Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Salon Wrap-up for March 10, 2013 "Songs That Rock You"

Greetings Saloners! This is your one and only male etceterette (etceteron, etceterer, or whatever you want to call me) Adam Shapiro. I’m thrilled to be blogetting for the first time, while our usual darling Erin Cronican is busy as can be with her company THE SEEING PLACE THEATER, doing two successful productions that feature several members of our Salon family. They are going into their final week of performances, so if you haven’t gone, be sure to check it out.

The crowds came out in droves this week, ready to rock out with our wonderful guest host Steven Ray Watkins (Mark Janas is gigging out of town as the ultimate rock stars are apt to do). And if there was one person who was going to keep the crowd roaring, it was our own Rockstar, fresh off her most recent show Shift Happens at the Laurie Beechman Theatre, and winner of “Best New Cabaret Performer” in San Fransisco Carly Ozard! (Crowd Chanting: CARLY! CARLY! CARLY!) Carly has been called the “Freddie Mercury chick”, although she claimed last night to be the “Coming Down with a Cold Chick”, but that didn’t stop her from belting out the Freddy Mercury classic “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”. It was the perfect start to the evening.

First up from the crowd was our own rock goddess Bobbie Horowitz, who claimed that her dream growing up in Brooklyn was to write a rock song. She proceeded to sing “Teenage Dreams”, (Horowitz/Spector), which would have been a killer 1950s rock ballad. Bobbie’s recent show Shows Ta Go Ya, the Songs of Bobbie Horowitz will be coming back, hopefully later this year (Dates TBA) and she will be putting together another one of her delightful Cabaret Matinees at the Unity Center sometime in April. Been to both and they are both delightful.

Ruth Carlin took the stage next and said that she had interpreted the theme a little differently, remembering doing most of her singing practice while she rocked her children to sleep. (AAAAAW!) She gave us the beautifully tender “I’ll Be Here With You” by David Friedman and you could just picture her with a child in her arms. It was lovely. Ruth will be launching her new CD at the Laurie Beechman Theatre on April 6th and 18th.

Next up, looking very rock glam in her leather skirt and boots (Joan Jett anybody?) was Natasha Castillo, fresh off her latest show Anything But Ordinary at the Duplex. I was there. She rocked! She sang an arrangement from her show, a medley of “Sing a Song” and “I Got the Music” with Mr. Watkins, who was her musical director for the show, chiming in for some harmonies. A great performance by both.

Our next singer was Sue Horowitz, who I am totally and completely jealous of because she was on last week’s episode of Project Runway and got to walk the catwalk in a gorgeous custom outfit designed just for her. Seriously, download the episode. Her walk was fabulous. Tonight, she sang her original song, “LUV: The Station of Love”, a country/rock song that I thought was some of her best writing work. Carly made a great observation: “We have two Horowitzes who write songs!” To our knowledge, Sue and Bobbie are not related, but they could be. You never know!

Bob Diamond gave us his usual fabulousness with “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”. It is easy to see why he is a current MAC Award nominee for Male Vocalist. Bob’s next cabaret show Timeless with Donna Elliott and Marcia Roney will be playing The Duplex on April 3rd and 7th at 7PM and if Bob is involved, you know it’s going to be good. I can’t wait to see it!

Parker Scott, in his signature velvet shirt, took the mic next to sing the gorgeous “All The Things You Are”, which he claimed was probably a rock song in its day. Parker’s show No Expectations will have an encore performance on April 14 at 7:30pm in Penthouse 1 of Shetler Studios on 54 St. By the way, both Parker and Bob were accompanied by David Jarvis on piano who is always a delight to see and hear.

Up next was current MAC Award nominee for best Director, Gretchen Reinhagen, who told us she had spent a wonderful weekend with her longtime partner, making plans for their upcoming LEGAL wedding. (YAY!!!) She told us that, while cake tasting, the enormity of everything really hit her and she proceeded to sing “Something in the Way She Moves” by James Taylor, a gorgeous song that got this bloggette a little choked up. Gretchen has many gigs coming up, so stay tuned.

A newcomer to Salon, Eva Kantor graced us with “The Way I Am”, which is the title song of her upcoming debut solo show, directed by Eric Michael Gillett, and playing the Laurie Beechman on March 29, 30, and April 7, 14, and 21. Eva was a finalist in the 2012 Metrostar competition and if her performance tonight was any indication, you won’t want to miss her show!

