Monday, March 29, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up for March 28, 2010!

Co-Host Frank Evans

As Sunday’s optional theme was “Never Before Heard,” singers and composers brought in newly minted songs, some cut songs from well known musicals to have their starring moment, and a few old gems were brought into the light. Co-Host Frank Evans, who is on the steering committee for BMI, started off by singing “Late Night TV” from his musical Abie's Island Rose (co-written lyrics with Richard Engquist). Among many other things, Frank is Producer on a brand new CD of BMI music “From the BMI Workshop: No More Revivals,” is co-writer (with Julie Gilbert) on a non-musical The Puma, which is to be a part of the New Jersey Rep’s 2010 season, and is also Producing Director of Musical Mondays. After Frank introduced the night’s theme, Lou Iacovino sang the uptempo Peter Nero tune “New York on a Sunday,” and Helena Grenot sang Michel Legrand tune “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life.” Helena is performing her wonderfully titled show “Damned if I Know” on May 18th and 22nd at Don’t Tell Mama. Then lovely Barbara Porteus (at Feinstein’s July 31st and August 1st) sang an original song by Robert Hess (and with Hess on the piano) entitled “(If You) Get What You Want,” which had a hilariously unexpected twist at the end.

Ray Jessel then sang an original comedic song I had not previously heard but want to steal - “That Old Kurt Weill Song” – which utilized some great internal rhyme and classic Weill “ooph-chunk-chunk” orchestration. Then Kristi Webb, who is a soon-to-be-graduating student at Northwestern University, joined the stage with Ray to sing his hilarious song “I Think About…” (you fill in the blank). She had originally sung this for a showcase with Ray Jessel at the Second Stage Theater and we were happy to see her and hear this song for the first time!

Kathy Hart next came to the piano with a brand new song she wrote for a Good Friday service (she is a songwriter in residence for a church in the Upper West side) entitled “Is the Lord There?” Jennie Litt and David Alpher then brought up a quirky travel song they wrote called “The Voyage of the Manatee,” based on the true story of how a manatee was spotted in the Hudson River in 2006. Craig Pomerantz took the stage, returning from a successful run at Pizza on the Park in London. He artfully sang the short ballad “Rain Sometimes” by Arthur Hamilton. Then Richard Eisenberg sang his original piece “The First Time,” which he proudly described as “not on theme, not off theme, but OF theme,” and Kevin McMullan brought up the touching “Till A Moment Ago” by Jim Frederick. Peter Napolitano spoke through a hilarious and heartfelt essay about his experience as a 14 year old boy in the geriatric ward of a hospital. Sierra Rein (me!) went completely anti-theme with the ever-so-well-known “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (my group Marquee Five was nominated for a MAC award on Thursday, and that same night I also won the Big Gay Idol competition through the NY City Gay Men’s Chorus!).

Then Etceterette Kathleen France (I didn’t know she was nominated for an EMMY! I’m serious! Check out her website!) sang “New York Romance” by Rusty Magee. Kathleen is up for a 2010 Female Debut MAC Award as a nominee, and will perform her show AND celebrate her Birthday with "The Book Of Love" at the Metropolitan Room, directed by Lina Koutrakos with Tracy Stark at the piano, this Friday, April 2nd @ 7:30pm. She will have several special guests that evening: Shaynee Rainbolt, Peter Napolitano, Terese Genecco and Julie Reyburn. Plus **all proceeds of the evening will be donated to a literacy charity called The Reading Excellence and Discovery Foundation (**. $20 cover ($15 for MAC/Cabaret Hotline) plus 2-drink minimum. As Kathleen says, “What grater gift can we receive than giving back...I’d just love to get as many people out there as I can to benefit this cause.” The first half came to a close as Erin Cronican knocked the walls down with “Summer in Ohio” from Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years. Erin is involved in developing a new musical called Nab-A-Date, based on classic television dating games.

The second half The Salon began with Special Guest performer-singer-composer-voice teacher Bill Zeffiro, who is well known to The Salon, as the writer of the musical The Road to Ruin (The 1928 Exploitation Musical) and as co-Producer of Big Night Out. Bill sang a “trunk song” cut from The Road to Ruin, a dastardly funny song entitled “La Mosca Espagnola,” and sang “Face in the Mirror,” with music by Bill and lyrics by Chris Ceraso (spelling?), from a musical based on the friendship of Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Then the lovely Alissa Crea (fresh from her starring role as Little Sally Canfield in the Marymount University reading at the York Theatre of The Road to Ruin) sang the title song.

Next came a bittersweet Classical Corner. Mark Janas played an original piece (inspired by Leonard Bernstein’s “Anniversary” works), written for his late friend Glenn Pickett but this time dedicated to Salon friend Paul James Vasquez, who passed away on Friday. Paul was a regular at The Algonquin Salon, and I remember him bringing in his guitar and expertly singing solos and duets with Tanya Moberly as Picadilly Circus NYC. The piece Mark played featured a constantly played “D” note – almost feeling like a heartbeat throughout – and when the last note was played, Mark once again invoked Paul’s name. It was very touching, and if Mark allows it I will post an mp3 of his performance on the blog soon.

Tanya Moberly herself came up to sing “Untouchable Face” by Ani DiFranco. Tanya is bringing a new show of “Theater Songs” to Don’t Tell Mama May 19th at 9:15 pm, with Mark Janas at the piano and Ritt Henn on bass. After Tanya sang Mark Watson with “When I Grow Too Old to Dream,” a beautiful song requested by Mark’s mother herself. Mark is singing with 2010 Bistro Award winner Sarah Rice at her show “Screen Gems as a special Guest Artist this Friday night! Next, newcomer Whitney Chapman sang a hot uptempo song entitled “Drive.” Beth Falcone (who won 2009 Kleban Award For Most Promising Lyricist In American Musical Theatre and is a member of the BMI Lehman-Engel Advanced Musical Theater Workshop, BMI and the Dramatists Guild of America) sat behind the piano and sang her original “Short Term Heart.” David Ballard sang an original Bobby Cronin song “Reach the Sky” (Bobby was at that moment showcasing his original music at the Metropolitan Room, and David thought it fitting to sing one of Bobby’s songs!). Then Maureen Taylor sang one of my favorite songs, “Children of the Wind” from Rags and Frank Evans closed the evening with “Crazy Mixed Up Me,” a co-lyric with Richard Engquist with music by Doug Katsaros, from the musical Abie's Island Rose.

NEXT SUNDAY APRIL 4th -- The Salon will feature Mark Watson as co-Host with Special Guest performer Gretchen Reinhagen. The theme of the evening is “All the Sounds of the Earth Are Like Music – Songs about Sounds,” so bring out your songs with Trolleys, Bells, Music, Rain, Nature, Traffic, or any other noises (good or bad) you want!

See you then!

-Sierra Rein
The Blogette for The Salon

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