Alice Doesn’t…

June 28, 2011

Someone who contributed some of the most thrilling vocal tracks in the musical theater, Alice Playten, died last Saturday in New York.  Nobody Steps on Kafritz and Poor Little Person from the otherwise so-so musical Henry, Sweet Henry are gems.  And her performance in the 1973 Sondheim Evening concert of the sont There Won’t Be trumpets is my favorite version of the song.  Ever.

Stephen Holden on Nicole Henry

June 28, 2011

The NYTimes comments on the jazz bird: “Besides “It’s All Right With Me,” the high point of her set was the old Dusty Springfield hit “Just a Little Lovin’.” When it was over, Ms. Henry half-jokingly suggested that the song might not really be about the pleasures of wake-up sex but about remembering to love yourself during your early-morning yoga routine. She brought it up to date.”

How to “How to”

June 25, 2011

Are you someone (like I am) who is counting the days ’til both the final Harry Potter movie comes out and the new, belated season of Mad Men starts* ?!  Well, here’s something to tide you over.

OK, it’s not the greatest CD in the world or even the best recording of the show.  But it has a certain zip and it does restore my favorite song in the score, Paris Original, which was cut from the previous revival.  And the instrumentals come across with amazing jazzy, brassy clarity.

So Daniel Radcliff comes across as earnest rather than conniving, and Anderson Cooper is no Walter Cronkite.  Tammy Blanchard’s Hedy is a dream and Ellen Harvey is probably the best Miss Jones on record (particularly given the what she has to do in the Brotherhood of Man staging —   5:10)

*They signed John Hamm to a 3 year contract!  So this won’t be the last season!

Susan Werner returns to her roots!!!

June 24, 2011

 Friend of this blog Susan Werner is one of the most chameleon-like performers working today.  Her recent albums have spanned genres of American Songbook, rock reinterpretation, and agnostic evangelism.  What has remained consistent is her fierce intelligence, immense talent, and impeccable open-hearted interpretation.

Her latest CD, Kicking the Beehive, puts us back to her activist folk roots with a stunning collection of songs that put a human face on issues including same-sex relations, abortion, and coping with terminal illness.  But she leavens it all with wry humor and terrific musicianship.

My favorite song, so far, is The Last Words of Bonnie Parker, a lovely ballad examining the complications of relationships and ambitions.

And how can you not love this lyric from her song Irrelevance (a sort of sequel to her previous Movie of My Life):

And I’m sure there’s a “gift” in this somewhere

A gift wrapped in dread and denial

Yes I’m sure there’s a gift in there somewhere

It’s so hard to accept it.

I hope someone saved the receipt

Here’s the track list for the CD:

  • Kicking the Beehive
  • Doctor Doctor
  • My Different Son
  • I Know What I Want
  • The Last Words of Bonnie Parker
  • Manhattan, Kansas
  • Red Dress
  • Botanical Greenery Blues
  • Sleeping On A Train
  • Irrelevance
  • On The Other Side 

DC Cabaret Network Open Mic Report

June 21, 2011

Another fun evening at the DC Cabaret Network Open Mic.  Here’s what people sang:

  • Matt Howe
    • The Very Thought of You
    • Any Time (I Am There)
  • Eileen Warner
    • Another Mr. Right
    • It Goes Like it Goes
  • Paul Pompeo
    • 100 Years
    • Pure Imagination
  • David McMullen
    • Leaning on a Lamppost
    • Long Before I Knew You
  • Maris Wicker
    • A Sleepin’ Bee
  • Kathy Reilly
    • Vodka
    • Don’t Wait Too Long
  • Terri Allen
    • Hope Floats
    • A Foggy Day
  • Ron Squeri
    • Almost Like Being in Love
    • An American Hymn
  • Michael Miyazaki
    • Dog Passages
    • Could I Leave You?

The next DCCN Open Mic is scheduled for the Atlas July 11th.  See you there !!!!

God I hope I get it…

June 20, 2011

Great article in the NYTimes today interviewing various theatrical casting agents.  Even though the part below deals with auditions, it also sums up things to keep in mind for performances:

Q. What’s the secret to a great audition?

TELSEY When somebody comes in and surprises you and takes you to an emotional place that the material is demanding but you wouldn’t have thought of. What that involves: completely prepared, making performance choices. It makes you want to be in a room with them longer.

