Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Salon Wrap-Up for November 10, 2013 "The Blame Game"


Hello Saloners! It’s been awhile since I’ve spoken to you in blog form, but it’s your friendly neighborhood etecterette of the male persuasion, Adam Shapiro! What a fun night it was at this week’s salon as we played “The Blame Game”. Our founder and host, Mark Janas welcomed everybody and reminded us that it was the final day that Mercury was in retrograde, so if you had been experiencing any difficulties with phones, computers, or just general foul ups, you could feel perfectly free to blame it on Mercury!

Our hostesses this evening were a pair of delicious dames, brassy broads, gorgeous gals. One of them is a Broadwayworld Award nominee. The other is a Broadwayworld Award winner as well as a two time MAC Award winner. Jackie Kristel and Alison Nusbaum! Alison started the evening off with Ricky Ritzel at the piano and a Frank Loesser ultimate classic, “Adeliade’s Lament”. Lord I wish I could blame a man every time I got a cold! It was a perfect vehicle for Alison. (Side note: It’s also a role she would rock on stage. If anyone has a production coming up…just saying.)

Our first singer from the crowd was the man who sparkles as much as his name would suggest, Bob Diamond, who sang the beautiful John Bucchino song “Sweet Dreams”. Bob will be a guest in Patricia Fitzpatrick’s show at Don’t Tell Mama on Nov 21, he’ll be reprising his trio show Timeless at the Duplex on Dec 14 and 17, and is working on a new solo show that will premiere at Don’t Tell Mama in February.
Next up was someone else we all know and love, the beautiful, purple clad, Barb Malley! Barb sang Cy Coleman and Joe McCarthy’s “I’m Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life”, which, despite its title, was a reflective song about love on the rocks. It was a more serious side of Barb, which I was enjoyed very much. Barb will be appearing in the upcoming cabaret musical Humpty Dumpty Cracks Up at The Play Room Theater on Nov 23 and 25 and then at The Duplex on Nov 24. The show features many members of the Salon family and sounds like a hoot!

My good buddy Elaine St. George took the stage next to sing “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” and charmed everyone, though, I suspect, no one was more charmed than her fiancé Dane who was sitting in the audience. Just a hunch *wink wink. Elaine will be presenting the final performance of her Steve Goodman show this Thursday, November 14 at Don’t Tell Mama. If you haven’t seen the show, make sure you get there!
Bennett Silverstein was next up and made the delightfully apropos observation that since Salon was on Sunday nights and featured a cavalcade of fabulous performers, we were “The Ed Sullivan Show of Cabaret”. I like that…a lot! Bennett sang Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Darn That Dream”, a song about the letdown of waking up from a wonderful dream and being frustrated that it wasn’t reality. I can relate. Anybody else? Bennett then told us he’ll be performing at the Cotton Club on November 16 and will, at the end of the month, be playing the judge in Miracle on 34th St, the musical in Bay Ridge. Field Trip!

Next was Bill Krakauer! Accompanied by Matthew Martin Ward, Bill gave us Hoagey Carmichael’s “Hong Kong Blues” which, while not necessarily the most politically correct song, showed Bill’s love of lyrics and of Carmichael’s style. Bill will be doing his show “Act II: 87 and still singing!” at the Stage 72 (Triad) this Thursday at 7:00.
Next to take the stage was the gorgeous and newly cropped Parker Scott, who sang Craig Carnelia’s song “Flight” about things a person wants to achieve in life. The song really showed Parker’s passion and his soaring vocal abilities. He did his show, Someone at the Metropolitan room this week. As he explained, the title of the show is largely because we all want to prove that we are someone, to which Alison replied “We are indeed Parker. We are indeed”. Such fun!

