Jenna's Two Cents Blog   
Website: JennaEsposito.com   

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's my Birthday Week!

Which means...that my birthday show is nearly upon us! The show is on my actual birthday, which is Saturday, December 2nd, and I'm so excited about it. We've truly got an all-star lineup and we're going to be backed by an incredible band. The performers include Barbara Brussell, Lodi Carr, Angela Carstensen, Hector Coris, Fortune Esposito, Kelly Esposito-Broelmann, David Goldman, Ritt Henn, David Ippolito, Sue Matsuki, Michael Quinn, Ben Rauch, Gretchen Reinhagen, Matt Sigl, Jenny Lynn Stewart, Maureen Taylor and, of course, yours truly! The band is headed up by my dad, Fortune Esposito, who will be playing guitar and pulling things together as music director, and he'll be joined by Michael Blanco on bass, Richard Schacher on piano, and Brian DeWitt on drums. It's all happening at the Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Cafe at 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 2nd - hope to see you there! Seating is limited, so make sure to call for a reservation (212-695-6909). There's a $10 cover + $15 food/drink minimum. Discounts are available for MAC, Cabaret Hotline, P-M, Yale, and Cast Party.
Okay, so beyond my self-promotion, you're wondering, what else do I have to report today? The answer is "not a heck of a lot!" I actually had 5 WHOLE DAYS off around the Thanksgiving holiday, during which I pretty much baked, ate, and shopped. It was heavenly!
But before that...I saw Colm Reilly's Roy Orbison show at Helen's on Friday, 11/17 and I had a ball! This show truly lets Colm shine in a way that I'd never seen him shine before. I've always enjoyed watching him perform, but something about this music and the way he delivers it is just magical. This is a MUST SEE! I'm already trying to figure out when I can catch it again!
The following night, I saw the always-fabulous Sally Mayes at the Metropolitan Room. Sally put on a dynamite show, and I had a wonderful time. She has a great way of making every single person in the audience feel like her best friend, and it was a really enjoyable way to spend my Saturday night.
On Sunday, 11/19, I returned to the Metropolitan Room to see Scott Coulter in his new show, "Pocket Change." I'd seen Scott perform a number of times before, but never in a solo show, and what a treat it was! His sweet voice, his openness, and his engaging personality make for a show that's tough to beat. I hope he brings it back so I can see it again!
Tonight, I was back at the Metropolitan Room, this time to see Mary Bond Davis. Wow. What a voice! Probably the single biggest voice I've heard in the city, and you all know I hear a lot! The song selection was terrific, and Mary's joy in being able to share her music with the audience was evident.
Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, and I hope to see you at my show on Saturday!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Happy Friday!

Wow, what a week it's been! Monday night, I went to Broadway Unplugged at Town Hall and it was fantastic. Highlights for me included William Michals' haunting version of "The Impossible Dream," Mary Bond Davis cutting loose with "Down With Love" and Beth Leavel doing a frenzied and hilarious "Surabaya Santa." Jeffrey Denman's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was fantastic - how he can dance the way he does and then come back and sing and not be the slightest bit out of breath is one of life's great unsolved mysteries! Nancy Anderson, who perforemed "Naughty Marietta," was also incredible - I enjoyed her so much that I went to see her solo cabaret the following night at the Metropolitan Room. The show was called Ten Cents A Dance (she has a cd out with the same name) and featured songs of the twenties and thirties. Nancy's love of these songs shone through in every note, and she was a joy to watch and listen to. She was backed by a "little big band" led by Ross Patterson on piano, who also did the wonderful arrangements for the show. It was a VERY enjoyable night!
Last night, I had the rare treat of going to a show at the Oak Room. I went to hear the incomparable Andrea Marcovicci performing her new show "Feelin' Like A Million: A Salute to the Incomparable Hildegarde." It was an absolutely delightful evening. Andrea is such a charming performer - she has an amazing ability to draw in every single person in the room and make them feel like the show is just for them. As a surprise, Andrea's mother also performed a number, and wow! What a voice!! It was beautiful and strong and rich - it was truly a treat. Tonight, I'm off to Helen's to see the fabulous Colm Reilly in his new Roy Orbison show...I should have a report on that soon!
Have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mychelle Colleary and Broadway Unplugged!

