Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wow, what a week (or so)!

Well, I've got a TON to report, so I'm going to do my best, but it may take a couple of entries! So...picking up where I left off on Monday, 10/16...I did go to the Laurie Beechman to check out the "New Mondays." It was really great! Henry Krieger is one of the original creators of "Dreamgirls," and he treated us to a brand-new song from the upcoming movie, as well as the most well known song from the original show, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." Adam Wagner, the 23-year old composer I wrote about last month performed some of his own material...again - it was clever, fun, and most of all, fresh! Lina Koutrakos, best known as a rock/cabaret singer, performed some of her own, beautifully written material, and Craig Safan performed one of his songs, then had his daughter perform of his songs (what a terrific voice!) and then had the incomparable Faith Prince perform two selections. What a fantastic show! I was so happy to be able to catch it. After that, I headed over to my usual Monday night haunt, Cast Party. We had a bunch of out-of-towners there for Cabaret Convention week, including my good friend Russ Lorenson, which was a lot of fun! Russ was in town with his Tony Bennett show (more on that later), and it was his first time at Cast Party in a long time. He brought the house down with his "One For My Baby," which paid homage to both Frank Sinatra's and Tony Bennett's renditions. Other performer friends that night included Gretchen Reinhagen, Sue Matsuki, Maureen Taylor, Jenny Lynn Stewart, and the incomparable Ray Jessel. What a fab night!
On Wednesday evening, I joined Russ to sing at Tower Records. Tower had been running a series called "Any Wednesday," which featured a different cabaret singer each week in a free half hour show followed by a cd signing. Now, unfortunately, Tower Records is going out of business, so Russ's performance marked the end of the series. Russ was kind enough to ask me to do a few numbers with him (really, twist my arm!), so of course I obliged. Russ did mostly songs from his Bennett show, with a few mixed in from his show "A Little Travelin' Music." He was joined by his musical director, Kelly Park, on piano, and Reid Whatley, on bass. What a treat for me to get to sing with them, too! After the performance, we rushed down to Columbus Circle to catch the second half of that night's Cabaret Convention, which was a tribute to the Incomparable Hildegarde. Boy, am I glad we made it there! Andrea Marcovicci co-hosted that portion of the evening and performed a few numbers (accompnied, of course, by the fabulous Shelly Markham), giving us a glimpse of her upcoming tribute to Hildegarde, which is opening at the Oak Room on November 14th. During the course of the show, she appeared in three different gowns, all of them simply dazzling. Ann Hampton Callaway and Barbara Fasano were other highlights of the evening for me.
After THAT, I went down to Helen's with Russ Lorenson, Terese Genecco, Shaynee Rainbolt, Ray Jessel, and a few others to catch Shawn Ryan's show. It was the first time I'd seen Shawn, after hearing nothing but raves about him from everyone in the biz, and I was not let down. What a fun show! Shawn's got a great voice, and energy to spare. His humor sparkles through in everything he sings, and he really has a great rapport with the audience. Fun, fun, fun.
The next night, I caught Ray Jessel's show at Don't Tell Mama. As always, I spent the entire show grinning from ear to ear. I just love Ray's wit. His songs are mostly funny, but can also be quite poignant. He's in town through the end of November, so I'll definitley go back to see him at least once more!
Anyway, I need to take a break from typing, but I will continue this entry later...I've still got 11 more days to cover!
Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Faith Prince!

Hello all! This is just going to be a quick post - I'm exhausted and I've got another full day tomorrow (Sunday), but I just wanted to say...if you're in New York on Sunday, GO SEE FAITH PRINCE! She's at the Metropolitan Room at 8 p.m. I went to see her tonight and was simply blown away. Hands down, the best cabaret I've seen all year.
I've got a TON to write when I get some downtime, so be prepared to make yourself some hot cocoa and have a nice sit-down to read my blog later in the week!
