Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pictures of the Holiday Season (in NY!)

Pete & I play Russian Ninjas on an open-air Subway platform in Queens.

My neighborhood, transformed by snow

Playing in the snow, agressively.

Waiting for anyone directing a production of "Little Women" to wander by...

Awww...old toys are back in style!!!

Caroling at the NY Public Library at Bryant Park

No you're not seeing things...I'm in red and singing Soprano! (but just for one night) With Alto Andrea in New Jersey

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Merry Solstice" Night at the Algonquin (Hotel) Salon

Host Mark Janas was cool enough to invite my main caroling group from the Definitely Dickens Holiday Carolers to come co-host with him on the evening of the "Winter Solstice" Algonquin Salon on December 21st, 2008. We videoed (video'd?) the evening of festivities, where a lot of cool original and classic Holiday songs were brought forth. Other songs - from a renaissance lute by Lucy Cross to Johanna Weller-Fahy hitting a high note in "Gorgeous" - were applauded.

One of the highlights (for me) of the evening was a geekout moment shared by myself and Nicholas Levin, who transcribed onto sheet music the theme song to a horribly wonderful children's nightmarishly godawful amazing movie called "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," starring (of sorts) a very youn Pia Zadora I know the theme show from watching the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. The theme song, "Hooray for Santy Claus," is sung at the beginning by a bunch of children. This time around, the song was copied and handed out to all the lovely sight-singing singers out at the Algonquin Salon - and then we all had a singalong!!! Whee!!! (and I know Bill Corbett of MST3K has already witnessed the video online...huzzah!)

In any case, enjoy the following videos, any time of the year!

"Hooray for Santy Claus":

"Santa Baby" by the Definitely Dickens Holiday Carolers:

"The Christmas Song" by the Definitely Dickens Holiday Carolers:

"The Christmastime Medley" by the Definitely Dickens Holiday Carolers:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Big Night Out presents "The 2008 Holiday Extravaganza"

Big Night Out's Holiday Extravaganza is everything the title suggests - you're out at night for a big night of holiday fun with this crowd. Once again, co-hosts Jennifer Wren and Bill Zeffiro guided singers and songwriters through a fantastic night of holiday musical cheer. Piano accompaniment was by Bill Zeffiro, Mark Janas, Nicholas Levin, Scott Ethier, and Paul Rigano.

16 songs in all were performed, from the amazing belt-ballad "Kiss Me, Santa," music by Andrew Abrams, lyrics by Joan Ross Sorkin, and sung by Broadway-veteran Kenita R. Miller (a Broadway veteran)...to an absolutley jaw-droppingly funny "Agnostic Christmas Shoes," written and sung by Eric March. David Rigano showed off his Cole Porter-esque lyric writing in his original song "(Let's Go) Under the Mistletoe." Ritt Henn, whose height makes his ukulele look even smaller, sang his original "Me Home on the Street," with lyrics by Joan Ross Sorkin. Perhaps the standout, and most amazing performance of all, was Julie Reyburn, who sang holding her young daughter. The song, music by Mark Janas with lyrics by Peter Napolitano, was the perfect song for Julie to sing to her child - "First Christmas" - and her daughter chose to vocally "insert herself" into the mic at the most opportune moments. It was a lovely, riotous moment on stage.

Another lovely moment was David Caldwell as he sat at the piano and sang his composition "Spring," about the beautiful transitional clues Nature gives us as Winter thaws into Spring. His lyrics are absolutely gorgeous, and caused many a tear in the audience. Bill Zeffiro sang with Jennifer Wren a few times, including his "What the Hell? It's Christmas," "Ballad," and "Uh Oh, Here Comes Christmas" with David Caldwell (a rare moment when Bill sang in FRONT of the piano for once!). Kathy Hart brought "I Live in New York" herself to the stage, and accompanied Jennifer Wren as she sang Hart's "Maybe Next Year." Wren also sang "Lots of Love (From Me To You)," music by Ben Martini and lyrics by Horowitz and Spector. The Rigano brothers (lyricist David Rigano, music by Paul Rigano) had their song "It's Christmas" artfully sung by Chloe Cahill. Nicholas Levin's song "Another Christmas" was sung by Lynelle Johnson, while the entire show ended with an amazingly funny original song by Horowitz and Spector "Shows to Go Ya," featuring Bill Zeffiro, Bobbie Horowitz, and "friends" - which turned out to include Summer Broyhill and Johanna Weller-Fahy, amongst others.

