Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Salon Wrap-Up for May 1, 2011: "Not Just For Kids"

Sierra Rein (left) & Kay "ThePal" Pringle (right)
Special Guest Blogger Kay M. Pringle here! I also go by Kay ThePal, and I co-hosted this past Sunday's Salon with my friend Sierra Rein. It was a total blast to perform and meet so many talented, funny, wonderful people.  The theme was "Not Just For Kids," and centered around those things in life that remind us of childhood, of being childlike, of acting immature and such.  The evening was full of silliness, raucous jokes, puppets, and lively energy!  To open the night, Sierra brought me on stage and I nervously started singing "If You Feel Like Singing, Sing" from the Judy Garland/Gene Kelly movie musical Summer Stock.  I gained confidence as I saw the friendly faces in the audience, and then went into "Rubber Ducky" and "Splish Splash," in honor of the little rubber duckies - those wonderous bathtub playthings - that happened to be lining the side of the piano.  Each singer got to take one home as a memento! Thanks David Gillam for gifting them to us!  Tony Imgrund then came to the mic to sing a mashup of "As Long as He Needs Me" from Oliver and "Bill" from Show Boat; it was a surprising and lovely combination of two heartfelt songs.  You can always present these awesome musical creations at Salon!  Mark suggested I offer a duckie to Tony using only my mouth.  I don't know what kind of weirdness Mark is into, and I flatly said "No!"

When little rubber duckies attack, Mark freaks!
Another, Mark - Mark Levy - then put on a ballcap to one side and jauntily sang "Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder" by Alan Sherman.  I remember listening to that live-taped version a long time ago, boy did this bring back memories!  I asked Mark when the last time he went to camp, and he replied that it was summer of 1948, and that he actually had an "Aunt Bertha."  We then met a crazy-cool character, the "handy-capable" squirrel Shell (MSM's Anna Lawrence), who sang "If I Only Had a Nut" (a parody of "...Had a Brain" from The Wizard of Oz).  Shell was charming, even with her lateral lisp, and I was very jealous of her fancy tail.  I then introduced Julie Reyburn, who attended the Salon with her beautiful and spritely daughter, Layla.  With Mark providing some background music, Julie read from the immortal book "Goodnight Moon," then segued into "Child in Me Again," one of the first songs that she sang with Mark.  Call it a song from the childhood of Mark and Julie's creative life together!  Layla gave me a wonderful drawing afterward, which is now on my refrigerator.
Mark Levy
Kay and Shell meet on stage
After Julie sang, audience members were handed sheet music - one set for ladies, the other set for the guys.  Richie Eisenberg had brought in sheet music and lyrics to "Clean Up The House," a song he wrote for the role of Snow White (ladies) and the Dwarves (men).  Each part was taught their own AABA song, and then both parts were combined and sung together in brilliant counterpoint.  Unfortunately, I sometimes relate to the Dwarves, who "would rather read a book than clean up the house."  So much fun!  Dani Rhodes then kicked Richie off the piano bench and sang/played an original piece, "Next Year."  She was so happy to be back at The Salon, but then announced that she'll be joining Mark Janas at Maine State Theater as a Marvelous Wonderette, and was excited to tell us Dan Furman's musical Rip! (which was featured here at Salon) will be at the Midtown International Theater Festival!  Yay Dani! Yay Dan!
Remember Shell, our squirrel?  She returned, this time accompanied by three more friends, in the Salon Spotlight.  With her was Robin (Adam Behlen), Bernnanut Squirrel (Rachel Policar), and Crow (Christopher Sierra).  They sang from The Secret Music Garden, a show adapted and written by Mark Janas and the Manhattan School of Music Discover Opera students. Songs included "Rockin' Robin," "Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me," "Children Will Listen," and "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," then all four of them sang a brilliant operatic quartet (adapted and "futz'd" with from Rigoletto) about worms and nuts.  My response? "Holeee crap!"  And I thought the Crow was cute...what?!?! I'm a SBF (Single Blue Female) in New can't fault me for lookin'!

Shell, Crow, Robin & Bernnanut
(Anna Lawrence, Christopher Sierra, Adam Behlen, and Rachel Policar) 
We left the animals of the woods to go meet the fish in the sea, as the leggy Marnie Klar sang "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid with sweetness and spunk. Then, Edie Stokes sang Jacques Brel's "Carousel", from her upcoming show "A New Ride on the Carousel: The Carousel of Love" at Don't Tell Mama - May 15th at 6pm and May 24th at 7pm.  Bringing a question to light that has certainly bugged me, Joan Jaffe sang the bawdy music hall song "Red Riding Hood."  Joan's CD "Joan Jaffe Sings Funny" can now be purchased at New York City's Colony music store, on Amazon, CD Baby, or iTunes...she's everywhere!!! You know who else was everywhere that night? Our waiter-man, David Ballard, who sang next and was so cute that I had to ask him out for coffee.  But then he sang the horribly funny original "A Song About Your Baby," and I had to cancel our coffee. Next, he's going to write a funny song about a woman killing her husband...ahem! Such WONDERFUL INNOCENT THOUGHTS here at Salon...sheesh!

The mature, 2011 Bistro Award-Winning Janice Hall regally stepped to the stage and sang the wittily-silly Cole Porter song "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love)." Then, she sang the Noel Coward lyrics to this well-known song, reminding us that even our grandpa's generation had childishly dirty minds back in "the days"! We then had Blogette Erin Cronican (who is chronically talented) sing "No One is Alone" from Into the Woods, bringing a loving, warm, tearful lump in everyone's throats.  Erin will be returning to The Salon this Sunday, May 8th, to CO-HOST with the theme "It's All Relative" in honor of it being Mother's Day.  So come back on Sunday to hear and sing songs about mothers, family, or anything that you can bring a relationarish insight into (yes I made that word up, sue me).

