Upcoming: Victoria Clark at the KenCen Dec 6

November 23, 2008

Fifteen Seconds of Grace

One of the concerts I’ve been looking forward to the most this year is Victoria Clark’s appearance at the Kennedy Center December 6 as part of Barbara Cook Presents series.

I’ve found myself with one-degree-of-separation from Clark on several fronts:* Alex Tang was a classmate of hers at Yale, Barry Dennen did Sound of Music with her in St. Louis, Alex Rybeck has played for her frequently.  But in a direct experience, her Fifteen Seconds of Grace was one of my favorite CDs of 2007.  And the Jeff Blumenkrantz podcast with her is charming.

I’m surprised that there are still tix left for the show, so thought you’d like to know now.

 

*Though it hasn’t helped me get her to do an interview for this blog.


Some Holiday Cheer from Sue Matsuki and Ed Clark

November 22, 2008

Sue & Edd's Fabulous Christmas

This CD sizzles, fizzes, and brims over with holiday cheer!  It has some wonderful versions of holiday favorites, like one of the most cool-jazz versions of Carol of the Bells.  Ever!  It has some lovely holiday ballads, particularly Matsuki’s All Those Christmas Cliches.  And a couple of songs are the perfect consolation if the guy in the red suit left some coal in your stocking!

(And cabaret singers — this collection is a particular gift if you’re trying to boost your holiday song repertoire!)

Tracks:

  • Wonderful Christmas Opener
  • Christmas In New York
  • All Those Christmas Cliches
  • Pine Cones And Holly Berries
  • I Bought You A Plastic Star
  • Please Come Home For Christmas
  • After The Holidays – I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • Some Children See Him
  • Mary, Did You Know
  • The Last Noel
  • An Evening In December
  • Carol Of The Bells
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas
  • Bonus Track – The Gift Of Maggie
  • Bonus Track – The Pretty Little Dolly

Another Marcovicci Review

November 20, 2008

Thanks to Francesca Amari who forwarded me the following review of Marcovicci Sings Movies II from Backstage: “An actor who knows how to pose while not seeming to be striking any pose other than good, smart humor, Marcovicci might skip Diane Bulgarelli’s title song that she introduced in the forgotten film Someone to Love (and for which she accompanied herself at the piano, temporarily unseating reliable Shelly Markham), but otherwise she’s rising to her usual level and even beyond it.”


Stephen Holden on Chita Rivera

November 20, 2008

The NYTimes reviews Chita Rivera at Feinstein’s: “Chita Rivera begins her new show at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency with a disclaimer. She is not going to dance (“I Won’t Dance”); instead she will sing (“Let Me Sing and I’m Happy”). But at Tuesday’s opening night performance of a two-week engagement, Ms. Rivera, dressed in bright red with matching earrings, never stopped moving, even as she sang in the hard gravelly voice of experience.”


Andrea Marcovicci Sings Movies at the Oak Room

November 19, 2008

Ron and I caught Andrea Marcovicci’s late show Saturday night at the Algonquin. 

Marcovicci’s breakthrough act 20+ years ago (as well as her first cabaret LP) was Marcovicci Sings Movies.  In her current show, Marcovicci Sings Movies II,  the cabaret legend explores various aspects of the history of song classics in film.

Okay, since it’s Andrea Marcovicci, and since she’s the most elegant diva around, let’s mention the dress (I mean gown).  It’s a jeweled flesh-tone chiffon sheath with Fortuny-inspired over-draping in a champagne silk charmeuse.*  Marcovicci entered draped in grey shawl, and after doing the “reveal” of the dress commented, “This is what I invested in.”  Late in the show she accessorized the outfit with a fox stole, and I was fascinated that she wound it twice around her right arm to anchor it.  In addition to the requisite necklace, bracelets, earrings, and rings, she wore a large artificial gardenia on her left wrist that had a star moment during a lyric that said “every day was like a gift of flowers, ribbon-wrapped and waiting to be seen.”  And unlike the last artist I saw in the space, the ensemble was exquisite and fascinating from the back, too.

Marcovicci explored various archetypes in the movies, both performers and themes and how movie music illustrated them, including the perfect gentleman – a Fred Astaire medley of course, the sidekick – Hamlet as introduced by Betty Hutton**, the perfect lady – Audrey Hepburn.  She joked that Hepburn still inspires her to achieve her “original weight, seven and three quarters pounds,” and made the fascinating point that “if you look at the Mancini melodies writen for her movies, they are trim, elegant; they are simple and exquisitely tailored just like the Givenchys she wore; and if you hear them you see her instantly.”  The subsequent medley of Moon River, Charade, and Two for the Road certainly bear out her argument.

