Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Salon Wrap Up for April 14 "Hello/Goodbye"

HELLO Salonistas!

It’s Adam Shapiro again this week and no, that wasn’t me yelling. That was just me emphasizing this week’s theme “Hello/Goodbye”. I was really excited for this week because so many songs are written about meetings, partings, reuniting after time, and so on and so forth. (Actually Etc. Etc. might have been more appropriate there. Bad joke  ) This week was also very exciting because our special guest co-hosts were Mark Janas’ students from the “Discover Opera” class at Manhattan School of Music. Right away, you could tell that Mark and his teaching partner Andy Gale (who took over the job of emcee for the evening…flawlessly) were so excited to present these talented young performers: Jessica Grzanna, Lawren Hill, Dasha Jensen, Bria Langer, Joakim Larsson, Julia Mendelsohn, Elizabeth Novella, Piers Portfolio, Clayton Williams & Andrew Zimmerman.

Mark explained that in this class, the students, with the help of Mark and Andy, write their own show. This year, they wrote a spinoff of the book/film/musical “Matilda”, which they cleverly called “Musilda” about an opera singer with special powers, which they took out and performed at grade schools to educate the children about opera. (Fabulous) The second project the class takes on is to put together a cabaret show to be performed at Senior centers (fabulous again!). This year’s cabaret is called HELLO/GOODBYE (So THAT’s where the theme came from!) and puts the songs into the context of people meeting at a ten year reunion. So Mark asked us to imagine that we were at Salon ten years from now and his students were all coming back to surprise him.

To kick off that theme, the entire ensemble trickled into the party singing a great arrangement of With a Little Help From My Friends, greeting each other warmly as they arrived and ending in an adorable tableau pose while Mark ran in front and took their picture. It was an adorable opening and the college student in me had to grin at the line “I get high with a little help from my friends”. I mean… I never…what?

The ladies sat down, while the men remarked at how great they all looked after ten years and became a classic doo-wop quartet, singing My Lean Baby. Another charming performance and a great blend of voices. Nicely done gentlemen.

Then, Clayton Williams took the stage by himself and told Mark and the crowd that he had been looking for love, before launching into the very funny Rick Crom song America Online. Let me tell you, that is not an easy song and Clayton absolutely nailed it. It was also a very cute touch to have the rest of the students chime in from the table during the “Type Type Type” part. Nicely done.

And then, Andy put on his co-host hat and introduced our first singer from the crowd, and where better to start than with the beautiful Sunny Leigh. Lord, she always looks sensational! Sunny sang the appropriately titled Goodbye by Gordon Jenkins, a song about someone who forgot his promise to never say goodbye. It’s a great piece for Sunny. She sounded beautiful. Sunny has two gigs coming up; one a show/party at her loft. It’s by invitation only, so you’ll have to contact Sunny to get on the guest list. Then on July 14 (Bastille Day!), she will be releasing her latest CD at the Metropolitan room. Such exciting stuff!

Next up was the always adorable Barbara Malley, who claimed her song, Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things” was truly a hello/goodbye song. I’ll say it was! Luckily, we’ll all be able to say hello to Barb again soon when her show “Out Of Order” opens at Don’t Tell Mama on April 28. I can’t wait to see it!

Our next performer, who I have both performed with and stood on many audition lines with, was Kimberly Faye Greenberg. Kimberly is the first and only actress to have performed leading roles in TWO Off-Broadway musicals at the same time “Danny and Sylvia: The Danny Kaye Musical” and “One Night with Fanny Brice”, both of which received critical acclaim. I’m exhausted just typing that! Tonight, Kim graced us with the beautiful I Will Be Loved Tonight from “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”, which shows that hopeful excitement when you know a new love is beginning. It was a wonderful performance from Kim, whose new show “Fabulous Fanny: The Songs and Stories of Fanny Brice” will play the Jewish Museum of Monmouth County in NJ on May 19 and with the Freeport, LI Concert association in June. A little bit of a trek, but I think Kimberly is definitely worth the trip.

I would trek anywhere to see our next performer, everybody’s darling Bobbie Horowitz! Bobbie sang her original song Plastic Plants (Horowitz and Spector), in which she says goodbye to a man who deals better with inanimate objects than with people. Bobbie is always a delight and I get happy anytime I just see her enter a room. Bobbie has a busy weekend coming up. On Saturday, April 20, she is hosting the Unity Center’s Springtime cabaret, which will feature many Salon regulars and favorites. On Sunday, April 21st, she is co-hosting right here at Salon. I can’t wait! Finally, she told us she plans to bring back her revue of original songs “Shows Ta Go Ya” in June. Stay tuned for more details.

Next up, Salon favorite and my good friend, Elaine St George, who sang the most gorgeous rendition of Billy Joel’s And So It Goes. Elaine said she considers the song to be magic because she sang it for the first time at Salon last year and shortly thereafter met her girlfriend. AAAAWWW! Elaine was this year’s winner of the Hanson at the MAC Awards and will be bringing her Joni Mitchell show back on April 27 at Don’t Tell Mama. I saw it and it was wonderful, so if you haven’t been, now’s your chance!

