Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This and That

Hello All!
Well, it's been about 2 and half weeks since my last post - a super-busy coupla weeks, too! I had two performances of my newest show, Takin' a Chance on Love, was a guest on the Joey Reynolds Show, appeared in On the Rocks with Danny Leary, guest-starred in Rob Langeder's new show, and even managed to squeeze in seeing a few shows, too! So, without further ado, let me tell you about my past few weeks!
I performed Takin' a Chance on Love at the Metropolitan Room on Tuesday, October 7th and Sunday, October 12th, and had an absolutely terrific time. The audience was fantastic both nights, and I really felt good about the performances. Lennie Watts directed this run of the show, and I was thrilled with the work we did together. The show was very well received, and a few people suggested that we bring it back for Valentine's Day - so we're going to do just that! Mark those calendars now - we'll be back at the Metropolitan Room on Saturday, February 14th at 5 p.m. - the perfect way to kick off a romantic evening!
In between the two performances of Takin' a Chance..., I did a late night guest spot on the Joey Reynolds Show, during which I got to shoot the breeze with Joey and sing "Dream a Little Dream of Me" to a national radio audience. The following night was On the Rocks again, and (as usual), it was a blast! Danny Leary was his usual fantastically funny and charming self, and the comedians were definitely at the top of their game! Irish comedian Fiona Walsh had me cracking up with her stories about attempting to walk through the tourists crowding the streets of Manhattan, and Jay Dercola found some common ground with the audience by making light of his economic woes.
I spent much of the following week getting ready for my guest appearance in Rob Langeder's new show, which had it's first performance on Sunday, October 19th at John's Harvest Inn in Middletown, NY. The show went very well, and Rob was in terrific voice! The audience loved it, and I had a great time watching the show and joining Rob for a few duets. Rob was accompanied by a rockin' band, too! My dad, Fortune Esposito, was the musical director/guitarist, and he was joined by David Crone on piano, Rob Broelmann on bass, Brian Broelmann on tenor sax, and Brian DeWitt on drums. Rob is hoping to bring this show to NYC in the spring, so be on the lookout for an announcement!
On Monday, October 20th, I was back at the Metropolitan Room to see Notes on New York: The musicalized observations of Tim DiPasqua. Presented by Third Eye Theatre Company and featuring a talented cast of five singers (including my aforementioned director, Lennie Watts!), this revue of Tim DiPasqua's material focuses (as you can probably guess from the title!) on his view of life in New York - the good, the bad, and the creepy! Mr. DiPasqua accompanied the cast on piano, and there were some very unique aspects of the production. The use of projections throughout the show was very clever and really helped to put the songs in context, without resorting to bulky scenery. What's really great about this show is that, even though all of these "observations" of NYC come from the viewpoint of one person, I'm fairly certain that each and every New Yorker can relate to at least one of the songs on a personal level - very cool!
Last night, I was back at the Metropolitan Room to see Kevin Dozier in his show, Love-Wise. As I mentioned when I wrote about Kevin in June, he's got a great, warm baritone, and it was a treat to hear it again! This show, like the show in June, was directed by Scott Barnes, with musical direction by Christopher Marlowe. This time around, in addition to Mr. Marlowe on piano Kevin brought some other fantastic musicians into the fold - John Redsecker on drums, Dick Sarpola on bass, Peter Sanders on cello, and Ken Dybisz on reeds and horns. My favorite song of the evening "People Will Say We're In Love," (which was done with a very cool uptempo swing arrangement).
Okay, folks, gotta wrap it up for now and go gussy myself up for tonight's On the Rocks!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Happy Weekend!

Hello, all, and happy Friday! I'm taking advantage of having some downtime and attempting to write part 2 of the blog I posted the other night! Let's see...the last show I wrote about was the On the Rocks on 9/17, so Shaynee Rainbolt at the Highline Ballroom is next! On Tuesday, September 23rd, Shaynee celebrated the release of her newest CD, Charmed Life: Shaynee Rainbolt Sings Russell Garcia, and she was joined by legendary composer Russell Garcia himself, as well as a fantastic four-trombone band! Russell Garcia, for those who don't know (I didn't, before Shaynee started working on this project!), is a world renowned conductor/composer/arrganger, and worked for Universal Studios for over 20 years. During his time there, he wrote the scores for The Time Machine and Atlantis: The Lost Continent, among many others. He has also written arrangements for legendary performers such as Stan Kenton, Oscar Peterson, and Maynard Ferguson. What makes this CD extra-special, it is that it is the first ever all vocal album of Russell Garcia originals.
At the Highline, Shaynee and the band performed the entire album, which also includes I Remember, a beautiful ballad (and 2008 MAC-award-winning song) for which she wrote the lyrics and Russell wrote the music. Russ, a spry 92 years old, conducted the band and bantered easily with Shaynee, making what was already a wonderful evening that much more special. His wife, Gina, who penned the lyrics for many of his compositions, was also in attendance. Shaynee was in her element - she sounded terrific, and shone with the sheer joy of the lovely music she was creating onstage with Russ and the band!

