Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Katya: A Bittersweet 90s Symphony
Feinstein's at Hotel Nikko
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's review of Hedwig and the Angry Inch

The lovely and talented Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy returned to Feinstein's at the Hotel Nikko recently with a brand new show called Katya: A Bittersweet 90s Symphony. Worn out by decades of fame being the toast of New York and having an apartment in The Dakota next to John Lennon and chased by the IRS, the countess fled the Big Apple in 1991 for the quiet charm of Seattle on the sleepy banks of Lake Washington.

Katya's neighbors were Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, and the diction coach for Celine Dion. Katya asserted that she was the muse of Lilith Fair. She also proclaimed that she was the godmother of grunge.

Katya is the invention of J. Conrad Frank and has been entertaining San Francisco audiences for the past seven years. The elegant drag artist looks like a combination of Rhonda Fleming with a bit of Rosalind Russell and Norma Desmond, with fantastic wigs and bold gowns. Her accent sounds like all of the Gabor sisters and she has inventive mezzo-soprano vocal cords when singing. All fourteen songs sung by Katya in this show were from the 1990s.

Katya was sublime singing the Goo Goo Dolls' Iris" and the Indigo Girls' "Closer to Fine." She belted out Ethel Merman style the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It that Way" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." She rocked with the upbeat rhythm and runaway lyrics to Barenaked Ladies' "One Week." She also joined with Joe Wicht her musical director on the piano on Chris Cornell's "Black Whole Sun" which was harmonizingly energizing.

Katy Stephan entertained the audience at the piano while Katya changed to another fabulous outfit, as audience members called out their favorite television show theme songs of the 1990s. Joe Wicht led the three-piece band consisting of Greg Robles on guitar, Keith Lawrence on viola, and Matt Chaikin on drums.

Katya Smirnoff-Skyy appeared one night only on October 6, 2016, at Feinstein's at the Hotel Nikko. For the complete lineup at Feinstein's at the Hotel Nikko, visit

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