Next up, a pair of really fun performers. Bill Zeffiro and Lianne Marie Dobbs. It was so great that they stopped into Salon before jetting off to the Metropolitan for their 9:30 performance of Lianne’s show “Everything Old is New Again”. Lianne has a genuine love of classic music from the American songbook and her voice, look, and demeanor are so perfectly suited for it. (Not to mention, she was wearing a FABULOUS pair of vintage heels.) Lianne and Bill started off with an adorable medley of songs from the 30s, 40s, and 50s, which included Once in a Lifetime, Put on a Happy Face, and Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries. As if that weren’t charming enough, Bill claimed he just loved singing duets with her so much that they gave us the Burton Lane classic, How About You? Let the lovability continue. Lianne has one more performance coming up on April 21 at 9:30.

So last night, I had the pleasure of going to the Iridium and hearing our next performer rock the house down in her Freddie Mercury show, Carly Ozard! Carly recently moved to New York from San Francisco (Or as she called it “City by the gay”) where she won Best Cabaret performer of 2009. Since the beginning of the year, she has played three dates at the Laurie Beechman and now two performances at the Iridium. Oh, and did I mention, these were two different shows? JEEZ! Tonight she confessed to being the five year old obsessed with Bette Midler (me too!) and sang the sad, but stunning Hello in There. As always, a wonderful job by Carly.

I love it when you think a song or performance is going to go one way and then suddenly it turns right around. That is exactly what happened when Elizabeth Tryon took the stage with Matthew Martin Ward on piano. When the music began, it was immediately recognizable as the Flower Duet from “Lakme”. Conceive in my surprise when Elizabeth started to sing and it was I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. What the huh?! What a crazy awesome combination! It turns out, this is the basis of her upcoming show “Music: Then and Now”, (It was later joked that the show could be called from Opera to Aerosmith). The show will play May 2 at 777 Theatre and on May 21 at Stage II. Something tells me this is a show not to be missed.

Now it was time for everybody’s favorite singing server, David Ballard! David sang what could be considered the world’s first goodbye A World Without You from “Children of Eden” and If David had been there in the Garden of Eden, I think God might just have changed his mind after hearing him sing. David is a 2nd year lyricist at BMI and is working on a musical verison of the film “My Man Godfrey”. In addition, he announced tonight that he will be doing his first cabaret later this year, directed by Tanya Moberly! How exciting! We’ll be waiting for further details when you have them.

My Turn! Yours truly, Adam Shapiro took the stage with a serious song this week. I decided to sing about how you want someone to say goodbye with Tell Me On a Sunday from “Song and Dance”. Afterwards, Andy pointed out that it was a Sunday, to which I replied “Ooh! Take me to Salon and dump me…because I have lots of friends here who will kick you’re a**!” You guys have my back, right? I’m very excited to be bringing my (MAC Award winning) show, “Guide to the Perfect Breakup”, back to the Duplex on May 10 at 7:00 PM. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you’ll be there!

Next up was our Etceterette for the evening and another one of my favorite people, Maureen Taylor. I know Maureen is going to be beautiful no matter what song she chooses and tonight, she gave us the very thought provoking Learn to be Lonely from "A Doll’s Life"; a song which shows that saying goodbye can ultimately be what you need to start the life you really want. Maureen will be going to London in August to do a show (Possibly her Bob Merill show) and we look forward to more details at a later date and time. We just adore Maureen.

In lieu of Classical Corner this week, Mark decided to give the time to his students, who he lovingly referred to as his babies. AWWW! So first in this set were Bria Langer and Dasha Jensen singing the beautiful duet It’s Never That Easy/I’ve Been Here Before from “Closer Than Ever”. Their voices blended in a gorgeous way. It was a lovely performance.

Next, Joakim Larsson took the stage to sing the Sondheim “goodbye” staple, Send in the Clowns. His voice was absolutely beautiful and while it was a little ironic hearing a student singing about being “this late in his career” (honey, it’s just starting!), his conviction was so strong that I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Great job Joakim!

Keeping with the Sondheim material, Andrew Zimmerman and Elizabeth Novella were next to take the stage to sing the awkwardly hilarious Barcelona from “Company”. They were great, playing the couple after a great night having a less than great morning and, come on, is there any bigger hello/goodbye situation than the morning after. Ah, more college memories… I mean… I never…what?
To add to the situation, the song segued seamlessly into the entire group joining them on stage to sing Buddy’s Blues from Follies. Not only was it a great song to finish to the first set, but it made wonderful use of choreography. In fact, I think it’s the most choreography that’s ever been done at Salon. In any event, it made the perfect Act 1 finale!


Welcome back! To begin the second set of the evening, the ladies of the students took the stage to do one of my favorite numbers of all time, The Cell Block Tango from “Chicago”! Say it with me! “Pop! Six! Squish! Uh-uh! Cicero! Lipschitz!” These ladies worked it out, taking over that stage with some great Fosse inspired moves and taking maybe a little too much pleasure in the thought of killing all these guys. Oh, who are we kidding? We all take pleasure in killing the guys in this song. Fabulous job ladies!