I'm off to bed now, but promise to write more soon!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Weekend Wrap-up

Hello and Happy Monday! Wow, what a great weekend. It all began on Friday night with my show I Hate Men: Songs for the Scorned which we did at the Laurie Beechman. I had so much fun doing the show, and we ended up with a really nice house, which was great. Thank you to everyone who came out to support me! Special thanks to my fellow singers/cabaret artists who came out over the past few weeks to see my show (sorry if I've forgotten anyone!): Sue Matsuki (who wins the prize because she came both nights!), Maureen Taylor, Toni Rae Brotons, Gretchen Reinhagen, Michael Quinn, Eva Swan, Ray Jessel, Terrell Baker, Ryan Jons, and Mychelle Colleary.
Saturday night, the fun continued when I went to see Barbara Brussell's show at Danny's. The show, called Mercer, Mercer Me...and other Huckleberry Friends, was simply captivating. Barbara can put her own stamp on well-known songs perhaps better than anyone I know. She did a stunning medley of "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Day In, Day Out," and had us in stitches with "I Fought Every Step of the Way." Particularly touching was her rendition of Christine Lavin's "The Kind of Love You Never Recover From." It was a great night for cabaret-singer spotting, as audience members included Sue Matsuki, Ray Jessel, Christine Pedi, Julie Wilson, and Leslie Orofino. Barbara has one more performance left on Thursday, 10/19 at 10:45 p.m. I'd highly recommend it if you can get there!
Yesterday was a super-busy day for me. I had to take an early train upstate to do a concert with my dad and my sister, then I headed right back to the city so I could catch a little of Michael Blanco's CD release party before heading to the Metropolitan Room to catch Terese Genecco. So, beginning with the Michael Blanco Quintet at the Bacchus Room...I wrote about them probably around a month or so ago. Michael's a fabulous bassist who also happens to compose some great jazz tunes. I really enjoyed the last gig I went to, so I definitely wanted to stop in to support the new CD. Well, I certainly wasn't disappointed. I caught most of the first set, and was once again really impressed - first of all, by the songwriting, but also by the way the group played together. Michael was accompnied last night by Rich Perry on tenor sax, Aaron Goldberg on piano, Alan Ferber on trombone, and Bill Campbell on the drums. Everything fell into a great groove, and the time just flew! My favorite was a song called "Leaving Brooklyn." Maybe it's because I'm a Brooklyn-ite myself...but the song really seemed to speak to me. Very cool. I wasn't expecting to run into any of the usual cabaret crowd there, but I did - towards the end of the set, I looked up, and who was walking through the door but Barbara Brussell and Ritt Henn! Small world, small world....
I hated to leave, but I did have to head up to the Metropolitan Room to see Terese's show Drunk With Love: A Tribute to Frances Faye. I'd been hearing raves about it from EVERYONE, and I was dying to finally see it! And again, I was not disappointed! What a fabulous, fabulous show. The sheer energy behind it is astounding, and Terese has a terrific voice, and an amazing 7-piece "little big band!" She explained from the start that her goal in doing this show was not to impersonate Frances, but rather, to capture the energy of her shows. And I think everyone who has seen Terese is in agreement: she's succeeded! Backed by piano, drums, bongos, bass, tenor sax, trumpet, and trombone, Terese seemed ready to explode with energy at points. The arrangements were stellar - they never dominated or overshadowed, but they lent real support to the energy of the vocals. At one point, Terese asked if there was anyone famous in the audience - then proceeded to explain that in Faye's day, there were always celebs in the audience. All of the big singers of the time - Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, etc., would see France's show whenever she was in town. While there were no Garlands or Sinatras present last night, Terese did succeed in getting a number of cabaret's elite in to see her show. Billy Stritch, Marilyn May, Russ Lorenson, Ray Jessel, Shaynee Rainbolt, Mychelle Colleary, and Roy Sander were all there last night. And, based on the posts on Cabaret Hotline, I'd venture to say she did okay on the other nights of the run, too! Anyway, a terrific, terrific show. She's got one more performance at 10:30 tonight, then she's back to San Francisco. Catch her if you can!
