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May 14, 2018:

A Classic Broadway Mother’s Day reviewed by Rob Stevens

The proof really is in the genes. It was the “mother” of all Mother’s Day celebrations in Los Angeles on Sunday, May 13. It was a diva-licious event as stellar singers Kim Huber, Valerie Perri and Nita Whitaker took to the stage along with their offspring at Rockwell Table & Stage in A Classic Broadway Mother’s Day. Producer/co-host Dianne Fraser and musical director/pianist/co-host Brad Ellis started the show off with the naughty “Don’t Tell Mama” from Kander & Ebb’s Cabaret, albeit with special lyrics by Jeff Cohn. Valerie Perri thrilled with Sondheim’s “Children Will Listen” and Jerry Herman’s “If He Walked into My Life.” Perri also teamed with son Jack Lipson on another Mame song, “My Best Girl.” After hearing her beautiful vocals, I was surprised to find out Mame is a role Perri has never performed. Producers, take note–hire this woman for a Mame revival stat. Jack has a twin brother, Benny, and they joined up for the Bricusse/Newley “The Joker,” with Jack on piano and vocals and Benny accompanying on bass. Then Benny accompanied himself on bass to “I Won’t Grow Up” from Peter Pan.

Kim Huber shared a mother/daughter bonding experience she and her five-year old Paige had while doing Sound of Music in Seattle. Huber’s Maria accidently clubbed “Gretl” with her guitar and although fine, Paige mimed a concussion, getting a royal share of the opening night reviews. Huber had David Goldsmith write some special lyrics to “I Have Confidence” to commemorate the incident which she then sang to prove no hard feelings. Paige prepares to head off to Wellesley College in the Fall, but first she showcased her lovely voice in “Journey to the Past” from the musical Anastasia. Paige’s father, Roger Befeler, joined her for a heartfelt “Mama, A Rainbow” after he had delivered an exuberant “She Loves Me.” Roger and Kim joined voices in a tender rendering of “Our Children” from Ragtime.

Former Miss Louisiana and Star Search icon Nita Whitaker proved gender swapping is a good thing with her soaring rendition of “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen which brought down the house. Earlier she had teamed up with her daughter Skye for some comic fun, first with Nita leading the way through “Mostly Me” from The Book of Mormon and then Skye regulating mama to background soprano while she raced her way through the manic wordplay of Sondheim’s “Getting Married Today.”

Ellis gave great accompaniment on piano throughout and for the Entr’acte played some inappropriate Mother’s Day tunes from Broadway such as “When You’re Good to Mama” from Chicago and “Rose’s Turn” from Gypsy before singing “Kids” from Bye Bye Birdie. Mothers, fathers, children and all present had a grand musical time.

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