Friday, January 28, 2011

The Salon Wrap-Up for January 23, 2011 "The Best Of Off-Broadway"

Last Sunday night we were delighted and charmed by the talents of host Mark Janas and his co-host, good friend Jimmy Roberts. The theme was “The Best of Off-Broadway” and the Salon was filled with lovers of musical theater who were excited about sharing material not often sung at our esteemed event. Not even the NFL playoffs and bad weather could keep this group away!

Before the event actually got started, Mark was outside the building taking a little break when he heard 4 voices singing in perfect harmony with one another on the city street. In perfect Salon spirit, he grabbed the four gentlemen and asked them to come upstairs to sing that little ditty for just for us. Turns out, these men had just formed their brand new quartet called, "The Flatiron 4" and thus, we were their first private audience! It was a lively and exciting kick off to our evening.

New Salon Friends, The Flatiron 4
And now, for the official recap. Co-host Jimmy Roberts is perhaps best known for penning the 2nd longest running Off-Broadway musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change but his roots go back to classical piano, including his education at The Manhattan School of Music with our very own Mark Janas. He began our evening with the song, “The Joint is Really Jumping at Carnegie Hall” which is a Judy Garland/Jose Iturbi hit from the movie Thousands Cheer.

Salon Co-Host, Jimmy Roberts
Following Jimmy’s amazing start to our event, Salon regulars Edd Clark and yours truly (Erin Cronican) came to the stage and sang the duet, “Duo Thoughts/I’ve Held a Hope” from Michael Colby & Jim Fradrich’s musical, North Atlantic - spoof of South Pacific set in “tundra territory.” Next up was Will Wixon, an Angelino by way of France who accompanied himself with his tunes, “When I’m With You” and “Thinking With Your Heart.” Following Will was Salon Board Member (and Broadway alum) Raissa Katona Bennett, who sang the hilarious song, “That’s Good News.” One of our non-Salon guests got very excited to see Raissa in the flesh (so to speak) and Raissa had a bit of fun bantering back and forth before she left the stage.

Following Raissa was Ross Lacy, who sang the heartfelt William Finn classic, “I’d Rather Be Sailing.” Next up was Michael Colby, singing his own song (accompanied by Mark Janas) called, “It Could Only Happen in the Theater” from his show, Charlotte Sweet. This show was nominated for 3 Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Lyrics for Michael. Following Mr. Colby was our hard working and lovely Etceterette Janice Hall, who sang the luscious “When the World Was Young” as well as your blogger, Erin Cronican, who sang, “Times Like This” from the Flaherty/Ahrens musical, Lucky Stiff.

Closing out the first act was Salon tradition “Classical Corner” which was guest hosted by Jimmy Roberts. Jimmy regaled us with 3 mashups, which is when two (or more) songs are combined together seamlessly. He joined Schubert’s “Impromptu” with Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, Vivaldi’s “Seasons (Summer)” was mashed with The Beatles’ “With A Little Help From My Friends” (both in E major!) and finally Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Destiny” was blended with Sondheim’s, “Send In The Clowns.” And with that, the lights came up on the room for intermission, and revealed the beaming faces of the Salon guests (which made of had something to do with the great service from the Etc Etc staff.)

Jimmy kicked off the second set by singing the song, “Free, Easy Guy” from his 2003 musical, The Thing About Men. He followed that with the touching & simple “Shouldn’t I Be Less I Love With You” from, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (lyrics by Joe DiPietro.) He closed this set with “I Walk The Dogs” from his musical revue, Pets! (lyrics by June Siegel) in which he affected a Romanian accent and had our room in giggles.

Next up, Producer Tanya Moberly (in a fitting follow up to Jimmy’s last song) sang, “Poor Baby” from Snoopy. Tanya’s next appearance outside of the Salon will be a special event Called “People You Should Know” at Don’t Tell Mama, February 26 at 6pm, hosted by Salon Board Member, Sue Matsuki. After Tanya came Raissa to the stage again, singing the gorgeous ballad, “Gifts of Love” from Stephen Schwartz’s musical, The Baker’s Wife.

Then, as if we hadn’t been treated well enough by our previous performers, Salon visitors were graced with the talents of Jim Brochu & Steve Schachlin in our Salon Spotlight. They sang several songs from their collaboration together, including the cult musical comedy The Last Session which was nominated for Best Musical by the New York Drama League and the New York Outer Critics Circle. My personal favorite of their set was their gorgeous duet, “How Do You Fall Back In Love.” Special congratulations to Jim, who has been honored with a Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performer for his work in Zero Hour.
Salon Spotlight, Jim Brochu
Salon Spotlight, Steve Schachlin
Next up to the mic was Salon Board Member Julie Reyburn, who sang a stunning mashup created by Mark Janas of Offenbach/Chopin and “I’d Rather Be Sailing,” In keeping with the William Finn theme, Julie then sang “Holding To The Ground” from his musical, Falsettos (which first debuted Off-Broadway in 3 acts: “In Trousers,” “Falsettoland” and “March of the Falsettos.”) Joining us next was another Salon Board Members, Bill Zeffiro, who sang the tune, “Twice As Much” and then charmed us with a song he wrote called, “La Comedia Et Finita.”

Will Wixon then came back to the stage with the songs, “If You Believe” and “It’s As Good as Loving Gets.” Michael Colby was invited back to sing one of his personal favorites, “Stars In My Eyes” and Janice joined us again by singing, “Gentle Fade” which is from the 1980 London musical, “The Biograph Girl.” The evening was punctuated by Jimmy Robert’s last song, “Hey Time” with lyrics by June Siegel.

Special thanks to Salon sound & lighting genius, Tommy Shull, who kept the performers sounding luscious throughout the evening.

NEXT WEEK: The optional theme is “Mental Health or Lack Thereof!” Our Co-Host will be the Marvelous Multiple MAC & Bistro Award-Winning Entertainer and Drama Desk Nominee Jay Rogers! Jay has mostly been behind the scenes lately directing shows like Philip Fortenberry's Broadway My Way at the Metrropolitan Room and Faye Lane's Beauty Shop Stories which won Best Solo Show in the New York Fringe Festival! He is planning to present a show he premiered at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center last summer about his crazy, Southern up-bringing sometime soon!

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