Each extravaganza from Big Night Out proves to be a down-to-earth and extremely fun evening. Now they have moved to The Reprise Room at Dillon's Restaurant and Bar, which is a very nice space (and includes a grand piano!) with a fuller menu but still the cheap price ($10 cover, 1 item minimum, 1/2 off the cover for MAC, AEA & EMC members). Go & have fun! And don't forget - whether there's a composer showcase that evening or not, at least the first half of the two-hour evening (from 9pm to 11pm) is an OPEN MIC, so bring your sheet music and SING!

Fun in New Jersey...Christmas Caroling at DQ!

My caroling quartet jokes around, has fun, orders Blizzards and sings a carol.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"A Different Day" 12.15.2008 - New York Theatre Barn

"A Different Day" (music and lyrics by Rob Hartmann) from NYTB at the Duplex - Holiday Stuffing!, 12.15.08. Directed by Reed Prescott, Musical Direction by Adam Wiggins.

This was a great opportunity to sing at the Duplex with some fellow great singers. The concept was to bring all original holiday-themed music (comedic, dramatic, etc) from up and coming composers. The cast included Becca Yure, Sandy Binion, Ashley Mc Hugh, Michael Mendez, Michael Coco & Matt Leahy. Proceeds benefited the St. Francis Xavier's "Welcome Table." Composers featured were: Rob Hartmann, Georgia Stitt, Amanda Yesnowitz, Heidi Heilig, Deborah Brevoort, Michael Cooper, Katya Stanislavskaya, Julianne Wick David, Maggie-Kate Coleman, David Friedman, Brian Cimmet, Deborah Abramson, Gregory Jacobs-Roseman, Mike Pettry, Matthew A. Everett & Phoebe Geer.

And FYI! Monday January 26th, the NYTB will be having it's next songbook cabaret event, with work from Rebekah Melocik & Bill Nelson. Check out www.NYTheatreBarn.org for more information!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Arts and Artists at St. Paul's presents "Holiday Songbook"

One of the most amazing things I've found about New York is the overabundance of free things to do - especially during the Holiday Season. Everyone with talent, or at least a song to sing and share, do so often for the love of it and often for free.

This was the case this Sunday afternoon, where the Arts and Artists at St. Paul's put together a free "Holiday Songbook" for free. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Bruno Walter Auditorium, was packed to the gills with some standing room in the back filled as well. It started at 2:30 and lasted about two hours - longer than I expected it to be, but at least the hours were filled with great song & singing.

Most of the time, the composers of each song either sat onstage after a brief interview, or sat behind the piano to accompany their singer(s) of choice. There were 25 songs in all, quite a long program, and the evening could have been orchestrated a bit more tightly to let each act flow from one to the next without pause.

However! When the singing started, entertainment certainly ensued. There were so many great songs and performances, too many to be able to type here. Highlights that stuck in my mind, at least, were "The Gift of Mrs. Santa" sung by Mary Ellen Ashley, music by Steven Silverstein, lyrics by Edward Kukolsky, in which Mrs. Santa Clause has a...ahem...little surprise for Santa usually held for the Springtime. Another great comedy song of note was "Mindy Leberstein's Nativity Scene," sung by Ellen Zolezzi, music & lyrics by Rob Rokicki, whereby a lovely, spunky, Jewish girl wishes to be a part of the Christmas scene by creating her own unique version of the baby Jesus' birthplace on her parent's lawn.

In fact, a running theme that afternoon was "what do I do during Christmas if I'm Jewish" to varying degrees of humor. Robin Gelfenbien sang a song of her own lyrics, music by John Prestianni, called "Jesus Steals My Thunder," about her own personal struggles as a Jewish girl with the same birthday as Jesus. Another, called "My Jewish Christmas by the Sea," music written by Rob Hartmann, lyrics by Sophie Jaff, and sung by Holly Hylton, was not a comedy song but a sweet ballad.

