Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Salon Wrap-Up for October 6, 2013 - "More Mizerable"

25 years ago, a little musical from Broadway called Les Miserables began a trek across the country in its first National Tour.  On hand (on piano) was Mark Janas, who would tour with it for many many many years after...until he became "More Mizerable."  That was the theme of the evening - Les Miserables, being miserable, and what to do about misery.  Mark wore his Les Mis sweater at the piano, and the Co-Host of the evening was none-other than Broadway alum and Original "Chris" in Miss Saigon, Willy Falk.  Willy also was the original Marius in the National Tour of Les Mis (where he first met Mark on tour), and just came back from singing the role of Jean Valjean in Augusta!  In his black tuxedo and spangled bowtie, Willy started the evening by going against the theme grain and sang "Make Someone Happy," displaying a youthful tenor voice.  He then hit a fun and nerve-wracked version of "Tonight At Eight," with a not-so-subtle (and wonderfully funny) nod to our Spotlight of the week, the Reverend Yolanda Mapes.

Willy Falk
Bob Diamond was first to be introduced up by Willy; he sang the wistful "Here Comes April" by John Wallowitch. Bob remembers sitting in the audience of the first night of Broadway's Les Mis, wearing jeans and a nice shirt at a time when a full suit was almost a requirement for opening nights.  He discovered he was sitting next to Les Mis lyricist Alain Boublil, who told him "Bob, it was so lovely that you dressed for the occasion" (ZING!).  A 2013 MAC nominee, Bob is bringing his "Timeless" show on December 14th and 17th, and promises a new cabaret in February or March of next year.  Next up was Sue Horowitz, resplendent in a black and orange sweater-hat combo with "Ssss...Witch!" emblazoned on them ("I'm subtle!" she explained.  Sue sang "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" by Rodgers and Hart.  "Ssss...Witch!" is the title of her original comedy, a reading of which (witch?) will take place on November 16th, 4pm-7pm at the Actors Institute.  And her book, a collection of interviews with amazingly talented funny women, "Queens of Comedy" is available online.  We then had another Horowitz (no relation) - Bobbie Horowitz! She performed the funny "Entourage," a mournful salsa comedy song written by herself and Spector, with music by Judy Richmon. Bobbie will host "Great Songwriters: Up Close" October 14th at 7pm at the Metropolitan Room, which will honor Ervin Drake, John Meyer and Jerry Livingston and will feature Bill Zeffiro on piano, Sean Harkness on guitar, and several Salon favorites at the mic.

The lovely Sunny Leigh came to the mid, with Barry Levitt at the piano, to sang "Uno," a Spanish-language song ripped from the heart of a woman who has had it stomped on a few too many times.   After the passionate rendition, Willy commented "Sunny was 'partly cloudy' today!"  Her next show, a CD release party, will be held on October 22nd, 7pm, at the Metropolitan Room.  Sandra Benne, along with Barry at the piano, performed "Now I'm a Lady," a sultry song originally written for Mae West.  Her show, a tribute to early movie music, will be at Don't Tell Mama's October 11th thru the 14th - she's been working with Barry . Sharon Hunter (along with Barry) introduced to us a sizzling great medley of "Burning Love" and "Fire" by Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen (respectably) - her show "Sharon Hunter and Her 70's Men" (love the title) will occur at The Metropolitan Room tonight, Tuesday the 8th, at 7pm, with Barry at the piano.  Edie Stokes (with Barry at the keys) sang "'Tis Autumn" by Henry Nemo; her show of the same name will be at Don't Tell Mama on October 20th, 6:30pm, and will feature musical director Barry Levitt on piano and Jon Burr on Bass.

Dana Dellinger stood at the mic, with Kathy Moberly at the piano (yay!), to sing the bluesy "Good Morning Heartache" from Lady Sings the Blues - not only was it her first time at Salon, but it was also Dana's birthday! We all sang Happy Birthday with a be-candled cake for her.  Dana just returned from Los Angeles, where she starred in a SAG short, "Pink Lightning," written, directed and produced by her husband.

