Monday, August 12, 2013

The Salon Wrap-up for August 11, 2013 "Blood, Sweat and Tears - Summer in New York"

There was blood.  There was sweat.  There were tears and a lot of cheers on The Salon stage this past Sunday! The theme, "Blood, Sweat, and Tears - Summer in New York" was inspired by the heat and love we have for the things we do to stay in New York City. 

The Guest Host and blood-letter on the blacks and whites was Steven Ray Watkins, who has won multiple MAC and Bistro awards and has been actor, vocal and music director for the musical and cabaret stages across the country, as well as a music director and session pianist.  His dexterity and fluidity in playing many different musical styles came into play on Sunday, as the singers made him musically sweat and work for his Guest Hosting duties!

Steven Ray Watkins
On the mic as Co-Host for the evening was MAC President, Multiple MAC, Bistro & Nightlife Award Winner, star of solo show "Bloody Bloody Lennie Watts, and teacher of the Cab lab, Arrangement Experience, Sing Your Story, and Cablab Master Edition classes (all starting back up in September) - Lennie Watts

Lennie Watts
Lennie got us on the right foot right off the bat, singing "New York City Rhythm," a pulsing rock song extolling the humanity, grease, sweat and love inherent in the Big Apple. Natasha Castillo quickly followed Lennie with "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Good Enough," which may be a hint of what's to come in her March 2014 show - she's taking Lennie's class and will feature all she's learned! We then got a treat - Mark Janas walked through the door in shorts and a ballcap, fresh from his tour (more on that later), and sat down in the front row, ready to enjoy The Salon from the audience's POV.  After we welcomed Mark back, MAC Hanson Award-winner Elaine St George took a bare-bones and tearful look at the sweat and blood sacrificed in war, singing a cappella the song "The Ballad of Penny Evans" by Steve Goodman - her new show will feature Goodman compositions, and will take place on October 30th, 2013 at Don't Tell Mama.  Next, the ever-effervescent Bobbie Horowitz sang the Horowitz-Spector song "Something's Rotten in Transylvania," which bemoaned the not-so-bloody afterlife she was leading with her Bat-man.  Bobbie will be heard on a Radio show tomorrow - Cabaret Matinee, and will honor composers such as Ervin Drake and John Meyer on October 14th at the Metropolitan Room.  The lovely Marnie Klar took to the mic next, singing "F---ing Perfect" by Alecia Moore, a song that means more now to her than when she first sang it two years ago.  She'll be a featured performer at the Concert for City Greens September 11th and is working on a new show (currently TBD). 

We next had a set of performers singing with Barry Levitt at the piano, the first being his songwriter-in-arms Sunny Leigh, who sang their common composition, the swinging but bitingly honest "This Can't Go On."  They will celebrate her CD release on September 15th at 4pm at the Metropolitan Room!  Barry continued to play for Oldest Chorus Boy Lou Iacovino, who sang the theme-appropriate "Cry Me a River."  Lou is the Oldest Chorus Boy in the upcoming benefit production of the Opera AIDA, performing at the Most Precious Blood Church August 24th at 7:30pm.  Edie Stokes was next to sing with Barry, this time performing the lovely "I'll Be Tired of You" by Harburg and Schwartz, which featured a snazzy instrumental break by Mr. Levitt.  Barry is MD on Edie's upcoming show, "'Tis Autumn," which can be caught on September 22nd at Don't Tell Mama.

Todd Monroe, ever to bring in his puppy-dog eyes, brought in the adorable "Snoopy" by Clark Gesner.  Todd is a student of Gretchen Reinhagen and showed off how charming and sweet he could be with a song.  He just debuted his first show and is currently working on his next. Jaye Maynard, who had good news to start off her song, rocked the positive with "You Make Me So Very Happy" from the band Blood, Sweat and Tears (appropriately!) - her Blossom Dearie tribute will have a double-coast tour, performing in Los Angeles in September and in New York City in October.  The ebullient Ann Dawson - wearing a shirt that could have been artfully soaked in blood - sang "I Love This Place" by Amanda McBroom (the place guessed it!...New York!)  As she stated, "I wanted to sing about a Summer in New York through the eyes of a Tourist." 

