Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Hello all! Sorry for the delay - I've been out and about most nights, and with a day job at a hedge fund (and in the current financial climate, things have been ever-so-slightly hectic there!), I've been hard-pressed to find the time to write! I've got a lot of ground to make up, so without further ado, let me share what I've been up to for the past several weeks!

On Sunday, September 7th, I had the pleasure of catching Deb Berman's show at the Metropolitan Room. I'd heard Deb sing a number of times at open mics around town and was really happy to be able to see a full-length show of hers. Backed by a fantastic band led by musical director Barry Levitt, Deb wound her way through a great selection of tunes (among my favorites were "Four," "One Note Samba," and "I've Got A Lot of Livin' To Do"), lending her warm, smooth voice and jazzy sensibilities to each number. A most enjoyable show!

On Tuesday, September 9th, it was off to Don't Tell Mama to see Marty Geiger in his show, Summer Baby. I've known Marty for a few years, mostly from seeing him all over town at other people's shows, so it was nice to be able to see him up onstage, doing his own show! Directed by Lina Koutrakos, Summer Baby was very well constructed with Marty relating anecdotes (some silly, some touching) about growing up as a "summer baby" and using them help navigate the song selection. Favorite selections of mine (and, judging by their reactions, the audience in general!) were "Summer Nights" from Grease (sung with musical director Paul Greenwood performing the female part!), "Too Darn Hot" from Kiss Me Kate, and that good ol' summertime classic, "Sealed With a Kiss." Marty's easygoing personality and sheer love of being onstage shone through in his work and truly endeared him to the sold out room!

On Thursday, September 11th, it was opening night of On The Rocks with Danny Leary at the Duplex - what a blast! I wrote about On The Rocks a few times back in the spring, because it is SUCH a fun night out...and the season premiere did not disappoint! Having been on hiatus for the summer, Danny put together a fantastic opening night lineup, including comedians Shawn Hollenbach, Leah Dubie, H. Alan Scott, Wendy Ho, and musical guest - yours truly! As a matter of fact, I'm now a regular fixture in the show; I perform one song a week as the "resident retro-pop chanteuse!" Danny was in rare form, himself, and did a super job of hosting the evening and mixing in some of his own great stand-up material.

On Saturday, September 13th, I was back at the Metropolitan Room, this time to see Dane Vannatter in Alone Together: A Tony Bennett Album. I'd heard wonderful things about Dane from a number of respected sources, so I was happy to finally be able to catch a show of his! Blessed with a truly beautiful voice, Dane wound his way through the songs of the Bennett album, explaining along the way that it was this particular album, which he'd found in his father's record collection at an early age, that made him want to be a singer. I can't say that I blame him - the songs are terrific! In addition to "Alone Together," other songs included "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," "After You've Gone," and "That's All." I had a great time and look forward to seeing more of Dane the next time he's in town!

I returned to the Metropolitan Room on Sunday, September 14th to see Miles Phillips and Karen Oberlin in their show, The Pleasure of Your Company. As a fan of both of their work as individual artists, it was truly a treat to see them performing together. They each performed several solos, and joined forces on a couple of great duets - including a very touching "Something Good" from The Sound of Music. Musical director Tracy Stark also joined in the vocal fun on a few numbers, including "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair" from South Pacific and Coffee, which was written by Tracy herself! The free and easy banter between Miles and Karen added to the fun of the show and made the audience feel as if they were just hanging out with two friends - who happened to be lending their very lovely voices to a terrific lineup of songs! Miles and Karen will be back at the Metropolitan Room with The Pleasure of Your Company on Sunday, September 12th at 4 p.m. - which means that you can go see them, grab a bite to eat, and then come back and see me in Takin' a Chance on Love at 7 p.m.!

On Wednesday, September 17th, I went back to the Metropolitan Room to see Joe Bachana's solo show for a second time (I wasn't kidding when I said I said I enjoyed it a few posts ago!) and then on Thursday, September 18th, it was back to the Duplex for another On The Rocks with Danny Leary. This time, we were joined by Scott Barbarino and the Bevnaps (mentioned in an earlier post by me!) and comedians Susan Alexander, Dave Rubin, and Rachel Feinstein. Again, it was a ton o' fun!

Now, speaking of On The Rocks with Danny Leary, I've got another performance in that tomorrow, so I'd better be getting to bed to rest the ol' vocal cords! I've still got a bunch of shows to write about (Shaynee Rainbolt at the Highline Ballroom, the concert at Tudor City Greens, Laurie Krauz at the Laurie Beechman, and Cynthia Crane at the Metropolitan Room among them), so check back for another post soon!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Busy, busy, busy!!!

Hello all!

Sorry it's been so long between posts - I actually have quite a bit to write about, but I've been so busy seeing shows and rehearsing for my own that I haven't had a spare second to sit down and write! I am going to try to get a more detailed blog up tomorrow, which will include items on Deb Berman, Marty Geiger, Miles Phillips & Karen Oberlin, On The Rocks with Danny Leary, Joe Bachana, and Vocal Ease (whew)!

In the meantime, though, I must mention a terrific show coming up tomorrow, September 24th. I'll be joining a fantastic lineup of Broadway and cabaret performers in a FREE concert at Tudor City Greens. Veteran Broadway diva Raissa Katona Bennett is producing, hosting, and performing, and she's assembled a stellar cast of performers including Hector Coris, Richard Cramer, Eric Michael Gillett, Rosemary Loar, Darren Williams, Maria Moncada, and Catherine Overfelt. The musical director for the evening is David Caldwell (who is also the m.d. for Forbidden Broadway)! I'm honored to be a part of the evening and am so looking forward to hearing everybody else! The concert begins at 6:00 p.m. and should run about an hour and fifteen minutes. It is in the North Park (enter on Tudor City Place between 42nd and 43rd Streets). As I said, it is FREE, and there will be a meet-and-greet after the show, which is sponsored by Cibo - they'll be serving appetizers and there will also be a cash bar. Hope to see your there!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Happy September!

