The brainchild of Bruce Kimmel, Kritzerland concerts have been a regular monthly event for a very long time. Over the years, Kritzerland performed in three different dinner clubs, with their most recent venue at Vitello’s Restaurant. But COVID has created some big changes after safety concerns shut down most indoor events for months. So Kritzerland decided to go with the flow – and stream its recent performances for everyone to enjoy. All the recent free musical productions have been presented online via YouTube and Facebook.
Some of you may wonder where that unique Kritzerland title came from. Happily, in a prequel to the August 11 musicale, Bruce Kimmel clarified that mystery for his fans. As Bruce described it, when he decided to write an autobiography about his growing-up years, he wisely figured that using initials rather than full names was called for. Thus, he of the BK initials became Benjamin Kritzer – with various relatives following suit. But, for the curious, there is a real Kritzer who inspired Bruce. Apparently, a show business colleague by the name of Leslie Kritzer was his “K” muse – an idea which he shared with her and which she happily accepted. Thereafter, Kritzer grew like Topsy as Bruce’s books and world expanded into Kritzerland – courtesy of a childhood encounter with Switzerland during a despised geography class.
On Sunday, August 11, 2020 (PST), Kritzerland presented a benefit for the Group Rep Theatre, one of the many theaters in Los Angeles forced to shut its doors due to COVID 19. The concert featured many of the show tunes written by composter John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb, a well-known musical duo who created the melodies for such iconic Broadway shows as “Cabaret” and “Chicago.” Their productions spanned the 1960s through the 1990s and encompassed melodic favorites like “My Coloring Book,” which launched the talented team’s career in 1962. Their 1966 hit song, “Wilkommen,” not only introduced “Cabaret;” but also, the first televised Tony Awards in 1967.
Ably executed by producers Bruce Kimmel and GRT’s Doug Haverty with the technical expertise of Hartley Powers (also a featured vocalist), the one hundred eighth Kritzerland show featured a number of Broadway favorites, including Brent Barrett, Debbie Gravitte, Peyton Kirkner, Karen Mason, Kerry O’Malley, Jennifer Simard, Sami Staitman, Adrienne Stiefel, Robert Yacko, and Karen Ziemba. Classic songs from “Flora,” “The Happy Time,” “Woman of the Year,” “Zorba,” “The Act” – and of course “Chicago” and “Cabaret” – weave a tuneful tapestry of old favorites interpreted by today’s music star power.
If you were unable to participate in the Kritzerland show on August 11, you’re in luck because you can still enjoy the free production via YouTube and Facebook. Just a gentle reminder that donations to The Group Rep are gratefully accepted in this time of COVID. Let’s keep live theater alive!