Monday, July 30, 2012

The Salon Wrap Up for July 29, 2012 "All About Steve”

What do you get when you combine Broadway, Cabaret, a school, and the circus into one? You get Eric Michael Gillett, our glorious Co-Host of the evening, whose resume runs rampant throughout multiple genres and ouvres and other French words. He has been on Broadway, won numerous Cabaret awards (Bistro) and is a MAC Award-winning Director of Cabaret as well, teaches voice at The Singer's Forum, and was a Ringmaster in the circus for many years. He was the perfect co-host to guide us through the theme "All About Steve," which included much Sondheim, Flaherty and Schwartz as well as a few innovative Steve-isms mixed in. Our wonderful Guest Host at the piano was composer, tenor, voice teacher, and music director Jeff Cubeta, whose experience bridges countless cabaret shows and choral groups. Eric and Jeff were quite entertaining all throughout the evening, as they have worked together on several projects in the past - the jovial bantering between them was hilarious.

Eric Michael Gillett
To begin the evening, Eric brought in an 11 o'clock number (and it was only 7pm!) with "I Was Here," about the human urge to be a storyteller or at least create something that we can leave behind for future generations. Eric is a powerful tenor with an expressive voice, and the Stephen Flaherty/Lynn Ahrens song from The Glorious Ones was certainly relatable by the audience. Following instructions to the "T" to interview the singer while the next performer got ready, Eric then asked himself some questions and then answered them cheekily. But he didn't take too much time to get to introducing Ann Dawson, who brassily belted through "Broadway Baby" from Follies; she had done the show with Marc Jacoby and just loves the song (and could play the role again in a heartbeat). Next up was Lou Iacovino, who heartily and with lots of spunk sang the determined "Let Me Try Again" (a song made famous by Frank Sinatra). We then heard the beautiful "Something Beautiful," sung by Singers Forum student and Salon regular Jane Glick, who will arrive with her own show soon this year. She related that "Something Beautiful" was written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens for Ahren's dying father, and that it was about a specific tree in Central Park, a tree that can be seen today. Sunny Leigh was next, torching the place with torch song "Trouble is a Man" by Alec Wilder - her show "Metro Jazz" will run at The Metropolitan Room in the Fall of 2012, so keep an eye out for her.

We then had an actual Steve on the stage - Steve "the Whistler" Herbst grabbed a stool and the mic and sang "With You" from Stephen Schwartz' Pippin. Steve even has his own t-shirt, emblazoned with the phrase "Whistlers Duet Better" He can currently be heard on one of Valerie Lemon's CDs, whistling for her as part of a duet! And speaking of duets, we had a duo sister act next - Viki and Niki Sorrentino, who sang "Sister Act/Solid Silver," representing the American Dream in full harmony. Their show, "Caught in the Act" can be seen this weekend August 3rd and 4th at 7pm at the Laurie Beechman Theater with Jeff Cubana as musical director/piano. Edie Stokes was next, swinging the swanky "No Moon at All." Edie can be seen at her show "Illusions" at Don't Tell Mama, September 30th at 5:30pm with Barry Levitt and his trio backing her up. After Edie, we heard Cookie Stark (who is in the Top 18 of MetroStar this month!) singing the hilarious yet soul-affirming song "Ready to Begin Again." All I can say is I want to be as fresh and bright as she is when I'm her age - she is marvelous! She will have her own show October 7th, amusingly named "What Can You Give a Nudist For Her Birthday?", a title that made the whole audience laugh. Barb Malley was the following singer, lovingly performing "When The Sun Comes Out."  Next was the amazing MAC Female Vocalist of the Year, the graceful Janice Hall; she sang Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" with gorgeous interpretation. Eric related how her version was in his top renditions ever, although one of the renditions was when Eric sang it while a ballerina danced around a volkswagen while a string of clowns and a goat (!) climbed out of it. Hard to beat that. Janice has a show in Washington DC and is working on other ideas in the meantime.

