Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up for July 18, 2010: "Cy Coleman"

"Cy Coleman" was the theme of the evening on Sunday. Cy was a composer of standards and musical theater music that is still heard on Broadway, the West End, and cabaret clubs and theaters across the world...I mean, come on..."Witchcraft" is currently sung by Frank Sinatra (digitally, of course) in Come Fly Away on Broadway! Indeed, with his emphasis on Jazz (he had a world-reknown Jazz trio in addition to being a composer), Cy Coleman was known to have brought the Jazz influence into Broadway, and countless recognize those swinging, hip, sometimes dark and brooding melodies.

Our wonderful guest co-host of the evening was Jana Robbins - star of Broadway, star of Cabaret, and star Producer of such Broadway shows as the recent Ragtime revival, Little Women, and also a Director and Choreographer in her own right! A true lady of many hats, Jana is a great fount of knowledge of Cy Coleman, as she herself has a Cy Coleman cabaret act entitled "One Hell of A Ride!(The songs of Cy Coleman)." She has a CD out entitled "Jana Robbins - Face to Face." Before my hands cramp over writing about Jana, let's get on with...

Our Special Guest, who was Mary Foster Conklin! Mary was a gracious last-minute replacement to our previously-scheduled guest Mark York (a composer and Cy Coleman expert) - but boy what a replacement. Mary is a brilliantly accomplished Cabaret singer, known for her work around the nation and her 2010 MAC Award for Jazz Vocalist. She has numerous CD's to listen to, and performs as The Lady in the Red Dress for Renegade Cabaret. We were very excited to have her as our guest.

Mark Janas was back in town after what he called a "very scary" High School reunion. We can only imagine...but he's now back in NYC. To open up the first set, Jana Robbins sang two classic Coleman songs: "The Best is Yet to Come" and "Witchcraft." She then brought up Bobbie Horowitz, who sang "There's Gotta Be Someplace Better" into "Kids From Brooklyn." After Bobbie, Sunny Leigh sang the Gershwin classic "Embraceable You." Then Mark Levy brought Maurice Chevalier back to life with an adorable rendition of "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore." Susan Hogden brought out her powerful blues belt with "Black Coffee." She'll be performing at the Metropolitan Room on July 26th for the MetroStar Challenge and we wish her "break legs!" She also says she's putting a solo show together with Director Lenny Watts in the late fall.

The lovely Julie Reyburn (who will be The Salon's Guest Co-Host next week!) came up next to sing Cy Coleman's "If they Could See Me Now" (lyrics by Dorothy Fields) from her Feinstein's show "Summer Nights" (and, of course, from Sweet Charity). It was uniquely arranged by Mark Janas (I saw Julie's show on Friday, it was spectacular!). After Julie, Craig Pomranz sang "On the Other Side of the Tracks." He'll be performing at The Metropolitan Room this Wednesday and Thursday, then will be off to Los Angeles, Palm Springs and then The Pheasantry in London. We then had Steve "the Whistler" Herbst, who sang "Don't Take Much" from the Cy Coleman/Ira Gasman musical The Life. Marya Zimmet, with her jazz-perfect smooth vocals, crooned "Bye Bye Blackbird" by Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon. She will have an upcoming show in a few months, to be announced soon! After Marya, Jane Glick sang the great comedic song "So What?" from Cabaret. She will also be revealing a show in the near future, date TBA.

Joey Infante took us into the first set homestretch with the ballad "Goodbye," made famous by composer Gordon Jenkins, and original used as Benny Goodman's sign-off tune. Richard Eisenberg then sang his own ballad (yes! a ballad!) entitled "I Will Still Love You." Matthew Ward, tinkled around on the piano by his own and played a few Cy Coleman melodies sans words. Then I, Sierra Rein, brought some City of Angels up - first explaining that the quartet from City was the original jumping off music for Marquee 5 (before Julie Reyburn was added!). I then sang "With Every Breath I Take." The soprano powerhouse Jan Brennan sang "Never" from Coleman's On The Twentieth Century. To complete the first half of the evening, Marnie Klar sang "Maybe I Like It This Way," a very Coleman-esque song from Wild Party. Marnie is currently in the show Closure, part of the Midtown International Theater Festival. It's at the Main Stage Workshop Theater July 20th, 22nd, 26th and 30th. You can see showtimes and buy tickets here.

