Ron-ing Around: The Tuscany Adventure

June 6, 2010

“How I spent a glorious time in Italy doing two things I love, singing, and meeting new people”

My week at the Il Chiostro Vocal Technique Workshop

It’s been two weeks since I have returned from my trip, and I am still basking in the afterglow. I have to tell you, I really enjoy combining these two activities, especially in the breathtaking setting of the hills of Tuscany. This year there were 10 participants and 3 instructors, Suzanne Kiechle (Vocal Technique, and the author of “Keys To Vocal Freedom”), Amanda McBroom (Vocal Performance, and friend of this blog), and Mary Sugar (Music Director/Accompanist). (Amanda’s husband, actor George Ball, was with us too, although not in a teaching capacity. While spending time with him outside of classes, he provided a lot of insight, as well as just being a swell guy.)

The participant group had varied levels of singing experience, from professional actress, to someone who had never previously sung in public. This variety, I believe, only enriched the whole learning experience. (Although the level of experience was varied, the raw talent of the group was pretty darned high) Each of my fellow students was enormously supportive and just plain wonderful. As is usual for a program like this, there was much sharing of feelings and emotions, for you never really grow as a singer (and a person) without that. I cannot adequately express the joy I felt being around them, and how much I miss their company.

Our days began with optional stretching/warming up exercises led by program director Michael Mele. Breakfast followed, then we had morning and late-afternoon classes, with a 2 to 3 hour break in between, which follows the classic Italian day. Dinner, ably provided by Program Director Linda Mironti (who also proved to be a powerhouse jazz/cabaret performer), followed the evening class. We were provided opportunities to tour neighboring towns and cities between morning and evening classes, if we wanted to. I always did. Why wouldn’t I? Not only did we have group classes, but also had separate private sessions with Mary Sugar, and the Amanda and Suzanne team.

Suzanne’s vocal techniques and exercise were right on target, eliciting not only vibrant sounds, but doing so without creating any tension in the larynx. It clearly extended my range in just a few short days. And it hopefully will increase the longevity of my singing career (what it is) by not damaging my vocal chords.

I worked on about 6 or 7 different songs, which hopefully will make it into my next show. One of the songs I worked on was “The American Hymn” (the theme from the min-series East of Eden). It is a glorious expansive ballad. During my working on the song, Amanda stopped me, had the whole class go outside, and she had me sing it out towards the green flowing hills surrounding San Fedele. That picture is indelibly etched in my brain. Thank you Amanda.

Needless to say the food was amazing. The cooking, according to Linda, was fairly simple, (I sincerely doubt that), but the local produce, much of which was picked earlier in the day, was what provided the flavor. Our hosts, and owners of San Fedele have a real passion for the arts, and for the history surrounding the monastery.

At the end of the program, we had a salon, where each of the students, as well as Linda, Michaelino (associate program director, tour guide, driver, and overall “let’s make it a great experience for everyone” guy), George and Amanda sang. The highlight of the evening, for me, was everyone singing backup to Amanda singing “The Rose”. It is something that I will always treasure. I hope that I will have the opportunity to do the program again in the future. (I did throw a coin in the Trevi fountain.)

For more information on the programs look at http://www.ilchiostro.com/about.html. For info on San Fedele check out http://www.tuscanrc.com/21615/24843.html


Abaracadabra it’s CHAWbaret !!!

August 21, 2009

I’m thrilled that Dean Reichard invited me to participate in the next iteration of CHAWbaret, the fundraiser for the Capitol Hill Art’s Workshop!  We had our first rehearsal this week, and I am awestruck by the talents involved — Katherine McCann, Eileen Warner, Deborah Davidson, Dean Reichard, Dorie Hightower, Ron Squeri, and Matt Howe.  All under the terrific music direction of Amy Conley.

Since the show is in October, the theme this year is Magic To Do and it’s great to see the number of interpretations that the artists are providing. And I always love the creative part of the rehearsal process, where so many things are possible!  It’s the magic that starts the magic.*

So mark your calendars for our shows, October 16,17,23,& 24 at CHAW.  And of course I’ll have more dispatches before then!

*Apologies to those who found themselves with elevated blood sugar after that line.


Photos from Germano’s

May 26, 2009

Thanks to Debbie Barber-Eaton for sending the photos taken during Ron’s show at Germano’s. 

I think the photo of me proves that I’ve inherited my father’s hairline (he’s the one sitting next to me).


Ron Squeri at Germano’s

May 13, 2009

RonRon is doing his show Haunted Heart at Germano’s Trattoria in Baltimore next Friday night, May 22nd.  It’s a terrific collection of love songs.  And as an added bonus, since Germano’s requests a longer format, he’ll also be doing a second set of Broadway-inspired material.  The wonderful James Fitzpatrick is the music director.  So if you’re in town for Memorial Day weekend, take Friday night as a detour to Charm City, have some great Italian food and hear some great music!!!

The lovely Debbie Barber Eaton appears Thursday, 14 May.


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.


Showcase Rehearsal

February 25, 2009

I had a rehearsal last night for the DC Cabaret Network showcase on Sunday at the Arts Club with Alex Tang and Judy Simmons.

I think all veteran performers have their own tricks and secrets for working with a music director and stage director in these situations.  Click here for mine.

And here’s the secret behind the secret.

Before the rehearsal, I prepped with Mary Sugar to put my thoughts together about how I want to do the songs I chose.  After we got through with At Long Last Love (bell tone before the intro, two verses cutting the “love” at the end of the verses, modulation into the third verse, tag after the third verse, “three and out” at the end), I said to her, “Well, you must go through this a  lot.”  Her  response was, “You know, most people just want to  sing things the way they’re written.”   So much said  in one little statement.

In my Helen Hayes round-up column, I forgot to congratulate Judy Simmons on being Helen Hayes nominated for Goodnight, Moon.  When we were discussing the Helens, I couldn’t help but pass along the bit of gossip that a local performer, directing a recent project, several times during the process was heard to say, “You know, I was nominated for a Helen Hayes award!”  Mercifully, I wasn’t there, because it would have been too tempting to use the Ann Hampton Callaway line from  Sibling Revelry, “Who won that year?”

Anyway, it’s shaping up to be a great show.  Ron’s two songs are looking good.  Mary Reilly who had the rehearsal slot before Ron and me sounded wonderful and Emily Everson is planning two songs I love.

Here’s ticket info:

The DC Cabaret Network is delighted to present the fourth DC CABARET NETWORK MEMBERS ONLY SHOWCASE.  Please join us for a wonderful evening of Cabaret featuring our own DC Cabaret Network Members on Sunday, March 1st at 8:00pm at The Arts Club located at 2017 I Street, NW.  These talented Cabaret performers will be accompanied by the extraordinary Musical Director Alex Tang and directed by Judy Simmons.  Wine and sodas will be available for a small fee (cash only bar).
Reservations are highly recommended and should be sent to:  (please include your name, phone number and address) info@dccabaretnetwork.org
$10 for non-members and $5 for members (cash only)

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