On Wednesday September 7 Bruce Kimmel's Kritzerland at the Gardenia celebrated its first anniversary honoring the work of Frank Loesser. Loesser, if you recall, wrote Guys and Dolls, considered by many to be one of the most perfect musicals of all time. He also wrote music and lyrics for 1962's Pulitzer Prize winning How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying currently receiving a sold out revival on Broadway starring Daniel Radcliffe, or as Kimmel referred to him, Harry Potter. Loesser's The Most Happy Fella, my personal favorite, incurable romantic that I am, has some of the most gorgeous songs of all time like "My Heart Is So Full of You" and "Somebody Somewhere". Participating in the evening were an all female contingent: Laura Wolfe, filling in wonderfully and on short notice for the previously announced Shannon Warne, Kim Huber - such a great singer - Alet Taylor, Ruth Williamson - wonderful character actress and singer - Kelsey Scott, and of course, prolific little Melody Hollis, who has been appearing in Kritzerland shows for several months. And last but hardly least, musical director extraordinaire John Boswell.
They all did magnificently with highlights including: as well as those mentioned above from Fella: "Joey, Joey, Joey" and "Standing on the Corner", and from Guys and Dolls: "Brotherhood of Man", "Adelaide's Lament", "If I Were a Bell", and from How to Succeed, "I Believe in You". There were tunes from films like the lovely "Inchworm" from Hans Christian Andersen, sung lovingly by both Alet Taylor and her daughter Lucy, and "I Wish I Didn't Love You So" from The Perils of Pauline. From the movie Red, White and Blue there was the comedically complex doozy (Kimmel's description) "Hamlet", sung skillfully by Hollis and from a lesser known Loesser show Greenwillow "Never Will I Marry", sung beautifully by Huber. Williamson soared on "Ooh, My Feet" from Fella. My one criticism is that Williamson was underused - this being her only number. Her flair would have been appreciated in other numbers. Kimmel's commentaries are always amusing, informative and adding great memorable trivia, perhaps the most interesting this time was that Most Happy Fella was bank rolled by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, who had used the show in the plot of a couple of episodes of I Love Lucy.
Another fine evening of song and mirth! The next Kritzerland is Wednesday October 5 featuring a one-woman show with Alet Taylor... and of course musical director John Boswell.
(Photo credit: Daniel G. Lam)
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Don Grigware is an Ovation nominated actor and writer whose contributions to theatre through the years have included 6 years as theatre editor of NoHoLA, a contributor to LA Stage magazine and currently on his own website:|
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