Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Salon Wrap-up for July 28, 2013 "All Pent Up"

Who cares that the weather doesn’t seem to know it’s summer? Our Salon singers and guests were here for a good time, and by golly we were going to give it to them!

Our wonderful (and award-winning) founder and host, Mark Janas, was in the Poconos, so we were thrilled to have as our guest host, Mr Matthew Martin Ward. Matthew’s Broadway credits include AVENUE Q, TARZAN, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, URINETOWN, TOMMY, STATE FAIR, and BLOOD BROTHERS. He was Musical Director for FORBIDDEN BROADWAY... STRIKES BACK and CLEANS UP ITS ACT. (DRG records). Off-Broadway: WHOOP-DEE-DOO (RCA records), NUNSENSE and RUTHLESS. He is also the composer of AFTER THE FAIR, (book & lyrics Stephen Cole) and THE LADY IN PENTHOUSE B, (book & lyrics by Peter Napolitano).

Joining with him as co-host was the fabulous and talented, Elizabeth Tryon. Elizabeth combines a unique background singing alongside Metropolitan Opera singers and writing chart-topping contemporary pop songs. Her song "Fire Inside" broke the Top 10 on the FMQB AC National Radio Chart, with 2 of her other songs going to #12 on the Chart. Elizabeth's goal is to inhabit the cutting edge of pop music while also bringing beautiful classical music to audiences. In addition to performing and writing music, Elizabeth writes original movie scripts and does professional voiceovers. You can learn more information at

Co-host, Elizabeth Tryon
Elizabeth introduced this week’s theme, “All Pent Up”, by singing a delicious original tune, “Everybody Wants To Be Sondheim.” (Throughout the song I kept thinking Elizabeth sounded like a young, vibrant Bernadette Peters.) She then introduced the first open mic singer of the evening, Brad McCaw, who sang “No Feelings Today,” a ballad of longing from his show, Becoming Bill. Brad has been in town from Australia where he won a cabaret competition. As the winner, he was brought to NYC to be a part of the New York Musical Theater Festival - thanks for making a stop at The Salon, Brad! Next up was Simone Streeter who sang “Back To Before” from Ragtime. She prefaced the song with an amazing story about coming out and how encouraged she’s felt since leaving a marriage she knew wasn’t right. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us tonight, Simone! Juliet Varnedoe then came to the stage with her sultry alto, singing “Feeling Good” from Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd.

Steve Arons brought in the Peter Allen tune, “Just Ask Me, I’ve Been There.” Steve told us that he’ll be shooting the lead role in a new movie called “Traffic” in the fall. Congrats, Steve! Lyricist Michael Colby next came to the stage with a fun, neurotic tune by Peter Millrose,“Where Can I Go?” Michael has 2 workshops/readings coming up of his music with some high profile artists and told us about some other shows that have had productions around the country. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Michael - so nice to have this songwriter back with us! Another resident songwriter, Richie Eisenberg, brought us his contemplative and wistful ballad, “That Kind of Person.” This might be one of my favorite pieces that Richie performs - superb acting and heart. What a treat for us!        

Marnie Klar was next with “On The Radio” from her show, Accidental Happiness, which just finished a critically acclaimed 6-show run at Don’t Tell Mama. Lawrence Florek sang the longing Frank Loesser ballad, “My Time of Day” from Guys and Dolls. David Ballard, our amazing server, sang one of Adam Mathias’ tunes, “February Night” (which I’ve never heard before and loved!) David just announced dates for his brand new solo cabaret, “Having It All” (directed by Salon Producer, Tanya Moberly): Tue 9/24 (7pm), Wed 9/25 (9:30pm), Fri 10/11 (7pm) and Sat 10/12 (5pm). Be sure to get your reservations soon! Erin Cronican (yours truly) was next with the word-heavy, fast-paced story song, “Calm” from Adam Gwon’s musical, Ordinary Days. And our Etceterette, Janice Hall, sang Matthew Martin Ward's suggestive original, “I’d Rather Be.” Janice is filming an indie pilot this week, playing Hedy Green (a woman referred to as “The Witch of Wall Street.”) I can’t wait to see it!

Salon Spotlight

Tonight’s Salon Spotlight featured Zachary Wobensmith! Zach will be making his Cabaret Debut in STIFF UPPER LIP – SONGS OF THE BRITS at The Duplex – 61 Christopher St, NYC 10014 – Thursday, September 12th at 7pm and Saturday, September 14th at 7pm. This show is music directed by our very own, Matthew Martin Ward. For more information:

For his first song, Zach sang the Ivor Novello song “I Can Give You The Starlight” - a beautiful ballad that lent itself nicely to Zach’s glorious falsetto. He then sang, “We’ll Gather Lilacs” which is rumored to be a nod to Noel Coward’s, ehem, behaviors. His final song was the cheeky and witty, “And Her Mother Comes Too.” If these 3 songs are any indication of the strength his cabaret, you absolutely MUST be there to hear these classics sung beautifully and stories told charmingly!

Matthew’s Corner

In this week’s Classical Corner, our guest host Matthew Martin Ward introduced us to the pentatonic scale. (I did my best to type up what he talked about, but just in case I miss something, here’s a Wikipedia article.)

First he started by asking the audience how one knows how to find the scale. The answer: you start with a major scale and if you take out all of the 1/2 steps you’re left with 5 notes. That’s your pentatonic scale. Matthew says these 5 notes are “very evocative” and lots of songs are built on the skeleton of these notes. He gave a couple of examples of songs with the scale: “Singing in the Rain”, “Farewell to Tarwathie”, “Put On A Happy Face,” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Composers like Irving Berlin, Charles Strouse, and Stephen Sondheim have been huge fans of these scales.

