Here she is, boys: Leslie Kritzer

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Leslie Kritzer kicks back.
Leslie Kritzer kicks back.

This week's opening article in the Theater section is on the terrific Leslie Kritzer, and I must admit, this is a piece I've been waiting to write for some time—since 2006, in fact, when I saw her for the first time in her Joe's Pub triumph, Leslie Kritzer Is Patti LuPone at Les Mouches. (I ended up seeing the show three times, which—given the sardine-can compression of my schedule—testified to just how much I loved it.) No footage of that show is publicly available, unfortunately; although it was recorded, it was never released. But other footage of Kritzer does exist, and so we'll give you a small taste of the magic...after the jump.

In our interview, Kritzer had this to say about watching a videotape of LuPone's 1980 show: "She was a personality and she was brassy and cocky and all those things, but she had a love for connecting with these people in the audience. She could go to a place that was all about her, but it was emotional and vulnerable and sexual, and she let them in. She wasn't like, 'Here I am, with a wall.' She was like, 'Here I am, take a piece.'"

Kritzer has that same quality, I think. The clip you are about to see is from her late-night appearance last summer at Scott Nevins's Curtain Call, the live finale of the video-clip night known as Musical Mondays at the Chelsea gay nightclub Splash. There are a few things to know about this clip in advance.

Curtain Call is one of the most difficult gigs in the business for a singer: It provides good exposure, certainly, but the sound quality is terrible, and the audience is usually cruelly inattentive, milling about in a drunken haze of show tunes and vodka tonics. When Kritzer was there, however, the audience was riveted, thrilled and screaming. She owned Splash for half an hour, and the electricity was palpable: It was like being in the middle of a storm cloud.

This was when I really knew that Kritzer had the stuff be a major star. At Joe's Pub, she was doing Patti LuPone at Les Mouches, albeit refracted though her own wacky lens; but at Splash—performing songs from her own repertoire—it was as though, in a sense, she was being Patti LuPone at Les Mouches (or Bette Midler at the baths, or Judy at Carnegie Hall). In the audience, watching her pull out huge notes with a mix of show-off strut and adorable good humor, you knew you were present at something special.

So when you watch this clip, please bear a few things in mind. First: The clip was taken on someone's cell phone or camera, so the sound quality—already egregious at Splash—is even further diminished. Second: It was a midnight show, with a loose vibe, and not every note Kritzer sings is pitch-perfect. (But it hardly matters at the end, when Kritzer uncorks an amazing high note with the kind of just-watch-me bravado that makes a star burn.) And third: You really had to be there. The clip is a decent memento, but it's a bit like a black-and-white photo of a sunset.

So with those caveats in mind: Here she is. Take a piece.

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