Speaking of Eric Michael Gillett, he was next to take the stage and give us the fabulous Duke Ellington piece “Hit Me With a Hot Note”. Man, can that guy sing! In addition to Eva’s show, Eric is also directing The Amanda McBroom Project, which features a cast of 34 of the most talented women in theatre and cabaret. It will be playing the Laurie Beechman on March 15 and 16, so don’t miss it! He is also currently nominated for MAC Awards in both the Director and Major artist categories. (I don’t think he’s busy enough. Anyone have something for him to do?)

The lovely Catherine Overfelt came up next to give us “I Miss The Mountains” from Next to Normal, one of the most rocking shows to hit Broadway in years. She was fabulous and we hope to see more of her.

Raissa Katona Bennet in a FABULOUS sequined vest said she was brave enough to try a rock song that night and showed us her “Dark Side” (Busbee/ Geringas). Ooh Raissa! This is a side of you we haven’t seen…and I LOVE IT! Raissa is a current MAC Award nominee for Major Artist and will be appearing in The Amanda McBroom Project next weekend at the Laurie Beechman.

Next up was the beautiful 16 year old Ruby Rakos (See, when you’re that age, you can announce how old you are from the stage. Those were the days!). Ruby spent two years on Broadway in Billy Elliot. According to her, dancing on a raked stage is, in fact, not the best thing for your orthopedic health, but that didn’t stop her from wowing the crowd with the classic “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart”. That girl has a gorgeous future ahead of her. Keep an eye out.

Leanne Borghesi proceeded to show us how she rocked her way through auditions with the hilarious “As We Stumble Along” from The Drowsy Chaperone, encouraging the crowd to lift their glasses and join her in a toast and to always “keep your eyeball on the highball”. It was fabulous!

The next performer was Adam Shapiro. Oh wait, that’s me! We must be nearing the end of the first set! I sang “One More Minute” by Weird Al Yankovic, who is one of the most rocking people I know. I’ll mention, only because people are prodding me to, that I am also currently a MAC Award nominee for Musical Comedy Perfomer. Honestly, it’s a huge honor and I’m thankful.

After me, our first time etceterette (and next week’s co-host) Jaye Maynard sang “Figure Eight” from Schoolhouse Rock. (Get it, Schoolhouse ROCK! What a great way to interpret the theme). It was a gorgeous rendition and it’s easy to see why she was named pick of the week for the International Review of Music NY and LA. Go Jaye! We can’t wait to see you at the Metropolitan room on March 21 at 9:30 PM!

It was time for our Salon Spotlight, which this week was Broadwayworld Award winning songwriter Scott Evan Davis! (Seriously, could he be more handsome?) Just the night before, Scott celebrated the opening night of his show Picture Perfect, an original revue of Scott’s Music, directed by Lennie Watts with musical direction by David Snyder. Word of mouth is that the show is WONDERFUL. I think I detected a little bit of the post-show glow still emanating from Scott’s face. We were lucky enough to hear three of the songs from the show sung by Erik Sisco and Kim Grogg, two out of the five brilliant singers who make up the show’s cast. (Joshua Dixon, Vicky Modica, and Jamie Hartmann are the others). Erik took the stage first to sing “Just a Word”, a very funny song about a man in the doghouse, who just can’t say the one word that will make everything ok. (Hey, sorry IS the hardest word to say!). Kim ascended the stage and announced “If you’ve ever had a hot flash, this song might rock you.”, before pulling out a red fan and singing “You Make Me Crazy”, a song from a woman on the verge. Rounding out the set, Erik took the stage to sing Scott’s award winning song “If We Say Goodbye” a beautiful song about the possibility of changes in a relationship. The show has two more performances on March 17 and 24 at 7pm at the Duplex. After tonight, I think you should make your reservations as soon as you can. Those seats are NOT going to last long.

And with that, get your lighters ready. It was time for Steven’s Corner!

Considering that Steven Ray Watkins is a rockstar whatever he does, we were all excited to see what he would grace us with. He started his set with the Neil Sedaka hit “Stepping Out”, claiming he never expected to use the words Neil Sedaka and rockstar in the same sentence. He followed it with the beautiful “Voices Carry”, which was a breakthrough song for the group ‘Til Tuesday. It was a gorgeous performance. He closed his set with the reflective Phil Vassar song “Black and Whites”, which glorified the piano as a constant in an uncertain world with so many shades of grey. It was a perfect end to the first half of the evening.

