This Weekend at Germano’s

October 28, 2010

October ends with a Cabaretfest at Germano’s!

Doors open at 6pm for pre-show dining / $10 cover.

Third Annual Baltimore School for the Arts Cabaret Series at the Cabaret at Germano’s: “An Evening of Chamber Music”
Thurs., Oct .28, 2010 at 7:30 pm

The Baltimore School for the Arts presents the talented young musicians of the Music Department in a magical evening of chamber music under the musical direction of Dr. Christopher Ford.

$10 cover is a tax-deductible donation to The Baltimore School for the Arts.

Fri., Oct. 29, 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.
“Superb acting… luxuriate in her jazz stylings.”–Karen Shod
“Delightful… hilarious.”–Washington Post
“Lucille Ball-like comic timing.”–DC Theatre Scene

Russ Moss Performs “Delicious Songs”
Sat.,Oct. 30, 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.

Halloween With String Theory!
Sun., Oct. 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Leave the candy basket outside on your doorstep, visit Poe’s grave at sundown to enjoy Tony Tsendeas as Frank, the Grave Digger, and head on down to the Cabaret at Germano’s for the swingingest Halloween party in town.

In the tradition of the swinging jazz combos that took Europe by storm in the early twentieth century, String Theory recreates a sound that never really went out of style. With two acoustic guitars, violin, upright bass, pedal string guitar and female vocalist, the sextet takes on Django Reinhardt, Nat King Cole, Benny Goodman, Hoagy Carmichael, and others. The band is made up of seasoned local players with a wide range of experience. Surprise guest artists. Tonight, the band will be in costume and pianist, Charlie Barnett and violist, Rachel Jones, are scheduled to appear when the moon rises.

String Theory is: Russ Arlotta (violin), Jonathan Rosen (upright bass), Sarah Mahon (vocals,percussion), Gary Lee Gimbel (pedal steel guitar), Josh Rettenmayer (guitar), Gus Russo (Guitar)


Words of Wisdom from Idina Menzel

October 28, 2010

There was a nice interview in the Washington Post with Idina Menzel who’ll be appearing with the National Symphony this weekend.  I thought the following was really good: “Idina Menzel would rather not be categorized as a belter. Yes, she can rattle the rafters with ease, as her rendition of “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked” has proved. But Menzel wants younger fans to know there’s far more. “As much as I appreciate people putting me in the category of these very acrobatic belters, I feel like my strength is my . . . interpretation and my truthfulness with songs, and I don’t want young people to think it’s all about the high notes that they have to hit. It’s about what they’re saying and feeling, and a lot of the singers that I am inspired by are not the range-iest singers, but they’re the most authentic,” says Menzel.

“Menzel will be at the Kennedy Center tomorrow through Saturday in “A Date With Idina Menzel.” She’ll be backed by the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the NSO’s Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch. She and Hamlisch have discovered an artistic rapport.

“Performing in “A Broadway Celebration” on PBS Oct. 20, Menzel sang “Defying Gravity” of course, but also “What I Did for Love” from “A Chorus Line,” with Hamlisch, that show’s composer, accompanying her.

“She says she likes her concert schedule because she can swoop into a city, then swoop back to Los Angeles, where husband, actor Taye Diggs (they met on Broadway in “Rent”), who co-stars in the TV series “Private Practice,” and their 14-month-old son await.

“Menzel, 39, credits her early years as a wedding singer with honing her interpretive chops, “having to get onstage in front of people that weren’t listening and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and ‘Funny Valentine.’ ” She would do “homework” on the way to those jobs. “I’d listen to every rendition that Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn ever did and try to come up with my own version of that . . . so I felt like I was getting something out of those gigs, other than just singing ‘Hot, Hot, Hot’ with a limbo stick or something.”

“I used to feel worried it was going to be harder for people to accept me, and now I feel like it’s the thing that makes me stand out.””

Jill’s Jottings — Beverly in Toronto

October 27, 2010

The lovely Jill Leger gives an update on her activities in Toronto and the visit of Beverly Cosham…

My Favorite Week

DC cabaret veteran Beverly Cosham is visiting Toronto as I type this, and I doubt that October in Canada has ever been cooler.

I’ve gotten to see Bev twice this week—last night at a weekly open mic called “Curtains Down” (more on that in a moment) and last Thursday, when Bev was my first DC guest at Jill’s Living Room, a monthly open mic I set up this summer.

First, a word about Jill’s Living Room. It doesn’t take place in my actual living room, but in a rehearsal space at the Second City Training Center in downtown Toronto (which means that sometimes we get the room decorated with huge portrait of John Candy). I designed JLR to be a “safe place” to sing, where people could feel comfortable trying out new material, or even singing a piece twice if the first time wasn’t quite right. For myself, I wanted a safe place to test drive my new songs, as well as a place to where I could get more comfortable actually singing. The jewels in the crown of JLR are the pianists we’ve been able to attract. We’ve had five JLR’s so far and four different pianists, all considered among Toronto’s best. Their experience and warmth go miles toward making anyone who steps up feel in safe hands.