Cabaret teacher, vocal coach, and musical theater/cabaret perfomer Gretchen Reinhagen was next, who was able to relate the tears of joy she shed when she married her wife in the Etcetera Etcetera room, and then sang a gorgeous mashup of "What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life/If Ever I Would Leave You."  Her Gretchen Reinhagen Studios presented An Afternoon With Director, Barry Kleinbort last month, and continues to present classes, private coachings, and Cabaret direction - check out her website for more information - and she'll be Co-Hosting The Salon this coming Sunday.  David Ballard, who has been experiencing great success at the BMI Workshop as a lyricist, showed off his skills by singing his original composition, "Give Me New York."  A few of his original songs will be featured in his upcoming debut show, "Having It All" - September 24th at 7pm, September 25th at 9:30pm, October 11th at 7pm & October 12th at 5pm at Don't Tell Mama, directed by our very own Tanya Moberly.  Your Blogette of the evening, moi,  Sierra Rein, next sang a combination of Irving Berlin's "Say It Isn't So" and Cole Porter's "Down in the Depths." After having performed on Disney Cruise Line and with Marquee Five last week, I can now be hired with the Definitely Dickens Holiday Carolers this upcoming Holiday season for Business and Private parties.

The Salon Spotlight of the evening was the funny and adorable Lois Morton, who has her "20th Century Girl: The Lois Morton Songbook" and several CDs full of her wit, humor and fun style of song, and her show of the same name will be at the Duplex on September 19th.  Lois' "The Diet Song" was nominated for a MAC Award, and it was clear from the songs she performed on Sunday why she became a contender.  She sat at the piano herself and started out her set with a hilarious patter song reacting to the calm-voiced announcers on drug ads called "Side Effects."  If yodeling is your thing, you should have heard Lois next add some high notes to her song "Road Rage," which brought me back to my days trying to drive to auditions in Los Angeles.   Finally, and with Steven Ray Watkins at the piano, she sang "The Last Goodbye," a heartwrenchingly beautiful ballad in loving memory of her late husband - it was a gorgeous French-style song that could have been voiced by Edith Piaf, so beautiful it was. 

Lois' show "20th Century Girl: The Lois Morton Songbook" can be seen at The Duplex on September 19th at 7pm, and will feature Kim Grogg, Mary Lahti, Lois herself, Georga Osborne and Sidney Myer, with Musical Direction by Paul Greenwood and Direction by Lennie Watts.  Plus! Part of the proceeds will benefit The Queens College Political Science Department Henry Morton Scholarship, so go do something that won't make you sweat much to support!

Lois Morton, our Salon Spotlight of the week
Steven’s Corner came from the thing that he associated with blood, sweat and tears the most - WORK!  He wonderfully chose three songs about workers in a variety of careers.  The first was a wonderful song by Rupert Holmes called "Studio Musician," which Steven artfully mixed "Piano Man" into to give it a lovely textured layer.  Phil Vasser's rock n' roll "Athens Grease" (a tribute to a "Redneck Picasso", the artist with automobiles) came next, followed by Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman."  All three songs featured Stevens incredibly energetic and pinpoint piano playing and glorious vocals. 

Second Set

After the break, our Co-Host of the evening, the witty and sharply taunting Lennie Watts had his own big break at the microphone.  And what a break it was - he started out with the rousing "Bucket of Chicken," which was only the best commercial jingle for fried chicken EVER.  Bringing up thoughts of sweating and eating chicken on a leather couch on a hot New York night, Lennie then brought us into a more somber mood with "I Who Have Nothing."  But then he brought the house down with a hilarious rendition of "Old MacDonald" that featured the farmer's "Socially-Challenged" fowl and barnyard brethren.  Lennie is a master actor at these songs, and whether through pathos or humor made each song shine beautifully - and he had the patter to link one song to the next.  A great mini-Master Class of what can be learned from his teachings!

Our Producer Extraordinaire, Tanya Moberly, then stood with Mark Janas at the piano (taking a break from being just "an observer") and sang the sultry yet opinionated Sondheim song, "The Girls of Summer."  She'll be performing at the September 11th Concert for City Greens and is directing David Ballard's upcoming show.  A new show of hers will be debuting in November as well!  Mark Janas stayed at the piano to sing "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah," the classic woe-is-me camp song that reminded him of his recent Tennessee workshop (learning new things about Choir Directing with 137 other Choir Directors) as well as teaching 21 kids at the Buck Hill Skytop Music Festival.  He did so with fellow Salon regular Steve Schalchlin, and apparently it was a fantastic experience. 

