Monday, September 9, 2013

The Salon Wrap-Up for September 8, 2013: "Life Is a Bitch"

Mary Foster Conklin in "Life Is a Bitch" at The Metropolitan Room
"Life Is a Bitch" held our attention as the theme of this past week's Salon, bringing out the sarcastic, bitter, wry, hilarious, and opinionated part in all of us.  Our Host, Mark Janas, even wore a NY Times Crossword tie, which to him is "a bitch" to do!  The Co-Host of the evening was the scintillating Mary Foster Conklin, who (along with Dan Furman at the piano) dazzled us with the first song, a jazzy Eddie Arkin-Lorraine Feather patter song, "I Know The Way to Brooklyn."  The theme of the evening was taken from the title of Mary's upcoming show, a showcase of beat poet Fran Landesman's work.  Mary certainly set the evening in a Jazz mode - there was a lot of swinging and biting lyrics to fit the hostess and theme, and more than once she described a pianist as someone who "swings like a dead dog on a rope."  She introduced returnee Donna Hayes, who powerfully sang "Fifty Percent" by Bergman/Goldenberg.  An encore performance of her fourth solo Cabaret show, "The People We Meet Along The Way" will take place at the Metropolitan Room on September 19th at 7pm.  After Donna came the usually ebullient Jim Speake, this time revealing a different side of himself by singing Eddy Arnold's "You Don't Know Me," a bittersweet ballad that showed off the heart on his sleeve in a lovely way.  After a bit of ribbing on Adam Shapiro for winning the MAC Award he was nominated for, Jim bonded with Mary over being a part of the community of bitchy "loser nominees" out there.  Bistro Award-winner Parker Scott next delved into himself to reveal the Flamboyant Diva Las Vegas Bitch inside with a Peter Allen song, "Not The Boy Next Door," complete with a few chacha moves.  He will be showing all angles of wanting "to be" in his new Metropolitan Room show, "Someone," (which will include a tribute to Matthew Shepherd) September 16th at 9:30pm, plus dates in October and into November at the Metropolitan Room.  Elaine St. George then sang Steve Goodman's reality check on life, the country song "Somebody Else's Troubles."  Her new show will take place in October at Don't Tell Mama.

 Richard Eisenberg sat at the piano, with Adam Shapiro at the mic to sing a new morosely uplifting (if it can be described in that way) Eisenberg song called "At My Funeral" (I will copy this song's lyrics directly into my own Last Will and Testament!).  Mary introduced "a Cabaret philosopher" to the piano, Barry Levitt, who played for Sunny Leigh on the jazzy and bitter Duke Ellington song, "Everything But You" (with a dangerous throw to Barb Malley)!  Sunny is bringing her CD release show at the Metropolitan Room next Sunday the 15th at 4pm.  Lou Iacovino then fought against the negative to sing the optimistic "Let Me Try Again."  Lou will continue practicing Law (until he gets it right) and is always available for advice.  Gary Crawford stepped up next to sing the toe-tapping, sultry blues number "No One Ever Tells You" by Atwood and Coates, singing with lovely deep tones and turns of phrase (along with some awesome fingering of the keys by Barry Levitt).  Catch Gary in his debut show at the Metropolitan Room October 15th and November 12th at 7pm.

Mark Janas returned to the piano as Mary introduced Bennett Silverstein, who will have his MAC Cabaret debut of his Jimmy Van Heusen show at Don't Tell Mama on October 13th; he sang one of Sammy Cahn/Van Heusen's loveliest movie songs, "The Second Time Around."  Gretchen Reinhagen (a woman of many creative hats) then sang a pitch-and-twitch perfect rendition of the epically funny and manic "Twisted" by Annie Ross and Wardel Gray. Her Cabaret Performance Workshop class (with MD Tracy Stark) is starting up on Tuesday the 17th (it goes until November 3rd), is Directing Bennett and Donna's shows, and will have a new show in March of 2014.  Mary then introduced "one of the hardest working women in Show Business," Broadway singer-Producer (and Harem Girl with Mary in "Joseph And the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat") Raissa Katona Bennett, singing the regretful "Something I Thought I'd Never Do" by Baron and Harris.  This Wednesday, September 11th, her Concert for City Greens will take place (the final concert of the season!) as a hopeful tribute to 9/11, "I Hear America Sing" - it will feature many Salon regulars.  Raissa can also be seen at the Cabaret Convention on October 10th.

Click for larger, detailed version.

Our waiter and advanced BMI workshop lyricist, David Ballard, sang "You Gotta Die Sometime" from William Finn's Falsettos - his debut show "Having It All" will open September 24th at 7pm at Don't Tell Mama with music direction by Garrit Guadan and direction by Tanya Moberly. Mademoiselle Moi-self, Sierra Rein, sang "This Place is Mine" from Maury Yeston's Phantom (and would love a career of playing bitchy musical theater divas!  My vocal group Marquee Five will perform at "Sondheim Unplugged" at 54 Below on September 15th at 7pm.  Etceterette Candice Oden beautifully sang the Fain/Kahal song "I'll Be Seeing You"; she's looking forward to performing in a Bobby Cronin musical reading today and is proud that she holds a "Most Improved in 4th Grade Math" award...hilarious!