Last week we had a talented 12 year old, and this week our Young Person to Save the Future of Music was 15 year-old Sage Melcher, one of Eric's voice students, who sang on of her Dad's favorite songs (and her Dad happens to be named Steve...perfect!) - "Someone to Watch Over Me" by George and Ira Gershwin. She has tons of poise, emotion, a gorgeous vibratto and control in her voice, and it was no surprise that she was one of 10 National Finalists in Michael Feinstein's Great American Songbook Academy competition (read more about her here). She's another youngster to keep an eye out for. Next was Raissa Katona Bennett, who sang from her new CD "Another Kind of Light" - the song was "I Furnished My One-Room Apartment" with music by Steven Hoffman and lyrics by Michael Mooney. Raissa will have her CD release party at Feinsteins (with Eric as Director) from August 21st-25th at 8pm. She's also producing the Concerts for City Greens, and the next one is this Wednesday, August 1st (rain date August 2nd), with special guest Neil Sedaka! More information here. Our Etceterette of the evening, Marnie Klar, next sang with Jeff on duet vocals the song "You Are A Tourist," a really fun rockin' song.

It was then time to have The Salon Spotlight, this time trained on Bistro Award Winner Parker Scott. Parker is not only a Cabaret singer but, like a few Salon regulars, also sings impressively in the Opera world. His show will be at the Metropolitan Room on August 9th, and we got a taste to come as he sang three songs, "Let it Sing" (which required some audience call and response to start), the beautiful "No One Has Ever Loved Me" from Stephen Sondheim's Passion, and then sang from his CD, "Selecting Souvenirs." The song in question was originally banned from Parker's audition committee when he was a Sophomore, just because it was from a "controversial" movie - "Play Misty For Me." Of course, the song "Misty" itself (which Parker sang beautifully), is beyond classic and gorgeous, so we tsk tsk'd Parker's old audition fogies for preventing him from singing such an amazing song. But we got to hear him sing it, so THERE!

Parker Scott
After Parker, we got to hear the Cubeta's Corner, featuring our Guest Host and pianist, Jeff Cubeta! He blessed us with two original works, the first one he just finished last week: he sang "Deeper Than A River," a rock love song with very fun lyrics describing all the ways he'd in turn describe his lover (a modern Cole Porter-esque song if I've ever heard one!). Next he introduced Marnie Klar and Alise Holeman to sing backup gospel vocals on his work, "I Wanna Break Free," a song that had everyone swaying to the rhythm and singing along. It was great!

The second half brought Eric Michael Gillett back into the spotlight of the stage, as he sang a three song set. The first was "The Streets of Dublin" by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty from A Man of No Importance; Eric's version, complete with Irish accent and wonderful painting of the scene, made me want to move there and have a pint right away. Eric then regaled us with a "be careful what you wish for" tale of when he was cast in the original Broadway cast of Sondheim's "The Frogs," and no one had deemed it necessary to have him do a dance call. He cheerily then began singing "Make The Most of Your Music," which has a cheeky, ego-filled introduction but which melted into an encouraging and powerful message song. Finally, Eric sang "What More Do I Need," which was featured originally in his last Cabaret show "I Won't Sing a Sondheim Show...or Will I?" You never know with Eric, who is one of the four permanent judges at the MetroStar Competition, running each Monday from July 30th thru August 20th.

Our Producer, Tanya Moberly, then stepped up to do what needed to be done, a Stevie Nicks song! Jeff rocked out and sang backup vocals with her on "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around," then Tanya let us know that her new show, 'Tanya Lorraine Moberly sings Barbra Joan Streisand with Steven Ray Watkins" will be at Don't Tell Mama September 28th, October 18th, November 14th and December 4th. All shows at 7pm. She's also singing the Theme song to The Concerts for City Greens this Wednesday with Bill Zeffiro and is the Stage Manager for the event as well! After Tanya, John Koprowski sang the classic folk song "Mr. Tambourine Man" (with all the lyrics!) His show "Five Years That Rocked the World 1964-1969" will take place in the Fall at the Laurie Beechman Theater. John is on the MAC Board of Directors, and is the Treasurer of the Singer's Forum (Eric gave him extra applause, since John writes his checks for him). We then heard from Amy Williams, who simply and stately performed "Losing My Mind" with effortless emotional thread running through it (she introduced it by saying "I'll sing a happy Stephen Sondheim song...kidding!"). She is currently working on a new show.

