Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Time to catch up!

Hello all!

Well, it's been a busy coupla weeks and I'm finally getting a chance to get caught up here!

On Sunday, May 18th, I was pleased to be a part of the Esposito Family Concert at Thrall Library in Middletown, NY. The concert was in memory of Ed Kurdyla, who was a great friend to the library, as well as a friend of my family's. It was a fun-filled program, with my dad, Fortune, my sister, Kelly, and myself each doing a number of solos and mixing it up a bit with some duets. The room was packed, and we truly had a wonderful time! Charlie (my adorable 9-month-old nephew) was very proud of being able to clap and wave throughout the concert, and provided extra entertainment for anyone who caught him in action!

On Monday, May 19th, Cast Party was hoppin' with some of my favorite friends and performers including Ray Jessel, Christine Lavin, Susan Winter, Rob Langeder, and Mark Aaron James (back from London for a brief visit!). And sitting in the audience, taking everything in, was Mr. Michael Feinstein!

Wednesday, the 21st found me doing a great double-header: first, I went to The River Room to catch the lovely and talented Shaynee Rainbolt doing a great jazz set with Pat Firth on keyboard and Tom Hubbard on bass, and then I headed over to Don't Tell Mama to catch Ray Jessel's wildly entertaining show! All in all a great night - Shaynee and the boys kept things smooth and swinging, and Ray Jessel had me nearly falling off my seat with some of his comedy songs, among which he interspersed some breathtakingly beautiful ballads. He's playing at Don't Tell Mama on Wednesday evenings at 9 p.m. through June and is definitely worth the trip to West 46th Street!

This past Tuesday, May 27th, I was finally able to catch Raissa Katona Bennet's show at the Metropolitan Room. I met Raissa when we were both performing in a Vocal Ease show, and was pleased to be able to see her doing a full-length solo show. Knowing that Raissa had played Christine in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and hearing her in the show we'd done together, I knew that she had a lovely soprano voice, but what I learned from seeing her cabaret show was that she's also a terrific storyteller. Her show consisted mainly of songs by contemporary songwriters (Amanda McBroom, Craig Carnelia, William Finn, and David Friedman, to name a few), and she did a terrific job of digging into the lyrics and bringing the audience into the songs. Direction by Eric Michael Gillett ensured a smooth, flowing show.

Last night (Wednesday, May 28th), I was privileged to be in the audience for Jeff Harnar's Cole Porter show at the Metropolitan Room. What a fantastic show! I'd never seen a full show of Jeff's before and was really blown away by what an all-around great entertainer he is. Charming, poised, polished, engaging, and in possession of a terrific voice, he easily glided through a number of Porter's well known tunes ("Let's Do It," "In The Still of the Night," "Easy To Love," "I've Got You Under My Skin," and "From This Moment On," among others), as well as a few lesser-known tunes, such as "You Can Do No Wrong," which was sung by Judy Garland in The Pirate.

Tonight, it's off to see Gypsy on Broadway - woohoo!

Enjoy the beautiful weather and check back for an update soon!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Catch-up time!

Hellooooooooooo all!

Well, last week was a CRAZY week, so I'm going to do my best to get up to date here!

The MAC awards on Tuesday, May 6th were a lot of fun - I didn't win, but I DID get to sparkle in my fantastic Betsey Johnson dress (check out the pic!) and socialize with lots of my favorite folks, so it was still a great night! I also had the honor of accepting the award for Cast Party on Jim Caruso's behalf. Cast Party won in the Variety Production/Recurring Series category, and it was truly an honor to be asked to accept the award for Jim. He was down for the count with a nasty ear infection, and had asked me the night before if I'd be able to help him out. He'd typed up a very funny speech which was given to me in a sealed envelope and I got to read it for the capacity crowd at B.B. King's, which was a hoot! After the awards, I headed over to The Metropolitan Room for some more socializing, then it was off to bed in the wee small hours of the morning!
The following night, I had my 3-hour gig at The River Room, which went very well! We had a nice crowd which included a number of fellow singers (Rob Langeder, Terese Genecco, Shaynee Rainbolt, Richard Malavet, Karen Oberlin, Robert Vest, Sue Matsuki and Julie Wilson!), and I was most appreciative of the support! I was backed by Fortune Esposito (yep, my dad!) on guitar, Erik James on keyboard, Doug Largent on bass, and Bobby Sher on drums, and we really had a fantastic time.
The following night, it was back to On The Rocks with Danny Leary for another terrific lineup of cabaret and comedy stars. Shaynee Rainbolt and Terese Genecco were both performing, which made it even more of a treat! Shaynee opened with a couple of great tunes ("Mink Schmink" and "The Boy From..."), and then Terese joined her for a re-creation of the famous Judy Garland/Barbra Streisand duet of "Get Happy" and "Happy Days Are Here Again." Fun, fun, fun!
The weekend found me upstate, celebrating Mother's Day with my mom, my Irish granny, and my sis - who is the newest mom in the family! Charlie (my 8-month old nephew) was cuter than ever - I can't wait to get back up there and play with him again!
Last night was Cast Party again, and it was a good one - Jim had recovered from his ear infection, and a number of my favorite performers graced the Birdland stage, including the fabulous Ray Jessel, who's in town from L.A. (hooray)!
That just about brings us up to date - check back for more soon!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday, Monday...