Second Set!

Our rock goddess Carly Ozard took the stage again to kick off the second set with two signature Freddy Mercury pieces, the first being the classic “Somebody to Love”. No matter where you heard that song, be it on the radio, in a movie, or on an album, that song just never gets old and it always inspires you to sing along. (Which everybody did) The second piece was “Love of My Life”, a piece about love ending, which Mercury wrote about his longtime lover Mary Austin. It should be said, by the way, that Carly was singing her face off in spite of her self-professed cold and like a true pro, she said “When you’re sick…you have to do it anyway.” Brava Carly! Rock on!

I don’t have to tell you who took the stage next, but I will tell you because she is currently nominated for MAC awards as female vocalist, and producer of Salon. Give it up for Tanya Moberly!!!! (Crowd roars, screams, throws underwear, etc.) Tanya sang one of the most quintessential 80s rock songs (Ok, it was released in 1979, but still), Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker”. The way she was singing it and the way Steven was playing it, it was really as if a whole band was playing. I was headbanging in my mind. Oh, and she is another performer appearing in The Amanda McBroom Project at the Laurie Beechman. Yet ANOTHER reason to go!

I hope nobody needed a drink at that moment, because the next performer was our own man of many talents, including waitering, David Ballard! David sang one of Billy Joel’s most iconic ballads “She’s Got a Way” and really made it something special. Not a surprise really, since David is currently the recipient of the Singer’s Forum Scholarship AND a 2nd year lyricist in the BMI program. The boy has some serious talent. You can see him next in Cookie’s Corner at the Laurie Beechman on March 24 at 3pm.

Dwight Thomas Vaughn came to the stage to give us an original song of his “First Pair of Shoes”. Gorgeous music and lyrics as well as a marvelous performance. Dwight’s last show Trail of Tears was nominated for a Broadwayworld Award and his next show, Dwight Thomas Vaughn and the Missouri Statesmen (Directed by Raissa Katona Bennett) will be performed at the Iridium on April 2nd at 8pm and 10pm. Not to be missed!

Following him was the adorable Robin Westle who claimed “I never wanted to be a rock star, but to be a MOVIE star!” and then proceeded to charm us with “Oh to be a Movie Star” from The Apple Tree. Such a sweet performance! Her next show No Regrets will be at the Laurie Beechman on June 12 and 21. Hopefully we will see more of her before then.

The fantastic Jim Speake took the stage next and sang “I’m a Brass Band” by Cy Coleman, who Jim claimed was a rockstar of a composer. I must say I agree. Jim is also a current MAC nominee in the musical comedy category. (And, for the record, I am honored to be in a category with him. He is truly awesome.)

After Jim was a newcomer to Salon: the beautiful Von Decarlo, who sang a heartbreaking rendition of “Who Knew” by Pink. It was a gorgeous performance that left everybody awestruck. She will be workshopping a one woman show Lasagna, directed by Lennie Watts and musical directed by Steven Ray Watkins, at the Duplex on March 17. We hope we will see her at Salon more often after tonight. She is something really special.

Next up, a performer from the west coast, Steven Slatten. Steven has done many successful shows in San Francisco, but we were happy to have him in New York tonight singing Stevie Wonder’s “Lately”. The man’s voice is SICK! (And if you know rock terminology, you know that I mean it was awesome.) Again, someone we hope to see more of.

Salon regular Joann Sicoli, clad in a great leopard print outfit, sang a marvelous rendition of “He’s Sure to be the Boy I Love”, made famous by Darlene Love and the Crystals. Afterwards, she was delighted to tell us (and we were delighted to hear) that the novel she has been working on has a publisher! YAY! She didn’t tell us more, but I’m sure as time goes on, we will hear more news. Soon, I hope!

Speaking of delight, the next performer was someone that everybody loves: the fabulous Barb Malley, who claimed she often looked to Gretchen Cryer for inspiration. Tonight she inspired us with “Strong Woman Number” from I’m Getting my Act Together and Taking it on the Road. She was wonderful as always. Barb’s next show Out of Order will open later this year and, if my guess is correct, will be a show not to be missed. Barb is awesome!

Another Salon favorite, Marya Zimmet, was up next and told us that, in preparing for tonight, Lennie Watts and Steven Ray Watkins had suggested she look at some Annie Lennox material. I am so glad they did, because her voice is perfect for Annie’s material. She graced us with Lennox’s song “Little Bird” and to say she did it justice would be an understatement. She is working on a show to be done later this year and I know we all look forward to hearing more about it in the future.

