Magical Musical Mystery Follies Review – Variety and Vaudeville

LA Jewish Symphony - Photo courtesy of West Coast Jewish Theatre
Spread the love

The West Coast Jewish Theatre wants to take all of you COVID-fatigued folks out there and offer you fun, a few laughs, a little nostalgia, and some respite from care. WCJT has assembled a crew of performers who will do just that and more. WCJT Artistic Director Howard Teichman, currently wearing a second hat as follies director, introduces the talented performers (between jokes, of course) and pulls the variety show together with skill and tongue-in-cheek.

Bob Brandzel – Photo courtesy of West Coast Jewish Theatre

With music provided by the LA Jewish Symphony and choir, the follies are kicked off with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, a potpourri of inspiration, world customs, and a celebration of Jewish family life. But what would a Yiddish musicale be without a little klezmer – provided by instrumentalist Bob Brandzel. He shares his love of klezmer with some fascinating history of the music form – and then hops right into old favorites, both zippy and thoughtful, as he brings old themes into the modern era with icons like Gershwin. Some vocalists also light the way from the old to the new. Sarah Spiegel, a specialist in melodies of the 30s and 40s, sings her heart out for the follies. As does Kimberly Haines, who serenades the audience with music she has composed. No follies would be complete without a medley of show tunes, and cabaret artist Ruthie Lane is more than willing to keep the melodies flowing and the toes tapping – along with skilled vocalist Melissa Brandzel. Add Jim Auspitz to the talent pool, and the follies becomes a winner. And let’s not forget Argentina-born Cantor Marcelo Gindlin, who introduces traditional tunes from south of the border.

Sunda Croonquist – Photo courtesy of West Coast Jewish Theatre

A variety show wouldn’t be complete without jokes provided by the likes of Jazzy Jim, raconteur and rapster, and stand-up comic Sunda Croonquist, whose hilarious mother-in-law quips bring the house down. Actor/writer Shelly Kurtz performs an original piece written especially for this show. Even magic is represented by Magic Castle alumnus Victor Benoun, an experienced magician doing some close magic with his special flair. And last but definitely not least is the reading of a scene from Neil Simon’s stage play, “The Prisoner of Second Avenue” by thespians Ellyn Stern and Richard Epcar.

Victor Benoun – Photo courtesy of West Coast Jewish Theatre

Besides being stellar performers, the cast of MAGICAL MUSICAL MYSTERY FOLLIES are also people with social conscience who have donated their talents to the West Coast Jewish Theatre production. This is a two-hour program which you won’t want to miss. It’s a little of the old and a little of the new – with a soupcon of Yiddishkeit thrown in.

Kimberly Haynes – Photo courtesy of West Coast Jewish Theatre

MAGICAL MUSICAL MYSTERY FOLLIES airs online at 7 p.m. (PST) on Saturdays (4/24, 5/1, 5/8). Tickets are $36. For information and reservations, call 323-821-2449 or go online.