Twoâ€™s Company: A Tribute to Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz
By JULIO MARTINEZ
(Alex Theater, Glendale; 1,320 seats; $50 top) Presented by the Los Angeles City College Theater Academy alumni and associates. Reviewed Nov. 5, 2007.
Performers: Zane Huett, Julie Reiber, Kirsten Benton Chandler, Rex Smith, Valerie Pettiford, Raymond Del Barrio; Emily Rozek, Matthew Ashford, Kevin Spirtas, Linda Purl, Alet Taylor, Andy Taylor, Patrick Cassidy, Chad Kimball, Christina Saffran Ashford, Alice Ripley, Kevin Earley, Marlana Filannino, Michelle Nicastro, Greg Jbara, Juliana Hansen, Jennifer Leigh Warren, Beth Malone, Bruce Vilanch, David Burnham, Kim Huber. Host: Cindy Williams.
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 (â€œThe Wizard and Iâ€ from â€œWickedâ€), Kirsten Benton Chandler (â€œSomewhere Thatâ€™s Greenâ€ from â€œThe Little Shop of Horrorsâ€), Emily Rozek (â€œLion Tamerâ€ from â€œThe Magic Showâ€), Linda Purl (â€œBlame It on the Summer Nightâ€ from â€œRagsâ€), Christina Saffran Ashford (title song from â€œBeauty and the Beastâ€), Alice Ripley (â€œWest End Avenueâ€ from â€œThe Magic Showâ€), Michelle Nicastro (â€œPart of Your Worldâ€ from â€œThe Little Mermaidâ€), Jennifer Leigh Warren (â€œStranger to the Rainâ€ from â€œChildren of Edenâ€), Beth Malone (â€œThe Life I Never Ledâ€ from â€œSister Actâ€) and Kim Huber (â€œMeadowlarkâ€ from â€œThe Bakerâ€™s Wifeâ€).
A hilariously perky Juliana Hansen showcased â€œA Happy Work Song,â€ from the upcoming Schwartz/Menken bigscreen collaboration, â€œEnchanted.â€
Interspersed among the ladies was an equally impressive ensemble of baritones and tenors, including Rex Smith (â€œCorner of the Skyâ€ from â€œPippinâ€), Patrick Cassidy (â€œShooting Starâ€ from â€œHerculesâ€), Chad Kimball (â€œLost in the Wildernessâ€ from â€œChildren of Edenâ€), Kevin Earley (â€œIf I Canâ€™t Love Herâ€ from â€œBeauty and the Beastâ€), Kevin Spirtas (â€œProud Ladyâ€ from â€œThe Bakerâ€™s Wifeâ€), Greg Jbara (Menkenâ€™s â€œWill the Sun Ever Shineâ€) and David Burnham (â€œOut Thereâ€ from â€œThe Hunchback of Notre Dameâ€).
Amidst the solo fare, welcome character interaction was provided by Valerie Pettiford and Raymond Del Barrio (Menkenâ€™s â€œWeird Romanceâ€), Matthew Ashford and Spirtas (â€œAll the Bestâ€ from â€œGodspellâ€), Alet and Andy Taylor (â€œSuddenly Seymourâ€ from â€œLittle Shop of Horrorsâ€), and the show-closing duo of Reiber and Rozek (â€œFor Goodâ€ from â€œWickedâ€).
Comedic highlight of the evening was provided by scribe Bruce Vilanch, who proclaimed, â€œI used to be a writer … yesterday.â€ Vilanch offered his own light-footed song-and-dance version of â€œNo Time at Allâ€ from â€œPippin.â€