Ok, I try not to play favorites because I love everybody, but tonight I have to say that Amy Beth Williams did one of my favorite pieces of the evening. She sang the song “On My Way To You” by Michel Legrand and Marylin and Alan Bergman. She sang it so beautifully that it brought tears to my eyes. (My Aunt sang that song at my parents’ wedding, so it brought back gobs of memories). Amy Beth said she has gigs coming up TBA and, after tonight, I will be watching closely for information. BRAVA!

John Koprowski came up and said “Why not choose the best of the best?” For him and for many, that meant Bob Dylan. John sang the fabulous “All Along the Watchtower” and made the crowd fall in love. John has been doing a lot of work with The Singers Forum and will be appearing in their next open mic night.

Next up was another one of my favorite leggy ladies, Robin Kradles. Nobody knows how to get an audience on her side more than Robin does, let me tell you. Robin sang the Peggy Lee hit “I Love Being Here with You” and when she sang the lyric “I love to hear you say my name”, on cue the crowd called out ROBIN! So much fun! Robin will be appearing at Night of a Thousand Gowns on April 6 to benefit GMHC and GLADD. It promises to be a spectacular night for two spectacular causes.

Carly compared our next performer Sallie Jo Hadley to Disney’s Snow White. THANK YOU! I have been saying that since the first time I heard her sing and I love her for it! Tonight she sang the Petula Clark hit “Downtown”. Her charm is undeniable. I love listening to her and watching her on stage.
Our next performer is someone we all love dearly: Richard Eisenberg, who debuted a new song that he had written called “Choices”. A very thought provoking piece, it had the excellence we have come to expect from Mr. Eisenberg. Richie’s show Smile on my Face is currently nominated for a MAC award for Best Revue. I had the honor to be a part of that show along with Erin Cronican, Stacie Perlman, and Rob Langeder and, at the risk of being biased, I am so proud of our Richie. What a great, talented guy!

Next up, another representative of the west coast, Nick Bayne! (Look how those west coasters flock to see Carly! Get ready New York!) Nick gave us the Jason Robert Brown song “She Cries”, a very hard piece that he made look effortless. Way to go Nick!

Lyricist Tom Toce took the stage next to introduce singer Oakley Boycott and pianist Matthew Martin Ward. Oakley proceeded to sing the song “Bye Bye, Aloha, Yo!”, a song that Tom wrote the lyrics to and recently was featured in his show Hopelessly in Love, the lyrics of Tom Toce, and is NOW nominated for the MAC award for best Song- Special material. Oakley and Matthew hit the song out of the park and did justice to Tom’s superb lyrics.

The next performer was Karen Gross, who sang the Laura Branigan hit “Self Control”. Karen told us she is new in town from Philadelphia, but has been wasting no time, having already appeared at Lincoln Center! Her next show Cabaret Mixtape will play the Metropolitan room on April 13. Be there!

Our final guest singer of the evening was Jonathan Prager, who told us as soon as he hit the mic “You’ll all know this song”. He was right as could be, giving us a rendition of “Time After Time” by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. Truly, I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written and Jonathan made me remember that. His next show, My Damage is My Gift, will play in May and June. The title is definitely intriguing, so I think we all look forward to hearing more about it.

I had high hopes that Carly would give us a rock and roll anthem to end the evening and she did not disappoint, giving us the classic Queen anthem “We Are the Champions”, which prompted everybody to sing along (On and on and on and on!) It was the perfect closer for an evening that truly ROCKED!

Next week, the return of Mark Janas! Our special guest co-host will be JAYE MAYNARD! (She etceteretted this week and she’s co-hosting next! We just can’t get enough of this gal!) Jay returns to the Metropolitan Room on March 21 at 7pm with her new show “Bird Amongs the Blossoms.

Our Salon Spotlight will feature Dwight Thomas Vaughn! ScoBar Entertainment will present Dwight Thomas Vaughn & The Missouri Statesmen at the Iridium on April 2 at 8 and 10 PM

Our optional theme for Sunday, March 17 is “It’s Not Easy Being Green- Songs of Spring”. Come spend your St. Patrick’s Day evening at Salon! We can’t wait to see you there.

- Adam Shapiro
Blogette for The Salon

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