Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Salon Wrap-Up for October 17, 2010 - "The Great American Chorus Line-– A Tribute to Gypsies Everywhere"!

Valerie Lemon

It wasn't all bangles and tarot cards, but The Salon was filled with gypsies on Sunday! The theme of the evening was "The Great American Chorus Line-– A Tribute to Gypsies Everywhere," and certainly our co-host of the evening has some wandering in her past - Valerie Lemon guided the singers through the evening, extolling us with stories of her 12 years as principal vocalist for Marvin Hamlisch, in the National Tour of The Student Prince, and her Jane Froman Cabaret show. She will be performing "Valerie Lemon sings Music by Marvin Hamlisch" at Feinstein's this coming Sunday at 8:30!

She started out the night's festivities with an ebullient "Sunshine, Lollypops and Rainbows." Then, David Rigano performed his original (and bet-inspired) piece "One Night in Paris" - David has a slew of things happening: he is co-director of Can I Really Date A Guy Who Wears A Yarmulke?, his show Facing East is being developed by Nathan Gardner with a libretto by Mark Garcia and will have a world premier in 2011 before opening in New York. After David, Kathleen France woke the saints up with "I Just Wanna Be a Star" from Nunsense. She is working on a Linda Ronstadt show for 2011, so keep an eye out for that. Sunny Leigh next sang "Love is Where You Find It" in a gypsy soprano voice. Her CD show "Sweet Feelings" will showcase her pop rock vocals and a full band, at the Metropolitan room on November 6th, 4pm.

Matthew Ward played piano and sang the song "Everything Happens to Me," and then Valerie's good friend Pamela Dayton sang the diva comedic song "Broadway Boogie Woogie" by Ed Kleban. Pamela was a gypsy herself in the tour of "The Producers" and has been on Broadway herself...but as she said "it's not always been an easy road." Michael Colby next sang "The Gypsy Love Song" (music by Gerald Jay Markoe, lyrics by Colby) and had us all singing in the chorus! Next, Marianne Berson sang, with Rolf Barnes at the piano, a Barnes original piece (lyrics by Mary Rich) called "I Can't Handle the Loneliness." The two of them will be working on a CD, to be announced and released soon.

We then had a treat from Danielle Rhodes - a true International gypsy - as she read directly from some personal journals she had on hand while she was travelingwith the European tour of Grease, on the Oliver tour, and on the Footloose tour. She had written about the process of writing and lyrics, a humorous breakdown of her scene changes and lines, and even wrote down a limmerick-poem! She then sat down at the piano and played her original instrumental, which will become the theme for her future musical, she says. Richard Eisenberg sang a sexy story-song about a sultry woman in "Alterior Motives," and Mark Levy sang "The Two Grenadiers" by Robert Schumann, as a little pre-intro to the Classical Corner.

And next was the Classical Corner with Mark Janas! Mark parlayed what he spoke of Robert Schumann in a previous evening - how he writes in two voices (lyrical and angry), and asked a number of singers and performers to sing and play piano on some different Schumann pieces. He gave into both the mercurial and the mars-war sides of his own personality, and Mark played a number of concerto familiar to Schumann's work. Matthew Ward then played piano "The Prophet Bird" from Schumann's "Forest Scenes" song collection, detailing that it's very much a mix of mysterious bird-like sounds and chorale music. Mark returned to the piano, remarking how Schumann was very much a text and tone painter with music. They then went on to the Lieder series, and how the settings of Schumann's works are so specific in landing emotional points, harmonies, rhythms, and even how the vowel and note sits in the voice. Sierra Rein then sang #1 and #8 from "Frauenliebe und leben," a song cycle of a woman's experience with love and life. Bill Zeffiro ended the Classical Corner by singing "Widmung"("Du meine Seele, du mein Herz"), a musical setting to a richter poem, in a robust voice (and spotless German I may add).

To close out the first half, we then came back into the 20th century with David Ballard singing "What Would I Do?" from Falsettos. Sierra Rein (who will be backing up Kevin McMullan in his gypsy-inspired show "Twist of Fate" starting this Saturday at the Laurie Beechman, 4pm) sang a mashup of "Savoy" and "The Joint is Really Jumpin' in Carnegie Hall," and then Annie Kozuch (co-host of the Salon on 10/24!) sang a the playful "I Double Dare You." Annie will be co-host of this upcoming Salon theme "The Recording Arts/Demo Night Part II with Peter Millrose."

After the break, our gypsy lady of the hour, Valerie Lemon, took to the stage to sing "Traveling Life" and "At the Ballet" from A Chorus Line, admittedly many years away from her days singing as a waitress in New York! Bill Zeffiro returned to the piano to play his song "The Final Daze" and to tell us that his gig at Flute each Thursday has been moved earlier to 8-11pm (but he may stay until 12 if the mood suits him!). Tanya Moberly, who will bring her "Theatre Songs" show back to Don't Tell Mama on December 14th, sweetly sang "Lion Tamer" from The Magic Show. Salon favorite Jane Glick brought in "Welcome to the Theater," and announced that she does indeed have a show in the works. Then Shana Farr sang an incredible combination of "Let Me Entertain You" from Gypsy and...well, let's just say a surprising number from Avenue Q...

We then welcomed Gladys Nilsen and guitarist Jaime Diaz back to The Salon to sing "Chile, Chile" and "Gracias a La Vida" in honor of the saved miners in Chile. Songwriter Ray Jessel and tenor Stephen Wilde then presented two songs from Jessel's musical treatment of "National Velvet": "I See it In You" and the show's chorus-of-jockeys number, "What a Way to Make a Living." Ray has a great photo in the Wall Street Journal article on the October 13th entitled "A Stage for Stars and Fans Alike." Ray will also sing at the University Glee Club (it's Free!) on October 26th!

We then welcomed sound man and composer Tommy Schull to the piano, where hey played a very gypsy-sounding score he wrote for his twin brother's film. Stearns Matthews, with a beautiful clear voice, sang "What I Saw" by Brian Lasser. His show "This Will Be..." will be on October 30th and November 6th and 4pm at the Laurie Beechman Theater. Valerie Lemon then closed the evening with a touching "What I Did For Love," and then roused the audience into a singalong of "One" from A Chorus Line (and I was on hand to do a little kickdancing in the back with David Ballard!).

NEXT WEEK! The optional theme for the evening is “The Recording Arts/Demo Night Part II with Peter Millrose". Peter Millrose will once again be recording the entire Salon evening! Check out our previous blog entry on the matter, but it will be run very much like all other Salons (only Mark will be on hand to cue audience applause, just in case the singer wishes for an entirely "studio" sound to the recording).

-Sierra Rein
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