Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mid-February update!

Hello all!

Wow, can you believe we're already past the halfway point in February? I don't know about you, but I can't WAIT for spring! Luckily, my past few weeks have been so busy, I've barely had time to notice the cold!

So...when I left off, I was headed for the Metropolitan Room to see Mary Foster Conklin. The title of her show was Moon and Sand: Songs of Salty Days and Sultry Nights - and boy, was it the perfect antidote to these freezing temps we've been having in the city! Mary's rich, smoky voice and the lush jazz arrangements (gorgeously delivered by the trio of musicians sharing the stage with Mary!) warmed me from the inside out and almost made me forget that it was a sub-zero night in early February! I was quickly brought back to reality, though, when I stepped outside to head over to the Time Out NY Lounge! Luckily, once I was inside at the TONY lounge, I was quickly revived by the fun music being played by d.j. Dan Fortune. Dan's Lush and Lively nights are always a blast- the selections he chooses are '60s and '60s-style lounge tunes and I just have the best time listening to the retro-hip arrangements and trying to guess the singers! After Lush and Lively, it was back to the Metropolitan Room for Metrojam. As always, I had a terrific time there, too! Host Joe Bachana had a lineup full of talented folks and kept things moving smoothly - and the band (John DiPinto on piano, Ritt Henn on bass and Bobby Sher on drums) was rockin' (or jazzin' in some cases)!

On Sunday, February 8th, I had the honor of hosting the Algonquin Salon, which takes place every Sunday from 7-10 p.m. in the lobby of the famed Algonquin Hotel. Founded by Mark Janas (who also serves as the accompanist for most of the evening), the Salon is a fantastic opportunity for singers, songwriters and musicians to gather and share their respective talents. This particular Sunday was PACKED - we ended up having around 35 people perform, and there were even more folks that we just couldn't fit in! I had a terrific time hosting, although next time I might opt NOT to wear the four-inch heels - 3 and a half hours of running around in them was a little much!

The following night found me at Birdland for Cast Party, which was hosted by the fabulously talented Klea Blackhurst that evening (since Jim Caruso was otherwise engaged with hosting duties at Broadway Backwards!). As usual, Birdland was packed to the gills with amazing talent. Ben Rauch did a great job with "Sensitive Song," Tom Leopold (who wrote for Cheers and Seinfeld, among other shows) treated us to a great original tune, Rob Langeder got everybody rowdy with "Just a Gigolo," and that's just the beginning! Klea herself treated us to her rendition of "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," which is one of my favorite songs of hers! All in all, a great night!

On Tuesday night, it was back to Birdland for Hilary Kole's performance celebrating the upcoming release of her debut CD, Haunted Heart. Hilary has long been one of my favorite singers in the city, and I always enjoy seeing her do a full-length show - and this may be the best I've ever seen her. She was at the absolute top of her game, bringing her gorgeous voice and perfectly executed jazz stylings to a stellar selection of songs. On top of it, she looked like a million bucks AND was surrounded by incredible musicians - including Tedd Firth on piano and special guest John Pizzarelli on guitar! What a great show! My particular favorite was her heartfelt rendition of her favorite Irving Berlin song, "What'll I Do?" Simply beautiful. Her run is over, but if this show comes back, I would highly encourage checking it out!

The next night, I had the pleasure of seeing Betty Buckley at Feinstein's in her show Broadway By Request. I'd heard Ms. Buckley sing a few songs here and there before, but had never gotten to see a full show of hers, so I was very excited to be able to catch this one! It ended up being a really fun night - audience members filled out request forms ahead of time, which Ms. Buckley and musical director Seth Rudetsky put into an order and performed! The songs were terrific, but almost as delightful were the stories which accompanied each of them! Ms. Buckley took her time introducing each number with the details about how she was introduced to them, which I found simply fascinating. A very enjoyable evening!

Last weekend was very busy for me - I had two performances of my new show, Be My Valentine, at John's Harvest Inn in Middletown, NY on Friday, February 13th and a special Valentine's Day encore of Takin' a Chance on Love on Saturday, February 14th at the Metropolitan Room! I'm pleased to report that all 3 performances went very well. A big thank you to everyone who came out to see the shows!!

After my performance at the Metropolitan Room on Valentine's Day, I stayed right there to see Amanda McBroom's show, which was absolutely fantastic! She is a consummate singer/actress, and I loved watching her experience the songs she was singing. And let's not forget her songwriting! I was an absolute wreck during "Errol Flynn!" What a touching song - and so beautifully delivered. And of course, she did her most well-known song, "The Rose," as a special Valentine's treat. She was accompanied by her friend and collaborator Michelle Brourman on piano - together they made quite the dynamic duo!

Sunday night, it was back to Birdland to catch Broadway Jukebox, the new brainchild of prolific producer Scott Siegel. In this new series, each Sunday evening performance features different Broadway stars singing songs requested by the audience. This week, the featured singers were Lisa Howard, Tony Yazbeck, and Jack Noseworthy. Each audience member was given a sheet of paper with five selections listed under each singer's name, and was asked to vote for three songs per singer. The songs receiving the most votes were the songs that ended up being performed. Each of the stars did very well, delivering performances that showed why they've risen to the top! Accompaniment was provided by musical director Tedd Firth, as well as veteran Broadway pianist Kathy Venable, who took turns at the piano. Scott Coulter deserves major kudos for his excellent work as director, and Scott Siegel should be very proud to have another successful series off to a terrific start! After Broadway Jukebox, it was up the street to the Algonquin Hotel for another talent-filled Algonquin Salon! Whew, what a night!

On Monday evening, it was yet another fabulous Cast Party, with Jim Caruso back at the helm, fabulous talent gracing the stage, and even Rex Reed in the audience!

Okay, folks, that's about all the news for now, but check back for another update soon!