Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Salon Wrap-Up for December 9, 2012 "Happy Hannakwanzmas!"

Happy Holidays, everyone!  It is I, Candice Oden.  I am so thrilled to A) be back at The Salon; and B) be able to contribute as Blogette this week.  I got to sit in for the beautiful and incredibly talented Erin Cronican, who, as most of you know, has been busier than a one-eyed cat watching nine mouse holes.  (That was the winner for my "busier than ..." phrase Google search. ;})  If any of you have not seen her cabaret show, yet, you have one more chance: "Great (Un)expectations" is playing Friday night at 9pm at Urban Stages.

Happy Hannakwanzmas!  This was our theme for Sunday night, December 9, and happy is exactly what it was.  A great evening full of a whole lotta talent and a whole lotta fun.  Our co-hosts could not have been better.  Edd Clark and Sue Matsuki started our evening with their hilarious and very clever Christmas Wish Medley (arranged by Paul Stephan), part of their "Sue & Edd's Fabulous Christmas Show."  And fabulous it is sure to be!  This pair gave us an evening full of laughs and gifted us with heart-felt sentiment just as quickly.  You can see their full show (and I highly recommend it) at Don't Tell Mama this Friday at 7pm, with special guests Three Tenors in Search of a (Christmas) Act!  For more info, go to

Zach Wobensmith kept the fun and hilarity rolling with one of his originals, "Serious."  He had us rolling in the isles -- with his classic dry humor combined with such a beautiful voice, this is something we will be requesting him to reprise.  He has an upcoming performance in the "Cranky Cabaret" series that we won't want to miss. Allison Siko provided a lovely "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with Jim Lahti at the piano. The fabulous Mary Lahti crept up onto the stage immediately following to start the funniest parody of "Baby It's Cold Outside" that you will likely hear ... ever.  Mary played Allison's controlling mother who ended up drugging her daughter just so she would stay home with her. As if you weren't upset enough if you missed the evening! ;)  Good news for Mary, Jim, and us: Mary is working on her debut cabaret show with Jim for April of next year!

Patrick Newell graced us next with his first public performance in 2 years with "Anthem."  Sue Horowitz was next with her "Happy Hanukwismas" (look for her CD "Keys of Love," by the way), followed by Lauren Newell who sang a very touching and moving song called "Zoe's Goodbye."  This song was written by her friend Sean Stone for a new musical in the works.Richard Eisenberg came up next with his usual charm and gave us the hilariously bitter and somehow touching "What Good Is Christmas?"  DO NOT MISS the show if his music tonight at Urban Stages at 9pm!

After Richie was Kevin McMullan.  In probably my favorite performance of his I've seen to date, "The 12 Days After Christmas" (by Fred Silver) left the audience in stitches.  Beth Falcone was able to squeeze in two songs, "Happy Hannukwaanzwas" (Yes!  Our theme for the week!), in which we actually got to join in the fun, and a brand new and very moving song of hers called "The Best Of Christmas." Our resident singing server, David Ballard, sang a beautiful "Let It Snow" and kept us up to date on his most recent project: The day following The Salon, he joined his friend's student film playing a mad scientist!

Yours truly, Candice Oden, sang Milton Schafer's and Ira Levin's "He Touched Me."  My only news is the continuation of the from-the-ground-up production process of a new musical in which I'm performing by the incomparable Bobby Cronin and Allen Mogol, "'Til Death Do Us Part."  I am so excited to be a part of this -- the process itself is awesome enough, but I mean it when I say ... This show is going to be AWESOME. The beautiful and amazing Sarah Rice (our Etceterette for the evening) wrapped up the open-mic portion of the first act with a gorgeous version of "Once Upon A December" (by Ahrens and Flaherty), incorporating her theremin.  In case you've missed earlier tutorials, this amazing instrument was the first electronic instrument (before the guitar), and it's the only instrument in the world that you can play without touching it!  What?!

Classical Corner

Mark Janas, the genius of geniuses, let us in on his Classical Corner "troubles" -- you know, how he has to choose from typically five different ideas that flood that incredible brain of his. ;)  He got this Salon's idea during Handel's Messiah in church that morning.  It got him thinking about the incredible and positively essential element of articulation in order to play a piece even nearly as effectively as when it was composed.  In music, articulation is in the way you play/sing/sound a note.  However, it is not only how the note is struck or begun, but how it is ended, which is frequently a forgotten element.  The way you play a note and how long you hold it becomes paramount to how the music sounds.  This is incredibly apparent in Baroque music.  Mark played several examples of how Baroque music has been played, starting, naturally, with the "student" level and working his way up to giving us the gift of his skill level.  It was truly remarkable.  (Yep -- I said it.)  He explained how the music of that time did not have the technological "advancement" or mindset of todays instruments, like the simple pedals at the piano.  So the music was composed without that advancement in concept -- the clarity of notes was of great importance.  A lot of notes in all Baroque music were actually played about half the length.  A quarter note was played as an eighth note, etc. to emphasize the clarity of each note, specifically those held longer.  Yep, if you missed Sunday, you missed a good one!

