Friday, November 4, 2011

The Salon Wrap-Up for October 30, 2011 "Monster Masquerade"

What could be scarier than a snow storm in October? Why, Mark Janas’ The Salon on October 30! The crowd was in a festive mood and ready for frivolity. Mark opened with a hilarious spoof medley of songs from “Oklahoma” as Count Dracula (called, “Transylvania,” perhaps?) And why not? It was perfect for this week’s Halloween theme, “The Monster Masquerade.)

Mark Janas, all dressed up!
Our fabulous show was co-hosted by none other than Janice Hall, who arrived lovely in black lace. She kicked off the night with a comedic, “Werewolves of London” (complete with howling audience participation. Literally, howling.) Barb Malley (dressed up as an umpire) kicked off the open mic segment with, “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball” from her current show, “I Remember Brooklyn.” Elaine St George came to the mic next, singing the lovely jazz standard, “I Never Have Seen Snow” (a little tongue in cheek, given our weekend!) Elaine just added 2 tracks to CD Baby that are available for purchase through her Facebook page (technology, ooh lala!) Mike McDonald then joined us at the piano with “Running Wild,” a song about 1922 Prohibition. His handsome partner, Joey Infante followed with “That Old Black Magic.” It’a always such fun seeing these guys dress up for our themes.
Joey Infante
Marnie Klar came next, bringing us the dramatic and touching, “I’d Give My Life For You.” David Ballard followed with “Everybody Says Don’t” from the Sondheim musical, “Anyone Can Whistle.” Your trusty Blogette (Erin Cronican) and Blogette In Training (Candice Oden) then kicked off a series of duets with “In His Eyes” from the ever monstrous “Jekyll & Hyde.” Erin and Candice are performing in a private reading of this very show on November 14. Etceterette Sarah Rice and Co-Host Janice Hall then sang the gorgeous, Celtic tune, “All Souls Night,” complete with a tambourine and bell to accentuate the lovely harmonies. Sarah is producing a benefit for Zani’s Furry Friends on November 26. 100% of the tickets price goes to puppies and kitties and other loving critters, so guests are being sought!

For tonight’s Salon Spotlight, Mark introduced Maine State Music Theater’s Executive Director, Steve Peterson. As many of us know, Mark is a Music Director for one show each season at Maine State, and was thrilled to spotlight the wonderful work that Maine State does (which included the effervescent show “The Marvelous Wonderettes” this past summer.) Steve said that this recent show brought him some nostalgia, so he started with a story of his youth as an actor in Logan, Utah and his audition for “The Invisible People.” As an 11 year old, he sang the song, “Secret Love” for this audition, having no idea what kind of song it really was -- and he then demonstrated his point with a special wink at Salon technician, Tommy Shull. Steve then introduced Brittany Morello who sang the powerful, “One Halloween” from “Applause.”
Steve Peterson, with an amused Tommy Shull
For this week’s Classical Corner, Mark introduced the concept of tension in spooky music. Mark said that there are a couple of elements which can make music seem spooky: Tense Intervals (which you hear in West Side Story quite a bit, especially in the song “Cool”), and drops in the melodic line (sadness can be shown by dropping the melody by half steps or with minor chords.) He also pointed out the Diminished 5th, where there’s a clash with the note that is naturally in the chord when any note is played. He gave the example of “Dies Irae,” the Latin Mass for the Dead, used by many composers, including France’s Camille Saint Saens.

Mark then told a story of being in grade school, when they had the kids listen to a piece of music. They told the students to draw their impression of what they were listening to while it was being played. So, Mark decided to experiment with a piece that’s meant for organ, by playing Camille Saint Saens’ “Danse Macabre” on the piano. Mark said this piece depicts a graveyard where the skeletons come out and play one night a year. The piece starts with the clock striking midnight, and then the music becomes more alive and swells much like a tarantella. There is a final frenzy which is interrupted by some light music which is reminiscent of a rooster crowing, and then the music takes on a sadness as the skeletons go back into their graves to sleep another year. What a treat (not trick) it was for us to learn so much about how songs are constructed.