Taking a break from slinging pasta and cocktails around the room, David Ballard, who jockily sang (and included dance break moves) to "What Do I Need With Love?" from Thoroughly Modern Millie. David is a lyricist in the second year of BMI, and with his music-writing partner, they will endeavor to write a musical adaptation of the movie My Man Godfrey - that sounds incredible, and I hope to hear from it soon. After David, our lovely regular and sometimes Etceterette Maureen Taylor sang the uplifting "Children of the Wind" from Rags, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, music by Charles Strouse. Her high note at the end (a high B) was breathtaking. We then had a wonderful back-to-back of Wicked songs by Stephen Schwartz. First up was Asami Tsuzuki, from Japan, who adorably and sassily sang "Popular" (Glinda's helpful cheerleader-esque song). She will soon be seen in an MSG Network channel commercial (apparently she booked it on her very first commercial audition!), which will air sometime soon. Her Glinda was followed by Natasha Castillo's emotionally resonant Elphaba, singing "For Good," which was dedicated to her new singing spot, The Salon! Her show will be at The Duplex on November 2, 10th and 16th and is directed by Lennie Watts and musically directed by Steven Ray Watkins.

Next up was Lynn Kearney, who sang "Hot in Here," a torchy blues number. Lynn has a lot of Broadway claim to fame herself, having replaced Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell in the original production of Annie and she toured in the first national company of it, understudying the role of Grace. She has a Cabaret and television career (recently working on The Food Network), but is proud to be returning to her first love, music. Kit Benton was next, soulfully singing "The Human Heart" in honor of her husband, Barry, who was celebrating a birthday today (we all sang him one of our trademarked 7,000-part harmony "Happy Birthday's"). Kit's show "Family Matters" will take place at the Laurie Beechman with Jeff as musical director on October 28th and November 23rd. Richard Eisenberg, who promises to return in November with his showcase show (along with the original cast featuring Adam Shapiro, Erin Cronican, Stacie Perlman and Rob Langeder), sang his ditty "Never Too Late." The powerhouse alto Maria Moncado then sang the beautiful "Chanson," a song she grabbed immediately after hearing it at Terry Ralston's show years ago - it was a knockout! After Maria, Matthew Martin Ward sat at the piano and sang the saucy "Can That Boy Foxtrot," indicating that he had a Steve at home to sing about. Matthew can be seen in an ongoing gig every Wednesday at Ido Sushi on 7th Avenue with a full Operetta Night, so go visit him and bring your arias!

We heard her in a duet earlier, but were then treated to a solo by Niki Sorrentino, who sang "Toxic," cleverly transforming a slinky pop song into a snap-inducing sly swing number. We next heard Susan Hodgdon, who belted through Sondheim's "Sooner or Later" from Dick Tracy. Her show at Don't Tell Mama can be seen on September 9th, a Saturday, at 3pm. We then got a treat by another debut Salon singer (there were a lot of them last night!), David McKay, who artfully swung through Nat King Cole's "If You Can't Smile and Say Yes, Please Don't Cry and Say No" in a beautiful bass-baritone. He can be seen every Tuesday at Momo+Mono and can be found via his Facebook page. Our man-about-tours, Adam Shapiro, was excited to announce that he was going to be playing a dream role, Tateh, in Ragtime, and is leaving to do so in a few weeks. But for us that night, he blasted proudly through "Make Them Hear You" from Ragtime. Bon voyage again, Adam! Next, your blogette, Sierra Rein (or "Rain" as Eric insisted it might be) sang "Love, You Didn't Do Right By Me" from White Christmas with Bill Zeffiro at the piano, in preparation for my stint in the Top 18 at MetroStar. My vocal group Marquee Five will be a part of The Concert for City Greens with Neil Sedaka this Weds - it's free and starts at 6:30, but bring a chair if you have one, as it might get crowded. Bill then stayed at the piano to sing his ever-loved original number, "Lower Your Expectations." Zeffiro (which apparently means "wind" in Italian) will be playing for Julie Reyburn at her Jazz Brunch at the new club 54 Below on August 19th - get your tickets here. Eric Michael Gillette ended the evening with "Separate Lives," a song dedicated "to anyone who has ever been in love with someone who left you and then wanted to stay friends." It was a strong, belted, emotional ending to the evening, written by Stephen Bishop, and we all gave Eric, Parker, Jeff and Tanya (and Mark) a big round of applause.

NEXT WEEK! August 5th The Theme: Oops, I Did It Again with Guest Host: Brett Kristofferson, Co-Host: Angela Shultz and The Salon Spotlight: Mary Foster Conklin and John DiPinto!

-Sierra Rein
Blogette for The Salon
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