Ron-ing Around: David McMullen in My New Year’s Resolutions

January 25, 2009
Friday night, I was privileged to see David McMullen at Maggie’s Cabaret, where he shared with us his latest show “My New Year’s Resolutions”. David turned the hall at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church into his living room, performing with a comfort and ease that made me feel like he was giving me one big hug. In fact, at one point mid-way in the show, I thought that he was singing the whole show to me, and started to feel sorry for the rest of the audience, only to step back and realize that with his tremendous talent, he really was sharing this experience with everyone, making each person feel that they were getting a personal performance.

David presented a range of material, mixing Great American Songbook standards with songs from contemporary Broadway musical theater and cabaret. (song list to follow). David is an upbeat sort of fellow, which undeniably showed throughout his show.

To say that David has a formidable performance toolbox at his disposal would be an understatement. His lyrical and emotional interpretation of the songs, with impeccable phrasing, and dynamic expression, varied from tender falsetto, to bold Broadway, to full classical resonance. This was most ably supported and enhanced by the accompaniment of his music director Mary Sugar. It would have appeared that David and Mary had been doing this show forever, as they musically seemed to breathe together. Looking at their bios, they both performed in “Beauty and the Beast”, and I would have to check with them to see if they actually had performed together earlier.

Even though the show had a light and airy feel to it, there were very poignant moments, but they were never heavy-handed. Actually, after the show, a DC chanteuse chatting about how warm the show and David were commented that there was no angst in it, almost as if that was a necessary part of a cabaret performance. Not this one. David ended the show, saying that he shared his New Year’s resolutions for a couple of reasons; to reinforce them to himself, and to have us remind him about them later. I am going to put “Check with David to see if he has gotten a pet yet” on my calendar in July.

My New Year’s Resolutions Set List

  • Leaning on a Lamp Post – Noel Gay
  • We Can Be Kind – David Friedman
  • Bring Him Home – Alain Boublil, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer
  • My Dogs – William Finn
  • Tale of the Oyster – Cole Porter
  • Temporary – John Bucchino
  • Long Before I Knew You – Jule Styne, Betty Comden, Adolph Green
  • All the Wasted Time – Jason Robert Brown
  • My Favourite Occupation – John Taylor
  • I Won’t Mind – Jeff Blumenkrantz, Annie Kessler, Libby Saines
  • Travel Hopefully – Andrew Llyod Webber, Alsn Ayckbourn
  • Way Ahead of My Time – Peter Mills
  • What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

VoixDeVille — Past and Future

December 18, 2008

Burgess Guitar & Fork

I went to VoixDeVille at Indigo at the Atlas Theater last Saturday.  I got my cheese plate and a Diet Coke!!!!  So things are looking up service-wise.

It was great to see Terri Allen, Lonny Smith, and Justin Ritchie do their In Full Light piece.  The three are terrific performers and I loved them singing their songs.  I also love a show where Help is the second-oldest song in the line-up.  And Mary Sugar provided fabulous musical support (but what else would one expect). I feel that these terrific performers have not yet achieved their full potential with this piece, especially in terms of show structure and connective  tissue.  So it’ll be interesting to see if there’s a next edition.

The rest of the evening was more of a mixed bag than the previous time I went.  But there was a pleasantly mixed crowd, so let’s hope we see more!!!  Congratulations to Scott Burgess — host and producer — to how far you’ve gotten this so far!

Here’s the line-up for Saturday:*

martin&lewisTHE CROONER AND THE COMIC – pays tribute to America’s beloved show business duo, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Bringing this comical duet back to the stage are Eric Richardson as Dean Martin and Matt Macis as Jerry Lewis.  With their impeccable timing, world class vocals and over-the-top antics, this Martin & Lewis tribute will leave audiences caught up in this wild pair’s hijinx, begging for more!

ERIC RICHARDSON (The Crooner) –  is an actor, vocalist, celebrity impersonator and an overall master of “character” having played diverse roles ranging from Fagin in Oliver, to Sky Masterson in Guys & Dolls, to that homespun lawyer, Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. He has appeared on stage, in film and on several TV series. His approach to any character lies in his pursuit of detail, which makes every one of his characters unique and whole.
MATT MACIS (The Clown) –  began his professional career at age 16 in Ken Davenport’s Awesome 80s Prom. At age 19, he was deemed “a genuine find” by the Washington Post for his work in Bat Boy (Landless Theatre Co., DC). Now 20, his resume includes a national tour, TV, film, and work as the “Lewis” half of the Martin & Lewis Tribute. He is also the world’s youngest working professional Michael Jackson tribute artist. GOOGLE him!

John McBride
John McBride
John is half-black, half-Italian, mixed with a little Jewish, and probably some other stuff, but he is 100% funny. At least that’s what his mom says. John’s material inspired by the stupid things his friends say, his romantic misadventures, and food he doesn’t like – has been quoted in the Washington Post. McBride was a finalist in DC Improv’s Funniest Person in DC contest 2007. He has worked with comics Ted Alexandro, DC Benny, and Tony Rock, and is a regular at the DC Improv. He co-writes the popular blog “Not Hating Just Saying,” featured on

 Don’t Miss this on-going one ring circus of quality shows featuring performers who are making a different kind of noise. Experience something you cannot get in your living rooms, on any TV set, home theater or computer. VoixDeVille the voice of the city.

DISCOUNTS!: Check out for our special December Button Discount.

