfoolery.

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