Willy then introduced our singer-composer-lyricist-waiter David Ballard; he brought in his silvery tones to the melancholy "Stormy Weather," blues-ing it up a bit towards the end.  With Direction by Tanya Moberly and Garrit Guadan at the piano, David's debut solo show "Having It All" will take place for two more performances: October 11th and 12th at Don't Tell Mama.  Read his first review at Bistroawards.com.  Well, I had a lot to be miserable about lately (helloooo falling ceiling) so to "deal" with it, I (Sierra Rein) sang Gershwin/Hammerstein II/Harbach's "Vodka."  My vocal group, MAC-Award winning Marquee Five, will bring back our show "Broadway By The Letter: Act One" to 54 Below on October 19th at 8pm (half-off tickets can be purchased here), and I can also be seen in the Narrated Concert of Dan Furman and Mary-Liz McNamara's Rip!: A Story of Love, Revolution, and What Is Possible in Tarrytown on October 12th.  And the caroling group I'm in, The Definitely Dickens Holiday Carolers, is up for hire again this year!  Etceterette Jaye Maynard next sang a beautiful French-lyric'd version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "It Might As Well Be Spring" from State Fair - she hilariously said of her French "You're welcome to correct me, but not while I'm singing."  Jaye's Blossom Dearie songbook show will be recorded soon, as it is an International Review of Music Pick of the Week in Los Angeles and New York City, and she hopes to brings it or another show back before the end of the year (and maybe by then she's know if her Parisian residency application has been accepted!).

Salon Spotlight

To combat the Mizerable state of affairs on stage, our Salon Spotlight was quite the antidote: The Reverend Yolanda, who is now in her second year of performing Reverend Yolanda's Old Time Gospel Hour at The Duplex - the next performance of it will be October 20th, and other dates will include November 17th (for which a documentary filmmaker will be on hand to film the evening!) and December 15th.  Accompanying herself on guitar, The Reverend first sang "I'll Fly Away," a rousing and fun traditional gospel song that had us all singing along with her.  She then related how she just recently traveled to North Carolina and experienced how other audiences react to her message.  To reflect the universal struggle of wanting the same things despite life's challenges, Yolanda sang "We Are Angels," an original piece of her's that has one of my favorite lyrics: "We are angels and we're struggling to be human."  As part of the GLBT Hall of Fame, Yolanda's music is always inspiring hope, love, and acceptance.  She finished her set with another original, a rocking, self-affirming song simply called "Freedom," which has a toe-tapping and hand-clapping beat that we all took part in.

The Reverend Yolanda Anthony Mapes

Classical Corner

Kalle Toivio and Seeli Toivio
Sometimes hidden gems of talent are sitting right in front of you for years before you are exposed to their brilliance.  Such was the case as friend and Organist of the Christ Church of Bay Ridge, Kalle Toivio, took to the piano for Mark Janas' Classical Corner.  I've sung with the Christ Church choir before, and loved his playing on the organ to traditional church music.  But then it was my great pleasure to hear him sit at the piano at Salon on Sunday, to show how truly remarkable a musician he is.  He began with Chopin's "Ballade in F Minor," a pensive but flowing piece that seemed to ooze out of his fingers - as he finished, he received an instant Standing Ovation for his mastery of the keys.  We then had a second treat - Kalle's sister, Seeli Toivio, brought her cello in for a duet with Kalle on Sarasate's "Opus Transcription for Violin."  Playing first through a mournful section, she quickly transitioned to a fast-fingered, strummed, plucked and artfully navigated finish.  Some of the twists and turns she made with the cello caused honest laughter, so expressive was her playing.  The two of them got a Standing Ovation as well, and we were all thrilled to have heard them play.  The Toivios, a true sister-brother virtuoso duo, are having their recital TONIGHT at CARNEGIE HALL, 8pm - if you can make it tonight, seriously GO (visit their Facebook event for more information).

Second Set:

To begin the second set of the evening, Willy Falk replaced his tie with a sober black one and went back to his Broadway roots by singing from two shows near and dear to him: Les Miserables and Miss Saigon.  From the latter he sang "Why God, Why?" which he sang on Broadway with a sleeping Lea Salonga next to him (you can find a version of him singing it on YouTube, hint hint). Fervently he sang, with a voice untouched by time since the show first opened!  So inspirational.  He then related how he has just come back from performing in Les Miserables on tour having moved on to the role of Jean Valjean.  He demonstrated his gorgeous control and beautiful tenor range with "Bring Him Home"...giving us all shivers and reminding us that some of the best solo songs (at least for him) are those in a conversation with God, asking for a favor, help, a word of encouragement, or forgiveness.   It was wonderful to hear him sing these songs, a true treat from the Great White Way.