Then came a lady I’ve had the pleasure of working with, the beautiful Danielle Erin Rhodes! For a petite blonde woman, you wouldn’t believe the voice that can come out of her and tonight was no exception. She sang “I Wonder Why”, a song of frustration about love not turning out well and her performance brought to mind a young Bette Midler. (Think “Stay With Me”). Danielle is currently doing a workshop of “Hell’s Belles” (in which she plays Janis Joplin, Joan Crawford and Alice B. Toklas…you know, because you do.), and in 2014 will be playing a dream role, Fantine in Les Miserables in Arkansas. Congrats lady! You’ll be wonderful!
Following her was acclaimed singer and editor-in-chief of Cabaret Scenes magazine, the one and only Frank Dain, who gave us the Matt Dennis/ Earl Brent song, “Angel Eyes”. Frank has the voice of a true crooner and if you want to hear more, make sure you are in attendance at next week’s salon, because Frank will be our co-host! He said he was checking things out tonight and I think we’ll be in for a wonderful night with him next week.

Now, at this point, if you needed anything, you were just going to have to wait a few minutes, because our next performer was the sensational singing server, David Ballard! David sang Boy George’s “Stranger in this World”, a song about blaming your mother. It was a great choice for David, who gave us some great vocals this week (and every week). David will be doing a performance of his debut show “Having it All” at his church in MA in March and is planning another performance in New York TBA.

My turn! My turn! Yes, yours truly (Adam Shapiro) took the stage next to sing “I Can’t Let Go” from Smash, saying that sometimes there is nobody to blame, but yourself. I have a busy schedule coming up (Woohoo!) Performing in a Chanukkah show at the Metropolitan room on Dec 2 and 5; in That Way, a new show by Barry Levitt and Peter Napolitano on Dec 10; reprising my solo cabaret No Chestnuts (Not Your Normal Christmas Show) on Dec 14 (on a double bill with Gretchen Reinhagen); and finally, in “From All of Us to All of You. Seasonal Songs and Disney too!” on Dec 15, all of which will be part of Urban Stages’ Winter Rhythms festival.
My fellow etceterette tonight was one of my favorite people, Maureen Taylor! Maureen told us that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” and then launched into the hauntingly beautiful song “Wanting” from Rags. As I expected, it was a brilliant performance. Maureen had lots of love for the Salon crowd and says she is looking forward to opening new chapters in the coming year. We love you Maureen!

Now it was time for our Salon Spotlight, who, this week, was one of the warmest, most delightful people I know, about to reprise her debut solo show A Kid Again at The Duplex on November 17, Mary Lahti! Mary took the stage while her husband Jim took his place at the piano, because he is also her musical director. (AAAWWW!) Her first selection was the title song from her show “A Kid Again” about returning to a simpler time, which she then paired with the adorable “I’m Five” about the wonders of simply being five years old.
Mary claimed that as a child, she was a “goodie goodie” and never blamed her brothers for anything, so to make up for that, she married Jim. (hehe) She also told us, and I must agree, that there is something to be said for childish innocence and sang the Joni Mitchell classic “Both Sides Now”. I’ve heard this song several times, but to hear it from someone trying to reclaim some of the innocence of her childhood was really special and caused me to hear the song in a way I never have before. Lovely choice.
Her final song was not from her solo show, but from her upcoming performance in “The Lois Morton Songbook” and caused her to ask if any of the other singers in the room had ever had a crush on their pianist. (No comment) The song was the hilarious “In Love with a Piano Man” and had everybody laughing with lyrics like “When I hear his fortissimo, I could just kiss him. Oh!” Be she a kid or an adult, Mary Lahti is a joy just as she is.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for CLASSICAL CORNER with Mark Janas, who this week, brought a special guest, who has performed with Mark now for multiple Classical Corners, the gorgeous soprano, Maria Fernanda Brea! Mark and Maria met at the, now closed, Ido Sushi for their opera open mic. Maria is now Mark’s student at Manhattan School of music and will soon be heading to San Francisco to do Elixir of Love with the West Bay Opera Company! Very exciting!

