Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Salon Wrap-Up for April 7, 2013 "Good and Evil"

Greetings Salonistas! It’s your Male Etceterette/Blogette Adam Shapiro here with this week’s Salon recap. (By the way, it’s really fun watching your spell-check go nuts with the word Etceterette.) After a week off, Mark Janas was thrilled to welcome everybody to Salon, which was his third performance of the day (if you count a church service as a performance. As a former member of a temple choir, I certainly do.) The theme of this Salon was Good and Evil (taps fingers together sinisterly). However, to start out with the good, Mark introduced our co-host for the evening Joseph Macchia, who really is the epitome of good. Joseph’s organization Cabaret Cares raises money to help children living with HIV/AIDS. In their first seven years, they managed to raise over $74, 000 and went from helping 22 children to now servicing over 650 children. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? In addition, they have won 4 MAC Awards and a Bistro Award for their performances. Speaking of their performances, the 2013 Cabaret Cares Gala will be at The Laurie Beechman Theatre on May 19th at 5:00 PM. And if you can’t wait until then, you must check out Cabaret Cares: “Good and Evil” on April 29 at 7:00. For more information:

Now just because Joseph is so good, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a little bit of evil in him. Later in the evening, he told us of an instance where he discovered his lover was cheating on him and when said lover came by the next evening to pick up his clothes, he found them all nicely folded…and bleached. As in, with bleach, no color, all completely white. Moral of the story, don’t cheat on Joseph Macchia.

Now normally, the host would greet us with an opening number, but as Joseph said “I don’t sing. I produce.” Never fear, he had come prepared with a group of wonderful performers to do the singing for him. Marla Green was first up. She claimed that she had brought lots of music, but decided not to sing any of it and, instead, opened the evening with Over the Rainbow. She told us afterwards that it was the first song she had ever sung with the fabulous musical director Jerry Scott, who passed away this week. It was a beautiful dedication to Jerry, who we will all miss very much. Marla is also producing a benefit for her friend Sherill, who is battling with cancer. The benefit will take place on May 14 at 9:30 at the Metropolitan Room and sounds like a very worthwhile event.
Next to the stage was the tall glamorous Romelda Teron Benjamin, who has appeared on Broadway in "Brookyn" and the out of town production of "Catch Me if You Can". After claiming that a broken heart can make you go from good to evil, she gave us the beautiful All I Could Do Is Cry and that lady can SING! Afterwards, Joseph asked what the most evil thing she had done to an ex was . Her response was “I took the mirrors off his jeep. Because busting the windows would have been to expensive.” I love the way her mind works.

Joseph claimed our next singer Barbara Malley has no evil in her. However, a twinkle in her eye makes me not so sure about that. Barbara sang the hilarious Repent from "On the Twentieth Century", telling us that she is well aware of all the “Dirty doings going on”. You don’t want to miss her upcoming show "Out Of Order" at Don’t Tell Mama, opening April 28.
Zach Wobensmith, enforcing the idea that bald is beautiful, chose to sing off-topic this evening and gave us the lovely song That’s When I Miss You, about a love that is no more. Zach is working on a show with details TBA and when Joseph asked him to tell something evil about himself, Zach answered that his attorney had advised him not to, which became a running gag the rest of the evening.

Next to take the stage was Salon’s own Rock Goddess and winner of Best Cabaret Performner-San Francsisco 2009, Carly Ozard who sang one of my favorite Queen songs The Show Must Go On and in true Carly form, rocked it out. Carly will be bringing her Freddie Mercury show "Somebody to Love" to the Iridium on April 16 at 8 and 10 PM. The way she handles this material, you will want to be there.

Cabaret darling Edie Stokes stepped up to the mic to give us How Are Things in Glocca Morra from "Finnian’s Rainbow", which she also dedicated to the late great Jerry Scott. It was lovely and she looked great as always. She will be bringing her show back to Don’t Tell Mama on June 2nd, so if you haven’t see it, make sure you put it on your calendar!
Continuing with the "Finnian’s Rainbow" theme, our next singer was Salon regular Stephanie Zagoren, who said she didn’t have time to review any of her wicked evil songs, so she gave us the beautiful Look to the Rainbow, which I think was one of the best songs I’ve heard her do. Well done Stephanie!