Marcovicci mentioned that her first memory ever was of going to the movies with her father (as she puts it, “We didn’t have ‘quality time’ in the Fifities”).  And she wove the theme of the movies bringing out our inner child through the show.  It was especially touching when she discussed her own daughter who suggested the Randy Newman song When She Loved Me for this show.

I first heard the Marcovicci Sings Movies LP being played at Melody Records at Dupont Circle, and I bought it instantly and listened to it endlessly for a period.  So it was a special, very touching thrill to hear Marcovici sing some of those tracks such as Two For The Road and It Might Be You live for the very first time.  Marcovicci also recreated her own movie music moment, accompanying herself while singing Someone to Love, as she did in Henry Jaglom’s film of the same name. (However, she did not flip off the audience at the end.)

On Sunday, I mentioned this to one of Manhattan’s more mordant musical directors in town who responded, “Oh, does she play flat, too?”  And I feel the need to discuss the fact that Marcovicci seems to be one of the most polarizing performers around.  In fact there is even a song in the revue Cabaret Hell with the punchline, “…but I hate Andrea Marcovicci more.”

First of all, the voice.  Yes, it’s distinctive and immediately recognizable.  And it is one of those instruments that can cause an immediate reaction — for better or for worse.  (I fell in love immediately.)  However, I’ve never had occasion to wonder if Marcovicci actually knew what the melody of a song is, the way I have with others of more lauded instruments.   And this is a genre where Mabel Mercer is the icon.  Admittedly, when Marcovicci was going through vocal issues a few years back, she kept performing rather than putting her career on hold.  But I am happy to say she sounds that best that she has in this century!

However, many people have attractive tones.  What Marcovicci singularly does is combine an intense desire to communicate ideas to an audience by providing an emotional experience.  For example, in her current show, she starts a section with a statement taking movies to task for the glamorization of alcohol and smoking.  After several amusing Nick and Nora jokes she turns her attention to the songwriter Johnny Mercer, explaining that he had a notorious addiction to alcohol, and that his charm often turned so sour that he would have to call his hostess the morning after the night before and make floral amends, but often got to the point where he was told, “Don’t bother with the roses, Johnny.” Marcovicci then launched into a medley of Days of Wine and Roses (from a movie devoted to the ravages of alcoholism) and Call Me Irresponsible.  The performance of the medley travelled a journey from a place of pixilated charm to boorish, alcoholic bravado.  Then she wrapped up the sequence with the fact that the two songs were back-to-back Oscar winners.  C’mon, that’s more layers than the Jacques Torres croissant I had that afternoon! 

Of course Marcovicci could accomplish none of this without the steady hand of her music director, the incomparable friend-of-this-blog Shelly Markham.  He totally understands how to support Marcovicci’s musical attacks and manages to make musical transitions that would baffle lesser players seem obvious and seamless.  His arrangements of the songs remaining from Marcovicci Sings Movies V.1 seem somehow warmer than Glen Merbach’s work.  Jared Egan on bass also provided a solid foundation.

Here’s her set list***:

  • Long Ago and Far Away
  • It Might Be You
  • Good Mornin’
  • I Won’t Dance / Cheek to Cheek
  • Swingin’ on a Star
  • Moon River / Charade / Two For the Road
  • Days of Wine and Roses / Call Me Irresponsible
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  • Hamlet
  • Someone to Love
  • When She Loved Me
  • The Way We Were / Thanks for the Memories
  • Young At Heart
  • Encore: As Time Goes By

*  See, I learned something from watching all those cycles of Project Runway

** People who’ve heard Marcovicci’s views of putting an act together will recognize her belief in transferring “arcs” as useful from one show to another.  In this, there were items from her Astaire, WWII, and Loesser projects.  The lady preaches what she practices!

*** She said that she had considered the Oscar-winning song, It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp, but didn’t include it because she “didn’t have the wardrobe.”


Anything you want to be — at least for 4 minutes

November 19, 2008

I recently saw an etherially lovely singer get up, and before doing her song announce that the following song was uncharacteristic for her, because it was sexy and she never considered herself sexy.  The song has a theme of heat, and boy did she generate it during the performance!!!

