A plethora of transcendent vocal artists gathered to celebrate the songs of award-winning tunesmiths Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz and to raise funds to support the venerable Los Angeles City College Theater Academy.
A plethora of transcendent vocal artists gathered to celebrate the songs of award-winning tunesmiths Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz and to raise funds to support the venerable Los Angeles City College Theater Academy. Helmed with seamless fluidity by Academy alumnus Bruce Kimmel, the songfest was spurred on by the enthusiastic but economical hosting of another alumnus, thesp Cindy Williams.Ably accompanied by an onstage six-member band led by music director Richard Berent, a sumptuous array of Broadway divas simply poured their virtuoso talents into solo showcases that emphasized soaring melodies and lyric inventiveness. The thrush count included Julie Reiber (“The Wizard and I” from “Wicked”), Kirsten Benton Chandler (“Somewhere That’s Green” from “The Little Shop of Horrors”), Emily Rozek (“Lion Tamer” from “The Magic Show”), Linda Purl (“Blame It on the Summer Night” from “Rags”), Christina Saffran Ashford (title song from “Beauty and the Beast”), Alice Ripley (“West End Avenue” from “The Magic Show”), Michelle Nicastro (“Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid”), Jennifer Leigh Warren (“Stranger to the Rain” from “Children of Eden”), Beth Malone (“The Life I Never Led” from “Sister Act”) and Kim Huber (“Meadowlark” from “The Baker’s Wife”). A hilariously perky Juliana Hansen showcased “A Happy Work Song,” from the upcoming Schwartz/Menken bigscreen collaboration, “Enchanted.” Interspersed among the ladies was an equally impressive ensemble of baritones and tenors, including Rex Smith (“Corner of the Sky” from “Pippin”), Patrick Cassidy (“Shooting Star” from “Hercules”), Chad Kimball (“Lost in the Wilderness” from “Children of Eden”), Kevin Earley (“If I Can’t Love Her” from “Beauty and the Beast”), Kevin Spirtas (“Proud Lady” from “The Baker’s Wife”), Greg Jbara (Menken’s “Will the Sun Ever Shine”) and David Burnham (“Out There” from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”). Amidst the solo fare, welcome character interaction was provided by Valerie Pettiford and Raymond Del Barrio (Menken’s “Weird Romance”), Matthew Ashford and Spirtas (“All the Best” from “Godspell”), Alet and Andy Taylor (“Suddenly Seymour” from “Little Shop of Horrors”), and the show-closing duo of Reiber and Rozek (“For Good” from “Wicked”). Comedic highlight of the evening was provided by scribe Bruce Vilanch, who proclaimed, “I used to be a writer … yesterday.” Vilanch offered his own light-footed song-and-dance version of “No Time at All” from “Pippin.”