Friday, January 13, 2012

The Salon Wrap-Up for January 8, 2012 "Denial Is Not Just A River In Egypt"

We were thrilled to have a full house in the first Salon of the year. One of the first things guests noticed as they walked in was the snazzy new purple backdrop hanging behind the stage. The Salon kicked off with what is now a weekly tradition - Mark Janas bounded to the stage and started the event by asking the audience what shows they had seen the week before, and how they felt about them. This is one of many ways The Salon is different than other open mics in the city - The Salon and its members are passionate about supporting one another!

This week’s theme was, “Denial Is Not Just A River In Eqypt.” And who better to launch this theme than the King of Denial (no, not really) - Salon favorite Kevin McMullan! Kevin started his set with Bill Zeffiro at the piano and the “Kevinettes” Janice Hall and Marissa Mulder -- singing the fun and powerful, “Cleopatra - Queen of Denial” - complete with interpretive dance. Kevin asked for a show of hands for who was in denial… and for those who didn’t raise their hands, he asserted, “You’re in denial… Just like those who think cabaret will lead to stardom… you know, those who think, ‘Just step into my limo as we cruise down to the Mac Awards…’” We knew at that moment that we were in for a treat with this wonderful host!

Your Co-Host, Kevin McMullan
For the first open mic song of the night, Barb Malley brought the fun and charming, “He Had Refinement.” Lou Iacovino crooned the ballad, “You’ve Changed.” Elaine St George was next with the jazzy, Brazilian tune, “Upside Down.” Elaine was finally able to reveal the name of her brand new show - “Take Me As I Am- Joni Mitchell and Others, On Relationships” which will be running in a few months. Stay tuned for more details!

We were thrilled to welcome Salon newbie, Peg McCormick, whose hilarious song she called an ode to people who put the “pro” in procrastinate - “My Book” by Jeff Blumenkrantz. Bree Lobbett, another Salon newbie, came to the stage and set the mic aside to sing the spunky and beautiful aria, “Glitter and Be Gay” - the ultimate denial song, if you ask me.

Bree Lobbett
Michael Colby joined us next with “Who’d Have Guessed It”, a song from his musical, “North Atlantic” (co-written by Kevin McMullan’s partner, Jim Fradrich.) This show has a reading in November starring Robert Cuccioli and Erin Cronican (me!), in the hopes that the show might get some legs for a full production. As the song was a duet, Michael asked me to open the song, which I was thrilled to do. Susan Hodgson then sang, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from the soon-to-be revived Broadway musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Miles Phillips, darling of the cabaret and musical theater scene, graced the stage with his gorgeous version of “Moon River”. Miles directed Kevin McMullan’s recent cabaret - we hope to have him back at Salon very soon!

Miles Phillips
David Ballard, Etcterera Etcetera’s awesome server, sang a heartfelt ballad, "A World Without You" from the musical, "Children of Eden" by Stephen Schwartz. Erin Cronican was next with Jason Robert Brown’s, “I’m Not Afraid of Anything” from his musical, “Songs For A New World.” Sarah Rice, this week’s Etceterette, then sang, “Torch,” the 1931 tune from “Face the Music.” Sarah led off the song by saying, “This is what happens when sopranos go bad.“ In a rare treat, Tanya Moberly and 5 of her Etceterettes crowded the stage with the song, “Cell Block Tango” from the Kander & Ebb musical, “Chicago.” (We didn’t do it!)

(L-R) Maureen Taylor, Marissa Mulder, Tanya Moberly, Sarah Rice, Janice Hall, Erin Cronican

This week’s Classical Corner involved operas with leading ladies who were in classic cases of denial. The first was Puccini’s “Tosca” (first performed in 1900) which tells the tale of singer Floria Tosca, her lover, painter Mario Cavaradossi, and Baron Scarpia, chief of the secret police – none of whom survives to the final curtain.

The sadistic Scarpia seizes Cavaradossi as a political prisoner, then tells Tosca the price for her lover's life is to have sex with him. Tosca agrees but murders Scarpia instead, thinking Cavaradossi will be set free after a mock execution. Too late, she discovers Scarpia has tricked her and the execution is real. As the police close in, she throws herself off the ramparts of the prison. (Synopsis from The Huffington Post.) The second opera was, “Turandot” (also by Puccini) which involves prince Calàf who falls in love with the cold princess Turandot. To obtain permission to marry her, a suitor has to solve three riddles; any false answer results in death. Calàf passes the test, but Turandot still hesitates to marry him. He offers her a way out: he agrees to die should she be able guess his real name. (Synopsis from Wikipedia.) To introduce these shows to The Salon, Mark invited powerful tenor, Jim Price, to the stage to sing, “Elucevan Le Stelle” from “Tosca, and “Nessum Dorma” from “Turandot.” His performance was simply breathtaking.