And speaking of fantastic experiences, we once again got to revel in Marissa Mulder singing some Jimmy Van Heusen, this time "Darn That Dream" with Bill Zeffiro at the piano.  Lennie ribbed her on winning every award under the sun (really, it was just the Noel Coward, MetroStar, and Julie Wilson awards, but who's counting except Lennie!), and we were happy to hear that she's bringing back her Jimmy Van Heusen show "All The Way" tomorrow, Tuesday the 13th at 7pm and Sunday the 18th at 7pm at the Metropolitan Room.  Bill Zeffiro stayed at the piano to sing his scathingly witty "Better Than Nothing" ditty and reminded us that he "hasn't done anything," which is a load of something unmentionable - he's MDing Marissa's show and is a staple to singers in Cabaret everywhere.  Indeed, he stayed at the 88's to play for Sharon Hunter, who belted out joyously Billy Joel's "Only The Good Die Young," which will be in her show "Sharon Hunter and Her 70's Men" at Don't Tell Mama September 21st and 25th at 7pm.  Charlotte Patton also kept Bill at the piano to sing Alan Menken's song "Ah Men," which can be heard in her "Looking for Love in the 21st Century" show at the Duplex - the last show is this Thursday night.

Von Decarlo (yes she was named after Yvonne) brought some 60's soul into the mix by singing Donna Summer's "A Man Like You" - her musical improv show at the PIT will be seen on this coming Saturday on August 17th, and her debut show full of Summer's music is currently being worked on with the help of Lennie Watts and Steven Ray Watkins.  Next up was Zach Wobensmith, bringing in the beautiful Jerry Herman ballad "Loving You" from the movie version of "Mame," a song about how blood, sweat and tears can sometimes pay off.  Zach's solo debut show "Stiff Upper Lip" will be at The Duplex on September 12th and 14t, both at 7pm.  Barb Malley, looking very summer-y in a floral dress, effortlessly sang a Bossa Nova version of "Bali Hai" from South Pacific. Barb has a promo for "Swoon" dating service out - take a gander at Phylis Rosenberg on YouTube, and her show "Out of Order" will be at Don't Tell Mama August 21st at 7:30pm.  Joe Miller next sang the song of the tearful Depression (last century's, not this century's) anthem, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" Bennett Silverstein brought the funny and then the fun with Van Heusen and Cahn's "Come Fly With Me."  His Cabaret debut at Don't Tell Mama, featuring Van Heusen's work, will be on October 13th, 2013, directed by Gretchen Reinhagen.  Tall and sweet Eli Gilbert, returning to singing after a small break, then sang "Not That Different" by Karen Taylor-Good and Joie Scott.  Eli is taking Lennie's class and loves it more than anything, so we're happy he came and shared what he's learning with us!

Rounding out the evening, composer and lover-of-Central Park Richie Eisenberg sang "Walk in the Park," his ode to love born in the paths of New York City parks.  Carly Ozard, who just performed at a Queen convention in Toronto, performed "Hello In There," a gorgeous John Prine song about old age, loneliness, and the need to connect to people after years and years have gone by.  It was beautifully done, and a hint at what may be in her upcoming Bette Midler show (TBD).  Lennie Watts closed the evening with his blues-rock rendition of "Tomorrow" from Annie, a clear answer to the question of when the blood, sweat and tears *might* stop flowing...but that remains to be seen...


The theme is going to be "Guilty Pleasures," which is a dangerous topic indeed for the average Salon crowd.  So come with your songs about food, sex, love, compositions by songwriters you can't stand to admit you adore, or works about people you love to hate or hate to love or feel guilty just thinking about!  The Co-Host of the evening will be Gretchen Reinhagen, who is a top Cabaret teacher, director, and singer. As a quote from Back Stage and Citysearch critic Roy Sander illustrates, “Gretchen Reinhagen's shows are marked by intelligence, warmth, a lovely spirit of benevolence, and fine vocals. It is always a pleasure to spend an hour in her company.” Well WE get to spend three+ with her this coming Sunday!

Gretchen Reinhagen - next week's Co-Host!
The Host of the evening will be the returning Mark Janas (although he may look like Tracy Stark at the beginning of the evening, since he may waltz in a little late and hopefully looking a little guilty to match the theme).  So come and celebrate his full return to The Salon!

Tracy Stark (not Mark Janas)
THIS is Mark Janas
-Sierra Rein
Blogette for The Salon
Please email me if I goofed.

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