Monday, July 23, 2012

The Salon Wrap Up for July 22, 2012 "Rebel With a Cause”

Kathleen France rocks it like a Rebel
If history has anything to say about them, we can certainly chalk up the evolution of science and art and the positive progress of society on the Rebels who choose to fight for their causes.  "Rebel With a Cause" was the theme of the evening, and we certainly heard some rebellious natures fighting on stage for both a good time and purpose.  Our wonderful guest host of the Salon was Tracy Stark, filling in for Mark Janas as he works at the Buck Hill Skytop Music Festival (along with Tommy Shull, who was covered by Gil Alexandre on lights and sound).  Our co-host for the evening was Miranda Music, a grass-roots company that seeks "to help produce recordings by both new and experienced performers, finding resources and coordinating every aspect of the process as needed." On hand was CEO Kitty Skrobela and a parade of artists who have become a part of this company: Karen Oberlin, Marcus Simeone, Kathleen France, Tanya Holt, Marissa Mulder, and Tracy Stark.

Kitty introduced the wonderful cause associated with Miranda Music (you can purchase CDs via or iTunes!) and brought the first singer-co-host to the stage, Karen Oberlin, with Jon Weber on piano.  Karen has three CDs produced by Miranda Music and is currently working on her upcoming Feinstein's show "I'll Be Hard to Handle," which is debuting tomorrow July 24th and will run thru the 28th.  She began with the song "Young Hearts," then slid into the amusing "Married I Can Get" by Teddi King, then finalized her set with the beautiful Joni Mitchell song "Cactus Tree."  Definitely catch Karen this week at Feinstein's!

Karen took the reins of the co-host to introduce Tracy Stark to the piano and our first singer (and songwriter) Sunny Leigh, who sang the bittersweet "Mean to Me."  She is preparing for a Fall show at the Metropolitan, to be announced soon, of jazz, blues, and originals by Leigh herself.  Next up was newcomer and brand new MAC member Natasha Castillo who, with her resonant alto voice and deft storytelling skills, sang "The Butterfly" from The Story of Our Lives - she'll be making her debut at The Duplex November 2, 10, and 16th with Director Lennie Watts and Music Director Steven Ray Watkins on her crew - not bad choices for a first time out!  We then heard the sweet Stephanie Zagoren sing a favorite Gershwin tune, "The Man I Love," with the beautiful verse included.

To up the ante on the "Cause" theme, we next heard from Jason Morris, who is both a singer and a co-Producer of "Musical Momentum, True Colors 2.0," a benefit concert for The Trevor Project on Sunday, July 29th at 10pm at the Laurie Beechman Theater.  Their tag line is "Artistry With Ambition," and the show will include many Broadway and Off-Broadway stars, plus Cabaret artists including Tanya Holt, Trish LaRose, Jason Morris, and Julie Reyburn.  So, come to The Salon and hop over to the Beechman after for a great cause!  Jason sang "Glitter in The Air" a song by Pink.  After Jason, we heard from Gretchen Garvin, who sang the beautiful "When I Look at You" and who will be featured at the "True Colors 2.0" show on the 29th as well!

Kitty introduced our next co-host, the fiery-sweet Kathleen France.  Kathleen fired up her flawless rock-belt voice for two amazing numbers.  The first was the Randy Newman song "Guilty," a song full of both comedy and tragedy and soul in all.  She then sang the uplifting rock anthem and certainly cause for rebellion, "Love is a Good Thing" by Sheryl Crow, and then took over as co-host.  Kathleen introduced Joann Sicoli, CMP, who rocked out what was certainly the most rebellious song of the evening, "It's My Life" by Jon Bon Jovi.  We then heard multiple MAC, Nitelife, and Bistro Award-winner and voice teacher Gretchen Reinhagen, who reminded us all to "Get it While You Can," as Janis Joplin advised.  She then watched proudly as her student, the 12 year old Julia Klot, took to the piano to play for herself on an original work, "Memory Lane," a song which reminded me of a Sara Bareilles tune, full of poetry and grace - you can watch the FULL SONG on YouTube at the bottom of this post.  She was so poised, so talented, and already has recorded three original songs, which can be downloaded here.  Well THAT was hard to follow, but it was up to me (Sierra Rein, your blogette) to do so!  Fresh off my preliminary night (Group 2) of The MetroStar Challenge, I sang in preparation (and in hopes) that I'll be in the top 18 contestants on July 30th - we'll know by tomorrow whether this is the case! I sang "Lazy Afternoon/Lazy," a song promoting the rebellious need to just get away from it all.  My vocal group, Marquee Five, can also be seen at the next FREE Concert for City Greens on August 1st at 6:30pm, which will feature special guest Neil Sedaka, his music, and a great lineup of performers.  Our gracious Etceterette in blue, Maureen Taylor, then stood at the microphone and gorgeously sang "You're There," a beautiful ballad, and regaled us with the fact that her rebellious spirit hails from her mother, a Nun, who had six kids once she met Maureen's father...what a story!  

