“It’s spring!” exclaimed Salon host and co-founder, Mark Janas, as he kicked off the first Salon of May. I, for one, am thrilled about the warmth, but less than thrilled about the allergies that come with all of those blooming flowers! The theme this evening was “Cowgirls and Hookers” - which made all the more sense once I realized who dreamed it up - our fearless co-host Sue Matsuki!
|Our Co-Host, Sue Matsuki!|
Not only one of NYC’s winningest cabaret performers (10 nominations and 3 wins for the MAC Awards, a Jeff Matson Award & a Julie Wilson Award, sheesh!) but Sue is also a producer, writer, teacher, reviewer and beloved member of the Salon Advisory Board. Her column Sue’s News & Reviews appears regularly on Cabaret Hotline Online - and she might be one of the most supportive people in our community.
While giving her introduction, Mark Janas surmised that if Sue Matsuki, Tanya Moberly, Raissa Katona Bennett and Julie Reyburn got their heads together, they’d be able to run the country more smoothly than most other politicians. (I couldn’t agree more!) With that, he asked Sue to come to the stage with her first number, which was “Frazier,” a completely charming song about a lion.
Bob Diamond, 2013 MAC Award Nominee, was the first singer on the open mic segment, bringing us his song that he said, “is so extremely off-topic that it might become on-topic again” -- “A Tree in the Park” from the little known, “Peggy Ann” by Rodgers & Hart. Bob is a part of the Cabaret Cares event coming up on May 19 - cocktail hour and buffet start at 5pm and the show starts at 8pm. This show benefits kids living with HIV - what a worthy cause! Barb Malley came next with a charming version of “The House of the Rising Sun.” She’s got a show running right now at Don’t Tell Mama called “Out of Order” - the next one is May 12 at 3pm (with two other showing on May 17 at 7pm and May 23 at 7:30pm.)
Sue Matsuki’s friend and student, Brock Putnam (in town from Connecticut) was next with a sassy and powerful, “Birth of the Blues” with music by Ray Henderson. Brock has an actor’s showcase com in up at Hartford Stage on May 13 - wishing you the best of luck with that show! Rachael Hirsch sang a wistful and dark, “The Man Who Got Away.” Rachael is having her graduate recital on May 9 at 8pm at Manhattan School of Music - I highly recommend seeing this talented lady!
Mark Levy brought us the classic, “Sara Lee” by Kander & Ebb from the musical, And The World Goes Round. The song was so fresh and fun that that whole audience sang along during the chorus. What a delight! (Though, it made me crave pastries the rest of the night…) Robin Westle, with Jeff Cubeta at the piano, sang a hilarious “Minor Changes” by Laurie White. Robin is debuting her show, “No Regrets” on June 12 and June 21, both at 7pm at the Laurie Beechman - directed by Eric Michael Gillett and music directed by Jeff Cubeta.
Jeff stayed at the piano as Cookie Stark came to the stage, singing a charming “Beans Taste Fine.”And Jeff Cubeta, musical director extraordinaire, got to a sing his own original tune, bringing us, “Deeper Than A River” a honky tonk number with clever lyrics. Jeff is working on a bunch of projects, not the least of which is as music director/pianist for Marnie Klar’s current show, “Accidental Happiness” which is currently running at Don’t Tell Mama (more about that in a moment.)
Edie Stokes started her number by saying, “On the outside I’m a cowgirl, but on the inside I’m a…” and she, gratefully, let us finish that thought for ourselves! She then sang, “I Thought About You” by Johnny Mercer and Jimmy Van Heusen. Edie has a show at Don’t Tell Mama, June 2 at 6pm. It’s called “Once Upon A Time” and is music directed by Barry Levitt, with a combination ballads and some light jazz.
Jean Mazilli brought us her smooth alto on the standard, “Frim Fram Sauce”, made famous by the Nat King Cole Trio. Erin Cronican (yours truly) sang “How Did We Come To This” from Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party. I’m currently in rehearsal for my next productions - the dual classics Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. My theater company, The Seeing Place, is producing both of these shows on alternating nights May 31-June 30, with the same actors portraying their same role in both shows! I’m playing Ophelia, and other Salon regular, Janice Hall, is playing Gertrude. Hope you’ll be able to see it!
Marnie Klar, tonight’s Etceterette, sang Hedwig & The Angry Inch’s “Wig In A Box” from her show “Accidental Happiness” This show has two more performances at Don’t Tell Mama - May 8 and May 21, both at 7pm. Discounts for Salon members! The show is directed by Tanya Moberly and music directed by Jeff Cubeta (and I make an appearance on backing vocals!)
We were honored to have with us the MAC Award winning group, Marquee Five. comprised of Mick Bleyer, Lynsey Buckelew, Adam West Hemming, Vanessa Parvin, and Julie Reyburn - these fine performers made a stop at the Salon to prep for their stint at 54 Below with their show BROADWAY BY THE LETTER: ACT ONE (May 16th at 9:30pm - for more information: www.54below.com.)
