Friday, August 12, 2011

The Salon Wrap-Up for August 7, 2011: "Opposites Attract!"

We deal in opposites every day: from Fortissimo to pianissimo, from too hot in the Summer to too cold in the Winter. Elaine St. George has made a career about singing the opposite of what is expected of her - usually singing songs meant for male characters and voices, and she doesn't change the lyrics to cow-tow to conventions. She simply sings the songs as written! The evening's theme was "Opposites Attract," and from the get-go, Elaine co-hosted with humor and wit.

She opened up the evening with "Maria" from West Side Story, which certainly works in for female voice as well as a male voice! She then introduced Stephen Hanks, who sang "Castles in the Air" by Don McLean. He is Co-Producer of The Fartiste, which will have previews this fall in October, and is also excited to be on the board for the Musical Mondays Theater Lab.  We then had a Hanks double-feature surprise - Stephen was proud to watch his daughter, Jean Hanks, perform "Take Me Or Leave Me" from Rent.  Jean (who wowed us with her songwriting skills a few weeks ago) will be a Sophomore this September, and the whole audience wished this talented lady the best!  After Jean, we heard Marya Zimmet, who coo'ed with velvet tones through "You Go to My Head."  Her debut show will be announced soon - more information to come!  We then heard a unique take on Cole Porter's "Down in the Depths," as sung and played on piano by Ivan T√∂rzs, who mixed a samba feel with Gershwin-like licks and flourishes.  As he described it, it was "a girl's song sung with liberties." 

Mark then grabbed the mic to introduce his old friend, David Shenton.  David is both a classical and jazz pianist, and a violinist to boot.  He came up to the stage area with his violin, then sat down at the piano.  We were puzzled.  David then started playing a jazzy version of "All of Me" with two hands on the piano, all the while with his bow in his lap and his violin tucked under his chin.  He then broke into a classical rendition of the song - thus showing the "opposite" of jazz - and then began an amazing solo-violin-duet, seamlessly alternating passages of violin, then passages (or bumped chords) of piano.  Then, with the right hand hitting the piano keys and the left hand strumming the violin, David played both at the same time!!!! Hot damn, the audience was at their feet immediately after this display of musician-and-showmanship mixed in one!  David is part of O Sole Trio, a performance group consisting of himself, his wife Erin Shields, and Giuseppe Spoletini, and they specialize in Italian works.  They are performing at Cafe Vivaldi this Friday August 12th at 9:45pm, and September 1st, 7pm, at the Metropolitan Room, and then September 12, 19th, and 26th at 9:30pm, and October 3rd at 9:30pm. Check David out at http://www.shentonmusic.com/ and check out http://www.osoletrio.com/ to visit the trio's site!

Next to the piano was Anita Hollander and her daughter Holland Hamilton, who took the other mic to sing with her mother on "For Good" from Wicked.  It was such a beautiful and touching thing to see and hear, especially after hearing that Holland has been mouthing the words to her mother's songs since she was 3.  Holland had just returned from playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret and Flora in Flora the Red Menace (a modern-day Liza Minelli!).  Anita is a composer herself, and will perform the role of Job's wife in the musical The Song of Job 9:11, by Danny Ashkenasi - they will perform Job in numerous locations around New York City in September - dates and times can be found here.  We then heard from Bill Zeffiro, who performed his piece "Happy Birthday, Mrs. Parker", since August is the Birth Month of Dorothy herself.  As to the opposites theme? "She's dead, I'm alive," as Bill explained.  He will perform at La Mediterrane each Tuesday night, from now until Kingdom Come.  After Bill, we heard from Emily Bergl (with Bill on piano), singing her multiple-opposites vision of "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart."  She is performing her show "Kidding on the Square" at the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room from August 30th - September 10th!

Next, we heard Alan Safier, who sang a real and honest rendition of "Simple Little Things," a song typically sung by a young heroine, from 110 In the Shade.  His new CD is available on the web via Amazon.com, and will perform his George Burns show "Say Goodnight, Gracie" - http://www.alansafier.com/.   Erin Shields, who is married to David Shenton and was born in Chicago and studied opera in Indiana (like Mark), then stood at the mic.  She has a classic 40's beauty and a gorgeous voice - she sang while David played the piano on an amazing version of "My Funny Valentine," with Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" as the accompanying music. Excellently played and performed! After Erin, Elizabeth Tryon did a feisty, flirty rendition of "Chacun le Salt" - an uptempo opera aria.  Her show "Where the Music Takes Me" will be at Feinstein's on Tuesday August 16th at 8:30pm, with Mark Janas at the piano's helm.   We then heard from this upcoming Salon's co-host, Marianne Challis, who brought in a "ditty" comedy uptempo song - the hilarious "Tom Cruise Scares Me."   David Ballard sang the funny "Way Ahead of My Time" and annouced that he will be co-hosting The Salon on Septemer 18th.  The theme will be his signature sign-off, "Does Anybody Need A Drink?" He's also leaving to be in Guys and Dolls on Fire Island, and we are crossing our fingers as he submits himself to the BMI lyricist program.  Shana Farr, our Etceterette of the evening, then sang "Living in the Shadows" from Victor/Victoria (certainly a song about opposites!).  Her Julie Andrews show "Whistling Away The Dark" performs at the Metropolitan Room this Monday at 9:30pm and this Wednesday at 7pm.