Kitty then re-introduced our Guest Host for the night, Tracy Stark, who is certainly a maestro in her own right at the piano, singing, and songwriting and who will be featured in a brand new CD of solos, duets, and new works soon.  As Kitty said, "Tracy's instrument is the Room...she plays the room." Tracy's Corner began with her biting diatribe "Hungry," a song written after a friend discovered her boyfriend's infidelity.  She next sang a beautiful original ballad, "Mr. Moon," and ended with the touching "Welcome Home," an upbeat ballad written to welcome an adoptive child into the home of two loving parents she knew.  Tracy's work is so approachable, and incredibly well-written, perfect for piano and voice, and thrilling to hear directly from the songwriter herself.

The second half of the evening started out with Kitty introducing a man with many causes to fight for, the giving singer and social worker, Marcus Simeone.  Marcus has a beautiful tenor voice, perfect for Motown and R&B hits, and is a featured performer within the Miranda Music family - he has three CDs and a fourth on the way!  Marcus began his spotlight set with Tanya Holt, the booking manager for The Metropolitan Room and an accomplished Cabaret singer in her own right; they sang "A House is Not a Home" (by Burt Bacharach and Hal David) in beautiful harmony together.  Then, Marcus sang "Power of a Four Letter Word," a heartfelt message song about love and hope.  Marcus, who is a social worker with children, started out with the Staten Island AIDS Task Force in the 1990s, so he certainly understands the need for these types of four letter words.  He then finished his set by creating a "Tanya Sandwich," singing with Producer Tanya Moberly on the song "Used to Be."  Tanya herself is Stage Manager for The Concert for City Greens (next concert August 1st), and will bring her brand new show "Tanya Lorraine Moberly sings Barbra Joan Streisand with Steven Ray Watkins"at Don't Tell Mama September 28th, October 18th, November 14th and December 4th - all shows at 7pm. 

Marcus croons with Tracy at the piano
Marcus announced the next singers - the dextrously talented Don Rebic (who played piano) and Christine Reisner, who adorably sang "Just in Time" from Bells Are Ringing.  The two of them are just beginning to sing as a duo and, if last night was any indication, we will see some amazing things from future endeavors together.  Up next was Barb Malley, also a student of Gretchen Reinhagen, who proved her acting chops by singing the profoundly moving "Here's to Life," a song which caused a number of tears and raised glasses from the audience.  She is truly a great interpreter of lyrics!  We then heard the spirited Lou Iacovino, who brightened the stage with the upbeat and fun song "New York on a Sunday."  You can catch Lou as the "Bathing Bum" in the Season 2, Episode 6 title "Subway/Pamela" of Louis (Louis C.K.'s hilarious show, which you can find on Netflix Instant Streaming!).

Kitty then brought up to the stage Tanya Holt, booking manager for The Metropolitan Room, who received a standing ovation at the last Cabaret Convention and who has been seen on many New York stages (including Urban Stages).  She will have a show at The Metropolitan Room, a collection of Rick Jenson songs, and has a CD in the works.  Tanya first sang the lovely story-song "Mr. Bojangles" in a silky-smooth voice and flawless storytelling (I can't gush too much because of my status in MetroStar, and Tanya is a judge...but let's just say I was taking notes on her performance).  She then sang "Laughing Matters," a perfect on-theme song mentioning many causes and how to deal with most of the many challenges in life...with humor.