Classical Corner

Franz Listz is a bitch - well, his music is difficult to play and demanding - as Mark began to introduce his Classical Corner.  He brought up wunderkind (he's 16 and still in High School) concert pianist, Michael Davidman, who started out with Listz's "La Companella," an 1851 piece with many strange and quick leaps - his slender fingers dancing over the keys!  It almost sounded like a sped-up solo piano recording, so fast did his fingers fly.  He then went on to play Enrico Granados' "Complaint, or the Maiden and the Nightingale," which features many flowing parts, voices, and is deceptively difficult ("a bitch," again Mark described it).  He lastly performed the outrageous Horowitz transcription (when a full orchestra is boiled down to a piano solo) of "The Gypsy Dance" from the Carmen Suite...and boy WAS it a bitchy piece, full of swings and lights and lows and big Diva changes.  What's still amazing is that he performed all these pieces by memory...not one slip of paper in front of him!  Keep his name on your radar and try to catch him in concert halls across the world.

Second Set

Our fabulous Co-Host Mary Foster Conklin, with her sleek and supple voice, started the second act out with three songs, all played with Dan Furman at the piano.  She began with the upbeat and jazzy "Nothing Like You."  She then went on to describe her show, "Life Is a Bitch," which is titled after a poem by beat poet and lyricist Fran Landesman (famous for penning the lyrics to the music of Tommy Wolf on such favorites as "Ballad of the Sad Young Man" and "Spring Can Really Hang You up The Most").  However, Mary loves to delve deeper and use a combination of "years and geekery" to find some Landesmen gems.  This included her next song, with lyrics by Fran and music by Bob Dorough (famous for the music of Schoolhouse Rocks), "Small Day Tomorrow."  Mary then offered the story of how Fran was left alone at a bar as one by one her employed friends left to make way for "a big day tomorrow," inspiring her to pen her "anthem of the unemployed" on a bar napkin.  She then ended her set by reading from the poem "Life Is a Bitch" (apparently one of Bette Davis' favorites), before launching into "It Couldn't Be So Bad It Couldn't Be Worse."

Producer Tanya Moberly, still with Dan Furman at the piano, brought one of my favorite songs of Furman's, "Pluto Song" - this will be one of the songwriter-featured songs in her new show "I Love NY Songwriters" in November (the 1st and 2nd) and December (3rd and 4th) at Don't Tell Mama's.  She's also directing David Ballard's show, and will sing at the Concert for City Greens on Wednesday.  After Tanya, Matthew Martin Ward sat to play for Bistro and MAC Award-winner Janice Hall on a subtle and non-Frank Sinatra version of the Mayer/Mercer hit, "The Summer Wind"; Janice, wearing a summer dress covered in sunflowers, was unhappily saying goodbye to the warm season.  Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics, but few know the original German lyrics, which Janice lovingly sang along with the English translation.  Matthew stayed at the piano to sing the tongue in cheek look on life, "Everything's Great" from Golden Boy - he perform at the 54 Below show "Comedy Cocktail" with Christine Pedi this Tues late at night!  Jane Glick and Dan Furman then sashayed though the completely truthful and hilariously sarcastic list song, "Blizzard of Lies" by Dave Frishberg, from her show of the same name.

Adam Shapiro returned to the stage, and Mark Janas returned to the piano, to sing a no-holds barred "On My Own" from Les Miserables (let's face it, unrequited love is one of the biggest bitches in life).  Adam will be doing Bobbie Horowitz's Unity Church show, will be performing at Raissa's Concert for City Greens on Wednesday, and will be co-hosting Salon's Halloween night on October 27th!  Next to sing was Barb Malley; she sang the knuckle-slapping Comden & Green song "Repent," which is from her show "Out of Order" - a matinee will be at Don't Tell Mama September 22nd at 4pm.  Zach Wobensmith then sang an existential and reflective Kurt Weill song "Lost in The Stars" - he can be seen at the Concert for City Greens this Wednesday and you can catch him at his debut show, "Stiff Upper Lip," at the Duplex this Thursday at 7pm with Matthew Martin Ward at the piano.
Zach Wobensmith in "Stiff Upper Lip"

To wrap up the end of the night, we had Joann Sicoli, who sang "Losing My Mind" from Sondheim's FolliesBill Zeffiro then grabbed the theme by the cajones and sang "The Final Days," a song born from The Salon years ago.  He'll be seen at Don't Tell Mama on September 26th, at the Cabaret Convention, and at the Carlyle on November 15th.  This coming Sunday is also Bill's birthday, so either join him in a drink somewhere in Manhattan during the day, or join him at Salon that night and help drink some more!  Bill then threw the energy back to Mary Foster Conklin, who ended the evening with some thoughtful words.  In Mary's mind, there are two choices in life when coming across the concept of life being a bitch to you: be bitter, or be a philosopher.  And when it comes to existential estrangement, as in "I just woke up...Should I drink a cup of coffee or kill myself?", a lot of philosophers drink coffee.  She ended the evening (with Dan Furman at the piano) with a depart from the theme, singing "Twilight World" by Johnny Mercer and the late Marian McPartland.

Mary Foster Conklin in "Life Is A Bitch"

The Theme of the evening is "Seize The Day!" with Co-Host Cynthia Farrell!  Wear your "Carpe Diem" tshirt or your Newsies hat, and bring in songs about progress, taking control, or just enjoying life to the fullest!

Cynthia Farrell

-Sierra Rein
Blogette for The Salon
Please email me if I got anything wrong-o

No comments:

Post a Comment