The heartfelt songs were certainly there, including a lovely serenade by lyricist Peter Napolitano and composer Mark Janas, sung by Raissa Katona Bennett, called "All I Can Give." This song need not be sung strictly during the Holiday season, and Bennett was able to lovingly it with hopeful bittersweetness. Another great song was Kathy Hart's "I Live in New York." Hart's lyrics about living in New York and not having enough room for even a small Christmas tree were refreshingly simple and straightforward. The afternoon's entertainment wrapped up around 5:30, but not after Gina Milo sang a wonderfully cute number by Rick Hip Flores called "My Other Grown-Up Christmas Wish." As it was a song about a wish for Santa to bring the Wall Street and American economic crisis to a halt, Milo expressed her wish that this song NOT become a "yearly Holiday standard." In any event, it was an adorable song that showcased Milo's sexy-powerful persona.

More information about the Arts and Artists of St. Paul's can be found at www.artsandartistsatstpaul.com. Their next performance of a Songbook series will be on January 26th at 6pm, featuring composer Joel B. New. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Bruno Walter Auditorium. FREE!
111 Amsterdam Avenue
(just south of 65th Street)
Phone: (212) 870-1630

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New York Theater Barn Benefit Concert - featuring ME!

An Evening of Songs from New Holiday Musicals

Directed by Reed Prescott
Musical Director Adam Wiggins

Featuring original music from
Rob Hartmann, Georgia Stitt, Amanda Yesnowitz, Heidi Heilig, Deborah Breevort, Michael Cooper, Katya Stanislavska, Julianne Wick Davis (Wood at NYMF) and more...

With performances by
Becca Yure, Sierra Rein, Sandy Binion (Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, Jane Eyre), Ashley McHugh, Michael Mendez, Michael Coco and Matt Leahy (MAC nominee)

NYTB at the Duplex: New York Theatre Barn's monthly cabaret series highlighting new composers, lyricists and performers .

Monday, December 15, 2008, 9:30pm
The Duplex Cabaret Theater
61 Christopher Street @ Seventh Avenue

$10 cover plus 2-drink minimum

All proceeds for this event will go to the Saint Francis Xavier Welcome Table. If you have the means, please feel free to donate more to this charity. Checks should be made payable to the "SAINT FRANCIS XAVIER MISSION".

For reservations please call 212-255-5438 or click here to make reservations online

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Here is footage of Pete & I in the midst of our first snowfall as residents of the NY area. It isn't much, I know, but it felt magical to the two of us. I didn't know how much snow could look like glitter; maybe it was the right angle with the right man-made lights, but they literally glittered in the light. Or, maybe it was just the magic I saw...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Caroling in New York (&NJ) 2008!

Wow, it's been a long time since I blogged, and I have a show, a museum event, an art gallery, and my own personal goals to write about in the near future. But first...


I am in the Definitely Dickens Holiday Carolers, an official caroling company based in both Los Angeles and the New York/New Jersey area. Dressed in Victorian-era garb, we can carol at your office party, Holiday/Christmas party, or place of business. Allow us to greet guests at the door with holiday cheer, entertain on stage for a full-blown show, or go table-to-table to serenade with holiday favorites and requests.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Isn't giving thanks fascinating?
More Thanksgiving Day pics with my husband Pete & sister Lisa here

Friday, November 21, 2008

"What's the Point?" by Hector Coris - A New Musical Revue

Lyrics by Hector Coris, Music by Alan Cancelino

Starring Hector Coris, Patrick Garrigan & Eadie Scott

Musical Direction by Alan Cancelino
Choreography by Susan Haefner
Directed by Collette Black

"What's the Point" is a musical revue by Hector Coris and Alan Cancelino, an almost comedic character-driven musical in the realm of "Songs for a New World"...only extremely funny. A three-person show (two men, one woman) and piano, it utilizes a blank stage, simple props/costumes & furniture pieces, and a little bit of mime to establish time, place and character for each number. Solos, duets, trios - all utilized throughout the show. Some songs were downright comedy, others sweet humor, some parody on certain Broadway & Cabaret "staples" of the biz ("The Mel Brooks Way," "The Disney World Song") Hector's lyrics have held me in stitches each time he performs them at open mics around town. His "My Moment" song, which he sings towards the end of "WTP" is a brilliant example of commentary on modern "idol" worship. Perhaps one of the most subtly subversive yet wonderfully sweet songs I've ever heard was "I Played With Myself," sung by Patrick Garrigan. All it took was Patrick, the piano, a chair, and the audience's imagination to make the song a standout example of excellent songwriting and interpretation. And Eadie's remorsefully funny search for "A Real Straight Guy" highlighted her comedic strengths.

