Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up for March 21, 2010!

March is certainly not going out like a lamb in the Cabaret world! Not only was The Salon and many of its members nominated for MAC Awards, but this past Sunday (the 21st) proved to be a fantastic mix of hot, hot talent. And many many people were inventive and wonderful in bringing theme-related material as well! The evening was co-hosted by Steve "The Whistler" Herbst, and the Special Guest performer was Jenna Esposito.

Steve started off the night's theme of "Heavenly Bodies/Spring Equinox" with "Stars" from Les Miserables. Sunny Leigh then sang a lovely combination of "Another You" and "All of Me." Bill Zeffiro brought up a theme-appropriate song "Home Sweet Heaven" from High Spirits, then Jennifer Wren (who is singing with Brother Josephus at the Highline Ballroom April 4th) sang the sultry "Little Trip to Heaven." Melinda Herbst (wife of co-host Steve) ripped through the Harold Arlen song "When the Sun Comes Out."

Bill Zeffiro describes his "Home Sweet Heaven"

Gretchen Reinhagen then came to the stage, and sang a wonderful version of "Maybe This Time," invoking the spirit of Kaye Ballard (who the song was originally for!). Gretchen performs her tribute to Kaye TONIGHT at the Metropolitan Room at 5pm, and on March 29th at Don't Tell Mama at 7:30pm, she will be a part of the "Under the Covers" series - this time singing the Janis Joplin album "Pearl." Tickets can be purchased here. Gretchen will ALSO BE A GUEST PERFORMER HERE AT THE SALON April 4th! The lady is busy!!! After Gretchen stepped Jeffery Lyle Segal, who sang the hilarious "My Baby Used to Be a Man." Segal is a composer-lyricist-librettist of new musical "Scandalous Behavior" (based on Sheridan's "School for Scandal"), which will recieve a developmental reading under his direction at the York Theatre Company this May! Next sang our favorite singing Etcetera Etc. employee, David BallARD, who sang the youthful ballAD "Younger than Springtime."

I want Neil deGrasse Tyson to be able to see someone sing the next song, which was written by Dan Furman and Ruth Weber, and sung by Tanya Moberly. Entitled "Pluto's Not a Planet Anymore," it featured lyrics about wondering what is true in this world now that Pluto has been demoted out of Planet-dom. Michael Colby next sang, with Arte Bressler at the piano, a song with lyrics by Colby and music by Bressler entitled "Halfway to Heaven," from a new musical called Meester Amerika. Ray Jessel next sang an original piece entitled "No Longer in My Life," a heartfelt ballad. Jessel's last show of "Songs from the Ridiculous to the Romantic" is March 31st at 9:15pm at Don't Tell Mama (1/2 off for MAC members!). Next sang Jennie Litt with David Alpher on the piano with their original song "The Cosmic Perspective." Mark Levy then invoked the spirit of Jimmy Durante with a rousing rendition of "There'll Be Some Changes Made." Jane Glick then sang the lovely ballad "Will You?" and Joan Jaffe heated the stage with the comic song "Acapulco" (Joan says she's in the midst of recording a CD and directing a lot, so she'll have news to come!). Next, Sierra Rein sang the Hugh Martin comedic-ballad song "On Such a Night as This," and Etceterette Arianna sang the dramatic-ballad "What Good Would the Moon Be?" Etceterette Barbara Porteus then closed the first act with "A Whole Lot of Sunshine."

The second half began with Special Guest Jenna Esposito, who debuted at Feinstein's the day after (March 22nd at 8:30pm), sponsored by Patsy's Restaurant. The theme of the show was "That's Amore," so Jenna brought in three wonderful songs in that theme: "(Love is) The Tender Trap," "All the Way" and a wonderful twist on a previously male lyric "Mala Femmena," singing in both Italian and English. Then Rob Langeder - who is bringing back his show "Any Place I Hang My Hat" to the Metropolitan Room April 13th at 7pm - surprised Jenna with an invitation to duet on the song "Around the World," and Jenna gracefully obliged:

Jenna & Rob duet it up!

Mark Janas then opened up his favorite portion of the show, the "Classical Corner," by introducing the familiar theme of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (also the tune to "Baa Baa Blacksheep" and "The Alphabet Song," wouldn't you know? Very popular). The song was originally penned in France (the tune's title: "Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman" - Yay, Wikipedia for the correct spelling!) and Mozart utilized it as an exercise by writing 12 variations on it. Mark then asked for a style of music - I yelled out "Bossa Nova" - and he began playing a number of variations on the "Twinkle Twinkle" melody. He then brought up Bill Zeffiro, Matthew Ward, and Dan Furman individually to the piano and each gave their own wonderful and unique twists on the song! At the end, Dan & Mark were doing a duet at the keyboard, causing the entire piano to shake (I was sitting right in front). It was incredible!

Tanya Moberly then brought her normal fireworks to the Etcetera Etc stage with "Woman in the Moon." Tanya will be doing a show entitled "Theatre Songs" at Don't Tell Mama May 19th. Then visitors Drew Vandiver (from Los Angeles) and Jennifer Daigle (from Montreal) performed a duet of "Help Me Make it Through the Night." Michael Dydon brought his guitar onstage and sang his original song "Paris in the Rain" - he performs every Tuesday at Il Mattone in Tribeca. Matthew Ward next returned to the piano and reintroduced the concept of "Salon music" (long-titled piano music that is gratifying to play and seemingly difficult...but really not to even a modest piano player). He played "Rustle of Spring (or Fr├╝hlingsrauschen)" by Norwegian composer Christian Sinding (1856-1941: again, thank you Wikipedia). Kevin McMullan then brought in some 60's rock funk with "House of the Rising Sun, and then Mark Watson sang "Love, This is My Song." Mark will be co-hosting The Salon on April 4th!

Finally, The Whistler himself, Steve Herbst, brought out his unique talent and closed the night's festivities with a beautiful duet of "Clair de Lune" with Mark Janas at the piano.

TOMORROW March 28th, 2010 at 7pm (signup at 6:30pm), The Salon returns with Special Co-Host Frank Evans, who is a member of The BMI Steering Committee and producer of a number of projects including Musical Mondays on Theatrical Thursdays (next one April 15th at 6:30pm)and Special Guest Performer-Pianist-Composer-Lyricist Bill Zeffiro himself! The evening's optional theme is "Never Before Heard," so look for those brand new pieces that have just been written, or those songs you've never sung in public before, or perhaps a song that hasn't been heard in the 21st Century? Or maybe it's an improv on a song no one could possible have heard before!

Hope to see you then!

Steve "The Whistler" Herbst closes the evening.


-Sierra Rein
The Blogette for The Salon

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