Bev Cosham doesn’t need a safe place to sing, and she’s so good, she probably makes any accompanist feel safe and secure, not the other way around. But she graced my little shindig with her honey voice anyway, bringing her Toronto pal Edie along for good measure. I got to introduce her to musical director and pianist extraordinaire Michael Barber, and together, they made magic out of Michelle Brourman and Karen Gottlieb’s “My Favorite Year,” as well as “Old Love” and “Whoever You Are.”

Now let’s just say the turn-out wasn’t great. Afterward, we went out for drinks, and it was suggested that Bev also hit “Curtains Down,” a public open mic hosted by the gracious and beautiful Jenni Burke. Currently taking place every Monday night in the martini bar at the Pantages Hotel, the night regularly attracts the cream of Canada’s musical-theater crop. It was a perfect opportunity for more people to hear Bev sing. Natch, Lady Cosham was game.

And of course, she dazzled. Jenni gave me the mic to introduce her, and I kind of stammered something about an amazing singer who’s been around and done it all while remaining down-to-earth, genuine, giving and warm. Jenni later put it better when she called Bev “the real deal.”
Bev sang “My Favorite Year,” “Skylark” and an impromptu duet with Jenni of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” People tend to chat and visit a lot at the Pantages, but they quieted down when Beverly was singing. And many came up to her afterward to pay their respects. I felt pretty proud, and I think Edie did too.

Thanks to Beverly for enhancing my week, for supporting my “living room” and my music, and for making me look good to all my new performer friends up here in Canada.  And thanks to my dearest Robert for always being there and for taking the photos.

Top photo: Jill, Bev and Michael Barber pose with John Candy at the October Jill’s Living Room

Middle: Bev casts a spell on the crowd (and mistress of ceremonies Jenni Burke) at “Curtains Down,” the only place to be in Toronto on a Monday night

I kind-of did…

October 26, 2010

Wwtbam-uk-2010.pngJust wanted to let you all know that my appearance on Who Wants to Be  Millionaire is scheduled for this Thursday, 28 October. 

In DC, it’s on ABC at 12:30pm, since it’s sydicated, elsewhere check your local listings. for broa

Ron-ing Around in New York

October 25, 2010

Ron describes his cabaret experiences on his last jaunt to the Big Apple:

I had a wonderful, if whirlwind, cabaret/theater day in NY this past weekend.  It started with Lina Koutrakos’ weekly singing class, and ended with Amanda McBroom’s show “Noir” at the Metropolitan Room.  Sandwiched in between was a visit to The Schoenfeld Theatre, to see Patrick Stewart and T.R. Knight in David Mamet’s “A Life In The Theatre.”

Lina’s class, as always, was inspiring, watching all her students stretch, (and being personally stretched) and go places that we had not necessarily considered.  During a break between students, Lina talked about Amanda’s show, having seen it two nights earlier.  She commented about how amazing the show was, and that the show was a study in someone who is a master of the craft of cabaret, employing an economy of motion and clarity of purpose, and that Amanda’s performance was mesmerizing.  At this point, I could not wait to see Amanda’s show, “Noir”,  since I already had reservations for the 7pm show.

After class, I headed to TKTS to get tickets to “A Life In The Theatre”.  I scored an aisle seat and headed to the theatre.  I had not read the reviews, nor had ever read the play previously, so I had no pre-conceived notions.  To be honest, I wanted to see the show, not as much for the show, but to see Patrick Stewart, and T.R. Knight in a live performance.  From that standpoint, I was not disappointed.  

The play gives the audience a view of the actors’ lives, through a series of fairly short vignettes.  Some as short as five lines.  In this production, the director took the path of “more is more” with full costumes, and sets, for each of the vignettes.  (After talking to Michael, who has seen and read the play before, the play is usually done bare staged, and the use of minimal costuming.) 

Due to the director’s vision for the play, it turned the stage crew and set changes into integral parts of the play. Having spent time behind the curtain, as well as in front of it, I appreciated this approach, but I don’t think that it  worked, there were many times the show ground to a halt.  Although, as I get further from the performance, my quibble with this becomes less intense.   

After catching a bite, I headed to The Metropolitan Room for Amanda’s show.  The room was filled to the brim.  The show started and I attempted to do the study that Lina had suggested earlier in the day.  It was impossible.  Retrospectively I can do the study, but since Amanda is such a commanding, “in the moment” performer, all I could do during the show was experience the emotion, and enjoy the journey, and hold on to my seat.  Her commitment to the material is flawless.  This may be aided, in large part, by her having written most of the lyrics to the songs she sang, but it never faltered, even during those songs that she didn’t write.