The adorable Robin Westle came to the stage with pianist Jeff Cubeta and told us that her strong point was never acting. In dramatic school, she would always react the same way in some very strange sounding exercises. She then said “You all know what I’m about to sing…and you’re right!” and proceeded to give us the "Chorus Line Classic" Nothing with a few subtle changes (They don’t have bobsleds in Yonkers). She then claimed that true evil was having to wear a white gym suit with the name “Dicker” (her maiden name) plastered across it. I think I have to agree with her. Her show "No Regrets" will be playing the Laurie Beechman on June 12 and 21 directed by Eric Michael Gillett with musical director Jeff Cubeta.
Speaking of Jeff Cubeta, he stayed at the piano for our next singer Kit Benton, who claimed she has all kinds of crazy relatives, before singing the hilarious Noel Coward song Uncle Harry. Her upcoming show "Family Matters" will play the Laurie Beechman on April 28 and she pointed out to us that the background of her postcard was pictures of her family and on the back was a wedding picture of her with her husband of 55 years.

At this point in the evening, if you needed a drink, you were just going to have to wait, because the next performer was our very own singing server David Ballard. Tonight, David gave us the Sondheim classic Losing My Mind and I almost lost mine it was so great. David is a 2nd year lyricist in the BMI program and is working on a musical adaptation of the film “My Man Godfrey”. Can’t wait to see more!

And now it was time for yours truly, Adam Shapiro, to sing a song. I admit, I was really excited about this theme, because when I thought of Good and Evil, I thought of someone who was evil and really good at it. My mind drifted to some of my favorite Disney villains and I got to sing one of my favorites of all time Poor Unfortunate Soul from “The Little Mermaid”. Special thanks goes to Janice Hall who chimed in with a few lines of dialogue. Since I was lucky enough to win the MAC Award this year for Musical Comedy Performer, I will be bringing my show “Guide to the Perfect Breakup” back to the Duplex on May 10 at 7PM. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you will come.
After helping me out with my song, it was time for our Etceterette Janice Hall who, with Matthew Martin Ward on piano, gave us a beautiful rendition of Dream With Me, which she told us was cut from the Leonard Bernstein version of "Peter Pan". I, who was unaware that Bernstein had written a Peter Pan, was delighted to learn about it and to hear this song sung so beautifully by Janice. A MAC and Bistro Award winner, Janice will next be venturing into the world of Shakespeare. She will be soon appearing in Hamlet with The Seeing Place Theatre. ( run by Salon regular Erin Cronican). I can’t wait to go see her and find out if, indeed, the lady doth protest too much.

Now the time had come for our Salon Spotlight, which tonight featured a long time Salon favorite Marnie Klar!! Tall, leggy, talented, gorgeous, and a darling are all words that this blogger uses to describe her and there are many more where those came from. Marnie is opening her new show “Accidental Happiness” at Don’t Tell Mama this weekend, with musical direction by Jeff Cubetta and directed by our own Tanya Moberly! Tonight, Marnie had Jeff at the piano with her to give us a little sneak preview of what’s to come in her show. The first song she gave us was Secrets by Ryan Tedder. It was a beautifully sung song about telling someone what they want to hear and telling them all your secrets. A fabulous song for Marnie to sing and to perform. Marnie’s other piece for the evening was a great medley of three songs. The medley began with Magpie by Beth Orton, which revealed that this person had been deceived and now knew “what a lie looks like”. In a seamless transition, Marnie then went into the very familiar Beatles song Help, but sang it in a way I had never heard before, minus the happy rock beat and really focusing on the lyrics, using the song as a cry for help. The final song in this well-crafted medley was Mumford and Sons’ The Cave, which ended the piece with strength and being free from the pain of the past. It was a wonderfully arranged medley that made me really excited to see the show, which opens this Saturday April 13 at 5PM at Don’t Tell Mama and then plays April 26, May 8 and May 21 at 7PM. BE THERE!