As a last minute treat, Mark introduced Elizabeth Tryon who brought a ridiculously hilarious portrayal of “O Mio Babbino Caro”, conceived as a performance piece about a deranged opera accompanist who seeks to sabotage the singer by throwing multiple key changes and tempos at her. It was an upbeat end to a wonderful first set.
Mark making "demands" of his singer, Elizabeth Tryon
The second set was kicked off with a “Music of the Night” spoof called “Music of the Blight” by Mark Janas, complete with jokes during the musical interludes. If you’ve been to The Salon before, I don’t have to remind you that Mark is famed for his jokes. Janice Hall, fullfilling both parts of tonight’s theme -- Halloween and favorite roles -- started her set with a flawlessly sung “Kiss of The Spider Woman” from the show of the same name. She then sang another duet with Sarah Rice, a haunting and beautiful song about a black swan from “The Medium.” Janice Hall wrapped up her set with Stevie Nicks’ incredibly moving “Beauty And The Beast.”  (But, then, what Stevie Nicks songs aren’t moving?)  A job well done by Ms. Hall.
Janice Hall and Sarah Rice
Tanya Moberly started the open mic portion of the second set with the Sondheim-esque patter song, “The Writing On The Wall” about Lazarus. Tanya brought in a costume of her own... pants and a button down shirt...? Well, whatever she wears, she is dazzling. Be sure to see her next Monday, November 7, as she brings Jonatha Brooke’s songs to life at Don't Tell Mama -- if you love gorgeous female harmonies and haunting lyrics, you’ll love this show (as a disclaimer, I am also in this show!)  Lindsey Holloway then joined us with the gloomy, doomy, jazzy and snazzy, “Black Coffee.” The always adorable David Rigano then charmed us with his own “seasonal” tune, “I Wanna Be Daphne” about the bombshell from Scooby Doo. It’s also about something deeper - David was inspired by the controversy of the 5 year old boy who was derided for dressing up as Daphne last Halloween. Check out the video, which includes a link to the mom’s blog, who talked about her son’s desires. Amazingly, she made happy mention of David’s song in one of her blog posts. Congrats!

Tanya Moberly... in pants?
Carolann M Sanita wowed the audience into silence with “The Life I Never Led,” and sent chills up everyone’s spine with her incredible performance. Carolann is doing her cabaret debut on November 12 at The Triad, and let us know that she raised enough money to rent the space outright, thereby removing the 2 drink minimum. She also has a $5 discount for members of AEA/AFTRA/SAG and MAC , which brings the price from $15 to $10 per ticket. Lisa Viggiano, complete with witch's hat, brought in the ultimate monster ballad, “Defying Gravity.” Steve Peterson then came back to the mic (lucky us!) with a touching spoof of Annie’s “Tomorrow” (“I’m gonna lose weight, tomorrow...”) If you can believe it, Mr Peterson was, at one point, 120 heavier than he was on our stage. What a joy it was to have him with us- Steve, we’d love you at any weight! Steve then invite to the stage Mia Tepler, who blew us away with a stunning,“All That’s Known.” Maine State has an intern program to “give folks a stage that they may not have in life” - thanks to Steve for sharing that program with us tonight!

Carolann Sanita
Stephen Hanks regaled us with “On The Amazon” from the 1920s musical, "Mr. Cinders." He reminded us that his show, “The Fartiste”, is currently running Off Broadway. Another Stephen then came to the mic - this time it was board member Stephen Wilde, who brought back the fantastical, non-typecasting (really!) favorite, “Way Ahead of my Time” by Peter Mills, after which the audience erupted in cheers. Can someone please tell Stephen that we’d love his presence here each week? Sound guru Tommy Shull broke into The Salon with some very exciting news -- his band “Hey Guy” just got featured on the radio, with a personal shout out by the DJ who originally caught them at a live show at The Knitting Factory! And lucky us, he was able to play the song for us over the loudspeakers. We’re so thrilled for you Tommy. Congratulations!

Candice Oden then joined the mic with friend, Erin Cronican (aka me!) to sing the true-to-life “For Good” from “Wicked” (noting that they hope someday this show will be a part of “roles of days gone by.”) Peter Tedeski followed with a spoken word performance of “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe with eerie accompaniment by Mark Janas. Bill Zeffiro, dashingly decked out in a tuxedo, decided to do an uncharacteristic comedy number (ha!), bringing in Noel Coward’s “Louisa.” Bill just got done playing a sold out Coward show starring KT Sullivan and Emily Bergl at The Oak Room. We’re always delighted to have this cheery board member with us at The Salon.

Erin Cronican and Candice Oden
Mark introduced the next piece, a mash up of "American Tune" (Paul Simon) & "How Glory Goes" (Adam Guettel from “Floyd Collins”) which talks about the winter of your life and what’s beyond... sung by the always amazing Julie Reyburn. And wrapping up the show was co-host Janice Hall with the fun (and Transylvanian accented) “Vampire Surprise.”

NEXT WEEK: The optional theme for the evening is “Puppy Love” - bring along any song about animals, or those that make you feel like an animal! We also welcome songs that are off-theme. (Be sure to bring a second option, in case your song has already been reserved.) Next week, your co-host is Sarah Rice! Sarah is best known for originating the role of Johanna in the Broadway production of SWEENEY TODD. She will be appearing in LOVE MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND – A BENEFIT FOR ZANI’S FURRY FRIENDS on November 26th at 7pm at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, 407 West 42nd St, NYC (212) 695-6909. For more information:

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