Tying in this week’s theme, Mark and Maria brought us two arias that dealt with lost love and both of the women in the songs are blaming their misfortune on somebody else…

The first song was “Gretchen am Spinnrade” (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel) by Franz Schubert based on a text from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's “Faust”. In the song, Gretchen tries to keep her mind off of her love for Faust (which Mephistopheles has helped him gain) and, at one point, becomes so distracted by his kiss that she forgets to keep spinning and has to start the wheel again. Mark pointed out how the piano accompaniment was meant to feel like a spinning wheel being operated, with the right hand playing the wheel, and the left hand playing the foot pedal. (He also told me later that this was considered Schubert’s first successful song) It was certainly successful tonight and Maria sang the bajeepers out of it.

The second song was Pamina’s aria “Ach, Ich Fuhl’s” (“Ah, I feel it”) from “The Magic Flute”, in which she blames Tamino for summoning her and then refusing to speak to her, which she believes to mean that he no longer loves her. (When, in actuality, he is bound to a vow of silence as part of a trial to win her as his wife). Mark claims this is one of the most beautiful and most difficult arias that Mozart ever wrote. Listening to Maria sing it, I both believe it to be true and marvel at her ability to make such a difficult song sound so effortless.


After a little break, Ricky Ritzel took to the piano again and our co-hosting team, Alison Nusbaum and Jackie Kristel returned to the stage! Jackie and Alison are getting ready to open their duo show, Together Again…For the Last Time at Don’t Tell Mama this Friday, November 15 at 7:00 and they have such great chemistry, something tells me this show is going to be an event! To start off their set, they claimed to be such good friends that…they share everything. They then sang “I Got it From Agnes”, a song in which they spoke of a mysterious “it” which was being passed between a group of friends… I don’t know what “it” is. Any ideas? After claiming the only thing they have in common is…men, Alison took the mic to sing the hilarious “He Vas My Boyfriend” from the Young Frankenstein musical. Anyone who saw Alison’s MAC Award winning show knows how she rocks those Mel Brooks numbers and tonight was no different. Then, Jackie took the stage alone to sing the hilarious “Dieter’s Prayer”, in which she asked to be granted the serenity to avoid all those calorie laden foods that go from the lips to the hips during the holidays. Jackie…1) I hear you. 2) Girl, your body is fantastic and your voice is too!

Speaking of someone with fantastic body and voice, it was time for the producer of Salon, Tanya Moberly! Tanya’s song was right on theme, blaming a boy for causing her endless frustration, “’Cause You Won’t Play House”. Fabulous as per usual. Tanya has two more performances of her I Love NY Songwriters show at Don’t Tell Mama on December 3 at 7:00 and December 4 at 9:30. Many of the songwriters showcased in her show are ones that she met here at The Salon including Richard Eisenberg, Dan Furman, Ritt Henn, Bobbie Horowitz, Nicholas Levin, Liz McNamara and Bill Zeffiro (plus many others!)

Salon newbie Andy Prescott, a restaurant pianist in Bucks’ County, was next to take the stage and he claimed his song was for all the girls who have broken up with him. He proceeded to sing Lieber and Stoller’s “I, Who Have Nothing”, getting more and more worked up in the song and finally flinging himself to the ground in a fit of passion! To say he made an impression is an understatement and we hope he comes back to give us more.
Then came a beloved familiar face. Matthew Martin Ward sat at the piano and asked for a volunteer from the audience. Erin Maya (who you’ll hear more about later) volunteered and proceeded to answer several questions of the “Pick a Letter/Number”, “Heads or Tails”, “Favorite Color” variety. (The answers were E, Tails, 2, 4, 5, 6,72, and Magenta). Matthew used her answers to inspire an impromptu piano piece in the key of E minor in 2/4 time. (I’m still not completely clear how Magenta played a part, but it was a beautiful piece and the fact that he can do it on the spot completely floors me)