Classical Corner

For Classical Corner this week, Mark Janas talked about how music can indicate themes of good and evil. He started with a very familiar piece…

Ave Maria/ Bach Prelude in C major. This, Mark noted was the ultimate expression of good, as indicated by the natural progressions of major keys and light tinkling notes in a higher octave being so pure and yearning and ethereal. You can’t hear it without thinking of something positive and beautiful. The same principals are illustrated in Mozart’s Sonata in C Major. Again, light tinkling notes in a major key, giving a feeling of positive energy. Two very good examples.

And then, with a tri-tone, Mark took us right into the realm of evil. Mark actually explained that the tri-tone, which goes three whole steps down in succession is often referred to as the “evil interval” because it denotes tension. (West Side Story, Mark said, is a great example of the tri-tone.) Bernstein said that minor always sounds sad because it uses notes in slight opposition to each other to create tension to the ear, which makes the mind think of something sinister and evil.

He used one of my favorite classical pieces as an example; Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, which is just full of tri-tones and minor keys and booming ominous low notes and makes you think of ghosts and spirits frolicking on some evil mountain. That’s probably why it was such an inspiration to Walt Disney when he created the animated sequence in Fantasia.

Another example was Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C minor, full of ominous falling half steps, which is meant to denote pain or suffering. In Camille Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre, the minor key is coupled with a rather up-tempo beat, making the listener well aware that it was meant to denote a dance in a graveyard on All Souls Night; while in Chopin’s Ocean Etude, the music almost ventures into the “good” realm, by emulating the ocean, but as Mark said, “It’s one evil souding ocean”.

As a final illustration of the evening, Mark asked Zach Wobensmith, a scholar of classical music himself, to come join him on Schubert’s Der Erlking, which told the story of a son who claimed he could hear and see the evil Erlking as they travelled to their farm. His father assured him it was only the wind and the fog, but then son soon claims he is being grabbed and harmed by the Erlking and by the time they reach the farm, the father discovers that his child is dead in his arms. It was a chilling song, a chilling tale, and a wonderful impromptu performance by both Zach and Mark.

And thus endedth this week’s Classical Corner.


Our fabulous host Joseph Macchia took the stage to welcome us all back from break and then brought up another of his fabulous singing friends Quinn Bass who appeared on Broadway in the cast of "Swing!" Quinn told us that he has an affinity for the classic and then gave us the Newley/Bricusse favorite Feelin’ Good. And I definitely was by the time he was finished. Quinn appeared in the 2nd anniversary of "Broadway on 22nd St" at the Metropolitan Room and will be appearing in Cabaret Cares: Good and Evil on April 29 at the Laurie Beechman.
Joseph introduced his next guest, Will Perez, as someone who is “All Evil”. Oh my! Will sang I Need to Know from the musical "Jekyll and Hyde", which really looks at the duality of evil and good in humans. His delivery was marvelous! Will has appeared regionally in "Ain’t Misbehavin’", "Miss Saigon", and a show very dear to my heart, "Ragtime". AND, he will also be appearing in "Cabaret Cares: Good and Evil" on April 29 at the Laurie Beechman.

And you all know who it was time for now. Tanya Moberly, who, along with Mark Janas just won her fourth MAC Award for producing Salon. She must be some kind of an evil genius or something. Actually, when asked if she was evil at all, she told us “I think I’m very good…but you know, evil spelled backwards is live. And I have…lived a little bit.” LOVE IT! And I loved it even more that she proceeded to sing Last Midnight from Sondheim’s "Into the Woods". Talk about a role I would love to see her play! Tanya then reminded us that she is directing Marnie Klar’s show at Don’t Tell Mama and it will be opening April 13th. I can’t wait!
Next up was our good friend Matthew Martin Ward, who said “Good, Evil, Right, Wrong, they are all big words and if you align yourself to either extreme, you’re stuck with it”. Well said. He then told us that he has let judgements go a little bit and now likes the word “better”, because no matter what you are, you can always be better. To illustrate this very good point, he sang Kander and Ebb’s Isn’t This Better? and it was lovely. Mr. Ward is a busy man currently, doing a show with Elizabeth Tryon, playing for the new Callback series at 54 below, and playing several performances with the Isadora Duncan Group May 16, 17, and 18.

