Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Salon Wrap-Up for March 20, 2011: "It's In the Stars"

If Sunday was a deck of Tarot cards, the future would be deemed full of music, laughter, and friendship! It was a special night: The theme was "It's in the Stars" and was the cusp of Winter turning into Spring, co-hosted by the gloriously-voiced Maureen Taylor, who also showed off her numerology skills. The room at Etcetera was decked out with four tables, each corresponding to the four Element signs (Fire, Air, Water and Earth). People sat with their fellow Element sign members (although there was some crossover), and were asked to fill out their signup card with their birthdate. At the table were bowls of colored paper (the "color" cards) and bowls of descriptive words (the "angel" cards). The stage was decorated with scarves, decorations, and a glowing ball of electricity. The electricity in the room started when Maureen took to the microphone to sing an opening number, then blindly pointed a flashlight towards the Water table and asked the lucky person she landed on to pick a color and an angel card - she then interpreted the results with their Element sign. The then segued into "Never Judge a Book By It's Cover" and "I'd Like Someone to Know Me Well."

Maureen Taylor on stage
 Adam Shapiro opened up the concept of "It's in the Stars" with the hilarious "Tom Cruise Scares Me," and was excited to be singing at the official moment Winter tred into Spring! Next, Madelaine Warren sang "When I Fall in Love," and Joel Harrington (playing for himself on piano) sang his original piece "Robin's Song," a soulful ballad written for his friend. Kelly Nowik joined Joel (her voice teacher) on the stage to sing his opera comique (written for star divas like her) entitled "Sing." And speaking of, Michael Colby isn't a diva, but he did sing the engaging "More Than Just a Movie Fan" (lyrics: Michael Colby, music:Paul Katz, from Slay It With Music). We then switched gears to hear Liana Kambouris rock "Out Tonight" from Rent.

Maureen Taylor
 Next, we had a duet treat: Ivan Miller (previous Classical Corner soloist!) sang "Dream a Little Dream of Me" with the stylish Lea McKenna-Garcia. Dan Furman then sat at the piano and played what he later told me was an "Untitled Improvisation on 'Swingin' On a Star'" - but the way Dan played it, it had jazzy overtones and a funky walking beat...very cool! Dan stayed at the piano to play for Natasha, who sang "Can't Fight The Moonlight." Next, the lovely Julie Reyburn sang "These Foolish Things" with Bill Zeffiro at the piano. Speaking of numerology, Julie informed us that her daughter Layla was born as a birthday present for Mark Janas. She also informed us that the show she was meant to sing that night had been cancelled due to low reservations - just a reminder to respect some Cabaret reservation policy and make reservations ahead of time if you mean to attend a show!

Barb Malley brought the stars out again by singing Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Stardust." Our favorite blue-eyed, dancing, smiling, waitering singer David Ballard sang "The Old Red Hills of Home" and made Layla in the front row make noises as he changed the lyrics to reflect her name (so funny!). Then, composer Brian Allan Hobbs (who is becoming a regular!) sang his original song "The Star" (lyrics by Robin Chung) with backup by myself (Sierra Rein). Brian plugged his voice teacher, Steven Stein-Grainger, who is starting a monthly Master Class series with a $25 singing fee, and a $10 only audit fee. Then the roles were switched, and Brian played for me - I sang "Spring," an appropriately titled but inappropriately spirited song for the new season, from the musical bare. My vocal group, Marquee Five, is showing off our stuff in one performance only, this Saturday the 26th, at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, 4pm. It'll be one of the only chances for MAC members to hear and see this quintet sing this Spring! However, another chance to hear us sing is the next Salon - March 27th, we'll be co-hosting! And we have a week left to our Kickstarter campaign (with just a few thousand dollars left to go)! To close the singers for the first half, Marnie Klar (who will perform at the Afterglow series tonight at 9pm!) sang the powerful "I'd Give My Life For You" from Miss Saigon.

Mark Janas' Classical Corner grabbed the concept of Astrology by the tail. Those who poo-poo Astrology and those who ardently believe in it could talk forever about the subject, although Mark reminded us that scientist Sir Isaac Newton once chastised Edmond Halley (yes, of the comet) for depreciating the art by saying “Sir Halley, I have studied the matter, you have not!” Regardless of one's belief, you can apply the same tenants one would give to Numerology/Astrology to Classical music: those tenants of Mathmatics and Interpretation. On the page, a song is marked down almost to every beat, every measure, every breath and phrase mark. However, it is up to the artist to interpret this and add his or her "voicing" to a piece. "Voicing" is when a musician interprets the music to sound like the pieces of an orchestra. Melody is portrayed in each hand and the countermotion is placed into the bass. Mark thinks of an orchestra in his head as he plays a piece, and lets each "instrument" have a different voice as their "solo" comes out. In terms of Astrology, music can be described in Element signs (Chopin was a definite water sign: emotional, robato, stole time; Fire would have bravura, Earth would be robust, and Air would be communicative and analytical). However, any overdone element is dangerous; Mark understands that he must have intellect and heart/emotion and passion in balance when he performs. Like any singer, he has to ask himself if he can get "out of his head" enough but still be true to the original composition and perform as he rehearsed! Mark then played Chopin's Ballade from memory for the first time, exemplifying what he spoke about and raising the audience to a standing ovation.