Director Collette Black kept the energy and flow from one song to the next going and going - a hard feat with only three bodies on a rather large stage, comparatively. The energies and characters of the actors on stage kept the Laurie Beechman Theater stage full, the choreography was well-thought out and executed. I'm not a huge fan of the LB stage for Cabaret use; it doesn't have the intimacy of a good Cabaret space, but is big enough for a full-blown (albeit tightly staged) musical or blackbox theater show. However, the food is good and the drinks look marvelously decadent, although on the pricey side. However, for "What's the Point?", the stage was well utilized. I was sitting in the front "row" of tables, and could hear everything despite the absence of mics; I could not tell if the use of them was needed for the far wall of the room, but I'd suspect they could be used if demanded.

All in all, a great evening of comedy. I suspect more from Hector - heck, I'm singing one of his songs for Big Night Out's composer showcase on January 29th, 2009 at Dillon's restaurant!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Climate Change Exhibit at the American Museum of Nat'l History

This exhibition, "Climate Change: The Threat to Life and A New Energy Future" closes August 16, 2009 and is probably one of the most well-organized, succinct, and understandable breakdown of most of the issues surrounding the science and moralities of the climate change discussion.

Pete & I had been invited as bloggers to view the exhibit in a special pre-show, with dinner and an after-hours viewing. Pete did his blogging duty and wrote about the exhibit immediately...This was actually post dated to the correct date two months later...oops!

The Introductory area was instantly interesting: it charted the known rise of CO2 emissions over the last 400 years and tracked it along with the rise of the world's population. I had no idea how fast humans have increased in number, just in the last 400 years alone. It's truly an amazing thing to see graphed out in front of you - I had no idea that in the 1700's we were merely 600 million people, and now we're in the 6 billions of people.

The second area deals with Climate Change Today, and how specifically CO2 causes the warmth of the climate. A metric ton of coal is on display (as a model) for you to get a sense of how big we're talking when we are told about tons of coal being burned off for energy, and how much CO2 is being let out into our air. It also goes into deforestation and other ways in which climate change is brought about.

The third area, Making a Difference, is probably the most fun and interactive part of the exhibit, in that you are able to utilize touchscreens to customize a profile of your driving habits, light bulb use, and other ways in which you and your family utilizes energy. It was great fun changing my profile from Los Angeles driver-of-an-SUV (Honda CRV) for at least 1 hour each day to a New Yorker walk-or-use-public-transportation consumer, and seeing the difference in the CO2 emissions. Yes, I moved to New York for the musical theater - but it's a great feeling to not have to drive too!!!

The fourth area, Changing Atmosphere, goes into the worldwide atmospheric changes that scientists say are the symptoms of a warming world. It was scary to see how the possibility of increased and more dangerous hurricanes, typhoons and rains might endanger large areas of population in the near future. Not to sound too dark, but maybe the Earth is trying to handle the human population surge it's own way?

The fifth, sixth and seventh areas, Changing Ice, Changing Ocean, and Changing Land, goes specifically into how the earthbound elements. Of particular interest was the representational core of ice, the layers of which showed distinct changes in temperature and CO2 content. Probably the most disheartening image to face in this part of the exhibit is that of the polar bear, rummaging through human garbage in search of food that is no longer plentiful in his or her own land.

The eighth, and last, section - A New Energy Future - offered up opportunities and options for both reducing CO2 emissions and creating energy to meet the demanding energy use of our ever-growing population. Some fantastic scale model versions of floating energy units and other ways of harnessing the natural energy sources of the earth were also on display.

All in all, this is a great exhibit to see whether you think you know everything about global climate change or whether you fancy yourself completely ignorant on the subject. It has plenty of things for children to do, lots of visual representation of complex subjects to utilize as teaching tools, and also goes into immense detail on some pretty intricate concepts. Whether used to introduce the concept of climate change to yourself or your family, or to reinforce/supplement your own working knowledge of the global problem at hand, go to this exhibit before it closes!

Picture captions: clockwise from upper left:
  1. Me in front of a mockup nuclear reactor...yeesh!
  2. Checking out a beautiful butterfly in the Butterfly Conservatory, which was also open.
  3. Multiple solutions to a clean energy sources
  4. Kids drew & wrote letters & pictures in response to global energy issues; my favorite is the single hand raised above the water (upper right of photo)
  5. Dinosaur shaped fried chicken pieces for dinner!

