On Sunday June 5 LA's Next Great Stage Star 2011 Judy Mora debuted her cabaret show @ Sterling's Upstairs @ Vitello's. Looking glamorous in a sleeveless pink evening dress the beautiful Mora presented her uplifting journey through life thus far with candor, brevity and elegance. The daughter of a preacher and a missionary, Mora learned to sing as a tiny child and her great vocal prowess and sturdy technique serve as testimony to her tenacity and optimism for living.
Highlights of the evening included: her fresh opening with "Spark of Creation", a lilting "I've Got the Music In Me", "Change in Me", a spectacular rendering of "Don't Rain On My Parade" from Funny Girl, which punctuated her decision in high school to make her life in the theatre, "It Won't Be Long Now", Katy Perry's contemporary "Firework", made even more colorful with Mora's upbeat interpretation, "I'm Not Alone" from Carrie, which has become a favorite since its intro to her by musical director James Lent, the wonderful "I Won't Last a Day Without You", and a splendid duet with friend Nathan Shrake on "One Hand One Heart" from West Side Story mixed with an exuberant "No Air". There was an extremely touching moment within "Somos Novios", with which she not only paid tribute to her Latino heritage but also to acknowledge her grandparents' 53rd wedding anniversary. From a table in the front row, her grandpa got up, crossed to his wife of 53 years, got down on his knees, kissed her and they embraced lovingly for a few minutes - quite a tear-filled moment for Mora and the entire audience. She closed the 50-minute set with "Say Goodbye" and a rousing encore "Watch Me Soar". All songs fit naturally into the storyline and made for a smooth, well organized evening that played out beautifully. Richard Hochberg supplied wonderful direction, and once again, thanks to musical director James Lent, who has become truly inspirational for Sterling's performers.
Judy Mora is a big talent. I expect great things from her. She is warm and beautiful with a versatile, expressive instrument. May her star shine brightly!
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Vitello's restaurant is currently undergoing some menu changes, and I must admit, with very few exceptions, the food, as always, is deliciously appetizing with more than ample portions.