On Wednesday, September 24th, I was pleased to take part in the first of the New Concerts at Tudor City Greens. The Greens are privately run, privately funded parks that are open to the public, and although the concerts are free, donations to keep the parks in their beautiful condition are gratefully accepted. Produced and hosted by Broadway veteran and cabaret diva Raissa Katona Bennett (who has actually just started her OWN blog - click here to check it out!), the concerts feature stellar lineups of Broadway and cabaret performers. The concert on the 24th featured Eric Michael Gillett, Darren Williams, comedian Richard Cramer, Catherine Overfelt, Maria Moncada, Hector Coris, Rosemary Loar, Raissa herself, and MOI! The fabulous David Caldwell (currently the Musical Director for Forbidden Broadway), was our musical director for the evening. The show ran without a hitch, and all of the peformers were outstanding. Attendance was terrific (about 25o people!) and there was a fun celebration afterwards at local restaurant CIBO. CIBO generously sponsored the evening, providing free cocktails for performers and press, and free appetizers for all! The next concert is a lunchtime concert - it will take place at 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22nd. Raissa's got another fantastic cast assembled, so if you're available to drop by, I'd highly recommend doing so!

On Thursday, September 25th, it was back to the Duplex for another round of On the Rocks with Danny Leary. It was a GREAT show - Poppi Kramer headlined, and the rest of the lineup was terrific, too. Featured performers included The Parodivas, contortionist Jared the Conjuror, and the hilarious Brooke Van Poppelen. I performed Thirteen Men, which seemed to go over well, so I was very pleased!

The following night, I headed to the Laurie Beechman to see Laurie Krauz in her show Tapestry Rewoven. The show is a sneak preview of the album Laurie's working on, which if you couldn't guess from the title, is a complete jazz re-working of Carole King's iconic album, Tapestry. So, much like Shaynee's show earlier in the week, this was a v.s.o. (very special occasion)! I'd heard wonderful things about this show after Laurie performed it earlier this year, so I was very eager to see it for myself - and I really had a great time! Surrounded by top-notch jazz musicians (helmed by Musical Director Daryl Kojak at the piano), Laurie breathed new life into each of these songs that so many people know so well. She brought her rich voice and her passion into the music and allowed the audience to hear Carole King's melodies and lyrics in a completely different way. The house was packed, and everyone had a terrific time - what a great way to kick off the weekend!

On Sunday, September 28th, I was part of a fabulous show at John's Harvest Inn in my hometown, Middletown, NY. Called All-Stars of Cabaret, the show featured 5 performers, all of whom can be seen in upcoming shows at John's. The show was put together by my dad, Fortune Esposito, who also served as Musical Director for the evening. In addition to my dad, the performers included Rob Langeder, Jeanne MacDonald, Kelly Esposito-Broelmann (my sis!), and ME! We had a great crowd, and the show just flew by! It's hard to single out favorite songs for the evening, but if I had to pick one for each performer, I would say that it would be my dad's powerful "Didn't We," Kelly's gorgeous "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," Rob's soft and poignant "The Nearness of You" and Jeanne's passionate "Cry Me a River." A great time was had by all - so great in fact, that we're already talking about putting together a Round 2 in the spring!

On Monday evening (September 29th), I made a mad dash after my voice lesson to get Cynthia Crane's new show, I'm Confused, Therefore I Am, at the Metropolitan Room. Cynthia always chooses great material to sing, and this show was chock full of wonderful songs. I have to say, my favorite moment of the night was her beautifully delivered "I Wonder What Became of Me." This Arlen/Mercer song is gorgeous in its simplicity and while Cynthia clearly connected with the material, she wisely did not try to do too much with it, and it stood out to me as one of the highlights of the show. Cynthia also showed off her zany sense of humor with "The Hopi Way," and gave us a taste of her naughty side with "Let's Do It." If you haven't seen the show, you still have a few chances to catch it - Sunday, October 5th at 4 p.m. and Thursday, October 9th at 7:30 p.m.

After Cynthia's show, it was off to Birdland for another wonderful Cast Party! Forbidden Broadway star Christina Bianco wowed the audience with her Kristen Chenoweth impression, a cappella quartet Our Town brought the house down, and cabaret diva KT Sullivan treated the audience to a sneak peek of her brand new Jerome Kern show, which is currently playing at the Algonquin. As usual, Jim Caruso did a fabulous job of hosting and keeping things moving...AND he announced that the show he's been performing all over the world with Liza Minnelli is headed for Broadway! Way to go, Jim!!

Last night, it was another terrific On the Rocks with Danny Leary. Headliner Susan Prekel was a hoot, and I LOVED quirky ventriloquist Carla Rhodes, who brought along dummy pal Keith Richards!

Tonight, it's another Metropolitan Room night - it's the first Friday of the month, which means it's time for Metrojam! Host Joe Bachana has assembled some terrific talent, so I'll give you the writeup next week.

That's about it for now - have a great weekend!