Jenna's Two Cents Blog   
Website: JennaEsposito.com   

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Whew!

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks, so I am WAY behind on my blogging! I'm going to try to include everything I've seen since I last posted (which is a lot!)...so here goes!
So...on January 10th, I went to the Metropolitan Room to see Nightlife Award winner Lorinda Lisitza in "Triumphant Baby: The Songs of Iconis and Maddock." Iconis and Maddock are a young songwriting duo, poised to take Broadway by storm. Their songs are clever and creative, and just a little bit on the kooky side, and Lorinda did a terrific job of delivering them. Everyone had told me this show was a must see, and I'm SO happy I got to see it!

On the Saturday after Lorinda's show, I went to the Sheet Music Society Meeting , which was terrific! It was a salute to the great hotel pianists, and I got to see Steve Ross, Nancy Anderson, Ronny Whyte, and many other extremely talented performers. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon at all! After that, I headed over to the Metropolitan Room to catch Mary Foster Conklin in her tribute to Matt Dennis, "Blues for Breakfast: Remembering Matt Dennis." I'd caught the show a few months ago at Sweet Rhythm and was so enthralled, I couldn't pass up the chance to see it again. This time, too, I was simply captivated - by Mary's smooth, smoky voice, as well as the beautiful, moody music she was singing. A great way to spend a Saturday evening! After THAT, I saw Spring Awakening on Broadway and WOW! What a show. I don't want to give too much away in case you're planning on seeing it yourselves, but I will say that it is a POWERFUL show with great music and terrific performances from the entire cast.

The next day, I went to the Metropolitan Room to see the lovely Tanya Holt in her show there. With musical direction by Rick Jensen and direction by Lina Koutrakos, Tanya put on a great show. She has a smooth, easy voice, and I could have listened to her sing all night! Of particular note was Rick Jensen's terrific arrangement of "Them There Eyes," which Tanya delivered superbly. After Tanya's show, it was off to Don't Tell Mama to see Booth Daniels in his show, "Unconventional." Well, "unconventional" it was...and it was also fabulous! Booth incorporated a lot more pop/rock into his show than I am used to hearing in cabaret, and he really made it work. In addition to his unique song selection, Booth brought an enormous personality and great sense of humor to the stage, and the hour simply flew by. I think my personal favorite was his self titled "midget" medley, comprised of "Short People," "I Wish," and Ben Folds' "One Angry Dwarf." He also managed to incorporate "Baby Got Back" into the show - definitely the first time I have ever heard THAT in a cabaret! A highly entertaining show...if he brings it back, definitely try to catch it!!!

Let's see...the following weekend, I went to see my good friend Russ Lorenson in his show "Benedetto/Blessed: A Tribute to the Life and Music of Tony Bennett" at Helen's. I went not once, but twice! Now for those of you who don't know, I'm an official Russ-ette, which is basically a Russ groupie. We even have a theme song for him. So of course, I had to see his show both times it played! I'd seen it in October, when Russ was in town for Cabaret Convention week, and it was interesting to see how it had grown and developed since the last time I saw it. It was terrific the first time around, but this time, I felt that Russ was able to bring more of himself to Tony's music, which was a nice treat. His "Lost in the Stars," performed off mike with just piano, was particularly touching. Kelly Park's gorgeous piano playing and terrific arrangements helped make an already great show even better. Russ's beautiful voice, great energy, and true love for the music he performs make this show worth catching as many times as you can.

Since then, I've taken a bit of a hiatus in my show-going...because I've been hard at work putting together my OWN show, SMOOCH! which has its first performance tonight! I am SO excited. I don't think I've ever done a show where I truly LOVE every song in the set as much as I love all of the songs in SMOOCH! I really, really hope you can make it. It goes up tonight and next Friday, February 9th. Both shows are at 9 p.m. at the Laurie Beechman Theatre at the West Bank Cafe (407 W. 42nd, just west of 9th Ave.). For reservations, call 212-695-6909. If you're not able to make it to either of those, I'll be doing two performances of it at John's Harvest Inn in Middletown, NY on Friday, February 23rd. There's a 7:30 show and a 9:45 show. For reservations for those two performances, you can call 845-343-6630. Hope to see you at one of the SMOOCH! shows!

I promise to get back to updating more frequently after this - check back soon for updates!

Happy Groundhog's Day and lots of smooches to all!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Back in the saddle...

Well, last week was a little slow for me, but I'm slowly getting back up to speed! On Saturday afternoon, I went to see Chicago with my family, and I had a great time. I'd seen it in 2000, so it had really been a while and I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it. The reasons for going were Bebe Neuwirth and Huey Lewis (my childhood FAVORITE!)...now, unfortuately, we saw Huey's understudy (who was really good, actually!), but Bebe was worth every penny! I didn't realize she was playing Roxie this time, so that was a fun surprise. It truly is a great show - highly entertaining, and a fabulous way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
That evening, I returned to the Oak Room to see the fabulous Andrea Marcovicci in her tribute to the incomparable Hildegarde. I'd seen the show in November and had a terrific time, so I was curious to see how it had evolved in the ensuing 6 weeks or so. I must say that, as much as I enjoyed it the first time, I enjoyed it even more this time. Andrea was so charming and so very, very entertaining. The show was like a refreshing sip of really good champagne - bubbly and sparkling, and leaving you desiring more!
On Sunday, I went to the 92nd Street Y to see a tribute to my idol, Rosemary Clooney. The show was called "The Last Girl Singer: Rosemary Clooney and Her Way With Words," and the stellar cast featured Karen Ziemba, John Pizzarelli, Paula West and James Naughton and Rosemary's daughter-in-law, Debby Boone. John Oddo, Rosemary's musical director, was the musical director for the show and it was Rosemary's band onstage. It was a great show and a wonderful tribute to one of the all-time greats.
So...I had a very full, very entertaining weekend!
And then, of course, I went to Cast Party last night! It was my first time in three weeks, so it was good to get back! It was a really fun night, with some of my favorite regulars (Christine Lavin, David Goldman, Sue Matsuki, Maureen Taylor, Hilary Kole, Ben Rauch, and Lari White, to name a few) and some great newcomers!
I'm looking forward to heading to the Metropolitan Room to see Lorinda Lisitza tomorrow night in her show, "Triumphant Baby: The Songs of Iconis & Maddock. It ran for a few nights before the holidays, and I'd really wanted to see it, so I'm glad I've got another chance!
That's about all for now...more updates soon!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone! I'm back from my vacation and ready to go see some shows! The last show I saw was on Wednesday, December 20th. It was Karen Mason's Christmas show at the Metropolitan Room and it was fabulous! With Christopher Denny at the piano, she put on a terrific show that provided a welcome respite from the holiday madness. I've been meaning to write about it since the night I saw it, but the aforementioned holiday madness prevented me from doing so. Highlights for me included a fun, grown-up reading of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," Joni Mitchell's "River," which was hauntingly juxtaposed with "Joy to the World," and one of my favorite Karen songs, "The Sweetest of Nights and the Finest of Days." It was such a great show, I can't wait until Karen's 2007 Christmas show!
I'm easing myself back into things this week, and am hoping to catch Andrea Marcovicci's Hildegarde show at the Oak Room one more time before it closes. There's also a Rosemary Clooney show at the 92nd Street Y I'm planning to see. It's called "The Last Girl Singer: Rosemary Clooney and Her Way With Words" and features an amazing lineup - Karen Ziemba, Paula West, John Pizzarelli, James Naughton and Debbie Boon! I'm really looking forward to seeing it.
That's (amazingly!) all for now, but look for more updates soon!
Happy 2007!