The second set started out with Maureen Taylor singing a definite "Leo" song, "The Price of Fame," after asking a Fire element member (okay, it was me!) for my angel and color cards (which were Red and Inspiration). Next, she asked the Earth table, which included those inquisitive Capricorns, what they want with "How Can I Win" from The Goodbye Girl. Finally, Maureen stepped over to the Air table and serenaded their tendencies with the lovely "I Hear Bells."

Producer Tanya Moberly then sang with Dan Furman on his popular and hilarious Astronomilogical sob story, "Pluto," and made sure that we knew that - as a Pieces - she's truly a softie on the inside. We then had good friend of Maureen, the effervescent Meg Flather, shine through "I Will Wait With You," an original piece about unconditional love. Meg will be at a songwriter's roundtable exchange with Jennie Litt, Rosemary Loar, and Sue Matsuki on April 22nd (Facebook info here). Next, Steve Herbst sang and whistled through one of his parent's favorite songs, "Moonglow" and touted his "Broadway And Beyond" CD (available here). We then heard from the winner of UCG's talent contest (Tanya and Stephen Hanks were guest judges), Sean Pearson, who played guitar and sang "Universe We Made," inspired by tonight's theme and dedicated to his friends in the TV industry. Stephen Hanks himself then got up and sang "Starry Night" by Don McLean, and admitted that it will be hard to objectively review McLean's upcoming Town Hall performance on Friday for Cabaret Scenes (him being a huge fan and all). PLUS! The next Musical Mondays showcase is tonight at The Snapple Theater on Broadway, 6:30pm.

Tanya Moberly - "Pluto"
Sean Pearson
 Stephanie Zagoren then brought in a snazzy and toe-tapping "Ding! Dong! The Witch is Dead," and Shana Farr sang "My White Knight" in a glorious romantic soprano. Louisa Poster bounced wonderfully through "Orange Colored Sky," and Carolann Sanita honestly soared through the Jason Robert Brown favorite, "Stars and the Moon." Then, perennial son (I have no idea what that means) Richie Eisenberg sang and played "On a Night Like This," referencing romantic cues and scenes. Sue Marcus Rauch sang "Who's That Woman" from Follies and let us know that her show "In No Time at All" will perform at the Metropolitan Room on April 16th at 7pm - Miles Phillips Directing and musically directed by Jason Wynn.

Meg Flather
By around 10 o'clock the evening might have been winding down, but the singers were winding up their talent!!! Newcomer Katie Zaffrann tickled our funny bones and teased our imaginations with a hilarious song "Without A Stitch On" (music and lyrics by Mike Pettry), from her newly released EP available on iTunes and! Elaine St. George sang "Simple as That" by Daryl Sherman with Dan Furman at the piano - her Ray Charles show "InspiRAYtion" will perform at the Metropolitan Room on April 27th! "Pianah playah" Bill Zeffiro sang another Randy Newman song about the Big Boy in the Sky, "I Think He's Hiding," and reminded us that he'll be playing at San Martin's Restaurant every Tuesday (check out this venue ahead of time, before Salon moves there for one night only, the evening of April 17th!). Stacy Ward McAdams then created another singalong with "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off," and make sure we yelled out "ERSTERS!" as loud as we could. Stacy will be going off on a gig outside the New York area - he will have a Farewell show on March 30th at the Metropolitan Room at 7pm!

Katie Zaffrann
 Maureen Taylor closed the evening with the beautiful "Take The Moment," her silvery soprano soaring above the crowd. And she made sure to make it clear that although we have astrological labels, we as humans still have free will to craft our lives, our loves, and our creative endeavors no matter what the stars tell us!

THIS WEEKEND! The Theme is "The 8-Track to the iPod - Tunes On the Go Since 1965." Bring the music you used to sing via 8-Track player, or songs you love to hit "repeat" on your iPod. Or perhaps travel songs, those songs that keep you going on the ride to work, or the songs that inspire you to save up for a trip! OR, any music written or published from 1965 to March 27, 2011...all is welcome! Yes, even Lady Gaga...!

And speaking of slightly gaga, our Co-Hosts will be the MAC Award winning Marquee Five! Julie Reyburn, Mick Bleyer, Adam West Hemming, Sierra Rein & Vanessa Parvin are hoping to record their debut album “8-Track Throwback” with the help of their campaign.  Please go to: to watch video, read more about the project and the tiered list of rewards, and check their progress updates. They thank you for your support!

There will be a $10 cash cover collected at the door by Blogette, Arianna, and a $15 food/drink minimum (cash or credit) per person. (For further information visit or call 212-399-4141). There are no reservations; seating is on a first come/ first served basis, with one intermission.  Doors open and sign up begins at 6:15pm with Etceterette, Danielle Grabianowski.

-Sierra Rein
The Blogette for The Salon
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