Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Salon Wrap-Up for October 27, 2013 "Out of the Closet… and Beyond"

There was a spooky vibe in the air as we journeyed into the unknown. What would our guests be wearing at our very special Halloween Salon? One never knows with a theme like, “Out of the Closet...And Beyond.” Founder and host, Mark Janas, kicked off the evening with a rare treat - singing a parody of Music of the Night dressed up as the Phantom of the Opera (and when he took off his mask, he joked that the mask was still there!) As most of you know, Mark has been in recovery after a brain operation, and his facial muscles are still on the mend. It was incredibly special that Mark could share that personal story with us and bring us a laugh at the same time.

Our co-host of the evening is no stranger to The Salon. In fact, he’s such a regular that he was offered one of the coveted, “Etceterette” positions! And up Adam Shapiro strode to the mic (in full makeup, fancy tuxedo, and amazing sparkly vest and bow tie!) as the Emcee of Cabaret, giving us “Wilkommen.” Believe it or not, it was this time last year when Adam was supposed to co-host but got waylaid by Hurricane Sandy. (I’m glad to say that it was definitely worth the wait!) And with that, might I say that Adam plays a PERFECT Emcee - I would love to see him in the role!

Co-Host, Adam Shapiro!
Adam announced that after every performance, he would be holding a bag and offer, “Trick or Treat?”, giving each performer (and audience member, later) homemade caramel apple rice krispie treats! They were decadent, and I proud to say that I only at 3 of them...

Leading the open mic portion of the evening, Zach Wobensmith posed a question to the audience: What’s the worst kind of zombie? The answer: One in middle management. Thus, he gave us “Re: Your Brains” by Jonathan Colton, so hilarious and engaging that the audience wanted to sing along! You can see Zach in his encore performance of “Stiff Upper Lip: The Songs of the Brits” on November 5 at 7pm at The Duplex. I saw the show on his opening night - it’s a really nice show! Gladys Nilsson was next with the beautiful Spanish ballad, “Himno Al Amor.“ Gladys just finished performing in a resort casino in Atlantic City at the Miss Senior America Pageant. Congratulations, Gladys!

Called a “paragon in the cabaret community” by our esteemed host, Dana Lorge brought us a parody of “No Business Like Show Business” using lyrics about shopping (which she admitted to doing when happy, when sad, or anywhere in between!) Dana has her next variety show coming up on November 6 at 7pm at the Metropolitan Room. Please get out there to support her work! After Dana we had Bennett Silverstein, who sang the lovely ballad, “All My Tomorrows.” Bennett said he loves dressing up like Harpo Marx for Halloween but Harpo doesn’t sing so he opted against it (I would have liked to have seen that!) Bennett just sold out Don’t Tell Mama on October 13 with his debut one man show. Next, he will be performing November 16 at 6pm Copper Club (and dinner included in the cover charge.)

MAC Award winner, Elaine St George, came to the stage dressed as Mets fan - complete with running mascara because they cry a lot! She gave us the taste of the scariest song in her upcoming tribute show - “Vegematic” by Steve Goodman. She mentioned that many people don’t know his music - her musicians were amazed that there’s such beautiful music they’ve never heard of before. See Elaine at Don’t Tell Mama Friday, November 1st; Thursday, November 7th and Thursday, November 14th. All shows are at 7:15 pm. Next up was Bobbie Horowitz (dressed in a flowing black cape) with the heartfelt and touching ballad, “Pictures of You” (for which she wrote the lyrics!) Her next concert for the Unity Church is December 14th at 2-4pm - she says it’s only a $15 suggested “love offering” (and from what I hear, that fee is well worth the talent assembled!)

We all had to do a double take when Janice Hall came to the stage, because her Halloween costumes was a tribute to Salon Producer, Tanya Moberly! True to type, Janice/Tanya sang the sultry Marlene Dietrich song, “Golden Earrings.” Janice is appearing alongside Sarah Rice and David Vernon for an All Soul’s Night celebration, at Ryan’s Daughter on E 85th St between 1st & 2nd - Wed October 30 at 7pm. Sounds like a lot of fun! Jim Speake announced that he tried to get in touch with his inner child but found a frog instead (with the costume to match!) He sang a lovely, “Rainbow Connection.” We had a brief interstitial as beloved cabaret writer, Rob Lester, came to the stage to talk about his benefit show for Cabaret Scenes. Stay tuned for more details...