Hello all! Well, I left off on Wednesday, when I was getting ready to head to the Metropolitan Room to see Mychelle Colleary's show,"ENTER the NOVEMBER NEBULA with SHIRLEY TEMPLE's EVIL TWIN." I had a great time - Mychelle put together a terrific show, weaving in a number of winter/holiday tunes to get us ready for the holiday season, which is fast-approaching! John DePalma was her guest, and the two of them had a great, relaxed chemistry and a wonderful vocal blend.
Tonight, I'm headed back to the Metropolitan Room to hear the fabulous Klea Blackhurst in her Hoagy Carmichael show, "DREAMING OF A SONG: THE MUSIC OF HOAGY CARMICHAEL." She's joined by Billy Stritch, which should make what promises to be a great show even better! I'll give a report later in the week.
Tomorrow is a night I've been looking forward to for a while - it's the third annual "BROADWAY UNPLUGGED" at Town Hall. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a show featuring a number of Broadway performers, all singing great Broadway songs the good old fashioned way - no amplification! It's a chance for us to hear the pure voice, without the assistance of mikes or a sound system. The reviews from past years have been outstanding, and I am really looking forward to seeing the show tomorrow night. If you don't have plans for tomorrow night yet, definitely give this some consideration! Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (212) 997-6661. Maybe I'll see you there!
In any case, hope you all had great weekends, and I'll post an update soon!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rainy Days and Mondays...

Well, it isn't Monday, but boy, is it raining! Actually, I rather enjoy it, except the problem is it makes me just want to curl up with a glass of red wine and a good book, which would be very nice, but not too terribly productive. So, picking up from last week...I had such a fabulous Saturday night! First, I went with my dad to see Jamie deRoy and Friends at Symphony Space. Her guests that night were Leslie Kritzer, Eric Bergen, Deven May, Kathy Brier, and Larry Gatlin! It was a terrific show. The first half was Jamie, Leslie, Eric, Deven and Kathy (terrific, all!), and the second half was all Larry Gatlin, who was absolutely incredible. Before he sang, he mentioned that he'd had three throat surgeries, so I wasn't sure what his voice would be like, but wow! Absolutely beautiful. He did a bunch of Gatlin Brothers songs, and the time just flew by. There was a reception afterwards, so we mingled at that for a while, and Dad got to talk to Larry Gatlin, which made his night! Then we headed down to the piano bar at Helen's, which is always fun. Dad had never been there, so I wanted him to see what it was like. We ran into Jeanne MacDonald, who had performed her show there that evening, and she treated everyone to a few songs at the piano bar, which was great. She's extended her run for one more night, so I'm going to go see it then - next Friday, November 17th - looking forward to it! That's going to be a really fun night, because before Jeanne's show, Colm Reilly (co-owner of Helen's, fabulous singer, and all-around great guy) is going to be doing his new Roy Orbison show - I can't wait to see it!
But I digress...so, Dad and I hung out at the piano bar, I sang a few tunes, we had a blast, and before we knew it, it was two in the morning, so we headed back to Brooklyn to hit the sack. On Sunday, I spent a good portion of the afternoon hanging up posters and handing out flyers in the Times Square area. The posters are for the upcoming Broadway Unplugged show at Town Hall, which is going to be fantastic. It's on Monday, November 13th at 8 p.m., and is going to feature a host of Broadway stars singing without amplification - yep, the old fashioned way! It's the third year of it, and although I haven't been to one before, I've heard it's really incredible, so I'm really looking forward to seeing it next week!
On Monday evening, I headed to my own neighborhood in Brooklyn to check out Debra and Mary's Night on the Town, the weekly show put on by Debra Barsha and Mary Cleere Haran at Biscuit BBQ (formerly Night and Day Restaurant). They have a special guest star every week, and this week, it was Michael Quinn, a wonderfully talented singer, writer, and lyricist, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to check out the scene. I had great time. Debra is a super-talented composer and pianist, and Mary Cleere Haran is one of the biggest and best cabaret singers in the country, so having the two of them together is a great treat! The show was a lot of fun - as it was Election Day Eve, there was plenty of political satire, and the audience had a blast. After the show, we raced back into Manhattan to catch the second half of Cast Party, which was (as usual) lots of fun.
Last night, I met with my director to work on my February show (Friday February 2nd, and Friday, February 9th, 9 p.m. at the Laurie Beechman, hint hint!), then I headed over to Sweet Rhythm to hear Mary Foster Conklin in her tribute to the music of Matt Dennis. I'd been hearing about the show from a lot of people and was really excited to get a chance to hear it myself. It was a really great, jazzy show. Mary Foster sang with a 5-piece band (piano, bass, guitar, drums, and sax), and her voice seemed to know no bounds. Seamless and smoky, with a lower register to die for. I'm really happy I was able to catch her!
Tonight, I'm headed to the Metropolitan Room to see Mychelle Colleary in her show Enter the November Nebula with Shirley Temple's Evil Twin. How's THAT for a title?! Mychelle's got a dynamite voice, so I'm really looking forward to the show.
That's about all for now - check back for an update soon!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

