Act III Thursday Night

July 31, 2010

It was great being at HR-57 Thursday night to see Brandon Cutrell bring his After Party to DC from NY (although billed as Act III for contractual purposes) !  The whole package was there — Brandon’s outrageous hosting and phenomenal singing, Ray Fellman’s amazing work on the piano, a host of talented house performers, interesting drop-ins, and a boisterous crowd.

The biggest congratulations go to producer Chase Maggiano for corralling 50+ people to a Thursday night event that started after 10pm !  And they drank and seemed to be having a great time.

Brandon Cutrell brings an edgy, audience-focused energy to his duties as emcee.  He has developed a fascinatingly uninhibited, spritely persona.  He occasionally veered into territory that made even this audience uncomfortable; but I can’t say that any of his New York audience are more comfortable with some of the material, just more used to it.

A lot of amazing singing.  Ellen Harvey from the tour of Mary Poppins astounded with Sensitive Song (see below) and With One Look and there were appearances from Avenue Q cast members and Will Gartshore.  And all was supported by that great, incomparable Ray Fellman on piano.

Congratulations again to Chase Maggiano — and I’m looking forward to his further producing ventures!

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Sensitive Song

July 31, 2010

One of the highlights of the evening at Act III was Ellen Harvey from the Mary Poppins cast singing Sensitive Song, by Lawrence O’Keefe from the musical Cops.  For anyone who’s seen Poppins at the Kennedy Center, this was a very different side of the rival governess Miss Andrews. 

I had never heard the song before, but when Will Gartshore expressed annoyance that she had beated him to it that night, I realized there may be a trend with this material.  The multiple versions on YouTube (including Will Gartshore’s) made me realize that I’m quite late on this one.


Anita Rosenberg Muses on The Fantasticks

July 29, 2010

Anita Rosenberg and I were chatting when she came to see Somewhere There’s Music at Germano’s and she was kind enough to share these thoughts for this blog…

I went to see Michael, Mary, Kathy, Eileen and Barry last night at Germano’s and I say this as objectively as a groupie can, they were fabulous. Since they performed the wonderful show at The Corner Store it has grown in cohesiveness and energy. All of them were themselves, singing, pattering and harmonizing from the heart.

On another topic, I had a conversation with Michael last night before the show, about the following subject (bothering him while he was supposed to be saving his voice!) and he suggested I post this on his site.

Let me begin this by saying I am not one of you, a caberet singer, except for the Elaine Stritch that lives in me. I am a caberet/broadway obsessive and I’ve been thinking about something since seeing ” The Fantasticks” in December, here in DC. It was the first time I’d seen the show. I’d been avoiding it my whole life. Don’t ask. That’s another conversation.

Anyway, I loved it and was completely blown away by the darkness, particularly in the second act. It affected me the way most of Sondheims’ shows affect me. Couldn’t stop thinking about it, songs running over and over in my head,storyline haunting my dreams, etc. So many similarities to “Company” i.e. destroying our children, committment, ambivilence. I had all of the usual symptoms post a show that grabbed me. My first Sondheim show years ago changed everything I believed about Broadway. Nothing new in that. But now I am questioning whether Sondheim was the FIRST Prince of reality, darkness and light. After “The Fantasticks” it was clear that this was every bit as haunting, funny and heartbreaking. Was Sondheim not the first composer to change the context of the ‘modern’ American musical? I have searched and googled for a quote or even a mention that he was in any way influenced by “The Fantasticks” and came up with nothing. He was developing his own style at the same time, before he went on his own.

Does anyone have an opinion or a thought about this?

If you read this, thank you.

Anita Rosenberg, Catonsville, MD.


This Weekend at Germano’s

July 29, 2010

Yes, Charm City’s favorite boite survived our performance Saturday night.  Here are the people who’ll be tearing it up this week:

Russ Moss Performs “Delicious Songs” —  Jul 29, 2010 at 7:30 pm

The exciting jazz vocalist and musician, Russ Moss, performs his original cabaret “Delicious Songs,” including favorites by George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and the Beatles. He is joined by jazz great Stefan Scaggiari on piano.

Gia Mora in “LAUGH IT UP, FUNNY GIRL” — Jul 30, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Actor-vocalist Gia Mora returns to Germano’s with her cabaret, LAUGH IT UP, FUNNY GIRL. Digital surveillance, online dating, and an iPod shuffle of American songs come together in an outrageous evening of music and storytelling about love and life in the age of the Internet.

Jam With Gypsy Dawg! — Jul 31, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Gypsy Dawg has been delighting fans for over 15 years covering classic tunes from artists such as The Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, The Band, Marshall Tucker Band and The Beatles, and performing their own original tunes from band members Craig “Chowder” Boynton, Lou Shach, and Dave Jacobson. They have opened for several headliners including Merle Saunders, David Nelson Band, David Grisman, Steve Kimock, Leftover Salmon, and The Seldom Scene.