SWEE The key to preparing is spending time with a text, figuring out who this character is to you. For Seth Numrich in “War Horse” he gave a lesson in brilliant auditioning. He was completely prepared with the text. He had developed a great British accent already. He was completely present, which meant that he was able to listen carefully to the other actors, to take direction. You can see so easily when an actor is not listening.

CARNAHAN One of the biggest traps that actors fall into is trying to be what we want them to be, and that’s not what we’re looking for. It’s like a blind date. You’re better off just being yourself. And on the other side, with directors, it’s getting some of them to spend more time getting to know actors. With British directors I’m always negotiating for three actors an hour. They just don’t know any actors here. Giving an hour to three actors — the Brits consider that a lot of time.


DC Cabaret Network Open Mic Monday Night

June 19, 2011

OK, I still haven’t quite gotten my blogging tempo back.  Sorry for the late notice on this:

The next DCCN Open Mic is Monday, June 20, 2011 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. The wonderful Alex Tangwill be at the piano.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St., NE, Washington, D.C.

Sign-up starts at 7:30 p.m., singing starts at 8:00 p.m.

Donation requested.

BTW, having just been at the H Street Playhouse last night — be warned that that particular block is in the middle of being totally torn up — so give a little extra time to park.  Also, I just ate at Tokei Underground last week for the first time — amazing Taiwanese-style* ramen — a great addition to the quirky independant eateries around Atlas including Taylor’s, Sticky Rice, Dangerous Pies, and so many more!  So get there really early and grab a bite before!


Stephen Holden on Lea Solonga

June 17, 2011

The NYTimes reviews the eternally-youthful Miss Saignon, now appearing at the Cafe Carlyle:  ”

Ms. Salonga’s bright, metallically edged voice is a shiny all-purpose instrument that confidently establishes its dominion over whatever musical setting surrounds it. Because her accompaniment consists of only piano (Larry Yurman), bass (John Miller) and guitar (Jack Cavari), she isn’t required to belt, which is all to the good in an intimate cabaret setting. And Mr. Yurman’s delicate arrangements provided sensitive support.”

Those good and crazy people…

June 17, 2011

Stephen Sondheim's Company

The lovely Mary Sugar and I saw the limited movie showing of Company last night.  And on the whole — WOW !!!

It’s a stellar cast and I think they do an amazing job of balancing the needs of the scenes with the demands of the music.  And I always say that this score always feels like a necklace with jewel after jewel strung together.

Having seen the show and the material in it any number of times in any number of incarnations, it is inevitable that one is judging every moment against multiple performances.  (And no matter how much I loved Christina Hendricks and Jane Krokowski, I find it hard to believe that anyone will play April in the park scene better than Bernadette Peters).  However, this production gives some new standards to surpass, such as Stephen Colbert finding some interesting physical jokes as Harry, Anika Noni Rose playing Marta as a wide-eyed innocent, and Patti LuPone’s pensive take on Joanne.<img class="alignright" src="; alt="April 7, 2011: Among the other cast members enjoying the dinner are Jill Paice, fresh from her Philharmonic debut as Susan, and Michael Sazonov, her guest.

Photo by John Calabrese” width=”391″ height=”455″ />

Here’s a bit of “impress your friends” trivia: the reason the Tick-Tock number looks so much like A Chorus Line is that Michael Bennett choreographed Company and Donna McKechnie did the number.  In fact, this is the solo that Cassie was refering to in the show. 

And for DC theater fans, Jill Paice who was so good in Chess at Signature was a terrific Susan.  And here is a picture of her at the post-show party with one-time (and hopefully once-again) DC cabaret fixture Michael Sazonov.

Company is playing through the 21st at various locations.


In case you do, too…

June 16, 2011

“Who Wants to be a Millionaire” Begins Auditions for Season Ten Thumbnail


I have to admit that winning some cash on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was a highlight of my year last year (especially being unemployed).

The show is now auditioning in New York for its next season.  If anyone is planning to schedule an audition, please feel free to contact me, I have some really useful tips based on my experiences.

Also, the Buzzer Blog site is really useful for other behind-the-scenes info on game shows.