As for me tonight, I'm heading over to the Laurie Beechman at 7 p.m. to catch the latest in their "New Mondays" series. Tonight's show is featuring new music from Lina Koutrakos, Henry Krieger, Craig Safan, and Adam Wagner, and Faith Prince is joining in the fun as the special guest vocalist! Then, of course, it's off to Cast Party!
Stay tuned for more updates this week!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tonight, tonight...

...won't be just any night! And THAT, my friends, is because I've got a show tonight! And not just any show. It's the final performance of I Hate Men: Songs for the Scorned! This is a show of which I'm immensely proud, and I am really looking forward to sharing it tonight. We had an absolute blast doing it last week, and I can't wait to get onstage tonight to do it again! This is our second run of the show, so after this we're going to be putting it to bed (at least for a while) and begin working on a new show. So...if you haven't seen it, tonight is the time! It's at the Laurie Beechman Theater at 9 p.m. I'm running a special promotion tonight - it's called the "Jenna Extends The Olive Branch Special." Bring a single, eligible man to introduce to me after the show, and receive a coupon for 1/2 off the cover at my next show "Happy Birthday to Me: Jenna's All-Star Birthday Bash," playing Saturday December 2nd at 7 p.m. at the Laurie Beechman.
So, moving on from my self-promotion...I went to the Iridium the other night to catch Ritt Henn's show, and boy am I happy I did. I'd never seen a full show of his before, just a song or two here or there. He's an amazingly talented singer/songwriter/bassist. His songs are witty and clever, and his easy, relaxed demeanor on stage immediately puts the audience at ease. It was the most fun I've had at a show in a long time!
Last night, I went to a MAC - sponsored seminar on marketing for cabaret, specifically focusing on using the internet to market yourself. Richard Skipper organized and moderated the seminar, and the panelists were performers Terese Genecco, Karen Kohler and Russ Lorenson; web designer Glen Charlow; and publicist Susan L. Schulman. It was really informative, and I was shocked at how much I walked away with! Thanks to Richard and all of the panelists for taking time out of their busy schedules to put together a really great seminar.
It's going to be a busy weekend for me - I've got my show tonight, after which I'm going to try to dash uptown to the Triad to do a number in Ryan Jons' musical notebook, Random. Tomorrow, I'm going to try to catch the fabulous Barbara Brussell at 9:30 p.m. at Danny's Skylight Room, and then Russ Lorenson at Helen's at 11:30 p.m. Sunday morning will find me traveling upstate to perform in a benefit concert with my dad an my sister at a church in Otisville, NY, then I'll be dashing back to the city to catch Terese Genecco at the Metropolitan Room at 10:30. Whew! I'm getting tired just thinking about it. Better keep drinking my Smart Water!
Anyway, I truly hope you can make my show tonight - it's going to be a lot of fun, I promise!
See you there!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday in New York

New York on Sunday...ah yes, what a beautiful day today was. I spent part of my afternoon doing a performance with Vocal Ease at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, which was actually a lot of fun. Vocal is is a non-profit volunteer singing organization that brings shows to hospitals and nursing homes all over the city. It's headed up by Eva Swan, who does a terrific job of organizing all of the shows and is a great performer, herself. Besides Eva, the performers today were me and my friend Hector Coris and we were accompanied by Sheldon Forrest on piano. It was a great show and the audience was truly appreciative, which was nice.
Now, to backtrack a little bit and cover the rest of the weekend...I had my first performance of I Hate Men: Songs for the Scorned at the Laurie Beechman Theater and it was an absolute blast! That was my first time playing that room, and I must say, what a great room it was to play! The stage is bigger than most cabaret stages, so as a performer, I felt like I could breathe a bit, and the tables are also much more spread out than the tables in other cabaret rooms, so the audience also has room to breathe, and I believe they were much more receptive to the show, being so comfortable! I was really, really happy with the show, and I cannot wait to do it again this coming Friday - hope you can make it!!
