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


Jill’s Jottings: Internet Karaoke

February 10, 2010

Singin’ In The Den: YouTube Karaoke Is a Great Way to Practice AND Discover New Material

When I moved to Toronto, in 2008, I left behind my karaoke machine. By then, the once-gleaming, silver system my brother gave me for Christmas 2001 was a near wreck, its speakers crackly-sounding, its cassette-tape door permanently gaping open, its volume sadly muted.

But I can’t say I’ve missed it too much, because I recently discovered karaoke on the web. Showtune karaoke. This is not only a fantastic way to discover new material, it’s an incredibly fun way to practice. Having started voice lessons last spring, I consider pulling up and singing these songs my reward for making it through the grind of scales and arpeggios.

Like so many pop-culture delights, showtune karaoke can be found on YouTube. And after hours of poking around, I think I can now direct anyone who’s interested to the best that’s out there. For me, it all comes down to three channels, all evidently managed by young ladies, and all offering respectable collections of showtunes, plenty of them appropriate for cabaret. And unlike many, many other channels, these three feature videos of not just the instrumentals, but the lyrics as well, which flash on-screen in time with the music. Angelique, Anna, and Jessica: I’m kind of going a little fangirl. Thanks for all your hard work!

AngelsBwayKaraokes

http://www.youtube.com/user/AngelsBwayKaraokes#p/u

With more than 110 videos and 5,000 subscribers, Angelique’s AngelsBwyKaraokes is the gold standard. Each video features a custom introduction and lyrics that are excellently timed to the instrumentals. Her collection is wildly comprehensive, with selections from “Annie,” “Pippin,” “Spring Awakening,” “Rent,” “Aida,” “Company,” “Chicago,” “Guys and Dolls,” and much more. Her recent addition of “Shy,” from “Once Upon A Mattress,” proves that this girl is full of surprises. Angelique features a different subscriber performing a new song every week, which is a fun way to build the brand and cultivate a following.

Stage Left Karaoke

http://www.youtube.com/user/StageleftKaraoke

Stage Left Karaoke has the best selection of old-school Broadway tunes. Among 16-year-old Anna’s cabaret gems: “The Party’s Over,” “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” “I’ll Know,” “All That Jazz,” “If I Were a Bell,” and “If He Walked Into My Life.” But scroll down and you’ll also see the likes of more modern material such as “Gimme, Gimme,” and “Here I Am.” There’s also a killer “You’ll Never Get Away From Me,” which I enjoy corralling my husband into singing with me.

Each of the more than 60 videos appears to have been downloaded directly from a karaoke music company called Pocket Songs. The upside to this is that the lyrics change color as you sing them, indicating exactly where you are in a song. Also, the key, name of the composer/lyricist, and song duration are shown at the start of each video, which can be helpful. The downside is that Anna’s videos lack a personal touch, which brings me to…

Showtunes Karaoke

http://www.youtube.com/user/ShowtunesKaraoke

Jessica has taken the time to create lovely videos that include not just lyrics but show logos and photos as well. She has even gone into Garage Band and edited some of the music to make each piece work as well as it can in this format. Because they’re so well done, even duets and ensemble pieces are easy to follow. And Cheno fans take note: Lots of “Wicked” here, plus “The Girl in 14G,” one of my personal faves. As of this writing, Jessica had posted only 19 songs, but what’s there is terrific and evidently made with love.


Two Annie References

May 5, 2009

I’ve long thought that these two songs, one from Jill Leger and the other from [title of show] would make great bookends for a show.  (BTW, as happy as I am for all the Tony nominees (especially the very deserving Next to Normal), I have to admit great disppointment that [title of show] only garnered a  nomination for book.  Of course, that is one of the potential downfalls of being “nine people’s favorite thing (rather) than a hundred people’s ninth favorite thing” as the show espouses.)


Googling My Ex in Toronto — April 27th

April 13, 2009

Great news from friend-of-this-blog (and dear friend) Jill Leger:

“Googling My Ex (And Other Obsessions)” is a new musical revue about growing up Generation X and surviving life and love in the 21st century. With original music and lyrics by Toronto songstress Jill Léger, it will be performed Monday, April 27, 2009, 8pm, at The Cabaret@Statlers in Toronto.

The talented cast of performers includes Michelle Langille, Jeigh Madjus and Barb Scheffler. Music direction by Mr. Michael Barber.