It was nice to see Natasha Castillo at The Salon again, as she sang the pop song, “I Stand.” Natasha will be appearing in Lennie Watts’ showcase Sunday, November 3, and also has a new solo cabaret coming up March 2014 - can’t wait to hear more about that! Longtime Salon regular, songwriter Richie Eisenberg, brought up singers Rob Langeder, Stacie Perlman, and Erin Cronican (yours truly!) to sing a brand new song of his: “Tex-Ass.” In it, he included a little skit about a pageant-like competition to see who could put the “ass” in Tex-ass the best. Rob Langeder provided a beat box style rap accompaniment, and Stacie and I held up photographs of the finalists and ultimate winner (who ended up being Ted Cruz.) The audience loved the subversiveness - it’s my kind of song.

Annie LeBeaux brought in an original comedy song about a flight on the way to Brigadoon called, appropriately, “Aer Lingus.” Speaking of traveling to exotic places, Annie is on her way to Key Largo, FL where she’ll be working for the next 6 months as the house pianist at a private yacht club (they put her up and feed her!) We’ll miss you while you’re gone, Ms LeBeaux. David Ballard put aside his serving duties for a bit to share Peter Mills’ classic, “Way Ahead of My Time.” David says that his work at the BMI workshop is still going strong. He is also to be congratulated on recently completing his very first solo cabaret show!

Erin Cronican (that’s me!) sang an ode to the all-time leader in bad dress up events - “Always A Bridesmaid” from the Off Broadway musical, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. I’m taking a few weeks off from The Salon to direct/star in a play with my theater company, The Seeing Place. We’re doing the first ever professional revival of Sidney Kingsley’s MEN IN WHITE, happening just up the street at The Seeing Place @ ATA’s Sargent Theater, 314 W 54th St, 4th Floor, for 16 performances November 8-24 (Wed-Sat 8pm, Sat-Sun 2pm.) Tickets are only $12 and since it’s a play there is no drink minimum - you really have no excuse not to go! My bestie, Candice Oden, was next with a rousing rendition of Chicago’s “All The Jazz” (with me, Zach Wobensmith & Adam Shapiro on backups, along with the full audience!) Candice says she has a little project she’s cooking up, which she’ll be revealing soon... :)

Classical Corner

Mark Janas introduced the idea of themes in spooky music. They can be achieved through common spooky intervals, or by playing what are called tri-tones. He asked Sarah Rice to join him on stage, where he introduced the audience to the spookiest instrument of them all - the theremin. (Think the high pitched wailing sound you hear when the Star Trek theme is played.) The theremin was the first electronic instrument invented, and is the only instrument that you can play without touching the instrument - it’s done purely by manipulating electro-magnetic waves. Sarah demonstrated by playing several songs for us, one of which she played after turning the lights off and putting on special gloves that lit up in the finger area. It was a really cool performance!

Second Act

Co-Host Adam Shapiro gave us a big reveal at the top of intermission as he came to the stage dressed as a sexy octopus - but not just any octopus, but as Ursula from The Little Mermaid, of course! He sang “Poor Unfortunate Souls” (with me on a little bit of Ariel dialogue.) For the second song of his set, he ripped off the outerwear to reveal a corset, tights, and fierce heels and sang “Sweet Transvestite” from The Rocky Horror Show, during which Zach Wobensmith transitioned from playing Riff Raff (helping with the costume change) to playing Brad. And of course, devotees in the audience filled in as Magenta & Columbia to round out the ensemble! For his final song of his co-host set, Adam explained that Halloween is a time to deal with things that scare us - and thus Adam put on a sad clown costume and sang an Italian aria (!) It was awesome.