Afterward, I found myself thinking that this is one of the great joys of cabaret.  As a performer, you can become someone totally different from yourself and expereince that person’s thoughts and emotions.  And as long as the performer remains committed to what s/he’s doing, the audience will totally buy it.

And unlike acting in a larger dramatic piece, one can cast oneself.  And if something doesn’t work out, it’s easy enough to drop a song or find a different approach.


Stephen Holden on Andrea Marcovicci

November 19, 2008

The NY Times weighs in on Marcovicci’s tribute to music in the movies: ”

Ms. Marcovicci’s new show, “Marcovicci Sings Movies II,” at the Oak Room, is an extensively altered and improved revival of one she performed there 21 years ago. In those days Ms. Marcovicci exuded the charm of an eager lady-in-waiting to the old-time movie star royalty she worshiped. But she has long since become the cabaret embodiment of that royalty. Glamour personified, she is a bejeweled queenly presence who suggests a composite of Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn.”


The Kern Project

November 18, 2008
All the Things You Are … The Musical Artistry of Jerome Kern
Sunday, November 23rd at 5:00 p.m.
 
With Joanne Schmoll, Gia Mora, Jackie Lamptey, Stephawn Stephens and Jason McCool
 

All the Things You Are, They Didn’t Believe Me, Old Man River, Pick Yourself Up and many more …
This two-hour concert will feature the glorious music of Jerome Kern.  Widely considered the Father of the American Songbook, Kern was a bridge between the European operetta style of song into a distinctly American style of music.  He was mentor and inspiration for people like George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin and countless others.  Known for lyric lines and lush harmonies, Kern’s music has not only survived but thrived throughout the years, inspiring musicians and vocalists of all styles even today.  There’s just no one like him.
Direction by Joanne Schmoll
Music Direction by Mary Sugar
 
Church of the Annunciation
3810 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
 
Admission by Donation (Please be generous!!!!)
 

DCCN November Open Mic

November 18, 2008

This month’s DC Cabaret Network Open Mic was really, really fun on a lot of levels: 

  • Not only was  Terri Allen was her always-lovely hostess self, but she debuted her version of the great Susan Werner song Misery and Happiness, which almost became the theme of the evening. 
  • There were a couple of new performers who really contributed some fresh perspectives to the evening. 
  • There was the terrific work on piano of Reenie Codelka who made the piano (and occasionally the singers) sound better than deserved. 
  • Similarly Jeff Tucker contributed awesome sound, and I think he really enjoyed Sarah Thomas’s pop-oriented work that allowed him a chance to play with reverb effects more than usual. 
  • There were people who who bravely tried new material or are just getting so gosh-darned good at what they’re doing. 
  • There were people who chose to spend their evening with us just to listen. 
  • And I got to sit next to Emily Everson (and someone compared the two of us to the Muppet characters who used to sit in the balcony).

Ron and I are hosting next month’s gathering — Monday, Devember 15th.  Bring your multi-demonitational holiday music and cheer!  Mary Sugar will be at the keys!

Here’s what people sang:

  • Terri Allen
    • Misery and Happiness
  • Davy Brown
    • What a Lovely Day to Be Out of Jail
  • Deborah Davidson
    • Not While I’m Around
    • Black Coffee
  • Emily Everson
    • Lost in Wonderland
    • I Wish It So
  • Michael Miyazaki
    • Thanks for the Memory
    • Lush Life
  • Ilene Photos
    • Political Science
    • Thank You So Much, Mrs. Lowsborough-Goodby
  • Kathy Reilly
    • Bewitched (Bothered and Bewildered)
    • Little Girl Blue
  • Mary Reilly
    • I Didn’t Know About You
    • You Don’t Know What Love Is
  • Catherine Satterlee
    • Dancing in the Dark
    • Mind on My Man
  • Lonny Smith
    • You’ve Got Something
    • That’s All
  • Ron Squeri
    • Proud of Your Boy
    • House of the Rising Sun
  • Sarah Thomas
    • I’m Your Man
    • Umbrella
  • Christie Trapp
    • In My Daughter’s Eyes
    • In a Restaurant By the Sea
  • Eileen Warner
    • Is It Hot in Here
    • I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
  • Maris Wicker
    • Lonely House 

Patti LuPone at Les Mouches Interview

November 17, 2008

Here’s a great interview with Patti LuPone and David Lewis on the Broadway.com site about the release of the Live at Les Mouches CD.  Not only does it play excerpts from the new, phenomenal CD, but there are also home-movie clips of LuPone in action.