For the opening of the second half, Special Guest Mary Foster Conklin sang three Cy Coleman songs, all wonderfully executed. She began with "In Love Again," with lyrics by Peggy Lee. She then went into "You Fascinate Me So," a song with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh that was very popular that night (several other people wanted to sing it too!). She finished her set with "wrist-slasher kind of a tune," "Would You Believe," with lyrics by James Lipton. We were so happy to have Mary sing such wonderful tunes in her own unique, classy way!

Mark's Classical Corner was a real treat, as it was a Master Class in arranging, or at least taking the theme and feeling of one song and melding it with the lyrical logic and grace of another. Mark started out by playing a Chopin Barcarole (translated to mean a song inspired by the gentle rocking of a boat - specifically a Venetian gondola). He then played another example of a barcarole, one from the opera piece Tales of Hoffman by Jacques Offenbach. With the familiar feeling of the barcarole still swaying in our bodies, Julie Reyburn then sang another song from her "Summer Nights" show, this time the William Finn song "I'd Rather Be Sailing," only this time with the now-familiar barcarole accompaniment. As it served the lyric of the song, it was a brilliant example of how modern musical theater, cabaret, and classical music can meld into one. And with Julie Reyburn singing it...Bravo!

Producer Tanya Moberly then sang "Where Am I Going?" from Sweet Charity. Her show "Theater Songs" will once again grace the stage at Don't Tell Mama, with Ritt Henn and Mark Janas to accompany her, on September 20th at 9pm. She was the closing number on Friday's MAC Summer Preview Showcase and sent the audience home electrified! Jana Robbins then came up to exclaim that "Where Am I Going" was her audition song for many years here in New York, and was a featured song in her Cy Coleman show. That led her into another song from her Coleman act: "Seesaw Finale (I'm Way Ahead)" from the musical Seesaw. Watching Jana perform this song (which was actually given to her by Cy himself) provided proof of her Broadway-caliber skills; I was transfixed by her moment to moment skill and truth through the number, and quickly wrote "acting chops!!!" in my notes. Then David Ballard, cheeky smile and charm always at his beck and call, performed "Bigger Isn't Better" from Barnum.

We then had a bit of time for some encores! Marnie Klar came up and sang "Naughty Baby" with a wink in more than just her eye. Jane Glick returned to sing Cy Coleman's saucy "Don't Ask a Lady," and Sierra Rein sang Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek." Steve Herbst arrived with another Cy Coleman song from The Life, the biting "My Way or the Highway," and Richard Eisenberg brought a few new lyrics to his hit composition "Better Than This." Julie Reyburn came up yet again to sing "Frankie and Johnny," yet another one of Mark Janas' brilliantly arranged songs from her show "Summer Nights." This one utilized the musical themes and lyrics from a bunch of Kander and Ebb songs (directly inspired by Marquee Five's 2009 show "We Can Make It"). Matthew Ward then returned to sing and play "Here's to Us" from Cy Coleman's Little Me. To finish the wonderful evening of music, Jana Robbins sang one of the last songs Coleman wrote, with lyrics by David Zippel, "It Started With A Dream" from a never-produced show. Thank goodness singers like Jana are bringing these songs to the open, because the song - and the way Robbins sang it - was absolutely gorgeous!

NEXT WEEK!!! An exciting turn of events at The Salon, courtesy of Peter Millrose. Guest Co-Host will be Julie Reyburn, and Special Guest will be 2010 MAC Award Winner for Male Vocalist Hector Coris! The optional theme for the evening is "The Recording Arts – Demo Night with Peter Millrose”. Peter has generously decided to record the entire Salon evening! That means that everyone will have the opportunity to listen to a studio quality, live recording of their July 25th Salon performance via the internet before deciding whether or not they care to purchase it for a $30 fee. Salon will run as it normally does. Peter will just be recording the entire evening live. (For more info about Peter: www.millrosemusic.com.) Whether you are interested in having a demo recorded or not – the theme is “The Recording Arts”. Bring the song you love to listen to the most or the song recorded by your favorite singer; the song you would want to become famous for recording or a the song from that record (LP, 45, CD or itune) that means something to you. This is a fantastic opportunity to record that favorite song for online use, submissions, new composition, or perhaps as a gift to a loved one. If you want to bring your own accompanist or contact Mark Janas for afternoon rehearsal times, feel free!

See you Sunday at The Salon!

-Sierra Rein
The Blogette for The Salon
Spelling mistakes? URL's I missed? Did I mess up? Please email me.

No comments:

Post a Comment