Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Friday, March 23, 2007

Happy Friday!

Wow! How the heck did 2 weeks fly by since my last post? I tell ya, it's just been busy, busy, busy! So, let me try to plow through some of the fabulous shows I've seen in the past few weeks. On Friday, March 9th, I saw Tony DeSare at the Oak Room and wow! What a great show! He was joined by a terrific band, with the incomparable Bucky Pizzarelli on guitar, Brian Czach on drums, and Michael Lee on bass. Tony's got a great, smooth voice, amazing piano skills, great takes on old standards, and original tunes that'll knock your socks off. His "Fly Me to The Moon" was a virtuoso piano solo, and his "Just in Time" swung like crazy! Out of the original tunes, my favorite is a gently ballad called "How I Will Say I Love You." If you haven't heard Tony before, do NOT miss him the next time he's in town!
After Tony's show, we headed over to Don't Tell Mama to catch Ray Jessel. I've written about Ray before, but not for a while, so let me write again! Ray is a brilliant songwriter, who will have you falling out of your chair laughing one moment, and wiping away a tear the next. His witty, clever, and slightly naughty comedy songs are some of my all-time favorite songs, and his ballads are simple and poignant. Ray is a true treasure and again, he is another "don't miss!"
The following day, I finally went to see "The Drowsy Chaperone" on Broadway. Bob Martin, the "man in the chair" was scheduled to do his last performance in NY the following day (he's off to head up the London cast!) and I'd heard that his performance was not to be missed. I'd heard right, too! The show is charming and funny, and overflowing with talented performers (Sutton Foster, Beth Leavel and Eddie Korbich spring to mind immediately), but Bob is truly the glue that holds the show together. I'm sure the show will have much continued success without him, but I'm sure glad I caught it while he was still in it!
On Sunday, March 11th, I had my final performance of SMOOCH! at the Metropolitan Room. We had a terrific show and a really nice crowd. What really thrilled me were the number of performers I look up to and admire that were in the audience to support me! The aforementioned Tony DeSare and Ray Jessel were both there, as were Mary Foster Conklin, Baby Jane Dexter, Miles Phillips, Jackie Fornatale, Rob Langeder, and Gretchen Reinhagen! So, a big thanks to my fellow performers who made it out to see me - that kind of support really means a lot! And a thank you to all of the non-performers who made it, too! I have to say, it was a REALLY fun audience to sing for!
On Thursday, March 15th, I headed back to the Metropolitan Room to catch the fabulous Johnny Rodgers Band. Johnny is an awesome singer/songwriter/piano player, and his songs really have a huge range - some are jazzy, some are pop/rock, some are country, some are funk (yes, really!). And through it all, his incredible musicianship really shines. The band is awesome - I could seriously listen to them all night! I was so happy to have caught this show!
On Sunday, March 18th, we had an "Esposito Family Concert" in Middletown, NY - sponsored by the Friends of the Library at Thrall Library. Unfortunately, my sister Kelly was down for the count with a nasty bout of bronchitis, but my dad and I, along with our fantastic band (Richard Schacher on piano, Rob Broelmann on bass, and Brian DeWitt on drums) managed to put on a very entertaining show! We had a GREAT crowd and a lot of fun!
On Monday, it was Cast Party as usual, which was a lot of fun. David Ippolito was there, which was really fun, because I hadn't seen him in months! Other favorite performers of mine included Christine Lavin, Sue Matsuki, Ray Jessel, and Tony DeSare.
On Wednesday, March 21st, we headed back to Don't Tell Mama to see Ray Jessel again - I tell you, he's addictive!
Then, last night, I saw the amazing Marilyn Maye at the Metropolitan Room. Marilyn holds the record for number of performances on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. She performed on that show 75 times! Wow! As my friend Sue Matsuki said after the show last night, paying the cover charge was like "paying tuition." Seeing this woman perform is a master class in the art of cabaret. She's glamorous, warm, sophisticated, slightly naughty, and welcoming all at once. And she can sing and swing like nobody's business! She was joined by the fabulous Billy Stritch on piano, which made an already fabulous show just that much better!
Anyway, that's about all for now - will try to do another update soon.
Have a GREAT weekend!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Catch-up time!

Well, this past week has FLOWN by! I've seen a bunch of great shows, had headshots taken, done a tech for this Sunday's performance of SMOOCH! at the Metropolitan Room, and even squeezed in a voice lesson and a facial! So, let me bring you up-to-date on the shows I've seen in the past week.
I was in attendance for the final dress rehearsal of Terrence McNally's Some Men last Thursday at Second Stage Theatre. The play, a sort of history, of gay rights, featured stellar performances all around. Each of the men in the ensemble played several different characters, and each of them succeeded in making their own characters distinct from the other characters they were playing - not an easy task! Set and lighting design were beautiful. I'm so happy I got a chance to catch this show!
On Saturday night, I went to the Metropolitan Room for Tracy Stark's CD release show. Tracy is an extremely talented singer/songwriter, but because she's such a terrific musical director, she's most often seen accompanying other performers - so it was a special treat to see her in her own show, performing her own music! She was joined by some very talented friends - Alisa Schiff, Jackie Fornatale, Heidi Weyhmueller, Michael Vaccaro, Miles Phillips, Steven Ray Watkins, and Rob Langeder. It was an awesome show - the ensemble numbers were fantastic, and Tracy's music and lyrics were given the chance to shine that they truly deserve.
On Sunday, I went to "round 2" of two shows I'd seen before: Rob Langeder's Broadway Revival and Gretchen Reinhagen's Redefined. And, I'm happy to report, both were even better than the first time I saw them (not an easy feat, I'll tell you!). Rob's boundless energy and amazing voice seemed to top their own achievements from the previous week, and Gretchen's show had been whittled and tightened a bit since the last time I saw it - allowing her incredible voice to work its magic even more. Yay, Rob and Gretchen!
On Monday, I had a voice lesson and a SMOOCH! rehearsal, then headed over to Birdland for Cast Party. Oh, what fun that was! My super-talented dad came, and in addition to playing for me and Rob Langeder, he also did a kick-butt "Kansas City." Other stand-out performance included Christine Lavin doing "What Was I Thinking" and Tony DeSare with his take on Prince's "Kiss."
On Tuesday night, I was back at the Metropolitan Room to see Tim Sullivan in his solo show. I'd only heard him sing one song before, and was really happy to be able to see him do a whole show. He's charming and engaging, and has a really terrific voice. He co-wrote several of the songs, and was joined by sister-in-law Robin Brooks Sullivan on a few numbers, which was a special treat. A very enjoyable evening!
Last night, I was at Weill Recital Hall to see the ENITRE Sullivan crew in their celebration of Elizabeth and James Sullivan's 60th anniversary. What a special night! 7 out of their 8 children were in attendance. KT, Patrick, Stacy, Heather, and Tim Sullivan all performed, as did Robin Brooks Sullivan and her adorable son Montana. Tim also performed a beautiful number with his daughter Katie doing ballet to the accompaniment of his voice and guitar. Guest performers Lumiri Tubo and Barbara Brussell, along with the very talented Mark Nadler, made an already-wonderful evening even better!
That's about all for now, but I've got a lot coming up, so check back for updates!
And don't miss SMOOCH! at the Metropolitan Room this Sunday, March 11th at 4 p.m. It's the last performance of this show for a while, and I would LOVE to have a packed house! You can make your reservations at 212-206-0440.
Smooches to all!