TGI(Almost)F!

Okay, I'm hoping to be able to get caught up on all of my show reporting tonight! So, picking up where I left off...that would be Friday, October 20th. I caught Russ Lorenson's show, Benedetto/Blessed: A Tribute to the Life and Music of Tony Bennett, which was at the Iridium that night. What a terrific show. Russ has a beautiful voice, and an obvious love of his subject matter and his material. He doesn't pound the audience over the head with Tony Bennett facts, but gives us enough that we're not lost! It was really a most enjoyable show, and I was sorry to see it end! I'm hoping he'll bring it back to NY so I have a chance to see it again! After the show, Russ and I and some other friends headed to Patsy's on West 56th for a great Italian dinner. Russ and I had been planning this pilgrimage for a while. You see, I do my Rosemary Clooney show and Russ does his Tony Bennett show, and Patsy's is where Rosemary and Tony and Frank (Sinatra) and all of the others used to hang out. I'd read in Rosemary's autobiography that Patsy, the original owner, would let her and Frank eat for free when they were struggling. They'd have big bowls of pasta and sit and chat and Patsy would only let them pay when they had a paying gig. Now, I'd gone to Patsy's before, in hopes of soaking up some "Rosie karma" and I knew I had to take Russ there. The chef, Sal (Patsy's grandson!), is terrific - I'd met him with my parents before, and he was thrilled that I brought friends back to eat. He gave us each a jar of his vodka sauce to take home and sent us a yummy pastry tray for dessert. We had such a great time (and fabuous food!). Well-fortified, we headed down to Helen's to catch Shawn Ryan's show (again!). Yes, I'd seen it two nights before, but it was so much fun, I went back for more! Again, it was super high-energy, and Shawn was such an engaging performer. Russ and I stayed in the piano bar at Helen's till the wee small hours of the morning, then I cabbed it home!