We then had Classical Corner! This was an impromptu situation, as Mark did not know that David Shenton was going to attend The Salon until that night, so they decided to put both heads and all four hands together to play a four-hand piano piece written by Franz Schubert.  These sort of pieces were written during a time when chamber music - or indeed, living-room entertainment - was the only form of fun musicians could have in the household (this was before recorded music).  With Mark playing the lower keys, and David playing the top, they exemplified an amazing array of coordination.  Their heads bobbed up and down, breathing together, and allowed body movements and breaths (for the most part) to signal to one another changes in rhythm and tone.  I say "for the most part" because they interjected comments to each other and to the audience to explain certain moments (jibs against Franz Schubert, confused page turns, and the gin and tonics running through their system were all topics of conversation).  They achieved another standing ovation, and we took a break!

Elaine St. George began the second half of the evening with a beautiful but somber sing-through of "I Won't Send Roses."  Then, she introduced the next two songs in her set by saying "I thought I would take advantage and sing the opposite of what I usually sing about...MEN."  She then invited Kay ThePal Pringle (a former co-host of The Salon) to join up with her and sing "Marry The Man Today" from Guys & Dolls.  Elaine learned how to laugh girlishly from Kay, and Kay learned how to leave the fist for after... :)  Myself, Sierra Rein (who's hand was up Kay for the duration of the duet) then let the audience know of Marquee Five's upcoming CD, as well as her future engagement in City of Angels at Goodspeed this Fall.  To complete her set, Elaine sang an utterly brilliant combination of "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" from My Fair Lady and "I'm Not Getting Married Today," the tongue-twisting spitfire song from Company.  It was brilliant!

Producer Tanya Moberly, who is performing at Don't Tell Mama on Octoer 17th, 24th, November 7th and 14th, and who is directing Marnie Klar on October 3rd, Novemer 1st and December 5th, then got up to the mic herself.  She sang "Feelings," an adorable song sung by Eve about her new beau, Adam.  Mary Walsh, with David Shenton at the piano, then had her Salon debut and sang "I Wish I Were in Love Again," a perfect song for the theme of the evening, due to all the opposite-based lyrics!   Jaye Maynard then popped up to sing "I'm Shadowing You," a song by Blossom Dearie from her show "Bird Amongst the Blossom," a tribute to the first Blossom Dearie Songbook.   Jon Delfin played piano for her, and she announced that she will be at the United Solo Festival on 42nd from October thru to November.  We then heard from Marnie Klar, who will have her cabaret debut (a rock-themed show directed by Tanya) in October.  She sang a heartfelt version of "Unusual Way" with sweetness and innocence that it changed the song's usually somber tones to an uplifting love song. 

We then got a whole chain of complete opposites in a row - Richard Eisenberg sang from his repertoire, but from the voice of a female character.  He got down and dirty and Minelli-esque whilst singing "Liza," a song about yearning to sing like her in every way possible.  Then we had Tony Imgrund, who stepped away from his typical ballad style to sing "See What I Want to See" by Michael John LaChiusa, a funky blues-50's romp combining the conversation of two very opinionated people - it was great!  Chanteuse Janice Hall then brought a Marlene Deitrich-empowered song "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" from My Fair Lady, which Marlene herself did not change the lyrics of when she sang it.  Janice is off to shoot a movie too, so who knows if she'll become the next Marlene on screen.  Next, Stephanie Zagora came up to sing "Some Enchanted Evening" and explained that she thought of who her opposite was, and she came up with Ezio Pinza!  Very funny, and the song was beautiful.  Barb Malley then sang "To Keep My Love Alive," a morbidly funny tribute to heterosexual love.  We then had another debut! Jamie Salzano expertly performed "Everything I've Got Belongs to You," which sounds like a good thing, but...uhhh...isn't in this case!  Kevin McMullan then brought back his Carol Channing impersonation for a brief moment to show what she would sound like doing Shakespeare (and giving all reverence to Richard Skipper in the process) before singing "I Put My Hand in There" from Hello, Dolly! in his own voice.  He is starting a Kickstarter.com campaign for a CD version of his show "Twist of Fate" - more information soon!  To end the evening, we heard from Marie McGowan, who sang the lovely "You Fascinate Me So."  Then our spunky, sassy, ever-so-talented co-host, Elaine St. George, brought in Springsteen's "Jersey Girl," even though she informed us that her lady is not from Jersey at all.  But the sentiment was still there! It was an excellent, fully-packed evening with SO much unique song and performance choices!

THIS SUNDAY! The optional theme for the evening is “Black & White”. Bring in songs from Black & White Films like SOME LIKE IT HOT or Television Shows like “The Addams Family” or anything ranging from“That Old Black Magic” to songs from The White Album. Our Co-Host will be the Bistro and Hanson Award Winning Marianne Challis! Marianne will be at The Astor Center, 399 Lafayette St. (at East 4th St.) NYC 10003 on September 19th at 6:30pm in “Wine, Women & Song”. For more information: http://www.astorcenternyc.com/ / http://www.mariannechallis.com/.

All themes and co-hosts are up at http://markjanasthesalon.blogspot.com/ if you wish to plan ahead!  See you at The Salon!

Our lovely Co-Host, Elaine St. George

David Shenton is quite, quite, QUITE handy!!!

Mother and Daughter, Anita and Holland Hamilton

Alan Safier sings tenderly

Richie Eisenberg shows off his inner Diva!

Tony Imgrund sasses it up, hilariously!


-Sierra Rein
The Blogette for The Salon
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