On August 29th I had the pleasure of seeing three very talented singers/actors, Kelly Dodson, Jon Paul Burkhart, and Josie Yount at the premiere cabaret showcase in Los Angeles Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello's. Vitello's is an excellent restaurant which often features some music in one of its many rooms but the Saturday night several times a month is reserved for cabaret as performed by some of the extraordinary musical comedy talent Los Angeles has to offer. On the 29th, after a delicious dinner (I’m not just saying that, it’s really good food), I got to see and hear some old friends from an adventuresome musical theatre group called Musical Theatre of Los Angeles. This group puts on fully staged and choreographed musicals with a fairly big (for 99 seats) compliment of musicians. They recently completed a very successful run of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret.
Three of the performers, who had appeared together in concert in the past but never in a cabaret setting, were this evening’s entertainment. Kelly Dodson has a rich full voice and has appeared in The Last Five Years and as Mabel in Pirates of Penzance. The very funny Jon Paul Burkhart has appeared in Forever Plaid, Hello Dolly, and The Last Five Years. Josie Yount, she of the exuberant nature and flaming red hair, has appeared in Ragtime, Evita, Rocky Horror Show, and the aforementioned Cabaret. Individually, they each brought their very distinct personalities to the proceedings but also sang beautifully as a well-balanced trio.
The music for the evening was quite eclectic ranging from musicals to pop. We heard excerpts from Little Mermaid,The Last Five Years, Avenue Q, Spamalot, Chess, Reefer Madness, Spring Awakening, Wicked, with a rousing finale from Les Miz. Each singer had his or her best number though frankly it is hard to choose. Jon Paul Burkhart is a terrific comedian and was very funny singing the "Sensitive Song" by Lawrence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin. Kelly Dodson sang several very powerful ballads but again it was a funny song that I remember best called "Alto’s Lament" by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich, in which a musical comedy performer bewails he fate to always sing alto rather than the melody. Josie Yount excelled in a Kristen Chenoweth song called "The Girl in 14G" in which she got to express both her comedic sense but also her terrific range from jazz to coloratura. The musical director was the talented Steven Applegate. If you want an enjoyable evening of cabaret, head for Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello's.