The Indigo Room
Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H St NE
Box Office 202-399-7993 x2
For booking information call Scott Burgess
202-399-7993 x121
The Atlas is accessible by MetroBus, Rail and Taxi
Contact the Box Office for Tickets and More Details or


Doors: 7:30 pm
Performance: 8:00 pm
Tickets: 15.00 (buy on line at

A Charming Afternoon at the Kennedy Center

October 6, 2008

We finally managed to see Broadway: Three Generations at the Kennedy Center over the weekend.  The program put together tab versions of three musicals: Girl Crazy, Bye, Bye Birdie, and Side Show to represent an overview of the American musical theater.  In addition to the presence of performers with solid musical theater credits from both Broadway and DC, the show featured Shirley Jones as a narrator.

On the one hand, every single moment of the show was absolutely lovely.  The condensing of each piece was handled with grace, and the performances were never less than solid.  I found it especially nice, after so much work in cabaret, to see songs in a musical theater setting —  where story, costume, and character combine to support the writing.  For example, it was fascinating to see that in the script of Girl Crazy, the different verses of But Not For Me are sung by different characters.  (And this is the time to mention the terrific solo piano work on the song from friend-to-this-blog Mary Sugar!)  

To me, the most thrilling moments came from the dance numbers.  There really is something awe-inspiring about seeing a stage full of people move in precision in songs with a driving beat such as I Got Rhythm or I Got a Lot of Living to Do.  And it was oddly wonderful to see Brooks Ashmanskas, a guy with a little more heft than the usual dancer, move with such amazing style in Put on a Happy Face.

On the downside, although the performances were solid, there seemed to be a lack of star wattage in the evening.  Ashmanskas and Leslie Kritzer both in their leads in Bye, Bye Birdie and supporting roles in Girl Crazy brought energy, verve, and personality to their appearances.  But the rest of the performances felt a bit generic (other than recognizing Ned Eisenberg from his frequent appearances on Law and Order).  A day later, no one else left much of a residual impression.  As such, I applaud the wisdom of trucking in Mrs. Partridge as the narrator. (Now remind me, just what Broadway show was she notable for?)

And what bothered me most (and probably more than it bothered 99.5% of the audience including Ron) is the seeming randomness of the three musicals put together.  It feels like there was a dartboard in Michael Kaiser’s office, and that’s how they selected the material.  I really felt there was an opportunity missed to explore themes, styles, or to compare and contrast how materials is treated.

The show was mounted partly in celebration of the newly remodeled Eisenhower Theater.  With the new wood panelling in the theater, patrons do not have to avoid wearing red in fear of clashing with the walls.  However, patrons unwittingly wearing red jackets (especially with a black skirt or slacks) still risk being mistaken for an usher.

An invitation from Maris Wicker…

May 30, 2008

Dear Friends

Please join me and the wonderful pianist Mary Sugar at 8 pm on Saturday, June 7 for “Face to Face,” our cabaret show at Gallery Neptune in Bethesda.  I am excited to be singing against the backdrop of the gallery’s current solo exhibition of paintings by the veteran DC-based artist, Lisa Brotman.

The performance is free, but reservations are suggested due to very limited seating.  (Call 301-526-1245 or 301-718-0809)  Also, the gallery’s web site,, offers additional information about the exhibition, the artist’s talk at 5 pm on June 7, and directions.

Hope to see you face to face on June 7!


DCCN May Open Mike

May 18, 2008

The DC Cabaret Network May Opoen Mic takes place at the Warehouse Theatre, 1021 7th St NW (across from the Convention Center) next Monday, 19 May.  Sign up is at 7:30, start is at 8:00pm.  $12 DCCN Members ($15 non-members)

Music direction by the wonderful Mary Sugar. 

As always a great opportunity to try new material or work on existing repertoire in a friendly, supportive environment.  Bring music!

Report: DC Cabaret Network Board Showcase

March 4, 2008


The board of the DC Cabaret Network presented a showcase at the Arts Club Sunday night in celebration of March as Cabaret Month.  The evening had a terrific concept — each member presented an “old” song and a “new” song.  As always with a group cabaret, it was fascinating to see how a concept like this was interpreted.  Some chose chronology of songs, while others explained a chronology in their lives.

George Fulginiti-Shakar provided his usual expressive music direction — but it was also terrific to see him get up from the piano to deliver his numbers standing at the microphone (with superb accompaniment by Mary Sugar for his two numbers).

It was also great to see so many DC cabaret performers turning out for the concert!  Many congratulations to Judy Simmons for her work as director and producer of this apparantly seamless evening! 

  • Judy Simmons
    •  I’m Old Fashioned (Kern / Johnny Mercer)
      The Best Thing To Happen To Me (Green)
  • Chris Cochran
    • What’ll I Do (Berlin)
    • Everyone Wants To Do Sondheim (Chapman)
  • Terri Allen
    • Make Me A Kite (Brourman / McBroom)
    • As Time Goes By (Hupfeld)
  • Cindy Hutchins
    • Putting Things Away (McBroom)
    • In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning (Mann / Hillard)
  • George Fulginiti-Shakar
    • The Fig Leaves Are Falling (Hague / Sherman)
    • Sweet Dreams (Bucchino)
  • Emily Leatha Everson
    • I Wish (Green)
    • Surprise Me (Menzie / Coons)  
  • Sally Martin
    • So Many People (Sondheim)
    • The Chance To Sing (Thalken / Jones)

 (Top — l-r, Terri Allen, Sally Martin, Judy Simmons, Emily Everson / Bottom — l-r Christy Trapp, Joanne Schmoll, Matt Howe — Photos courtesy of Matt Howe.  More here.)

DC Cabaret Network Open Mic — January 28 Pianist

January 18, 2008

The  music director for the January 28th DCCN Open Mic will be someone new to the area, Mary Sugar.

Additional info is available through the DCCN Songspeak blog.

Terri Allen says, “I had a session with her, and she can read anything and transpose on the spot.” 

DC Cabaret Network Open Mic, Monday, 28 January, Warehouse Theater, 7:30pm sign up, 8:00pm start