Last night, I'd been planning to see Jeanne MacDonald at Helen's, but I unexpectedly ended up getting a ticket to go see Defying Gravity: The Music of Stephen Schwartz, which was a one-night-only show at Drew University in Madison, NJ. Now, the music of Stephen Schwartz alone would have been enough to attract me, but the lineup of performers was unbelieveable: Liz Callaway, Debbie Gravitte and Scott Coulter. I'd seen Liz and Scott before, and had heard wonderful things about Debbie, and I was not disappointed! Liz Callaway does, hands-down, the absolute best version of Meadowlark, and of course, that was included last night - I was a happy girl! All three performers sang beautifully and enjoyed a camaraderie with each other that was very special and made the show all the more enjoyable. What a terrific night.
Tomorrow, of course, is Cast Party, and I will be there with bells on. My dad came with me last week, which was really fun, and he might be joining me again tomorrow - yay!
Hope everyone had a terrific weekend - will post an update soon!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Show tomorrow!!!!

Well, as you can see from my title - yes! I have a show tomorrow night! It's round 2 of I Hate Men: Songs for the Scorned and I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo excited. We had a blast doing the show at the Duplex in June, and I am thrilled to be doing it in the Laurie Beechman Theater. It's a bigger room with a bigger stage, and they have food, too! Which doesn't really help me out much, as I'm not planning on chowing down while I sing, but as an audience member, I think that's a big bonus. For those of you who haven't seen the show or aren't sure quite what to expect, I can assure you that it is a lot of fun, and I am most definitely not a crazy, militant, man-hating feminist - just a gal who's had a remarkable number of really bad dates! I'm backed by a fabulous band, and the music ranges from '60s pop to Broadway to jazz/standards - a little something for everyone! Stu Hamstra of Cabaret Hotline had this to say about the first run of the show: "It is all good fun and Ms. Esposito's powerful vocals and witty patter made this a most enjoyable show...this 'celebration of bitterness' is musical comedy at its best, and Ms. Esposito's talent in this style of performance is a joy to behold." That being said, I really , really hope to see you there tomorrow night. Or next week (10/13). Or both! Both shows are at 9 p.m. and reservations may be made at (212) 695-6909.
Now, enough about me (for now at least). Let me talk about some of my colleagues that I'm planning on supporting...
Saturday, 10/7, I'm going to see the fabulous Jeanne MacDonald at Helen's at 9:30 p.m. This is her new show that she debuted at the Bradstan last month, and I can't wait to see it again - great song selection, beautifully delivered.
My friend Russ Lorenson is coming into town from San Francisco, and he's doing shows at Helen's on 10/13 (9:30 p.m.), 10/14 (11:30 p.m.) and 10/21 (7 p.m.), as well as one at the Iridium on 10/20 at 7 p.m. His show is called Benedetto/Blessed, and is a salute to the fabulous Tony Bennett. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure it's going to be fabulous.
Also coming in from San Francisco are two performers I haven't seen, but I've heard wonderful things about: Shawn Ryan and Terese Genecco. Russ is at Helen's 10/18-10/20 at 11:30 p.m. I'm planning on catching him on 10/20. Terese is doing her show Drunk With Love: A Tribute to Frances Faye at the Metropolitan Room 10/13-10/16 at 10:30 p.m. I'm going to be going to her 10/15 show.
Okay, last but most CERTAINLY not least, one of my favorite performers, Ray Jessel, is going to be performing at Don't Tell Mama on Thursdays (10/12, 10/19, 10/26) at 11 p.m. Ray is one of the funniest, quirkiest songwriters I know, and his shows are a blast! Do not miss him while he's in town!!!!
Okay, signing off for now...hope to see you tomorrow night at my show!!!!