Second Set

The second set was kicked off with a hilarious stand up routine by co-host Kevin McMullan, which segued into the song, “I’m Twenty Seven.” (As in, age 27. As in, lots of people are in denial about their age.) Salon Producer, Tanya Moberly then wished us a Happy New Year with her touching and timely, “River” by Joni Mitchell.

Tanya Moberly
Julie Reyburn, Salon Board Member, brought in a medley of Kander & Ebb songs about men who do women wrong, including “Maybe This Time,” “And All That Jazz,” “Cell Block Tango,” “Mein Herr,” “Frankie & Johnny,” and “The World Goes Round.” What made the medley even more special was that Mark Janas filled in on vocals, and had a lot of clever word play as Julie sang. Ginny Dustin sang the great tale, “Life Story.” Parker Scott, who, quote, “lost his Salon virginity tonight” (yeah!) sang a song that, according to Parker, was deviant in its day - “Begin the Beguine.” It was wonderful to have so many new faces at The Salon, and welcomed back some folks we haven’t seen in a while.

Parker Scott
Elisa Pupko was next, singing the charming, “Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm” from the musical, “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying.” Elisa is about to start rehearsals for a modern version of “Three Sisters” by Brian Friel, alongside Salon regulars Erin Cronican and Mary Lahti. Lea McKenna Garcia regaled us with her first original song, “He’s a Tall Man,” written about Stephen Merchant (a 6’7” writer who is more than a head taller than her… it’s true - she brought in a tape measure to prove it.) As you can see, The Salon loves songwriters, and we invite you to try out your songs in front of this very appreciative audience. Marissa Mulder then used “Old Black Magic” to woo the audience into submission. Lucky are we to have this MetroJam MetroStar winner with us week after week!
Marissa Mulder
Bill Zeffiro, who has a number of songs about denial… but the one that “deals with it most directly” is his song, “Lower Your Expectations.” Coming to the stage after Bill was Louisa Poster, all sparkly in sequins, with her number, “Flash Bam Alakazam.” Richie Eisenberg was next (and at the piano no less!) with his original number, “Winter Arrives.” What a delight to hear a ballad from Mr. Eisenberg! We were so excited to have back, Adam Shapiro, who’s been touring with a show for the past 6 months or so. He sang the gorgeous then hilarious, “Denial” from the Off Broadway show “Newsical.” As the song swelled, Adam encouraged everyone to sing along - always a fun part of The Salon. Welcome home, dear Adam!

Adam Shapiro
Matthew Martin Ward came to the piano with, “It’s Good to Have You Near Again” (lyrics by Dory Previn, music by Andre Previn) while interjecting classic Matthew witticisms. The audience anxiously awaited the return of Janice Hall to the stage, and it was well worth the wait! Janice sang a song that was written especially for her by Matthew Martin Ward and Peter Napolitano - “I’d Rather Be Doing This…” Caroline Ferenczi was back to the Salon after a brief hiatus, and she gave us the Patsy Cline classic, “Crazy.” Salon regular (and occasional Etceterette) Maureen Taylor was next, with the lilting & glowing, “Will You” from “Grey Gardens.” Maureen just closed a tribute show about Lauren Bacall, but is planning on running the show in rep later this winter. Rumor has it that Lauren Bacall herself is planning on attending - our warmest congrats to Maureen on this successful show! Joan Jaffe, The Salon’s funny lady, then brought up, “The Spider and the Fly.”

Joan Jaffe
The last song of the evening was done by co-host, Kevin McMullan - who sang the powerful and determined, “I Don’t Want To Know” from the musical, “Dear World.” As many of you know, Kevin is traveling the globe scattering the ashes of his wonderful partner, Jim Fradrich. He’s headed off to India this month, so be sure to follow Kevin and all of his adventures abroad via his travel blog: You can access the entries by scrolling down after his profile introduction.

Kevin McMullan
NEXT WEEK: The optional theme for the evening is “Eleven O’Clock Numbers.” Bring along any song that is a show stopper, or makes you feel like it’s 11 o’clock. We also welcome songs that are off-theme. (Be sure to bring a second option, in case your song has already been reserved.) Our Co-Host will be Kristine Zbornik, fabulous Broadway and cabaret performer. It’s been reported to us that Kristine has nothing going on performing-wise so if anyone needs an inappropriate clown for children’s parties, she’s available. She is currently working on an honest to God original musical with Erik James (composer/lyricist) called “Going Postal” and thinking about putting together all of her disparate pieces from her journal as well as her adventures on the road with 9 to 5 for a brand new club act called “I Shit My Pants Today In Montauk.”

For more hilarity from Kristine, we’ll see you on the 15th!

-Erin Cronican
Blogette for The Salon
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