Nearly thirty years after his most popular record album “That Was the Year that Was” was certified gold and almost sixty years after it was recorded, Santa Cruz has become ground zero for the latest Tom Lehrer revival and home to “Viva La Lehrer!” the World’s only annual celebration of the life and songs of Tom Lehrer.
After sellout performances in each of the first four celebrations, “Viva La Lehrer #5” will take the Kuumbwa Jazz stage in downtown Santa Cruz on Saturday, April 7 with two shows at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Peter Nichols, show creator and director said he expects number five to be the biggest and best ever.
“Every year, we attract more of Santa Cruz’s most creative performers,” he said. “And they are full of surprises for this one.”
Among the 21 individual performers slated to appear are some of the most recognizable names in local comedy and musical theater including Gail Rich Award recipients Joe Ferrara and Patti Maxine, the insanely comical barbershop quartet Constellation, Ragtime piano wizard Kylan deGhetaldi, local jazz favorite Steve Wilson, and opera diva Lizz Hodgin. Wallace Baine will again serve as MC.
The 6:30 Early Show is suggested for “Lehrer Fans,” 75 minutes of non-stop Lehrer with no intermission. The 8:30 Late Show targets “Lehrer Lovers,” a two-hour romp through Lehrer land for those who are simply starved for his luscious rhymes, lyrical lists, poignant satire, and playful portrayals of utter mayhem.
Advance tickets for both shows are $26. Call 1-800-838-3006 or go to https://vivalalehrer5.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets at the door will be $30. Kuumbwa Jazz Center is located at 320 Cedar Street. Proceeds will benefit Homeless Services Center of Santa Cruz.
Tom Lehrer made his mark in the 50s and 60’s writing zany, sardonic, sometimes dark, but always out-loud-laughable songs. He became a cult favorite on three continents before abruptly abandoning the show business career he detested and fleeing to Santa Cruz to teach “Mathematics for Tenors.” He remains Professor Emeritus at UCSC. He has given permission to perform his music but is otherwise not involved.