Next was our illustrious waiter of Etcetera Etcetera, the clear-voiced tenor David Ballard, who impressed the heck out of the audience with his rendition of "A World Without You" from Children of Eden.  David is a lyricist in the BMI workshop (currently between first and second year and is debating his 2nd year project) and is challenging himself with a stand-up comedy class in the coming weeks.  Maybe we'll see the fruits of his current labors soon!  Following David was Ellen Joy Hoffman, who is working on a cabaret show with Tracy Stark as Music Director and Lennie Watts as Director.  She grew up with Broadway musicals, and would perform every single role SHE wanted to sing, regardless of casting limitations (sex, race, age, etc).  With that rebelliously-laced introduction, she sang a hilarious "Broadway Medley," arranged by Tracy Stark, taking on the voices and major songs from characters she would *probably* never be cast in, from Lion King to In The Heights, Show Boat and Annie to The Man of La Mancha, Dreamgirls, and more!  Past Etceterette Marnie Klar then sang "Unusual Way" from Nine, showing off both her high notes and her statuesque, beautiful height.  Parker Scott, who will have his show "No Expectations," at the Metropolitan room on August 9th, proved to be an anti-rebel-rebel by singing the classic "My Funny Valentine" by Rogers & Hart.  It was a dark-toned arrangement, effortlessly played by Tracy and sung by Parker, who will be the Salon Spotlight at next Sunday's Salon!

Ellen Joy Hoffman sings the roles SHE wants to play
Kitty brought in our final co-host of the evening, MetroStar Winner Marissa Mulder who, with Bill Zeffiro at the piano, sang "Why Can't I Forget Him," a wistful-goofy-ballad that fit Marissa perfectly.  Her MetroStar show from last year, which was recorded by Miranda Music, will be available in CD form in the Fall, so keep an eye out for that!  Marissa then introduced Richard Eisenberg, who sang his parody lyrics to the melody of "I Won't Grow Up" from Peter Pan, only this time changing the words to reflect the rebellious anti-99% of the "I'm Filthy Rich" crowd of Wall Street.  Audience echos and laughs abounded.  Richard's showcase of original music will be brought back in the future, have no worries to those who were unable to attend his Laurie Beechman debut a few months ago!  Janice Hall then sang a "rebel without a clue" song, the funny "Darlings, I'm an Artist" with Bill Zeffiro at the piano.  Bill had to break it to her that she would be "nothing" without the audience...ha ha.  We then heard Adam Shapiro sing the wonderful Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman song "Secondhand White Baby Grand" from TV's musical Smash.  Adam revealed that he was the rebel in the family (going into the performing arts instead of becoming a doctor) but he always appreciated the support his mother gave to his creative life before passing when he was only seven.  Music has always been a part of his life, and we loved this personal framework he gave the song.  Adam will next head out to perform in a Boston production of Ragtime in late September, and will bring his one-man show (Directed by Peter Napolitano with Barry Levitt at the piano) soon after that.

Next, Australian Darren Williams, who sat at the piano to play for himself, wowed us with his vocal range and accepted some great harmonies from the audience on his rendition of "Seasons of Love" from Rent.  His show "Darren Williams, Not the Boy Next Door: The Peter Allan Story" will perform at the Iridium this Thursday July 26th, with shows at both 8pm and 10pm - a highly recommended and reviewed show!  Joshua Desjardins (who regaled The Salon last week as co-host) then sang a song about rebellious parents, "And They're Off" from A New Brain - his show with Joshua Warr "Joshing Around" will soon become a monthly standard at The Duplex!  Bill Zeffiro then returned to the piano to sing as all the characters in his song "You can Always Earn A Buck on Your Back," the "hooker song" from his show The Road to Ruin.  This included the Madame of the song, the 15-year old innocent heroine, a collection of hookers, and...a sheep...  He was excited the Karen Oberlin will sing one of his original songs at Feinstein's, and that Marissa Mulder may include one of his numbers in her upcoming Fall show.  He can always be found at La Mediterrannee on Second Avenue each Tuesday night between 9pm and 11:30pm.  To complete the evening, Marissa Mulder sang the tongue-twisting ultimate anthem for the Rebel Set, "Everybody Says Don't" from Anyone Can Whistle.

And now...Julia Klot and her original piece, "Memory Lane":

-Sierra Rein
Blogette for The Salon
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