Jill Léger comes to Toronto from Washington, DC, where she spent more than a decade working in TV journalism, sharing a 2000 Peabody Award for C-SPAN’s year-long series on the American Presidents and receiving a 2008 Emmy nomination for her documentary work at National Geographic Film and Television. Though Jill is a life-long lyricist and lover of wordplay, she didn’t begin writing music
until 2004, when she became fascinated with the life and career of silent-film comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. Eager to celebrate his lost talent and restore luster to his unfairly tarnished name, she began work on what would become “Call Me Fatty!” a full-length musical about Arbuckle’s life. In the process, she was introduced to DC’s vibrant cabaret and theater community and became hooked on
writing music.

Inspired by everyone from Tom Lehrer to Cole Porter to Cy Coleman to Georgia Stitt, Jill enjoys nothing more than working on music in the apartment office she shares with her wonderful Canadian husband.

“Googling My Ex” performed to sold-out crowds in DC in June 2008. Jill’s music was also featured in “Planet Michael” at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in DC and “The Greatest Holiday Musical Ever” at Don’t Tell Mama in NYC.

April’s show features five new songs and represents her Toronto music debut.

“Googling My Ex (And Other Obsessions)” will be performed at The Cabaret@Statlers, Monday, April 27, at 8pm. Tickets are $15 at the door, but reservations are highly suggested. Email statlersonchurch@live.ca or call 416-962-1209 for reservations. The Cabaret@Statlers is located upstairs at 487 Church Street, near the intersection of Church and Wellesley.


For Their Consideration…

March 4, 2009

The preliminary ballot for the MAC awards is out.

And even though the rules specifically state that appearing on the preliminary ballot does not make something publicizable as a “MAC Award Nominee,” I want to congratulate Ron for getting his Haunted Heart CD into this esteemed company and congralute Jill Leger (of our very own “Jill’s Jottings” fame) for having two songs under consideration.


Merry Christmas to All!!!

December 25, 2008

Jill Leger gave Ron and I a special gift when she wrote this song for Ron and me.  I hope that all your holidays are filled with special gifts — and especially the gift of music in your heart!


Googling My Ex — Now on CD!!!

December 8, 2008

Googling My Ex (And Other Obsessions)

Somehow I missed the memo that Jill Leger was going to commercially release a CD version of her revue, Googling My Ex, that I was priviledged to be a part of earlier this year. 

Wow!

The CD contains the great numbers from the show.  And as cabaret people are constantly looking for that next up-tempo or specialty song — this recording is chock-a-block with them: Annie in My Room talks about memories of singing along to the Annie cast album.  Or My Life Is a Lifetime TV Movie (pretty self-explanatory, that).  A certain selfish portion of me has to admit that I’m not sure I totally love the idea of any other Sondheim cabaret queen having access to The Sondheim Blues, but I just need to deal.  (I’m sure Steven Lutvak felt the same way when he sent me the sheet for his brilliant song The Dinner Party.)

Other DC performers featured on the CD include Barbara Papendorp, Justin Ritchie, Ron Squeri, and Emily Everson.

1 Overture
2 Annie In My Room
3 Go Team Go!
4 Always There
5 Best Friend
6 To Roger On My Wedding Day
7 Tom The IT Guy
8 Googling My Ex
9 So Much More
10 Markie Post
11 She’s Got Nothing On My Life
12 My Life Is A Lifetime TV Movie
13 Seminar On Cabaret
14 My Superfun Downer Show
15 False Starts
16 You Tell Em, Carolyn!
17 Thank You, Mr. Turner
18 I’ve Been Lucky Myself
19 My Safe Harbor
20 I Need Help, Not A Bitchslap!
21 The Sondheim Blues
22 What’s With All These People?
23 Another Taxi
24 Thanks From Jill
25 Halfway

Psycho Cabaret Clips

July 24, 2008

Jill Leger has established a terrific set of clips on YouTube, Louise’s Place — “what’s fabulous in the world of cabaret, in DC and beyond!”

She’s just posted some clips from the DC Cabaret Network Fringe Fesival Show, Psycho Cabaret.  Here are two:

Psycho Cabaret has one more performance — Friday night at 5:30 at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room.

And they got a great blog review.  (Not that reviews really matter)


Googling My Ex Video

July 11, 2008

Jill Leger has done a little summary video of her revue Googling My Ex for YouTube.  All I can say is that the show was even more fun to do than it looks on screen.


Jill’s Jottings — Google My Ex Recap

June 23, 2008

Heartfelt thanks to all who came out to the show this weekend. What amazing audiences we had!!

The show was such a blast to put together.

And check out this picture: How lucky am I to be in the middle of such a glorious ensemble?

Love and thanks to all.