Hello all, and Happy Monday!
Boy, it's been a busy 10 days since my last post!
When I last wrote, I was headed to see On The Rocks with Danny Leary at The Duplex. On The Rocks has been selected as a "best bet" by Time Out New York and boy, are they right! Hosted by the endearingly clever and funny Danny Leary, this 90-minute variety show features a number of different comedians and several musical acts each week, beautifully bridging the gap between comedy and cabaret. With a modest $10 cover and 2 drink minimum, this is easily one of the best deals in town. Go check it out if you can - I promise, you will not regret it!
The following night, I headed over to The Metropolitan Room for a great doubleheader - Julie Wilson at 7 p.m. and Sharon McNight at 10 p.m. These women are two of the most respected divas in cabaret, and their styles are completely different - making for a most enjoyable, interesting evening! Julie Wilson is in her eighties now, and much of her performance is speak-singing. What makes her fascinating to watch and listen to is how beautifully she is able to communicate the lyrics of a song, and the passion with which she performs. And she has never abandoned the old-school glamour for which she is known - a long, slinky, gorgeous black gown, with lace gloves and her signature gardenia behind her ear - a class act all the way! Sharon McNight, on the other hand, puts on a big, brassy, show-y kind of show, with energy through the roof! Belting out high notes and keeping the audience in stitches throughout most of the show, Sharon's well researched and well-constructed show Gone But Not Forgotten, pays tribute to many of the great ladies of stage and screen (including Ethel Merman, Bette Davis, Madeline Kahn, Pearl Bailey, and Betty Hutton, to name a few!). A thoroughly enjoyable show and a must-see if she brings it back to town!
The following Thursday (May 1), I was back at The Duplex for On The Rocks with Danny Leary, but this time I was there as one of the featured guests!! As with the week before, Danny assembled a fantastic lineup and I was thrilled to be a part of it! Other performers included sister act Vickie and Nickie, and comedy divas Giulia Rozzi and Vanessa Hollingshead, among others. Another fun, fun night out!
On Friday evening, I headed over to Metrojam at The Metropolitan Room, which ended up being terrific! Host Joe Bachana was a little under the weather, but pulled through like a champ and did a great job of singing and emcee-ing. Other talented folks who showed up to sing included Lina Koutrakos, Sue Matsuki, and San Francisco-based songbird Carly Ozard.
Last night, it was back to The Metropolitan Room for Marcus Simeone in his newest show, The Heart. Graced with a gorgeous, smooth voice, Marcus kept the audience enthralled as he worked his way through a show full of romantic songs, including a fun, catchy uptempo, "Just One Kiss," which was written by his producer, Jason Darrow. Marcus is at the Metropolitan Room the first Sunday of every month at 7 p.m. and is definitely worth checking out if you haven't yet!
So, that just about brings us up to date...
On the calendar for this week:

Tonight (Monday, May 5th)
Cast Party at Birdland
The hottest weekly open mic in town, hosted by Jim Caruso and featuring a wealth of talent from the Broadway, jazz, and cabaret communities.
$10 cover + $10 minimum
West 44th between 8th and 9th

Tuesday, May 6th
The 25 annual MAC Awards!
I'm nominated for female vocalist, so you KNOW I'll be there in style (and sparkles, of course)!
B.B. King Blues Club
237 W. 42nd Street
Tickets still available at
Doors open at 6 p.m., show begins at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 7th
Jenna Esposito at The River Room
Sets at 7:00 p.m., 8:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.
I'm back for a return engagement at this gorgeous room with a stunning view of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.
$10 cover (not a per-set fee; pay once and stay for as little or as long as you like), NO minimum!
Full menu available (appetizers, entrees, cocktails, dessert, etc.)
We'll be doing mostly standards, with a few surprises thrown in - hope you can make it!

Thursday, May 8th
Back to The Duplex for On The Rocks with Danny Leary
9:30 p.m.
$10 cover + 2 drink minimum
61 Christopher St. (at 7th Ave. South)

That's about all for now, folks - keep your fingers crossed for the awards tomorrow night!!