The 99th edition of Kritzerland was a lovely way to spend an afternoon at the newly christened Feinstein’s at Vitello’s on Sunday June 2. It was a near capacity crowd for a brunch affair entitled June is Brunching Out All Over. Producer/host Bruce Kimmel threw together another potpourri of familiar and unfamiliar standards and Broadway tunes, some comic, some romantic, some danceable. The show began with Jenna Lea Rosen performing a put-together of two songs from 42nd Street—“Lullaby of Broadway” and “We’re in the Money”—and tapping on her portable floor. Rosen later delivered the beautiful Kimmel penned ballad “You Said” from the first musical he ever wrote, way back in 1971 when he was a wee bairn at Los Angeles City College. Then she closed out the show belting “Knowing When to Leave” and the title song from Promises, Promises. Brava Diva Jenna!
Kimmel was originally set to do an all Harry Warren show, but switched gears after the success of his catch all April Fools and May Mayhem shows. He did continue his redacted Warren Report with a put-together of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “42nd Street”, delivered crooningly by the big band singer stylings of Damon Kirsche. In a gender switch, Kirsche also delivered “Cheerful Little Earful” and “I Found a Million Dollar Baby in the Five and Ten Cent Store,” two songs penned by Billy Rose for his then wife Fanny Brice. Kirsche also teamed up very princely with Robert Yacko as the two bemoaned their way through Stephen Sondheim’s hilarious “Agony”. Yacko also did very well on the Neil Sedaka tune “The Hungry Years.”
Soon to be 94-year old Bill Hayes showed he still had star power with his “When I Fall In Love” medley. He also led the audience in a sing-a-long of his four million copy selling 1950s era hit song, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett.” Kimmel took a turn behind the mic as a singer with a heartfelt rendition of “Hushabye Mountain,” penned by Robert and Richard Sherman, the latter of which was in the audience. Kelley Dorney proved to be a great addition to the Kritzerland rotating cast of performers in her first show, singing the comic Kimmel number “Who Do I Have to Blank to Get Out of This Show” and the beautiful ballad “The People in My Life,” a song cut from the score to the musical Sugar. She also did a great job with Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” which worked in a bit of his “Macarthur Park” as well. Musical director Richard Allen, as usual, provided great accompaniment here and throughout the show, switching back and forth from piano to keyboard.
It’s been a few months since I last wrote a Love Letter to Kim Huber so here is another. This performer continues to amaze and stun me with her versatility and with her acutely heightened interpretations of familiar songs. She proved she could have been a big band singer with the best of them if she had been born in an earlier era with her put-together of “The More I See You” and “At Last.” She put her own spin on former big band singer Doris Day’s theme song, “Whatever Will Be, Will Be,” AKA “Que Sera Sera”. But it was in her duet with Robert Yacko to one of Sondheim’s most powerful ballads, “Too Many Mornings,” that this truly gifted performer reached new heights. She entered the triumphant triumvirate of Sally Durant performers that this writer has seen. The first and foremost was the Broadway original Dorothy Collins. The role of Sally proved to be a highlight in the career of Sondheim baby Teri Ralston, first in San Jose in the 1980s and then San Diego in the 1990s. Add Kim Huber to that list now and some enterprising producer mount a production of Follies with this star stat!