Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Salon Wrap-Up for February 20, 2011: "That's Historical!”

Miles Phillips

Hello Saloners! Took me a while to hit "post" on this blog entry - for some reason, I've felt a bit woozy ever since I hung out with James Franco backstage at the Oscars...

What occurred on February 20th at Etcetera Etcetera Restaurant was one for the history books, as the theme was "That's Historical!"  The co-host of the evening, who has a looooooong history with Mark Janas, was award-winning director and cabaret singer Miles Phillips!  Miles began the evening by singing "I Can't Tell A Lie" from Holiday Inn, and the lovely "Take Care of This House," sung by the character of Abigail Adams in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Next, Mark Levy jovially reminded us of "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo," a song from 1892 France (probably the oldest song sung that night).  We then heard from beautiful voice teacher and performer Carolann Sarita, who heartfully sang through "A Way Back to Then" from title of show.  Richard Eisenberg then gave us a little history lesson about the clarification of when Washington's birthday actually was, then gave us a rousing rendition of his original piece "All Good Things Must Come to an End."

Newcomer Joel Harrington then came to the mic and, in a rich baritone, sang and dedicated the song "I Leave The World" from Good Time Charlie to his mother.  Then, one of Joel's voice students, Kelly Nowik sang "But Where Can We Go From Here?" with Joel at the piano.  Next, Stephen Hanks brought the Mayflower-themed Paul Simon song "American Tune" and Chris Kelley Karel sang "My Man's Gone Now" from Porgy and Bess.   Chris is excited to be shooting Episode 5 of a new web series "Sherry's Kitchen," in which she plays both the roles of "Connie" and "Tina."  We then got to hear from her husband, Chuck Karel, who is a Broadway Babe incarnate: he was in numerous Jerry Herman musicals on Broadway (Hello Dolly, Milk and Honey, Dear World), was in the Metropolitan and City Operas, and understudied Anthony Quinn in Zorba!  He graced us with a swinging "Rockabye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody."

Janice Hall, the songstress currently performing her Marlene Dietrich show for the "Musical Legends" series at Urban Stages, brought in Marlene's audition song for Blue Angel, "You're the Cream in My Coffee."  Then, Michael Colby sang "I Know Everybody's Business," a very cute lyric he wrote with Gerald Jay Markoe for Delphi or Bust. He's having several shows in June and July coming up, so keep an eye out for them!  We then were treated by Barb Malley, who switched from funny to poignant by singing Jacques Brel's "I Loved" - she'll soon be announcing her benefit performance for the Jackie Robinson Foundation soon.  To round out the final singers for the first act, we heard David Ballard (who was fabulous at Sue Matsuki's "People You Should Know" series on Saturday!) sing "Way Ahead of My Time," Erin Cronican flawlessly vamp her way through "A Call from the Vatican" (Nine), and Sierra Rein (me!) sang "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables (watch video) with composer/pianist Brian Allan Hobbs at the piano (FYI, my group Marquee Five is raising funds for a CD).

The Classical Corner with Mark Janas that night concentrated on the concept of how composers of yore would write "machines" of accompaniment to support the overlying main melody.  Leonard Bernstein once said of Sondheim that he was not merely a composer, but a writer of "perpetual machines" - these running machines can be heard supporting the music in Sweeney Todd, Company, Into the Woods and many others.  However, the inspiration for these compositional machines goes back throughout music history to include Franz Schubert (who was a genius according to Beethoven).  Schubert wrote machines to reflect the physical action of the subjects he wrote for, including the clip-clop of horses hooves, rushing water, or the spinning wheel of "Gretchen am Spinnrade."   Mark then asked opera singer Ivan Miller to sing through a section of Schubert's "Der Erlkönig (Elf King)," which required him to voice four different people, and Mark Janas to maintain steady 8th notes all the way through.  Ivan sang with a booming voice (no mic needed) in a fantastic baritone - it was magnificent!

Ivan Miller

After the break, Miles Phillips returned to sing a short set! First, he sang the theme-appropriate "Today is Tomorrow's Yesterday" (a song featured in Kevin McMullan's show "Twist of Fate," which Miles directed and which he is bringing back to the Beechman Theatre in April).  Then, he simply and beautifully sang "As Long as He Needs Me" from Oliver.  Next, he invited Raissa Katona Bennett to sing the duet "Too Many Mornings" from Follies.  Raissa stayed on stage as Miles introduced her husband, Dr. Garrett Bennett (co-Producer for The Salon), to the stage.  Garrett grabbed a microphone and sang the Raoul to Raissa's Christine in "All I Ask of You" (The Phantom of the Opera).  Garrett even included a whipping off of the glasses and a romantic dip of Raissa into a kiss!  Hearts were certainly a flutter and a lot of "awwwwww"'s were audible!

Producer Tanya Moberly (a special spot guest for the "People You Should Know" concert), was ever to reinterpret classic musical theater on her terms and sang the Medieval fable-made-history-based "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" from Camelot.  Ross Lacy sang "On The Street Where You Live" from My Fair Lady, and Joan Jaffe brought in an inquisitive piece from 1923 entitled "Red Riding Hood."  We then heard Lea McKenna-Garcia, a newcomer to Salon, who richly sang "It Never Was You," and Salon regular Elaine St. George performed the clever lyrics of "Napoleon" - Elaine's Ray Charles show "InspiRaytion" will return in April and May of this year!  Stephen Wilde energetically roused us with "Streets of Dublin," and painted each picture of what it felt like to be there.  To complete the evening, Miles Phillips returned to sing "Some Other Time" by Bernstein.

THIS SUNDAY, MARCH 6th - the theme is "ROCK ON!"  The co-hosts will be rock band Hey Guy, which features our very own sound engineer Tommy Shull!!! So wear your leather pants, bleach or tease your hair, and come in with your interpretation of what it means to ROCK!

PS! For our MAC members, please consider The Salon and many of our regular performers in the preliminary ballots! We appreciate it.

PPS....for anyone who's ever thought "What would it looks like if Mark Janas went back thru history to battle Nazis on a train?", here's your answer:

Burt Lancaster in "The Train"
-Sierra Rein
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