Craig Pomranz: Berlin to Dylan to Simon & Garfunkel: It’s All Kosher!

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Craig Pomranz

Berlin to Dylan to Simon & Garfunkel: It’s All Kosher!

Arts Club of Washington, Washington, DC, March 29. 2024

Reviewed by Michael Miyazaki

Michael Roberts & Craig Pomranz
Photo: Courtesy of Capital Cabaret, Inc.

From “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (Irving Berlin) to vaudeville, Broadway, and pop music, Jewish songwriters have shaped America’s soundtrack. Craig Pomranz’s show Berlin to Dylan to Simon & Garfunkel: It’s All Kosher!, which he presented as part of the National Capital Cabaret Festival, paid tribute to their contributions.

Pomranz touched on the various intersections of Jewish identity and popular music. He used “Embraceable You” (George and Ira Gershwin) to discuss the way Jewish immigrants forged new identities in the New World, which led to a running joke about the original names of many of the songwriters. He saluted the Lower East Side with a medley of “Second Hand Rose” (Grant Clarke/James F. Hanley) and “Sam, You Made the Pants Too Long” (Victor Young/Sam M. Lewis). He saluted the hymn-like quality of the Simon and Garfunkel songbook with a combination of “Amazing Grace” and their “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (Paul Simon).

A particularly charming moment in the show was Pomranz’s discussion of the way Jewish writers have defined Christian holidays. During a medley of “Easter Parade” and “White Christmas” (both by Berlin), he shared his pre-teen re-write of the latter—“I’m Dreaming of a White Chanukah” —which featured a “menorah”/”Torah” rhyme.

Pomranz provided powerful vocals and adept song-styling. He made “Falling in Love Again” (Sammy Lerner/Frederick Hollander) sound like a Rat Pack number, and he brought the quality of a blessing to Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.” His closing number, “What the World Needs Now” (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) made us ponder some contemporary issues. However, the most charming moment of the evening came with Murray Grand’s “I Always Say Hello to a Flower,” in which he perfectly the lyric’s every joke and nuance.

Michael Roberts provided phenomenal support on piano and vocals and a solid foundation for Pomranz’s interpretations of the material, and he took diverting solos were needed.

Michael Miyazaki

Michael Miyazaki is a Washington DC/Baltimore area-based performer, director, and writer. He has performed at various venues in the DC area, and his most recent show is Thanks for the Memories: The Musical Legacy of Bob Hope. He has appeared with numerous local theater troupes including Scena Theatre, the Source Theatre, and Fraudulent Productions. He has attended the Perry-Mansfield Cabaret Workshop (working with master teachers Andrea Marcovicci, Karen Mason, Barry Kleinbort, Christopher Denny, Shelly Markham, and David Gaines), and has also studied under Sally Mayes, Tex Arnold, Lina Koutrakos, Rick Jensen, Amanda McBroom, and Alex Rybeck. He is the creator of the blog The Miyazaki Cabaret Update: DC & Beyond (currently on hiatus) and is a member of the DC Cabaret Network and the Arts Club of Washington.