So...Saturday, I had a triple-header. First, I went to see Grey Gardens on Broadway. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Absolutely amazing. Christine Ebersole gives an incredible tour-de-force performance. It is an absolute must see. The music is beautiful, and the show is so well-crafted and well-acted that even though the music is such an integral part, it almost plays as a straight play with music.
That evening, I headed to Town Hall to see Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner in the second night of Scott Siegel's Broadway Cabaret Festival. The two of them had played Siamese twins in the Broadway musical Sideshow, and were reunited for this one night to put on what ended up being a truly spectacular show. Individually, they are both incredibly talented vocalists, and together, the energy they create is nothing short of remarkable. I was thrilled to be in the audience.
After that, I headed down to the Metropolitan Room to catch Faith Prince and, well, I already wrote about that when I got home that night, but just to reiterate - Wow! What a show. I've been a big fan of Faith Prince ever since high school, when I fell in love with her as Adelaide in Guys and Dolls, and it was a spectacular treat to see her in such an intimate setting. She was funny, she was witty, she was touching, she was poignant. Vocally, well, she was amazing. So yes, I did go back the following night to see her again...but first, I went to the earlier show at the Metropolitan Room, which was the incredible Wesla Whitfield. I'd seen Wesla a perform a few numbers at the Cabaret Convention a couple of years ago, but I'd never been privileged enough to see her do a whole show. I'd been told that she is the master of lyric interpretation, and after seeing this show, I'd have to agree. Songs I'd heard countless times before became fresh again. Her delivery was so effortless, yet absolutely captivating. Another treat for me!
So now we're up to Monday, October 23rd. I headed down to Don't Tell Mama at 7:00 to catch my friend Gretchen Reinhagen in her show "Redefined." I was really blown away. I'd worked with Gretchen at Perry-Mansfield in Colorado, but had only gotten to hear her do one song at a time there. So, what a joy to see her whole show. Gretchen's got a voice that could blow the roof off the place, but she's also got the good sense not to overpower you with every note. Her material was well-chosen, and delivered extremely well. Gretchen's got a "colossal personality" and is one of the funniest women I know, and luckily, she was able to share all of her wonderful qualities in her show. Again, I hope she brings it back, because it would be an absolute pleasure to see it again! After her show, I of course, headed to Cast Party, which was a blast, as usual. Ray Jessel did a couple of his signature tunes, David Ippolito charmed us with a new song, and lots of others kept us all entertained.
Wednesday night I went to see The Two And Only on Broadway. Now, I didn't know quite what to expect...I'd heard great things about it, but didn't know how entertained I'd be by an entire show of ventriloquism. Well, I was pleasantly surprised...or pleasantly shocked, more like it! What an incredible show! Jay Johnson, the ventriloquist, is an absolute genius. After sitting through the 90-minute show, I walked out, shaking my head, saying "How does he DO that?!" Funny, engaging, and surprisingly poignant - I'd highly, highly recommend checking it out!
Moving along to Thursday night...drumroll please...I went to see Amanda McBroom with my sis, Kelly! Amanda is truly a cabaret goddess. I'd never seen her before...of course, I'd heard a lot of her songs, and always admired her songwriting, but I had no idea she was such an incredible performer. Her pairing of "Look to the Rainbow" with "Errol Flynn" was incredibly moving, and she performed a couple of numbers from her one-woman show, A Woman of Will which I loved. She was utterly captivating from start to finish (and of course, she finished with "The Rose!"). I am so, so happy that I got to see her in action.
Friday evening, I caught Julie Reyburn at the Laurie Beechman. It was her final performance of her cabaret show "Everybody's Song." I'd heard lots of great things about it, and was eager to see it myself - and I'm very happy I did. Julie had a terrific selection of songs, and did a great job of delivering them - she paid terrific attention to lyrics and sang beautifully. So glad I got a chance to see it.
On Sunday, 10/29, I saw Terrell Baker at Don't Tell Mama. Terrell is blessed with a beautiful, rich baritone/bass voice, and it was great to hear him do a whole show. When he opens his mouth, the voice that comes out is so full and deep, it's almost shocking! He's a new talent in the NY cabaret circuit, and hopefully he'll be here for a long time to come. He's so talented, and has a lovely, warm personality that just shines through when he's onstage. He's got another performance coming up on November 11th - definitely check it out if you can!
Monday night, I hit Cast Party as usual, Tuesday night was Halloween (I'd planned on watching "The Shining," but I'm ashamed to admit I got hooked on "Dancing With the Stars" instead! Followed, of course, by "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"), last night I just went out to dinner with some friends, and now it's now! Yay, I'm caught up!
I'm sure I've missed a detail here or there; if there's anything I've written about that you'd like more info on, just send me an email.
Have a fantastic weekend, and I promise to update soon!