Our next performer Katherine Burger decided to change things up a little bit and instead of singing a song for us, she performed an original monologue entitled Singing at the Met, which told the (true?) story of her working as a child wrangler for the Metropolitan Opera and how the Russian Wolfhound (meant to be a prop in the show) ended up singing along nightly with Renee Flemming. If that’s true, that is AWESOME! Katherine won the 2012 BMI Harrington- Cole Porter Award for Best Librettist and we hope she will come again and share more of her work.
Salon newcomer Hillary Rollins came to the stage to sing an original song for us that made me laugh my tuchas off. She didn’t write the title on her card, but I believe it might have been called The Right to Cabaret and it listed all the usual reasons why people would do a cabaret show, none of which applied to her, so what gives her the right to cabaret? Hillary, the fact that you can write a song like that gives you EVERY right to cabaret, so I hope we will see you again.

Next up was new mom Lisa Yaeger, who claimed she chose a “good” song for her year old son and proceeded to sing us a beautiful rendition of New Words by Maury Yeston. Talk about a perfect song to sing to your child and Lisa did a fantastic job. She says she is working on her first show, which will open sometime this fall. More details to come and we will stay tuned.
Sarah Kimball came to the stage and sang a song about the ultimate “root of all evil”, yet which many people think of as something very good; Easy Money by Rickie Lee Jones. It was a great choice and a very powerful performance. Her next show “Blue” will play the Metropolitan Room on May 18 and 29 at 9:30PM. Very exciting!

Our next performer, Mardi Grant, had just flown in from Aspen (and boy! Were her arms tired!). She told us that her song had “Good” in the title, but the subject matter was ultimately kind of evil and proceeded to sing a lovely rendition of Good Morning Heartbreak. I’ll say that’s some evil subject matter. Mardi made her debut last year and claims she is now working on a show called “Now What”. Details TBA. Ok Mardi, that means you have to keep coming to Salon to give us the details when you know them !
Taking the mic next was Karen Gross, who just moved to New York from Philly in October. Since Hall and Oats are also from Philly, she looked to them for this evening’s material and gave us a haunting rendition of One on One, a song about a player needing a little time off from the game for a little “One on One”. (wink wink nudge nudge). Karen’s show “Cabaret Mixtape” will premiere at the Metropolitan Room on Saturday, April 13. Don’t miss it!

Nearing the end of the evening, it was time for my good buddy Richard Eisenberg, whose show “Smile on My Face” (in which I was honored to appear along with Erin Cronican, Rob Langeder, and Stacie Perlman) was nominated for a MAC Award this year for Best Revue. Tonight, Richie gave us another one of his wonderful original songs entitled Two Too about wanting to find love also. (Get it? Two TOO!) Richie comes up with some of the cleverest wordplay I’ve ever heard and he just keeps coming up with it. I don’t know how he does it, but I’m glad he does. And to be on theme, Richie reminded us that he works as an accountant, so according to him “April 16: Good. April 15: EVIL!”
Our final singer of the evening was Jonathan Prager, who is fast becoming a salon regular and ended the evening tonight At Long Last, Love, which he claimed wasn’t necessarily good or evil, but definitely about a guy who doesn’t know what is going on. Hey, some say that ignorance is bliss, so that’s good, right? Jonathan just booked two shows at the Edinburgh Festival , which is very exciting for him and he will be performing a show in New York in June with further details TBA.

And with a final farewell from our fabulously good (not evil) co-host Joseph Macchia, this weeks’ Salon came to a close. Next week is a very exciting Salon, with special guest co-hosts, Mark Janas’ students from Manhattan School of Music! I remember when his students co-hosted last year and they were WONDERFUL, so next week is a Salon not to be missed.

The optional theme for next week’s Salon is Hello/Goodbye, so bring your songs about meeting, parting, or anything else that makes you think of saying hi or bye!

Have a great week and we’ll see you next Sunday!

-Adam Shapiro
Blogette for The Salon

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