Someone who would look great in Magenta though, was Susan Hodgdon who, with Bill Zeffiro on the piano, sang John Meyer’s “I’d Like to Hate Myself in the Morning”, stating that it’s worth it to raise a little hell the night before. The question is…who does she blame for the night before? Sue’s voice was gorgeous as always and she is working on a new show, which she hopes to debut next year.
Bill Zeffiro stayed at the piano and was joined by the beautiful Victoria Rae Sook, who was dressed for the red carpet and looked stunning/ made me feel underdressed. (She and bill had just come from singing at a benefit). Victoria then made my favorite statement of the night; “Some songs you memorize. Some, you know by heart”. CHILLS!!! She then proceeded to sing an up-tempo, jazzy arrangement of “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. What a cool and creative spin on a song that is usually so legato and wistful! Victoria stayed on stage to duet with Mr. Zeffiro on a very cute arrangement of “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”. They sounded great together and, by the way, don’t ask Bill to keep repeating “It’s the berries”. Believe me, he will. The two are doing a reading of a play that Bill has written with Victoria’s company, Ensemble Atria, on November 19 and Bill has gigs out the wazoo at Don’t Tell Mama, and (very exciting) at the Carlyle.

Our next few singers were all Salon virgins! It’s always so wonderful to have new people find Salon and to perform for the first time! First up was Tara Siesener, who has played Tracy in Hairspray many many times. She sang Michael John Lachiusa’s “He Wanted a Girl”, a beautiful, but sad song about a man who wanted a girl so different from him that he missed a girl who was just like him. Luckily, that didn’t happen for Tara, who announced that she is engaged and will be getting married this year. (YAY!) And that she will be putting together a show for the Duplex very soon. We look forward to hearing more from her and about her show as it develops.
The lovely Ellen Lindsay was next and said that her song made her think of why she came to New York. She then proceeded to sing “Easy Money” from Cy Coleman’s The Life, which is about a woman who became a nude go-go dancer. I think there’s a story there and I’d love to sit down with Ellen and hear about it over a cocktail. Also, because she seems like a lot of fun. Ellen will be going away to do a production of A Christmas Carol in Maine and we hope to see her back at Salon after she’s done.

Brook Packard (no E) came up and gave us “The Next Best Thing to Love”, remarking how expectations can screw everything up. The song and performance were great and really made me think, mostly about how I hope Brook will come back and sing for us again soon. Fun side note: She also told us that her daughter’s 20th birthday was this week on 11/12/13. How cool is that?! (Side note on my side note: I was writing this exact passage at 9:10 11/12/13. I’m not kidding!)
Now we had met Erin Maya briefly, earlier in the evening when she was Matthew Martin Ward’s volunteer, but now we got to meet her for real and hear what she could do. She sang Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch?” and prefaced her song by saying it’s usually played on electric guitar. Well I’ll tell you, I thought it sounded just fine with piano, largely because Erin has a rockin’ voice! She sings with the Joel Young Band and, when asked what she’s got coming up, she replied “I’m Chillin’”. Erin, you need to come and chill with us. We reeeally like you!
Our final singer (and Salon virgin) was someone who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing in other venues and she simply calls herself “Champagne Pam”. Between her cool vibe and her smooth voice, she reminds me a little of Cyndi Lauper if Cyndi Lauper were a jazz singer. Tonight, she graced us with “All That I Need is Love” and gave us some great jazzy vocals and threw in some scat in the middle. Her new show “Daddy’s Little Girl” plays Saturday, November 23 at the Laurie Beechman, so be sure to go check her out.

To close out the evening Alison and Jackie, once again accompanied by Ricky Ritzel bid us all goodbye with… “Goodbye” from The Producers and nobody could blame them for being fabulous co-hosts!

Next week, the optional theme for the evening is “Crooners and Swooners”.
Remember, any material, on or off theme, is always welcome at Salon.

Our Co-Host will be Frank Dain! Our Salon Spotlight will be “Humpty Dumpty Cracks Up”

We’ll see you next Sunday!

- Adam Shapiro
Blogette for The Salon

No comments:

Post a Comment