As I wrote in my last post, where did the summer go?! I can't believe it's already September! For those of you that know me well, you will know that this means that it's nearly time for the first pumpkin cookies of the season - woohoo! And speaking of sweet things, I have a brief update on the Pocket Coffee situation. After trying out a few leads and coming up frustrated (the sites from which I tried to order were all out of stock), I stumbled upon a blog that said Pocket Coffee is generally unavailable during the summer because the quality deteriorates in the heat (much like Mallomars, I suppose). However, the good news is that Pocket Coffee should be available by the end of the month - do I hear another woohoo?!!

Anyway, now that I've gotten my "sweet talk" out of the way, let me talk about the terrific entertainment I've seen since my last post!

Monday, August 25th was full of top-notch entertainment. First, it was Andrea McArdle at the Metropolitan Room with her show "You Don't Know Me." I'd seen Andrea at Feinstein's in February and was very happy to have the opportunity to see her again. Best known for originating the role of Annie on Broadway, she boasts an extensive resume of other theatre roles as well, including Fantine in Les Miserable, Sally Bowles in Cabaret and Belle in Beauty and the Beast. As in February, she put on a top-notch show, weaving autobiographical anecdotes among well-known show tunes ("Everybody Says Don't," "Some People," and "If He Walked Into My Life" among them) and pop songs (such as the Carpenters' "Superstar"), all the while exuding a true joy in being on stage and sharing her passion for her material. A guest appearance by her brother Michael, who treated us to a powerful "Celebrate Me Home" was a fun, unexpected treat! After the show, it was off to Birdland for another fantastic Cast Party! The room was abuzz when I got there, and it didn't take too long to figure out why: word had it that Liza Minnelli would once again be gracing us with her presence! It's not too often that I get to be in the presence of entertainment royalty, and twice in one summer seemed like it was too good to be true. However, Ms. Minnelli DID show up and treated us to two songs - first, it was "You've Let Yourself Go," and then it was a lovely duet with Billy Stritch on "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." In addition to Liza, LaLa Brooks (of the '60s girl group The Crystals) came and treated us to a rockin' "Da Doo Ron Ron," and founding Manhattan Transfer member Laurel Masse was there and treated us to her gorgeous jazz stylings! As always, there were a ton of talented regulars, too and Jim Caruso did a fabulous job of hosting and keeping the parade of talent running smoothly!

On Thursday, August 28th, it was back to the Metropolitan Room for Scott Barbarino and the Bevnaps for their du-wop/vocal comedy show. They covered some great tunes including "Twilight Time," "Everybody Loves Somebody," "Sea Cruise," and "Ain't That A Kick In the Head" and had the audience bopping, swaying, giggling, and singing along - very fun!

Monday, September 1st, it was another terrific Cast Party. Even though it was a holiday, the room was packed and the talent was fantastic! David Goldman, the Nunziata brothers (Will and Anthony), Christine Lavin, Rob Langeder, Sammy Goldstein, yours truly, and many other fabulous performers took the stage, and not only did Jim Caruso do his usual terrific job of hosting, but he even dressed in red, white & blue for the Labor Day festivities!

On Wednesday, September 3rd, I was back at the Metropolitan Room to see Joe Bachana's solo show. Having only seen Joe perform as the host of Metrojam and at the open mic at the Friars Club, I was really happy to be able to see him in his own full-length show. The show was mostly original tunes that Joe wrote over a time period spanning the late '70s through the present and I must say, I was very impressed with his songwriting! He also threw in a couple of great covers, including Billy Joel's "Big Shot," Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" and "Vanity," which was written by Bernie Bierman (a fantastic songwriter who just celebrated his 100th birthday!). Joe has two more shows booked: Wednesday, September 10th and Wednesday, September 17th, both at 7:30 p.m. I'm going to try to make it back to catch another performance - if you're able to make it, maybe I'll see you there!

On Friday, September 5th, it was back to the Metropolitan Room AGAIN, this time for the aforementioned Metrojam, which is the monthly open mic at the Metro Room. As I mentioned, it's hosted by Joe Bachana, and the talented band is comprised of John DiPinto on piano, Bobby Sher on drums, and Ritt Henn on bass. Friday night was loaded with great performers, including Sue Matsuki, who opened the show with "Speaking of Happiness," Rob Langeder, who wowed everyone with his fast-swinging "Blue Skies," Deb Berman, who delighted with a thoughful "Where Is Love," yours truly (I had a lot of fun singing "The Coffee Song"), and Lorinda Lisitza, who brought the house down with her "How Blue Can You Get!"

Today, I'm headed back to the Metropolitan Room (I know, I should really just set up a cot!) to catch Deb Berman's solo show - should be fun! And Thursday night (September 11th), it's the season premiere of On The Rocks with Danny Leary at the Duplex! Danny has asked me to be a recurring guest in the series, so beginning Thursday, I'll be there every week, doing a swinging '60s tune. If you haven't checked out On The Rocks before, I highly encourage you to do so! Danny is an adorable and hilarious host, and always puts together a fantastic lineup of comedians and musicians.

That's about it for now - gotta take my pumpkin cookies out of the oven and get ready to head out to the Metropolitan Room! Check back for more soon!