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Cabaret Review (LA): Reba Buhr at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s

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For the last few years Michael Sterling has held a competition for the title of “LA’s Next Great Stage Star.” The field in gradually eliminated until five singers are left. Each of the five finalists is promised a night to perform at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s. On March 18 one of last year’s finalists made her cabaret debut. Her name is Reba Buhr, a gal with plenty of personality and a hell of a singing voice. She is currently the host of Disney 365 and plays several roles in their stage presentation Aladdin! A Musical Spectacular at Disneyland, including the starring role of Jasmine.

Ms. Buhr made a wise choice of material for her act. So many of these newcomers just sing their favorite songs, songs they always wanted to sing, and/or their audition songs. Ms. Buhr chose the topic of love, specifically all the boyfriends she had had up to the ripe old age of 24 (oh to be young again). These included those who got away and those who broke her heart. James Lent, her musical director, guided her through this look-back while she not only sang but also provided some funny one-liners.

Highlights included a song from Anything Goes, “I Get A Kick Out of You.” This was followed by the sweet “Will He Like Me” from that wonderful score She Loves Me. Ms. Buhr sang her gutsy best on Dolly Parton’s “Get Out And Stay Out” which let the singer show off her power. She also regaled us with lighter numbers – “Till There Was You” (beautiful), and “The Text Message Song.” Her encore was engrossing: “Darryl is a Boy and He Lives in My Closet.”

Singing with her on several numbers was Mathew Ballestero, who was a finalist as well (“We’re Just Friends”), and Liza Baron-Ginsberg. The three of them sang the tuneful “The I Love You Song” from The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

This cabaret performance was the last at Vitello’s representing 401 performances over six years. Sterling’s will open on April 1 at a new location, The Federal on Lankershim Blvd. Reba Buhr did a splendid job and I look forward to more concerts by her and others at the new location.

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