Anti Prop (H)8 Rally November 15, 2008

The City Hall area was filled for a little more than 2 hours as thousands of people congregated to speak up against Proposition 8 and all of its cousins. It started around 1:30 and ended around 3:15, was very peaceful but energetic, and there were a lot of powerful speakers there. The rally was one of several going on around the nation, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. What is interesting is that I knew about the rally from a friend on Facebook - in fact, the entire event was planned, promoted and organized online.

The number of creative signage was impressive, both humorous and with outright outrage. The most touching of sign-carriers were those who were with their loved ones who pointed out how many years they were engaged but not married. There were the bride & bride, groom & groom dress ups, and even a lady dressed in a bridesmaid dress holding a sign saying "Always a Bridesmaid, Never a...?"

And, as it happens in New York, I bumped into former UCLA-dorm-floor-mate Philip!

The truth is, the Propositions of anti-gay marriage are awaiting court decisions - that is, now that they're on the table, it is up to the courts to decide whether it is still constitutional or not. Frankly, after striking down Proposition 22, I can't imagine that the CA courts can say yes to this one. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger says he is against Prop 8 policy and wishes it overturned, although he seemed quiet while the campaign was going on.

Anyone interested in becoming a part of the solution to ending descrimination against gay & lesbian marriage, check out JoinTheImpact.com & JoinTheImpact.wetpaint.com. And if you yourself have a Flickr.com account with some pictures of the November 15th rally in your area, add them here.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

It was wild. Exciting, exhausting and stunning. I walked over to Times Square from work, met with Pete, and then hung out for a bit to take pictures and watch the political circus. The JumboTron MTV screen started playing The Daily Show/Colbert Report Indecision 2008 special election coverage, but we quickly lost interest as there was no sound - it's not as funny or understandable with closed captioning.

Times Square was set up for the event, with all of the huge screens broadcasting news networks, from NBC, ABC, CNN & FOX. Each time a new series of states came in for Obama, a huge wave of cheers erupted. Cheers also erupted every time the camera crane swept over the crowd for an action shot.

When the announcement that my home state, California, was officially on the map for Obama, and the words "President-Elect Barack Obama" started scrolling across the digital-screen ticker tape and onto the screens, the entire place went wild.

My entire flickr set can be found here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama '09-'12+

Part of the solution:

Voting Pic of the day (so far) on TwitPic

Part of history!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Raissa Katona Bennett & Terese Genecco @ The Metropolitan Room

The second half of Saturday, Nov 1st was spent in Cabaret Heaven. I went to two shows that highlight the extremes of the craft's spectrum. 180 degrees away from each other, these two shows (and these two ladies) exemplified the different personal energies that a cabaret show can encompass. One was beautifully meditative and emotional; the other was explosive and emotional. Either way, I was struck tonight at how the same stage (The Metropolitan Room) can be transformed from an intimate exploration of one's personal transformative state to a high-rolling, bongo-playing set on fire. I was a cabaret student yesterday, that's for sure.

After recovering from Halloween 2008, I went to see Raissa Katona Bennett perform her show "Putting Things Away" at the Metropolitan Room. It was just David Caldwell at the piano and herself at the microphone, directed by Eric Michael Gillett. A simple setup for a simple, straight-forward but emotional show.

Raissa kept to mostly original works and story/character-based songs that required emotional stamina and acting. Within the 13-odd songs, I believe I only recognized "Will You?" from the set, although that could have been due to cabaret-song ignorance. Standout songs included "I Furnished One Room Apartment" (lyrics by Michael Mooney, music by Stephen Hoffman), a scathingly funny "You Wanna Be My Friend?", a beautiful Menken/Spencer song "How Could I Not?", and a David Caldwell original entitled "Tomb With a View." Raissa does not steer clear of the extremes of tears and laughter - instead, she goes right into her emotional core on more than a few numbers and doesn't let go. She's definitely an actress-singer, one who does not shirk the character's moment to moment experience throughout the song. One song in particular (referencing her character's relationship with her mother) brought up incredible sorrow and anger from Raissa, showing a depth of her acting skills uncommon in standard "cookie-cutter cabaret." She ended her set with "We Live on Borrowed Time" by David Friedman, reminding us to take the reigns of any project, love, or opportunity as time goes by. I was happy to spend some of this borrowed time with her that late afternoon.