Salon Producer Tanya Moberly, dressed in sexy black lace, was next with one of my favorite tunes that I’ve ever heard her sing, “Last Midnight” from Into The Woods. She has a new show coming up: “I Love NY Songwriters.” It’ll be happening at Don’t Tell Mama Nov 1 (7pm) & 2, and Dec 3 & 4. She met a lot of the songwriters here at The Salon including Richard Eisenberg, Dan Furman, Ritt Henn, Bobbie Horowitz, Nicholas Levin, Liz McNamara and Bill Zeffiro (plus many others!) She has a discount for Salon members - it’s a great deal and a great show! Next up was Barb Malley, dressed as a broad from Brooklyn, singing “He Had Refinement.” Barb just finished an 8 show engagement at Don’t Tell Mama of her cabaret show, “Out Of Order” - I can’t wait to hear what you have up your sleeve next, Barb!

The lovely Robin Kradles came to the stage dressed as a Transylvanian flight attendant, with delectable “finger foods and warm blood.” What better song, then, than to sing “Come Fly With Me.” She announced we were flying to Las Vegas, and then ripped off the costume to reveal a sparkly, sexy dress underneath! Robin just finished her solo cabaret debut, and I hear it was fantastic (I was very sorry to miss it!) Lauren Newell was next, and told the audience that she’s visiting NYC and has came back to the Salon for the second time - the first time was last Christmas when she visited NYC with her husband. We were so thrilled to hear that! Lauren said that her favorite singer Helen Reddy, so she gave us a song that Helen sang as a demo from a lost musical that never got produced - “ Girl That Everybody Love To Hate.” Lauren says that this is the first time this song has been sung in front of a live audience (because no one else had transcribed the song from the demo.) Thank you for sharing it with us!

One of the sweetest members of The Salon family, Mary Lahti, sang a vibrant and tearful, “Much More” from The Fantasticks! She reminded us that it’s never too late - you can do and be anything you want (especially on Halloween.) Mary is doing an encore performance of her cabaret, “A Kid Again” on November 17 at 1pm at Duplex. I saw the show in its first outing - you really don’t want to miss it. Carly Ozard gave us a sweet and simple, “Stop And See Me.” She doesn’t have anything specific coming up, but has made an offer to anyone who need concert/benefit singers to give her a call!

Susan Hodgdon was next with “I Like To Hate Myself In The Morning” by John Meyer. She is working on a show and will give us all the details when they become available! Broadway World Award Winner & MAC Nominee, Stacie Perlman, sang Laura Jensen’s “Wicked World” with charming storytelling and truly perfect vocals. Stacie announced that she was asked by Lynn Ahrens & Stephen Flaherty to sing a song of theirs at the upcoming MAC show at Baruch Performing Arts Center. Amazing! Sarah Rice said she had decided to come dressed up as The Bride of Sarah Brightman, and with Matthew Martin Ward on piano she sang, “Autumn at the Automat” which the audience contributed to with “cha cha cha” at the appropriate moments. Surprisingly, Matthew Martin Ward moved from the piano to the mic on stage, and complete with captain cap sang, “A Little Skipper from Heaven Above.” On Saturday at 11pm he’ll be performing at 54 Below in “Silly Witches” Christine Pedi, Kristine Zbornik, Mary Testa, and Jackie Hoffman - the dream team of musical theater comedy!

To close out the show, Adam Shapiro dressed in the most beautiful drag and sang “I Am What I Am” from La Cages Aux Folles. Adam will be appearing in NO CHESTNUTS – NOT YOUR NORMAL CHRISTMAS SHOW (The Christmas show that contains NO Christmas Carols, and features a one-man abridged version of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol) on Saturday, December 14th at 7:00 as part of Urban Stages’ Winter Rhythms Festival. He also resumes production for HBO’s “The Normal Heart” next month.

Next week, the optional theme for the evening is “Better To Have Loved and Lost…” Remember, any material, on or off theme, is always welcome at Salon.

Our Co-Host will be Amy Beth Williams! Our Salon Spotlight will be Jamie Salzano.

We’ll see you next Sunday!

- Erin Cronican
Blogette for The Salon
Please email me with any corrections

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