Karen Akers on Playbill.com

May 30, 2008

The current Plabill.com “Diva Watch” column has a featured interview with Karen Akers, currently appearing at the Algonquin.  An excerpt may be of particular interest to Washington audiences:

Question: I know you also did your Kander and Ebb show at the Signature recently.
Akers: Oh, God! That was so much fun, except for opening night. Opening night, I had what can only be called a train wreck*. [Laughs.] It wasn’t that bad, I’m exaggerating. I had just flown back from London from doing a week at Jermyn Street, eight shows that week plus an added show for students at RADA. The next morning I got up after the RADA three-hour master class I did on Monday night. I flew back to the States, unpacked, repacked, and a couple of days after that flew to Washington to do Signature. It was a totally different show from what I had been doing in London. Opening night, my mind just, a couple of times, went absolutely white. Surgical white. I was miserable because I had dear friends in the audience, and I felt I was letting them down big time. It wasn’t as bad as I’m making it out to be but, by my standards, I was really upset. And, from that point on, everything was just gorgeous. The rest of the week we sailed and had so much fun. The audiences loved the show, and we sold out, so what could be bad? [Laughs.]

And by the way, I love the artistic director there, Eric Schaeffer. Not only is he a doll, but he is one of the most creative, most imaginative artistic directors working today. I saw his Witches of Eastwick, which was just so splendid and fun.… I don’t want to get into particulars, but I had seen two other productions of that [musical], and this one was, by far, the outstanding one. I mean, truly, everybody was gorgeous. It was so much fun and sexy in a way that I had just never seen before.

(I’m going to say this — I am totally shocked that Akers is using the above as a publicity picture.  Having seen her in the last couple of months I can attest that she looks much better — and the sense of allure and glamour that she brings to the cabaret stage is one of the most consistent assets of her performance.  I wonder what gives.)

* Guess which show I saw

An invitation from Maris Wicker…

May 30, 2008

Dear Friends

Please join me and the wonderful pianist Mary Sugar at 8 pm on Saturday, June 7 for “Face to Face,” our cabaret show at Gallery Neptune in Bethesda.  I am excited to be singing against the backdrop of the gallery’s current solo exhibition of paintings by the veteran DC-based artist, Lisa Brotman.

The performance is free, but reservations are suggested due to very limited seating.  (Call 301-526-1245 or 301-718-0809)  Also, the gallery’s web site, http://www.galleryneptune.com/, offers additional information about the exhibition, the artist’s talk at 5 pm on June 7, and directions.

Hope to see you face to face on June 7!


Christine Ebersole & Billy Stritch

May 28, 2008

Sunday In New YorkOne of Christine Ebersole’s biggest talents as an actress and cabaret artist is her chameleon-like ability to adapt her formidible talents to the needs of her project at hand.  Thus, the glamorous, forthright star of 42nd Street was also the fascinatingly fragile heroine of Grey Gardens.

The downside of this is that when her collaborators aren’t offering first rate work, her work can sufffer as it does on this CD.  Ebersole turns in moderately interestingly jazz work to  match the moderately interesting jazz work of her collaborator Billy Stritch.  The only track where she really shines is an intense reading of Lullabye of Broadway.

  1. Haven’t Got A Worry

  2. Sunday In New York

  3. My Favorite Things

  4. Surrey With The Fringe

  5. So Many People

  6. Give Me The Simple Life

  7. Hit That Jive Jack

  8. Walking In New York

  9. Walking My Baby

10. What’ll I Do

11. I Only Have Eyes For You

12. Not While I’m Around

13. Will You

What is a standard?

May 27, 2008

Mike Gruenberg has the office next to mine at work, and interestingly, he writes for the Web site Jambands.  His latest article on the question of “What is a standard?” incorporates discussions that we’ve had on music.

Piaf Encore

May 27, 2008

The Voice of Edith Piaf in the Award-winning Film La Vie En RoseJil Aigrot has a good reason for sounding exactly like Edith Piaf; she was the singing voice of Piaf in the recent biopic. 

Yet, the question remains, why should one buy this CD instead of getting an actual Piaf CD?  The sound quality is certainly better and there are a couple of lesser-known songs.  And if you’re a Piaf fan and want to imagine you’ve gotten a recording from her with slightly different arrangements and intonations, sure.  The only other reason I can think of to get this CD is to write about it on a cabaret blog.

