Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up, May 23, 2010 - "Sondheim"

We were visited by Broadway royalty this past Sunday. The theme was "Sondheim," the guest co-host of the evening was Daryl Glenn, and the special guest performer was Len Cariou, best known as the original Sweeney Todd (Tony win), but also known for A Little Night Music and Applause, amongst many others. Len will soon be seen on the small screen as "Henry Reagan" in Blue Bloods, which will premiere this fall on CBS. Watching Len Cariou was a master class all in itself, but I'm getting ahead of myself!

Daryl Glenn (2009 Bistro, MAC and Nightlife Award-winner) was a fun and spritely co-host. He recently performed Daryl Sings Steve, a Stephen Sondheim show at Feinstein's, so Sondheim was right on the tip of his tongue and a perfect host for this theme. He plans on bringing back this show to New York in the Fall, he says. And there was a LOT of Sondheim music, Sondheim parodies, and Sondheim-influenced work on stage that evening. Daryl started the show off with "Live Alone and Like It," "What Can You Lose?" and the fun "Back in Business." Next, David Green sang "Look at That Face" (his wife, Judy Kaye, is performing in Paradise Found in London!). After David, funny lady Joan Jaffe performed a riotous chair dance to "Lovely." She will be ready with a CD release in June, and will perform her show Joan Jaffe Sings Funny...Part II at Cafe Eiko at Japanalia in Hartford, CT. Next, Marnie Klar brought the intricately rhythm'd (what do you expect from Sondheim?!?) "Steps of the Palace" from Into the Woods.

Then, a lovely …lady?...billed as "a big tuna from a small cesspool" and named Ethel Mermaid stepped…somehow…onto the sage, replete with fish scales and tiara. Singing "Washed Up Mermaid" to the theme of "Broadway Baby," Ethel (Kevin McMullan) had us in stitches! Jane Glick, who admittedly said Ethel was a tough act to follow, sang the charming "I Never Do Anything Twice" from the film The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Next, Lou Iacovino sang the jazzy "Old Devil Moon." Then Mark Watson sang a lovely ballad written by Bobbie Horowitz entitled "Pictures of You," arranged by Mark Janas with the song "My Favorite Year." Then, Matthew Ward had us imagine Kukla and Ollie on each shoulder as he sang "The Two of You," a charm song written by Sondheim but rejected (!) for the Kukla, Fran & Ollie show (you can read about that here.)

Richard Eisenberg then brought out his most "Sondheim-ish song" entitled "Pearls" to the piano, sung by myself (Sierra Rein), encapsulating the bitter reactions a wife has the all-but-too-late gift of pearls from her husband. Then Arianna sang "Last Midnight" as the Witch (Arianna has played Rapunzel, The Baker's Wife, and the Witch in various productions of the show!). Then, Julie Reyburn was proud to sing "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd in Len's presence. She will return to Feinstein’s at Loews Regency Friday and Saturday July 16th and 17th, both shows @ 8:30pm. We then had back to back Follies with Anne Dawson reminding us how "Broadway Baby" was originally sung (with gusto and bravado), Alice Evans heartfully singing "Losing My Mind," and Maureen Taylor crooning "Too Many Mornings." To finish out the first half, Mark Levy brought in "Welcome Home," Sierra Rein sang "The Miller's Son" from A Little Night Music (a role I would die to play), and Jan Brennan sang "What More Do I Need" from Marry Me A Little. Finally, Erin Cronican tenderly sang then belted the penultimate Sondheim song from Company, "Being Alive."

After a 15 minute intermission, Len Cariou was introduced to thunderous applause as the evening's special guest. And it was a special night for Len, as his wife Heather was graciously celebrating her birthday evening in our presence. After singing Happy Birthday with cake and candles for his wife (she later yelled out "This was the best Birthday EVER!"), Len sang "Marry Me a Little" to her (aww!). After a short behind the scenes look at the theme of Sweeney Todd (I didn't know it was the Dies Irae backwards!), Len brought back Sweeney himself to the stage yet again, singing "The Barber and His Wife" and then a duet of "Pretty Women" with Daryl Green (which, as he spoke about to me afterwards, was a dream come true!). Then, Len sang "Anyone Can Whistle." Len walked back to his seat, but after such a huge ovation, he returned for an encore (as Daryl yelled from the audience, "I was wondering who was going to follow you!"). Len then told us the story of being promised the 11 o'clock number from A Little Night Music throughout the writing and workshopping process, only to be told it was going to the leading lady…well, he got to at least sing it at Etcetera Etcetera, bringing many tears to many eyes with "Send in the Clowns."

The Classical Corner with Mark Janas was about Stephen Sondheim's admitted inspirations, including Stravinsky and Ravel. He played the first movement of the shimmery piece "Ondine" from Gaspard de la nuit by Maurice Ravel, inspired by the poems of Aloysius Bertrand. In it, one could hear the future trills and repetitive melodic motions that were to be eventually heard in Sondheim works, the "machine" of the accompaniment, as it were.

Her ability to spit more words per minute was evident in Tanya Moberly's rendition of "Sunday in the Park With George," offering both the tender and sharp edges to her voice. Whitney Chapman then brought a unique Sondheim song - one that was written for an unproduced film Singing Out Loud (written by William Goldman with slated director Rob Reiner), in which a "bad" song was meant to be sung by one of the leads. The song, "Sand," was certainly not the *best* Sondehim song ever, but it had enough clever turns of phrases as to not put it in the *bad* category, and with Chapman singing it, it certainly was not! Next, Penny Fuller came up to sing a brilliantly arranged "pastiche/mashup" of Sondheim songs called "I Won't Sing a Sondehim Song", arranged by Barry Kleinbort.

Then we had a mini reunion of sorts, as Sarah Rice (the original Johanna) took the stage to sing as Len watched in the audience. She sang "Fear No More," a ballad from Sondheim's Frogs that matched her glorious voice. Sarah has two more performances of her Bistro-winning show Screen Gems on June 14th and 21st (7pm) at the Laurie Beechman Theater. After Sarah, Christian Sineath - coming straight from the Manhattan School of Music and going straight to sing in a few concerts in Italy this summer - sang Kurt Weill's "What Good Would The Moon Be." Then, Liz Ulmer flirted through "The Girls of Summer" from Marry Me A Little. Then, still after Julie Reyburn's beautiful rendition of "Not While I'm Around" earlier in the evening was fresh in our minds, Keni Fine brought in a hilarious parody lyric of it, replete with mafioso attitude as "Not While I'm in Town." Then David Ballard presented perfect casting as Jack from Into The Woods with "Giants in the Sky." We next had Bill Zeffiro, writer/composer/pianist and favorite of The Salon, singing one of the loveliest songs from Anyone Can Whistle, "With So Little to be Sure Of." Daryl Glenn then closed off this amazing night of Sondheim and song with "So Many People."

Len Cariou & Sarah Rice

-Sierra Rein
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1 comment:

  1. Wow, it was even more amazing than I imagined! So sorry to have missed it! Janice Hall