He also said that you can easily find that scale by only playing the black keys. Matthew asked a “musically illiterate and keyboard averse” person to come to the stage and demonstrate how the black keys can easily make up the scale. Matthew started improvising a song and asked the volunteer to hit any of the black keys on the piano - magically, no matter which key the volunteer hit, the note sounded like it belonged to the song Matthew was playing. (It’s kind of hard to describe - music theory blows my mind!) Matthew then invited up Elizabeth Tryon to demonstrate this vocally, with Chausson’s “Le Colibri.”

Second Set

Our adorable and friendly co-host Elizabeth Tryon brought us all back from the break in style, with an amazing, 3-song set. She started with a pitch perfect, “Everybody Says Don’t” from Anyone Can Whistle. She then gave us a thoughtful and powerful, “Liontamer” from Stephen Schwartz’s little known musical, The Magic Show. And she finished her set with an amazingly performed mashup of The Flower Song from the opera, Lakme and Aerosmith's “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” (with Matthew Martin Ward on piano and vocals.) What a lucky crowd we were to hear this performer!

Our Producer, Tanya Moberly, was next with a song by alternative rocker, Beck, “Black Tambourine.” She just finished directing Marnie Klar’s cabaret and announced another show she’s directing - David Ballard’s solo cabaret debut! (See details above.) She is also putting together her next solo cabaret show, which will honor New York songwriters for November. Busy (and talented) woman! Anna Marie Sell came to the stage with a delightful, “Cautiously Optimistic” by Peter Mills. She’s about to appear in a NY Fringe show called, “Soundwave.” It sounds like a wonderful, dramatic play - be sure to get out to see it! Adam Shapiro was next with a classic and sassy, “Pour Me A Man” I think Elizabeth said it best, “Adam- I hope someday you’ll come out of your shell.” Adam is in the Fringe show, “Barcode: The Musical” (with creative consultant James Rado, from the original production of Hair.) You have to check it out. 

Salon newcomer, Lily Doinel, was next with “Turn me On” - a plea that she dedicated to Con Edison after the Lower Manhattan Blackout after Hurricane Sandy. You can see Lily perform Wednesday, August 7 (7pm), in a 5 song set at Duplex with several other talented singers, directed by Lennie Watts! Marya Zimmet was next with a jazzy and fun, “Twisted.” It’s been a while since I’ve gotten chance to hear this silky-voiced singer - please come back again! Marya has a show coming up in October. We’ll post more details when they become available. Longtime Salon-er Kevin McMullan sang “My City” from the show, A Portrait of Jenny - which was orchestrated by James Fradrich.

This was my first time getting to hear the talents of Tom White, who gave us a charming (and well acted!) “Thousand Islands Song.” Showing her softer side, Joan Jaffe sang a simple and touching “What Now My Love” - in both French and English - before adding her own French lyrics (a delightful inside joke for those of us who understood French!) Barb Malley gave us a new-lyric medley of “Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down” with “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” - lamenting the time when her hip-replacement kept her away from The Salon. We’re so glad to have you back with us each week!

Salon newbie, Lois Morton, delighted us by bringing in one of her own songs and accompanying herself on, “The Die Is Cast” (a song that was MAC nominated in 2011 for Special Material.) Lois will be our Salon Spotlight on August 11, so make sure you come back to hear her 3-song set that night! With Bill Zeffiro on keys, Susan Hodgdon came up and sang, “When You’re Smiling.” Susan will be doing a show in the late fall, directed by Karen Oberlin and music directed by BIll Zeffiro - keep your eyes here for more information! Bill Zeffiro (one of The Salon’s trusty board members) stayed at the piano to sing one of his originals aptly fitting tonight’s theme - “La Comedia Et Finita.” Bill says that this might be the first song he ever wrote and premiered at The Salon - how delightful! You can see Bill perform August 13 & 18 with Marissa Mulder at the Metropolitan Room, and he’ll also be performing with her at the Jimmy van Heusen night at the Cabaret Convention. In addition, he just announced a show that he’ll be doing in December with KT Sullivan - check back here for more details.

And to close out the evening, Elizabeth Tryon gave us one of her lovely and complex original pieces, “Gift.”

Next week our Guest Host will be MAC & Bistro Award Winner Barry Levitt! Broadway: “Catskills On Broadway” & “Swinging On A Star”. Off-Broadway: “Little Shop Of Horrors”, “Taking My Turn”, “Back In The Big Time” & “A Match Made In Heaven”. Cabaret clients include Ben Vereen, Bernadette Peters, Faith Prince, Eartha Kitt, Nell Carter, Margaret Whiting, Rosemary Clooney, Melba Moore, Julie Wilson, Connie Francis, Marilyn Michaels, Pia Zadora,Alysha Umphress, Gabrielle Stravelli, Marcus Simeone, Terese Genecco, Deb Berman & Dana Lorge.

Guest Host, Barry Levitt
Our Co-Host will be 4-Time MAC Award Winner Dana Lorge! Dana will be bringing her Monthly Variety Show with Barry Levitt back to The Metropolitan Room – 34 West 22nd St, NYC 10010 – Wednesday, August 7th at 7pm. Her guests will include Mark Nadler, Sidney Myer, EggCream & Co., Nicholas Tamagna, Sue Matsuki & Richard Skipper. Future dates are September 8th, October 2nd, November 6th & December 4th. For more information:

Co-Host, Dana Lorge
The optional theme is “What You Don’t Know About Women.” Gotta be honest, this theme is kind of wide open, so I’m really excited to hear about what y’all come up with.

See you next week!

- Erin Cronican
Blogette for The Salon
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