Tickets & info

Germano’s Trattoria — 300 South High Street / Baltimore, Maryland 21202 / 410.752.4515


A Whole Lotta Night Music

July 28, 2010

Since I had a very slim window of time between projects, Ron and I took a jaunt to NY to see A Little Night Music on Sunday.  All I have to say is what a difference a star can make !  What was previously a good-ish show now has the feeling of an event.

I seemed to have liked Catherine Zeta-Jones’s performance as Desiree more than most.  Perhaps it was just because I was staggered by the sheer unexpected luminosity of her presence, and the way it also seemed to eclipse anyone on stage with her.  Although lovely (absolutely lovely), Bernadette Peters doesn’t have Zeta-Jones’s ravishing looks in the role, but she is simply such an icon that looks don’t matter.  You are automatically riveted by her on stage.  It’s amazing the mileage she can get out of the simplest phrase, and the degree of complexity she can portray in a character.  Even those wild Titian tresses of hers gave a compellingly complicated performance (and served as a great sight gag in the rooming house scene).  And Peters was the first Desiree I’ve ever seen to color the letter portions of The Glamorous Life with her feelings for the people she was writing to.

Interestingly, Peters is also much better at sharing focus with her fellow players.  Perhaps the advantage of 9 months head start, but the rest of the cast was giving really well-etched performances.  Alexander Hanson is a much sexier (and randier) Frederick than I remembered and Romona Mallory’s Anne seems to have added a degree of madness to her portrayal.  When I first saw this production, Erin Davie’s portrayal of Charlotte made me take it off the mental list I’ve had of actor-proof roles; somehow, she was much more winning this time around.

And then there’s Elaine Stritch.  Her performance was like the icing on the meatloaf.  Every scintilla of theatrical intelligence told me that she was “working” far too hard in the role and every theater-loving portion of my emotion was in heaven that she was.  From her first entrance when she was dealing with her solitaire game in exasperation to her final curtain call, she made every moment that she was on-stage count.  There was often gratitude that she managed to make it all the way to the end of a line.  And there were moments in Liaisons when she was at least a full measure behind the music.  (And I’m told it was amazing to watch conductor Rob Bowman on the monitor during the number.)  And most importantly, Stritch and Peters are both of the let’s-milk-this-for-all-it’s-worth school of performance, making them quite convincing as mother and daughter. 

(Oh, and great article in the Times on women who’ve played Mme. Armfeldt.  And great promo clip on Broadway.com — didn’t notice when we saw the show, but bless Bernadette for negotiating You Must Meet My Wife in a key that’s obviously his and not hers.)

One proviso — I saw Peters both at the beginning of her run in Into the Woods where she was totally engaged, and at the end when she looked really, really bored.  I’d suggest catching the show sooner than later.


Brandon Cutrell & Ray Fellman Bring The After Party to DC Thursday Night !!!

July 28, 2010

Broadway’s HOTTEST cabaret comes to D.C. Join us for a song-filled night of laughter, drinks and talent. Award-winning cabaret host BRANDON CUTRELL brings wit, showtunes, and hot broadway talent to the D.C. stage! Ellen Harvey and Dennis Moench from the cast of Mary Poppins are among the featured guest singers. Drink, schmooze, listen, and sing a showtune or two! Tix are $20 at the door, or $10 with your equity card.

More info: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=127715110599894

HR-57 — 1610 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC

Thursday, 29 July, 10:00pm – 1:00am


It Never Rains …

July 26, 2010

A report from Terri Allen on the final performance of Run Away With Me on Sunday in the highly-exposed Baldaccino Tent at the Capital Fringe Festival:

Michael,
Don’t know if you want to post this — might be fun: 
We closed our show Run Away with Me! A Contemporary Cabaret at Fringe with a bang.  We had about 50 people in the house with the 90 degree heat, and were performing in the afternoon without the stage lights.  The show was really going well.  Emily got up to sing “Toll” — and I looked at Justin, and said, “It’s getting darker on stage.”  During one number, it had gone from light to dark.   I could see out through the bar, and the wind was really whipping up. When the audience didn’t seem to get the joke of the number, I think I realized they were getting worried, too, about what was then pounding rain.  We decided to do one more number “Rainbow Connection”, and we asked Jeff Tucker, our sound guy, to put on the stage lights.  By this time, the rain was flooding into the theatre through two doors, although audience members were trying to close at least one of the doors.  Audience members were disconnecting the fans, etc.  We decided to stop the show . . . and were hoping to start back up, but the storm seemed too intense and it really was unclear what was going to happen next.  
Later, Lonny said he had seen the lights above him swaying, and afterwards, we learned that Fringe staff were running around the tent to make sure everything was secure.  It seems that their tent structure, and the electrical power supply were actually fine.  But, when Jeff made the call to stop the show — we all agreed!  (Even though some of our best material was ahead of us!) 
We told our audience members we anticipate doing the show again — and hope we will!