1st song: They started with a William Finn medley they called “Finnspiration”, including songs like: “I’d Rather Be Sailing” and “The I Love You Song.” This was incredibly powerful and moving.
2nd Song: Next they gave us Jason Robert Brown’s “Still Hurting”, with lead vocals by Adam West Hemmings and the remaining singers vocalizing the recurring musical “theme” of the song in 4 part harmony - you really have to listen to believe it. Just beautiful.
3rd Song: Last but not least they gave us a rousing version of “Muddy Water” from the musical Big River. What a powerful finish to a great set!
Salon Host and co-founder, Mark Janas, started off by playing some measures from Brahms’ (after all, his birthday is Tuesday, May 7.) Mark talked about Brahm’s being one of Germany’s “3 B’s”, - Bach, Beethoven and Brahm’s. If Bach laid the foundation (harmonic and textural both, and codified musical expression in writing after the Baroque period), Beethoven expanded it from classical forms into much more romantic and sweeping vision - Brahms was considered a throwback or old fashioned composer, looking backward rather than looking forward.
• 1st Piece - Brahms Concerto in Bb Major, 1st Movement
Mark played a passage that he called “The Amazing Brahms 3-Hand Act” - a more hidden virtuosity which included two melodies playing at once which provided a sort of echo. Added to the two melodies is the accompaniment, which are chords played above and below the melody… all at the same time. So, if the right hand is playing one melody, and the left hand is playing the other melody, what hand is left to play the accompaniment. Mark showed us how this works, with the left hand on melody and right on accompaniment, and then switching to left hand on accompaniment and right hand on melody, and thus it switches over and over again - his hands looked like what your feet when playing hopscotch. (Together, apart, together, apart!)
• 2nd Piece - Opus 118, No 1 from 6 Piano Pieces
Mark said this song seemed like an autobiographical set, with a section starting with the excitement of entering the world, then a revelry about love, then the nitty gritty about life, finally ending with a contemplation of death.
•3rd Piece - Vergebliches Ständchen
This is a beautiful Brahms Lieder, featuring vocalist Rachael Hirsch (who says the is the first German piece has learned as a student.)
To kick off the second half, our warm and welcoming co-host, Sue Matsuki, started with the Clint Black song, “Put Yourself in My Shoes.” Next, she introduced us to “This Time”, by Bob Levy, saying it was one of the most beautiful songs she’d heard and upon hearing it for the first time, immediately said, “I need to do this song.” She completed her set with a rousing, “Country Man” (making a joke that her husband was from the country… the country of Japan!)
Salon Producer, Tanya Moberly, was the next open mic singer with an adorable, “Lovely” from Stephen Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum. Tanya is directing Marnie Klar’s show, and just announced that she will also be directing David Ballard’s debut show later this year. Speaking of… David Ballard, our server, brought up a song that’s brand new to him (and appropriate for the evening): the Jekyll & Hyde trunk song, “Bring On The Men.”
Richie Eisenberg (with some amazing improvisational piano-ing from Mark Janas) sang his hilarious original tune “Ulterior Motive.” MAC Award winner, Adam Shapiro - was next with “You an Always Count ON Me” from City of Angels. Adam has one more performance of the award-winning, “Adam Shapiro’s Guide to the Perfect Breakup” - at The Duplex Friday, May 9 at 7pm.
Zach Wobensmith, Salon regular, sang Noel Coward’s contemplative, “If Love Were All.” Zach keeps teasing us by threatening to put together a show - he’s currently “obsessed” with Noel Coward so I’m hoping some of his music is put to good use soon! Matthew Martin Ward, accompanying himself on piano, sang the fast lipped song, “Farmer’s Market” by Art Farmer and Annie Ross. He has a show coming up with Elizabeth Tryon called “Music Then and Now” on May 21.
Father Jeff Hamblin came to the stage and mused on the tonight’s theme, saying that he was reminded of Richard Hooker, the 1541 leader of Anglican Theology as well as Joseph Hooker, “Fighting Joe” a commander in the Civil War. But then he started thinking about cowgirls, and segued into the song, “Don’t Fence Me In” which resulted in a chorus of singers from the crowd singing in the chorus. We’re so grateful to have Father Jeff as a Salon sponsor, allowing for the creation of music and community on one glorious evening per week!
Kevin McMullan brought on of my favorite call and response songs, “Minnie The Moocher” which the audience just ate up. Kevin revealed to us that he’s writing a book about his adventure scattering his partner’s ashes around the world. This will be a book that we all will, no doubt, want to read - for so many reasons.
For the final song of the evening, co-host Sue Matsuki lamented the lost of NY’s Fleet Week and dedicated this song to them: “Love For Sale.”
THERE IS NO SALON MAY 12 (Mother’s Day). We will return on May 19, with the theme “Waiting and Wanting” with our co-host, Dawn Derow.
|Next week's Co-Host, Dawn Derow|
We’ll see you then!
In the meantime, if someone video-recorded your performance and you’d like us to know about it, please post the link in the comments section of this blog post. Thank you!
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