The Classical Corner was next, and since I have no piano-playing experience and usually listen to only Judy Garland or Morrissey CD's, I was fascinated by Mark Janas' talents as pianist and teacher.  The music festival he is attending (along with Julie Reyburn and Marquee Five) this summer at Skytop, PA, is doing a jewelbox version of Carmen, and it occurred to him to introduce to Salon how an opera is created.  He brought in many versions of Carmen in book/paper form, starting with the 50-page novella by Prosper Mérimée (written in 1845).  He then showed the libretto, which is adapted from the novella not like a musical (which is direct and more "realistic") but instead is written in an elevated, poetic language.  Musicals "vamp 'til ready" all the time, but operas are precicely written to make the music lead the show rather than the drama and lyrics/dialogue (as traditionally in musical theater).  The composer will then take the libretto and create some sort of musical sketch.  Carmen's character is adamant and uncompromising; even the "Habanera" tango bass intro in the left hand, the "D" is unwavering in staying on its own (ie, it does not change with the chord progression).  Then Don Jose's character is revealed with a beautiful aria, which Christopher Sierra obligingly and gorgeously sang the "Flower Song"—"La fleur que tu m'avais jetée."  Mark revealed that "Toreador" is a made up word from Carmen, and then went into how the structure of the music surrounding Carmen's death (spoiler!) hinted at an ironic combination of death, culture, and the "dark eye" of fate and love awaiting.  Once the overall structure of each character's piece, setting, events, and scene structure is created, an orchestral score (the biggest book, containing the vocal line and each instrument's line of notes from start to finish, is made (composers used to do their own, but modern musical composers often hire others to do so...not opera composers).  Eventually, a reduced singer/piano version is created for easy travel to and from the theater, and to and from open mics like The Salon!

After the break, it was MY TURN! MY TURN! MY TURN!  I first sang "Twelve-Tone Melody," a decidedly silly, discordant, but loving letter from Leonard Bernstein to Irving Berlin.  Then, Sierra forced me to take a break on the piano (talk about indignity!) and sang "There's A Fine, Fine Line" from Avenue Q, a show that she's been gunning for ever since she saw the touring production in Los Angeles.  I was then called back to stage and sang one of my favorite new "special material" songs, "My Moment" by Hector Coris.  Hector moved away to Arizona, but is returning May 12-15th to perform "Around the World in a Bad Mood" for four performances at The Duplex - more info here.  You can watch video of "My Moment" here.

Next to jump onto the creative Salon trampoline was Adam Shapiro (who is a wonderful teddy bear of a guy) and Tanya Moberly (who is a fantastic playdate, but watch out!). They sang "The Doctor is In" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and even had an adorable "Psychiatrist Help 5c" poster to create just the right setting for the song and these characters.  Tanya is singing at the Zani's Furry Friends "LOVE MAKES THE WORLD GO 'ROUND" benefit concert at Birdland on May 7th, so if you like entertainment and helping animals, definitely go!  And speaking of animals, the sassy Elaine St. George was next.  She told us a great story of loving The Cowsills (the real-life model for The Partridge Family) as a kid, and how she asked her parents for the Cowsills' version of their hit song "Hair," but got the Original Broadway Cast Album of Hair instead.  Elaine then sang "Sodomy" with some of her own original lyrics to reflect upon the life lessons she learned as a kid listening to the OBA of Hair.  Elaine is currently performing her show "InspiRAYtion" at the Metropolitan Room - the last show is this Monday, May 9th, and Sierra tells me it's a great show (part tribute of the music of Ray Charles and part roast of the man, well-crafted, funny, and beautiful) - go see it if you can! 

The Whistler Steve Herbst sang next, with Bill Zeffiro at the piano, performing "Scarlet Ribbons," a simple ballad dedicated "for everyone with little girls out there."  Louisa Poster, who is appearing in the Israel Horovitz play Line at the Thirteenth Street Rep. Theater (the longest Off-Broadway show!) sang the delightful "Dipsy Doodle" from her Betty Hutton tribute show.  Christopher Sierra and Adam Behlen then sang a duet-mashup of "They Say That Falling in Love is Wonderful" and "Song on the Sand," providing an example of how art imitates life (as Mark put it) as well as a great example of onstage teamwork, and with beautiful young male voices to boot!  Adam Shapiro returned to the stage to sing about where he'd like to go on vacation, that pilgrimage of childhood itself, "Disneyland."  It was a great power ballad, full of joy, yearning, humor, and high belt notes!  Tommy Shull, who is practically a baby himself (haha) then sat at the the piano and played a moving piano piece, "Charle's Motivation," originally written by Tommy for a movie score and dedicated to his twin brother.  Unfortunately, I learned Tommy's brother isn't single...darn!  Bill Zeffiro then played the lovely "Waltz For Debbie," which had a gorgeous instrumental opening, followed by sweet and lovely vocals.  I then closed the evening with "What a Wonderful World," reminding everyone to keep the "kid" inside them alive, and to never forget to take the time to look at things with an innocent, open, youthful attitude, and always with that "wide-eyed-in-wonder" perspective.

Sierra and I thank The Salon so much for having me and co-host! A terrific time was had!
Erin Cronican
THIS SUNDAY, the beautiful, talented, lovely, beautiful, smart, beautiful, talented, lovely, blonde and talented Erin Cronican will co-host The Salon, and the theme is "It's All Relative," in honor of it being Mother's Day!!! Feel free to bring your mothers, brothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, or any other people in relation to you, and certainly come sing songs praising them or songs despite (or "to spite") them. Either way - everything and everyone is welcome at The Salon!

Sierra & I love Adam Shapiro!
-Kay "ThePal" Pringle
Guest Blogette for The Salon
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