Upon leaving Raissa's show, I put down my name for Terese Genecco's late-late-late night show (11:45pm) and returned to the Metropolitan Room after doing a few errands. Terese is a San Francisco-based singer, although she has toured across the nation with her "little big band." I was soooo excited to finally meet and see her perform, having at least read about her performances via cabaret emailing lists and other online accounts. I was glad I put my name down earlier - with this being the 2nd and last show of hers in New York this round, the place was PACKED.

Dressed in a black suit and white necktie, with her dark brown/black hair cut short and spiky, Terese embodies a classic big band singer done modern. She had a 7-piece band on that tiny stage (some spillage over onto the stage left area). With piano, drums, bongos, upright bass, sax, trumpet & trombone, there was an incredible amount of sound emanating from the stage, filling the relatively small Metropolitan Room. However, Terese has a voice and an energy big enough to match her tiny band. During the night, she expressed that she once envisioned herself as the "white lesbian Sammy Davis, Jr." She stayed on that track with amazing re-arranged versions of such songs as "Any Place I Hang My Hat is Home," "Got a Lotta Livin' to Do," "With Plenty of Money And You," and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head." She even re-introduced the bongo-based arrangement of "Come Rain or Come Shine," as originally recorded by Judy Garland.

Mid-way through the show, Terese brought up a young but already accomplished singer, Shawn Ryan, known for being a semi-finalist on Season One of "America's Got Talent." They first sang a duet of "Any Way the Wind Blows," and I could tell from their banter that the two of them (almost photo negatives of each other by sex, height, and hair color) are great creative friends. Terese then left the stage for Shawn, who sang an incredibly funny version of "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It" (funny due to the fact that his husband was watching the show from his booth in the back!). Terese returned for a hot St. Louis-blues-rock version of "St. James Infirmary" arranged by the legendary Russell Garcia.

Terese's next song choice took almost everything out of the equation as she sang a song just by herself and the piano, proving herself to be a singer of emotional caliber in addition to her big-band persona. She sang the gorgeous song "If I was a Boy" by Maria Gentile & Caren Cole, written from the point of view of a lesbian who just wishes to be able to love her woman in the open, or to have a relationship with her dad without restraint. In light of Proposition 8 in California on the ballot this year, and being threatened to pass by a narrow margin on November 4th, this song had me holding back tears. I lost - a single tear ran down my cheek. Oh, and by the way Vote No on 8, California!!!

She ended the night with another big-band hoopla with Shawn Ryan teaching her how to "Shimmy." She allowed each band member their own solo, providing further proof that each of them were brilliant musicians in their own rights. Terese also pointed out all the singing and composing talent in the room, including Hector Coris, Michael Feinstein, Marilyn Maye, Jenna Esposito, Rob Langeder, and Tony DeSare. I left the Metropolitan Room tired but enthusiastic, with a raw voice and raw hands from too much wooping and clapping.

Terese Genecco & I

Shawn Ryan & I. I think we were born with the same T-zones...

All in all, a great night of Cabaret!!!

First Halloween in New York

First Halloween in New York - after much hemming and hawing, I came up with a Living Dead Doll costume completely made from pieces in my costume box and made my face up. Pete opted for a mask made with his baby-faced website logo. We then traveled down to the Chelsea-based New York Halloween Parade. I was used to the Santa Monica Blvd/West Hollywood parade of Los Angeles. However, this was probably more awesome, as New York's is an actual "Parade" of costumed people walking down the street, separated from onlookers with cameras behind police barricades. Walking in the NY parade feels like being a pseudo-rockstar. Professional and non-professional photographers run around as well - I had one photographer stop me for a photo (he got in close on my makeup). And you had to be wary of car-drawn floats blaring music and large mardi-gras costumes too. All in all, a lot of fun.

For the parade, we met up with Stew Noack - a photographer, designer, and amazing costume maker who dressed up with a group of his friends as characters from "The Venture Brothers." He went as one of the villains (damn, didn't remember the name), and had "flames" arising out of his head & one hand made of moldable, lightup led-based tubing. With a switch, he could make them pulsate too. He's going to make my costume for next year even if I have to lock him in my basement to do it. :)

We saw political dress-ups, some Sarah Palins, a flushable George Bush, a pro-Obama group yelling and beating drums. One group dressed like a bunch of flies being chased by Venus fly traps. There was a VHS-tape monster, a group of dancing gnome-creatures, and a gorgeous "spider" puppet hanging from the side of a building that danced incredibly spookily.