  1. Sous le Ciel de Paris (Intrumental)

  2. Les Flonflons du Bal

  3. La Goulante de Pauvre Jean

  4. Y’a Pas de Printemps

  5. Plus Bleu que tes Yeux

  6. C’est à Hambourg

  7. L’Homme au Piano

  8. Mon Vieux Lucien

  9. Mon Dieu

10. Boulevard du Crime

11. Le Chemin des Forains

12. Bravo pour le Clown!

13. Les Mots D’amour

14. A Quoi ça sert L’amour?

15. Je Hais les Dimanche

16. La Foule

17. Mon Manége à Moi

18. Non je ne Regrette Rien

19. La Vie en Rose (Instrumental)

Susan Werner Live at Club Passim

May 27, 2008

Susan Werner, cabaret’s favorite folksinger*, has just released a new CD Live at Club Passim. A live recording of a recent concert, the CD is a terrific mix of susan Werner’s different periods — Midwestern folk singer, retro cabaret writer, and evangelical agnostic.  For those of us who’ve listened to the studio CDs a lot, it’s also refresheing to hear her looser live renditions and her brilliantly funny patter.  Also the work of her harmonica player Trina Hamlin is exceptional. 

Her schedule has her appearing at the Avalon Theater in Easton, Maryland and St. Mark’s on Capitol Hill next month, and I’ll post info when I get it.

Here are the tracks on the CD:

1   Time Between Trains
2   Lost My Religion
3   Did Trouble Me
4   After All Of This
5   Intro to Our Father
6   Our Father (The New, Revised Edition)
7   Chicago Any Day
8   Barbed Wire Boys
9   I Can’t Be New
10   Movie Of My Life
11   May I Suggest
12   Help Somebody
13   Together

*What other folk singer plays the Bradstan, for heaven’s sake?

Kerry Butler sings Disney

May 25, 2008

Faith, Trust and Pixie DustFaith, Trust, & Pixie Dust

This totally charming CD by the Broadway star of Xanadu provides us Kerry Butler’s take on songs made popular in Disney movies.  She does a terrific job of offering fresh interpretations of familiar songs, such as her Opryland-ready Bare Necessities and intimate Baby Mine.  She also includes some terrifc rarities — Call Me a Princess, cut from Aladdin, is a true charmer.  As a lagniappe Butler closes with Disneyland from the failed Ashman/Hammlisch musical Smile.

1. This Only Happens In The Movies
2. When You Wish Upon A Star
3. I’ll Try
4. Call Me A Princess
5. Colors Of The Wind
6. It’s A Small World/God Help The Outcasts
7. Baby Mine
8. Minnie’s Yoo Hoo
9. The Second Star To The Right
10. The Bare Necessities
11. When She Loved Me
12. Disneyland

Stephen Holden on Bebe Neuwirth

May 25, 2008

The NYTimes on Neuwirth at Feinstein’s: “Watching Bebe Neuwirth extract the scar tissue from the emotional viscera of Brecht-Weill songs at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency on Wednesday evening, I thought, “Here is the new Julie Wilson!””

Broadway.com Audience Awards & Video

May 24, 2008

Broadway.com has announced it’s Audience Awards nominees for this season.  One of the most interesting categories IMHO is their category “Favorite New Broadway Song”:

“If Only” – The Little Mermaid
“In the Heights” – In the Heights
“Please Don’t Touch Me” – Young Frankenstein
“Roll in the Hay” – Young Frankenstein
“She’s In Love” – The Little Mermaid

And I know that one DC Diva is already working on adding one of these to her repertoire.

The site also has a terrific music video of the song 96,000 from In the Heights


Review: Page by Page

May 23, 2008

This recording documents a live concert by Ken Page in which he traces his roots from St. Louis to Broadway and beyond (in occasionally excruciating detail).

The CD really has a “you are there” feeling, and Page is a gifted vocalist and story-teller.  However, while terrificly entertaining, this is a recording that will never be useful as dinner party music.

CD 1:
1. Overture
2. Feeling Good
3. Page By Page
4. C.C. Rider
5. Sidewalk Tree
6. Just Being Us
7. Hello Pearl
8. New Possibilities
9. Bloody Mary
10. Summertime Love
11. Dancing With Gene
12. Penn Station – Seesaw
13. My City
14. Who Am I Anyway?
15. On Broadway
16. Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat
17. 300 Pounds Of Heavenly Joy
18. Be A Lion
19. Ease On Down The Road

CD 2:
1. Entr’acte / Disco Heat
2. Last Dance
3. Honeysuckle Rose
4. This Joint Is Jumpin’
5. You’re Feets Too Big
6. Ain’t Misbehavin’
7. J’ai Deux Amour
8. Memory
9. Hollywood Everybody Is A Star
10. An Ode to London
11. I’ll Bring You Luck
12. Shambhala
13. bonus track: Patience