Changing the mood entirely, Piers Portfolio joined Julia Mendelsohn to sing a pairing of Burt Bacharach/Hal David classics A House is Not a Home/One Less Bell to Answer. I love pairing these songs, because one is kind of a “hello” song, while the other is very much a “goodbye”. Piers and Julia really understood the juxtaposition and on top of that, their voices were gorgeous together.

We then welcomed back Andrew Zimmerman, solo this time, to sing Jamie Cullum’s Photograph, about how each photograph has a story behind it and sometimes it seems as if we were someone else when it was taken. Andrew’s storytelling was fascinating and his voice was gorgeous on the song. Again, the rest of the students chimed in on backup vocals from the table, which was a great addition to the song.

Ending this section was Elizabeth Novella returning to sing the Arthur Hamilton standard Cry Me a River. First of all, I love this song. Secondly, I was excited to hear this other side to Elizabeth’s voice. In the first set, she showed her prowess as a trained opera singer. On this song, she showed her skill as a belter and it really was two completely different and delicious flavors. Seriously, these students are all really talented! (Then again, look who their teacher is. Would we expect anything less?)

And on that note, it’s time for the woman who keeps Salon the well-oiled machine it is, MAC Award winning producer Tanya Moberly! Not only is Tanya an awesome producer and performer, but she has a knack for picking the perfect on-theme material. Tonight, she tackled Sondheim’s Everybody Loves Louie from “Sunday in the Park with George”. If you aren’t familiar, the first line of the song is an emphatic “HELLO George.” Genius! She was brilliant as always. Tanya is currently directing Marnie Klar’s show “Accidental Happiness” at Don’t Tell Mama on April 26, May 8, and May 21. I saw it. You should too. She will also be appearing in the Concerts for City Greens gala on April 23 and the Cabaret Cares gala on April 29.

Next up was the ever stunning Janice Hall who, tonight, graced us with the standard I Wish You Love, which she thought about doing in the original French, but said for once, the English lyrics are a little bit nicer when you look at the translation of the originals. Either way, it was beautiful. Janice is currently in rehearsal for “Hamlet” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” which will be performed in rep with The Seeing Place Theatre (Along with our own Erin Cronican). The shows will open next month and I can’t wait to see if this lady doth indeed protest too much.

I was so excited to see our next performer, who has been in India for the last two months, Kevin McMullan! Right away he told us a story of how his friend in India had promised him that he would build a western toilet onto the house for Kevin, who is a frequent visitor. However, he ran out of money while he was building it, so the toilet was put it, but not the room around it. No walls, door, or windows, the toilet was just sitting out in the open. Kevin soon checked into a government hotel. And talking of how checking in and out of hotels can be exhausting, Kevin launched into I’m Checking Out (of this Heartbreak Hotel). I love this song and I love the way he sings it. Kevin will be returning to India this fall and is in the process of writing a book about his travels. I will be so excited to read it!

The lovely Ruth Carlin was up next. Ruth is another one who has a knack for picking great on-theme material and tonight was no exception. She sang the adorable Murray Grand song I Always Say Hello to a Flower, which talks about flowers being so much more accessible than people. (I’ve never seen a pansy fight. Haha!) Ruth is launching her new CD “Moon Song” TONIGHT April 18 at the Laurie Beechman and will be appearing in the Unity Cabaret on Saturday April 20.

Our final open mic singer tonight was the handsome Matthew Martin Ward, who sang a song he wrote with Peter Napolitano, appropriately titled Say Hello, for the musical “The Lady in Penthouse B”. Matthew told us that the song was first written with no bridge, but that one was recently added and he sang the full song for us. It was gorgeous and makes me want to see the show! Matthew is a busy guy at the moment, playing for Elizabeth Tryon, The Isadora Duncan Group, and for the “Callback” series at 54 below.

The final section of the evening began with Jessica Grzanna and Lawren Hill, singing one of the most poignant “goodbye” songs I know, For Good from “Wicked”. I have heard this song several times, but I tell you these ladies brought tears to my eyes. They were so honest and touching and their voices were made to go together. It was beyond lovely.

As a final sendoff for the evening, the whole student ensemble took the stage to bid each other and all of us adieu with a pairing of the Beatles classic Hello/Goodbye (Somebody needed to sing it!) with Just In Time from “Bells are Ringing”. The reunion was over until next time, but not without everybody realizing what an impact they had all made on each other’s lives. Bravo guys! These are some seriously talented young people with great things ahead of them and I wish them all the best as they move forward into their careers. And remember guys, Salon is a great place to come try out new material, so come on back!

Next week! Salon returns with our special guest co-host, the much beloved Bobbie Horowitz! As if that weren’t exciting enough, our Salon Spotlight will be Rev. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes! Those are two people with an incredible amount of talent and wonderful energy, so it’s a week not to be missed.

The optional theme for next week’s Salon is It’s About Time!

Remember, any material, on or off theme, is always welcome at Salon.

Have a great week and until next time, GOODBYE!

-Adam Shapiro
Blogette for The Salon

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