After food at the 24-hour-open Around the Clock diner in the East Village, we went home. This next part was the best bit: being stuffed into a late-night subway train with a huge number of people in costume. It was surreal, and I LOVED it.

More photos at my flickr.com Halloween 2008 set here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What's the Point? Original Musical Comedy Revue

During the "New Concerts at Tudor City" concert, Hector Coris sang a song from his upcoming musical comedy review "What's the Point?" It was a lovely, hilarious song both imitating and making fun of the "American Idol" phenomenon. He had fliers of his show, and I immediately took one. Here's the information - if the show is anything like that one song, it will be a laugh riot night.

"What's the Point?"
An Original Musical Comedy Revue
Music by Alan Cancelino
Lyrics by Hector Coris
Directed by Collette Black

with: Hector Coris, Patrick Garrigan, Eadie Scott
Choreography by Susan Haefner
Musical Direction by Alan Cancelino

Fridays at 7pm
November 14th & 21st, 2008

The Laurie Beechman Theater
at the The West Bank Cafe
Just West of 9th Ave
Reservations: (212) 695-6909

$15 cover * $15 food/drink minimum. Discounts available for MAC, Cabaret Hotline, BACA, AEA. Ask your server.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Friend Grae Drake Visits New York!

We were totally blessed on Monday with a visit from a favorite person of the world of ours...Grae Drake! She's a fantastic person, movie lover, editor, producer, podcast creator (http://www.popcornmafia.com/ and featured on an episode of How To Look Good Naked - and she does) and one can not help but be elevated spiritually, emotionally and a tiny bit physically by her presence. She only had 24 hours in New York itself (taking a break drive to and from friends in Connecticut & Boston), so we had to make the best of it. Her biggest "to do" was going to Central Park, so after I finished up my work & meetings we met up at my place and took the subway to 110th street, the NorthWest corner of the park.

We then took an almost completely random walk down Central Park, zig-zagging our way Southwards, from the North Woods & Ravine down past the North Meadow, then walked around the Reservoir, down past the Met Museum of Art, checked out Cleopatra's Needle/The Obelisk and the Belvedere Castle, rambled in a circuitous route through the Ramble itself, visited Cherry Hill and Bethesda Terrace, paid respects in Strawberry Fields, then walked down the Mall and the Literary Walk, sat for a moment to talk next to Shakespeare's statue, then left the park to walk towards the Apple Store via Fifth Avenue, where Grae marveled at the 24-hour location's outside. Whew! As I type this, my right ankle is being iced and wrapped - I think I overstressed it with so much walking, although at the time there wasn't enough pain to tell.

In any event, I signed up on the Central Park mailing list/free membership just so I can be informed on the park and get more of a sense of what goes on there in the future.

Look at all my photos here, or view some selections thus:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Catching Up On Some Cabaret

Tudor City Greens Concert...Chilly in the Park
I was extremely happy about my performance at the Tudor City Greens concert last Wednesday (the 22nd). Although it was outdoors at noon in the somewhat chilly wind, we had a great turnout full of enthusiastic audience members who braved the cold, wrapped up like we were.

Highlights of the show included Roger Mapes singing his song "Control Queen" on guitar, Sarah Rice performing a lovely ditty about offing her past husbands, and Scott Barbarino and the Bev-Naps singing classic 50's doo-wop with tight harmonies and a few comedic twists. As the theme of the evening was "Witchcraft," we saw some themed music (Raissa Katona Bennett sang "Witchcraft", while Mary Foster Conklin sang "The Richest Man in the Graveyard.") I dusted off my comedy song "Fifteen Pounds" and was able to bring in a witch-y themed song by singing "Children Will Listen" as sung by the Witch in "Into the Woods." Raissa & I sang backup to Lennie Watts, and Eric Michael Gillett closed the lunchtime show with a power ballad containing enough energy to raise the dead.

