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Pushing the Envelope

Snyderwm001157983A hefty helping of Oscar season cheer is being served up at the Coterie, a restaurant/cabaret at the Renaissance Hotel & Spa, in the heart of Hollywood, next to the Kodak Theatre, the current home of the Oscar telecasts.

 I caught “Red Carpet Memories: A Celebration of Academy Award-Nominated Songs” at the press opening this week. The brief run of this tuneful and irresistibly cheerful revue continues through Sunday, February 19.

Several notable performers are in this gala show: James Snyder (“Cry Baby”), pictured; Brett Ryback (“All Hail the Queen”)' Rogelio Douglas, Jr. (“In the Heights”); Tomasina Abate; Jessica Bernard (“Bonnie & Clyde”), and Lexi Lawson (“Rent”). This cabaret show offers a nostalgic and energetic salute to Oscar-winning songs, encompassing a wide range of musical styles. The classic numbers come to life in vivid and imaginative interpretations, under the helm of director-arranger-conceiver Alexander Georgakis. Choreographer Jaclyn Friedlander and a three-piece band (Nick Campbell on bass, Jack Kovacs on guitar and Colin Woodford on drums) add to the show’s success.

SoCal Stages_blogHighlights were numerous, but what particularly stood out for me were the group numbers. There was a terrific one-two punch offered at the finale, as the ensemble joined together to deliver original individual takes on “Beauty and the Beast” and “Over the Rainbow.” Another group effort, the 1960s classic “Georgy Girl” was also sublime. Charismatic actor-singer Snyder was in fine form in a medley that included Keith Carradine’s wistful “I’m Easy” and the Burt Bacharach-Hal David favorite, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.”

The three ladies joined forces to bring plenty of sizzle to “Fame.” Douglas crooned divinely in “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” and the ever-charming Ryback was delightful in the lilting “A Wink and a Smile” from “Sleepless in Seattle.”

Kudos to executive producer Amber Cassell, who will hopefully assemble many more such enchanted evenings for us to look forward to at this exquisite venue.

--Les Spindle

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