Willy Falk brings some Broadway vocals to the stage
Tanya Moberly tenderly and emotionally sang "On My Own" from Les Miserables, showing off her amazing mix-belt and ability to truly connect with the lyrics. In addition to directing David's show, Tanya will be seen at "Cabaret Cares" on October 30th at the Laurie Beechman Theater, and her own solo show "I Love NY Songwriters" (featuring MANY Salon-loving composers) will take place November 1st-4th and December 3rd and 4th at Don't Tell Mama.  Matthew Martin Ward (with the help of the lovely Marnie Klar) then brought in a hilarious Les Miserables parody by Fritz Lowe and Gerard Alessandrini from Forbidden Broadway, complete with recitative.  Matthew can soon be seen with Christine Pedi at 54 Below on November 2nd as well as Winter Rhythms in December.  Howard Scheiner next brought in a reading from his book "Reawakening" - it was a sobering and Les Miserables-esque story about his personal experience with those suffering from HIV (he is a physician in New York).  One sentence, in which he "cursed the God I refused to believe in," stuck out.  Our next singer was Stew Frimer, relating his experiences being single in New York City to being in Les Miserables; he sang "This Crowded Island" by Stephen Schwartz (I dug the "Chopsticks"-esque piano arrangement) and is proud to be a Centerfielder for a Roosevelt Island ball team.

We then heard from MAC Award-winner (2013-musical comedy) Adam Shapiro sang the Menken/Rice song "If I Can't Love Her" from Beauty and the Beast.  This song was sung by Terrance Mann, who Adam had seen in Les Mis (aha! There's the connection!) and caught the Broadway Buzz from seeing him perform.  As Willy stated "you make a fabulous Beast."  Adam is in Rip! with me in Tarrytown this coming Saturday the 12th, is in Bobby's "Great Songwriters: Up Close" showcase October 14th, and will be Co-Hosting (in Costume!) The Salon on our Hallowe'en night, October 27th.  Next up was Barb Malley performing the down-in-the-dumps country combo "I'm So Lonesome" and "Help Me Make It Through the Night" by Hank Williams/Kris Kristofferson.  She will have one more performance of "Out of Order," her "nun" cabaret show, on October 23rd at 7:30pm at Don't Tell Mama.  Our sometimes-Etceterette and always lovely Marnie Klar then sang Andrew Lippa's "Maybe I Like It This Way" and showed a brilliant ability to focus on the moment even after her mic stand gave her trouble.

Richard Becker, who wore a sparkled tux and tail outfit, sang on behalf of his "sister" Robin Kradles (ha  ha) on the song "You and Me" by Henry Mancini    Robin's show "Icons: A Tribute to the Women Who Inspire Me" will debut at The Duplex on October 12th and October 20th (7pm and 4pm respectively), both featuring special guest MAC and Bistro Awards winner Lennie Watts.  Willy then invited Susan Jeffries (along with Barry Levitt at the piano) to sing "Someone Like You" by Adele Adkins and Daniel Wilson, the powerful longing song that Adele has made famous, but works very well on piano-only.  Jackie Hashimoto with Barry performed "For Every Man There's a Woman" by Harold Arlen and Leo Robin in a deep, rich alto voice.  Barry stayed on to play for Lou Iacovino, who sang "Come Rain or Come Shine" by Harold Arlen.  He's excited to be a stand-in on the TV show "Blue Bloods!"   Four-time MAC Award-Winner Bill Zeffiro then grabbed the keys to play Randy Newman's misery-filled "Better Off Dead."  Bill is currently performing at the Lincoln Center for the Cabaret Convention and can be caught at 54 Below on Saturday.  And then our amazing Co-Host of the evening, Willy Falk, finished off all our misery and woe with the wow-inducing "If I Love Again."

NEXT WEEK! NO SALON - don't come to Etcetera Etcetera unless you want a wonderful dinner served to you by the amazing waitstaff! We are OFF October 13th.

BUT! October 20th, the theme is "Theme: Two Heads Are Better Than One – The Art of Collaboration" with amazing duo Co-Hosts: Jim Brochu and Steve Schachlin!

Jim and Steve out on the town

-Sierra Rein
Blogette for The Salon
Please email me if I got anything wrong-o

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