Come for the Kritzerland, Stay for the Menken


The Sherman Brothers Show at a past “Kritzerland at the Gardenia.” From l, Adryan Russ (associate producer), Bruce Kimmel (producer) and Richard Sherman (composer/lyricist).

Bruce Kimmel is one of those guys whose life seems like one long, memorable cocktail party, filled with interesting, famous, talented people, and of course, saturated with great music. Lately, the actor/director/author/music producer/impresario — yes, he’s a busy man — has been inviting friends over to the Gardenia Restaurant in Hollywood once a month for an evening’s worth of cabaret, featuring some of the best voices in town singing the best music they can get their hands on.

The event, dubbed “Kritzerland at the Gardenia” (named after a character in one of Kimmel’s 11 books) has been rolling since September 2010, and this month’s offering is the Alan Menken songbook. Menken, the composer of Little Shop of Horrors and just about every Disney song you’ve heard for the last decade, is a personal friend of Kimmel’s. The evening promises to delight music lovers, with extra surprises sure to make the night memorable.

“We have five fantastic singers,” Kimmel says, “Plus a guest star for every show. I introduce each song, and give the audience some context about how, when and where it was composed. This show runs a little over an hour, and it’s just plain fun in a way that cabarets usually aren’t.”

Cast members for the upcoming show include Broadway veterans and local favorites Roger Befeler, Kirsten Chandler, Dan Callaway, Juliana Hansen and Alet Taylor, under the musical direction of A.J. Robb and with special guest star Tony Award nominee Sharon McNight. The Gardenia, Kimmel says, “is a great place to eat dinner or just have a few drinks and listen to this wonderful music.”

“Kritzerland at the Gardenia” happens Wednesday, April 6 at 9 p.m. at the Gardenia Restaurant located at 7066 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. The cover charge is $15. Dinner reservations begin at 7 p.m. and guarantee you a table. If you’re not dining, there is a two-drink minimum. For reservations, call (323) 467-7444.

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