Second Set

Our co-hosts were back!  The stunning Sue Matsuki gave us an absolutely beautiful and touching "An  Evening In December."  So, so lovely.  "Suzy Snowflake" was next -- but she was met by Sweeny Todd.  A hysterically terrifying performance by the duo that left the audience howling.  Edd Clark's gorgeous solo, "The Little Road To Bethlehem," followed that with such grace and ease.  It's clear why this astoundingly talented two paired up.

And the amazing Tanya Moberly was next!  She sang her favorite "Christmas song," "I Don't Remember Christmas," in classic Tanya fashion (see: amazing).  Watching Tanya Moberly perform is a masterclass in connecting with your work.  Gosh, I wonder why she's been nominated for a Broadway World Award for Best Musical Tribute Show ...  I am referring, of course, to her very recent cabaret performance singing the music of Babs.  She can also be seen tonight at Urban Stages at 7pm in "The Good Girl In Concert."

Marya Zimmet followed with her version of "Let It Snow," and Joan Jaffe (winner of a 2012 MAC Award) touched us all with the ever-identifyable "Christmas In New York." :)  And the song is correct, "[We] can't get enough Christmas in New York," can we? Alexa Smith sang "Bill" by Jerome Kern with a gorgeous voice and warm heart.  It was so lovely to have her talent with us.  Please keep coming, Alexa!

Ricardo Field followed up with "I'll Be Home For Christmas," and then it was time for THE Father Jeff Hamblin!  Our co-sponsor, full of, as always, light, love, and shtick :) , gave us a beautiful "In The Bleak Midwinter."  He also shared something else incredibly beautiful:  His parish has agreed that, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, anyone with an AEA or MAC membership without health coverage will be seen for psychiatric treatment free of charge.  Truly an amazing and generous gift.  On behalf of any of us that have had experience with PTSD (either ourselves or our loved ones), I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Aaaand who's next?  The one and only Matthew Martin Ward.  Matthew serenaded us with the hilarious titular Christmas song, "Christmas Card from a Hooker In MN" (by Tom Waitts).  Matt can be seen at Urban Stages tomorrow at 7pm doing the music of Doug Cohen and with Christine Pedi at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on December 16, 17, 18, and 27.

Ending the open-mic portion for the evening, Garrett McGrew sang one of my personal favorites, "Grateful" by John Bucchino.  And, finally, it was time for Matsuki and Clark to slay us again with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

To all who were there on Sunday, thank you so much for your support and for sharing your gifts with us all.  To those who missed it ... well, and those who came ... I highly recommend this coming Sunday's Salon, December 16, with co-host Tony and Drama Drama Desk Award Nominee Melissa Errico! Melissa has starred in seven Broadway musicals (Tony Nomination for AMOUR) and released two major solo CDs: Blue Like That (EMI) and Lullabies and Wildflowers (VMG/Universal).  She performed at The Kennedy Center opposite Raul Esparza in The Sondheim Celebration's SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE and at City Center in Weill's ONE TOUCH OF VENUS.  In 2010, she was nominated for Best Actress in a Play at the Drama Desk Awards for her work in the title role of George Bernard Shaw's CANDIDA. She also co-starred with Alec Baldwin in GIFT OF THE GORGON by Peter Shaffer, and reprised CAMELOT with Jeremy Irons for one-night only on Broadway at The Shubert Theater.  Melissa has sung solo engagements at The Cafe Carlyle, The Algonquin's Oak Room and most recently at 54 Below.  For more

Our Salon Spotlight will feature 2-Time MAC Award Nominee Kim Grogg, BroadwayWorld Award Nominee Jim Speake and Multiple MAC and Bistro Award Winner Steven Ray Watkins!  Kim & Jim & Steven will be delighting us with selections from their fabulous LETTERS TO SANTA show.  For more information:> /

And that's a wrap!  Special thanks to Tommy Shull on lights and sound, our friends at Etc Etc Restaurant, and Salon Sponsors Dr. Garrett Bennett and Fr. Jeff Hamblin.  Have a great week and weekend, everyone!

-Candice Oden
Blogette for The Salon
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