*UPDATE 10/29/08*
Raissa herself blogged on the event with a lot more detail and some fun pictures of the event - you can see how we're all bundled up against the cold :)

Julie Reyburn @ The Metropolitan Room
Saturday late afternoon, I traveled to The Metropolitan Room for the first time to see Julie Reyburn's cabaret show, directed by Peter Napolitano (no not this Peter, this Peter) and music directed by Mark Janas. She had a GREAT five-piece band featuring her husband on electric guitar, drums, and Ritt Henn on upright bass. The sound was perfect, the mood simple and straightforward, and Julie can SING! She has an incredibly supple voice, able to mix and match her way through classic American standards, blues/rock, and lovely ballads. She also has a great humor and ease about herself; I was taking mental notes about banter & song introduction. Mark Janas included some lovely cross-mixing of songs in his arrangements, and the band was superb. Of particular delight were the duets between Julie and her husband, and a crazy-energetic one between her and Ritt Henn (on an original composition of his). It was also great to hear songs like "Mama Will Provide" and a belted "When You Wish Upon a Star" - songs not commonly heard in Cabaret. She also performed a heartbreaking song from a new musical, "Pinocchio in Chelsea," written by Peter Napolitano and Mark Janas.

Julie Reyburn's show will bring her show back to The Metropolitan Room on Tuesday, November 25 @ 7pm and again on Saturday, December 6 @ 7:30pm and Saturday, December 13 @ 7:30pm. I highly recommend it, and I enjoyed the venue a lot also.

Playing "Dress Up" at the Algonquin Salon
Sunday afternoon (a change of time for this one day of the Salon schedule), Pete & I went over to the Algonquin Hotel for the open piano lobby, before I had rehearsal for Definitely Dickens. The theme this week was "Dress Up," and I took the opportunity to do something I've always dreamed of doing - dressing up like Alex from "A Clockwork Orange" and performing the song "Singing in the Rain." Mark Janas, his usual genius at the piano, struck up a bluesy version from memory and I got to check that "to do" off my list. Unfortunately, I had to leave early for rehearsal, but I enjoyed all the singers and inventive costumes there.

Trip Through Central Park & Chris Wade's "Anonymous Lives"
My friend Grae Drake of the PopcornMafia.com podcast & other shenanigans in Los Angeles came to visit Monday. Took half the day to walk with her and my husband through Central Park, starting at the NorthWestern corner on 110th street and walking sort of zig-zagged through the park, until we ended at the Apple Store on 5th Ave, waaaaay down on the SouthEastern corner. We took pictures, stopped to marvel at the stereotypically-beautiful fall colors emerging from the trees (a few "When Harry Met Sally"-esque poster backdrops were available thanks to nature doing her thing). I'll blog about our day on another post, since we took a lot of cool pictures and discovered a few interesting things for the first time in the park.

We ate dinner in Hell's Kitchen and then walked to the Dionysus Theater Complex to see fellow holiday caroler Chris Wade showcase some of his original pieces of composition in a work entitled "29Lives." As stated in the program, "Anonymous Lives" is technically the 13th volume of "29Lives" for composer, Chris Wade. "Anonymous Lives" is the first "29Lives" to have been directed and conceived for revue, versus the previous "concert-cabaret" style. The show was directed by Stephen Brotebeck and had an eclectic cast consisting of Roberto Araujo, Scott Barnhardt, Allison Rae Carlsen, Bradley Hoff, Erik Sisco, Amanda Stocker, and Molly Tynes. Of particular standout was a sexy belt-ballad by Molly Tynes entitled "I Wanna Remember This Night," a heartfelt "Out of My League" sung by Allison (lyrics by Jana Cudney), a fierce flaming-queen character piece "I'm Fiona" by Brad, and my personal favorite of the night, "Now I Know" sung by Roberto (the song incorporates the stress of having to push away a particularly "unflushable" former lover via text messages, voice mail, and Facebook, so it tickled this geek's funny bone).

Chris has a natural tendency towards emotional melodies and is able to nail some awesome harmonies in the multiple/choral numbers he has written. He is in the BMI composer's program (along with my UCLA-alum friend Brian Allen Hobbs), so I look forward to seeing an already solid base of talent grow in the coming year. And I also hope to sing with Chris in a quartet one of these upcoming Holiday days as we don our gay apparel (a.k.a. traditional "Dickens" garb) for our gig in the Definitely Dickens Holiday Carolers here in New York.