She was accompanied by her writing collaborator, Michelle Brourman. Michele’s arrangements fitted Amanda like a glove, both supporting her, and at times playing a counterpoint to what was being sung.  

A complete set list follows. I must thank a fellow cabaret enthusiast, seated across the aisle from me, who had seen the show the previous Thursday, and had written down the set list.  Sorry to say, I have to do this anonymously since with my addled brain, I cannot remember the kind gentleman’s name.  

I was lucky to have heard some of the music from Amanda and Michelle’s show “Dangerous Beauty” on my Italy jaunt, but a highlight of the show for me was “The Art of Seduction”, where as Lina said, she sings the basest of lyrics with a dignity that only she can pull off. 

The set list (as well as we could put together):

  • Let’s Order In 
  • Nice Girls Don’t Eat Breakfast
  • I’ve Got You Under My Skin
  • Lady Has The Blues
  • Blizzard Of Lies
  • I Miss Monica
  • Hunter’s Night
  • My Life’s Been Good So Far 
  • Song of Old Lovers (La Chanson Des Vieux Amants)
  • Congratulations (the AARP Song)
  • The Art of Seduction (from their show Dangerous Beauty)
  • Portrait
  • The Early Morning Hangers-On (Les Paumes Du Petit Matin)
  • The Rose
  • Errol Flynn
  • I’m Not Afraid  (was in here as well, but I don’t know where)

Stephen Holden on Jane Monheit

October 24, 2010

The NYTimes on the jazzbaret artist: “There are no shortcuts to the kind of musical maturity that the jazz singer Jane Monheit displayed at Birdland on Wednesday evening. Although endowed with improvisatory skill and a voice of singular plushness, Ms. Monheit has often struggled to connect with the meanings of songs, letting the sheer beauty of her sound and her polished technique carry her performances. Like many young pop-jazz singers, she often seemed to be listening to herself and gauging her intonation instead of heeding the material.”

Stephen Holden on Amanda McBroom

October 24, 2010

The NYTimes on the friend-of-this-blog appearing at the Metropolitan Room: ”

Amanda McBroom is a gusher. By that, I don’t mean an obsequious well-wisher brimming with feigned enthusiasm, but a singer and songwriter who overflows with warmth and good humor, tempered with a hard, clear-eyed wisdom. Ms. McBroom, whose most famous song is “The Rose,” writes in a plain, broad-based pop-country-folk style that has a theatrical heft. The best of her lyrics, many of which address the inner lives of desperate housewives, go the quick of experience with a visionary acuity.”

DC Cabaret Network Open Mic

October 19, 2010

Fall was in the air, Jonathan Tuzman was at the piano, Terri Allen did her usual splendiferous job as hostess, Jeff Tucker made us all sound better, and we were fortunate to hear the contributions of some new people.  

Here’s what people sang:

  • Terri Allen
    • Music
    • Ship in a Bottle
  • Tanya Bogoseovsky
    • Memory of a Waltz
    • La Vie en Rose
  • Toni Rae Brotons
    • Everything I Know
    • Glitter in the Air
  • Stephanie Daley
    • How Long Has This Been Going On?
    • A Cockeyed Optimist
  • Lucille Froelich
    • The Boston Beguine
    • They Can’t Take That Away From Me
  • Matt Howe
    • Black Coffee
    • If You Go Away
  • Pam Jackson
    • Material Girl
  • Michael Miyazaki
    • The Dinner Party
    • Much at All
  • Kathy Reilly
    • Moonlight
    • ‘Tis Autumn
  • Ron Squeri
    • Strange Sensation
    • The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing
  • Arvis Tucker
    • The Nearness of You
    • Mood Indigo
  • Sarah Wilson
    • Hallelujah
    • If I Loved You

Stephen Holden on the Broadway Cabaret Festival

October 18, 2010

The NYTimes opines: “Ms. Kaye, rejecting the fragile emotionality that usually accompanies Sondheim ballads, sang them with a combative, feet-on-the ground bluntness. She stomped her way through the finale, “I’m Still Here,” as if she were a hiker blazing a trail through the woods. With the words “Lord knows, at least I was there/And I’m here!” she finally entered a clearing.”

Nelson Pressley on Kelli O’Hara

October 18, 2010

 The Washington Post on the South Pacific alumna at the Kennedy Center: “She’s ideal for this repertoire, sparkling and singing with intelligent phrasing and rich emotion. It’s good that O’Hara wants to expand her horizons, but she’s also smart to keep putting her stamp on such golden material.”