Did April fool you this month? It might have if you attended the 97th outing of the monthly Kritzerland cabaret shows which was held at Upstairs at Vitello’s on Sunday, April 7. If you weren’t fooled, you were definitely entertained by the performers and the laugh-generating repartee of host/producer Bruce Kimmel. The chain of Utter McKinley Mortuaries and one-time only Broadway director Edward Padula came in for most of the running jokes. Don’t ask, you had to be there. And if you were there, between the laughs, there were a lot of songs dealing with April, Spring and Fools, some familiar and many rarities which is always a delight and a staple of the Kritzerland shows.
One of the traditions of the April Kritzerland shows is new What If parody songs. This year we had a trio of them, starting off with Robert Yacko gifting us with the What If instead of writing Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim wrote The King and I—the tongue twisting “Into Siam” was the result. Later Kimmel himself gave us the What If Yiddish Oklahoma “where the Jews all gather every day”. The best of the lot was the What If Coleman and Fields instead of writing Sweet Charity wrote Sunday in the Park With George and Brittney Bertier deftly delivered the number, complete with Fosse-like choreography. Let’s hear it for jazz hands.
There were a lot of rare oddities in the mix this month. Kim Huber did a lovely job with the quirky Leiber & Stoller song “I’ve Got Them Feelin’ Too Good Today Blues”. Bertier also gave us the rarely heard “My Love is a Married Man” from the obscure Lerner & Loewe musical The Day Before Spring. Roger Befeler delivered “Dance a Little Closer,” the title song from a musical version of Idiot’s Delight which lasted one performance on Broadway. Teens Autumn Jessel and Abigail Thompson teamed to sing “I’m Blue, Too” from the short lived Bob Merrill musical Henry, Sweet Henry. And as a result we learned Grease was not the first Broadway musical to make fun of film star Sandra Dee’s virginity.
Guest Star Fay DeWitt had the audience in stitches with “The French Song”. Even the dour Edith Piaf would have been laughing. DeWitt then put on her serious face and delivered a moving “Who Gave You Permission?” from the TV musical Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. This living legend made her Broadway debut in the 1950 revue Alive and Kicking. She proved she is still very much alive and kicking it in 2019.
Between the laughs and the loony tunes, there were some more serious and lovely tunes. Ashley Fox Linton did a wonderful job with “It Might as Well be Spring” and then gave a heartwarming rendition of “Old Friend”. Befeler proved once again what a delightful crooner he is by taking on two Frank Sinatra movie title songs “The Tender Trap/Pocketful of Miracles”. Robert Yacko provided some pleasant quieter moments with two other movie songs “Emily/The Shadow of Your Smile”. Kim Huber sang the night’s title song, “April Fooled Me,” which combined Dorothy Fields’ lyrics and a Jerome Kern melody. Huber and real life husband Befeler closed the evening out with a rousing “Old Fashioned Wedding.” Richard Allen provided the great accompaniment throughout switching from piano to keyboard and back.