Jenna's Two Cents Blog   

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What Happened To May?!

Hello friends!

Okay, where did May go? It seems like two days ago that I was typing my last blog entry...but it was on May 3rd, and it's now May 29th - yikes!! Actually, I started typing this two days ago (May 27th), but only got about 2 sentences done when I got pulled away! Whew!

So, it's been a great month - tons of stuff going on! I presented the "sneak preview" of my Connie Francis show on May 14th at John's Harvest Inn in Middletown, NY, and let me tell you - I can't WAIT to do the show in the city! It has been a monumental project for me and the entire creative team has put a ton of work in on it...and we had a fantastic time performing it a few weeks ago! So, mark those calendars! We open at the Metropolitan Room on Tuesday, June 23rd and we'll be there for four Tuesdays in a row!

In addition to my show, there was the excitement of the MAC Awards, which took place on Monday, May 18th at BB King Blues Club & Grill. I was nominated in the category of female vocalist for the second year in a row, and even though I didn't win (congrats to my friend Terese Genecco, who DID win!), I still had a blast! All of the male and female vocalist nominees this year were asked to sing at the awards, so I got to get glammed up, wear a pretty gown, and sing for a packed house at BB King's - not too shabby! There were many great performances that night, two of my favorites coming from Polly Bergen, who was the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, and the Marvelous Marilyn Maye, who took home the award in the "Celebrity Artist" category this year.

So, what else is going on, you ask? Well, I just saw a terrific show last night - Maxine Linehan's show, Who Am I? A Tribute To Petula Clark! Maxine has a lovely voice and a very engaging presence on stage, and, of course, there was great material to work with in this show! Musical Director Gerald Stockstill created some terrific arrangements, and Maxine was surrounded by a terrific band (including her fiancee Andrew Koss on guitar) and backup vocalists (Rosemary Loar and Kami Graves). The show touched on some of Petula's biggest pop hits as well as some of her musical theatre triumphs, which provided nice musical variety. This was the first time I'd seen a full show of Maxine's, and I'm looking forward to seeing more!

There's another tribute show going on this weekend, which I'm unfortunately not going to be able to get to, but I would if I could! Singer Grace Cosgrove (producer and host of the monthly "Singers' Soiree," Grace Notes), is doing her solo show, Wishin' and Hopin': Cosgrove Sings Bacharach tonight and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Room! Again, it promises to be a fun show with great material! Break a leg, Grace!

That's about all for now, but be sure to check out my Broadway World column for more info on what I've been up to!

Have a great weekend, and I'll post again soon!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Happy May!

Hello all!

Well, it's been a busy week or so since my last post, but it's been a "good busy!"

On Saturday, April 25th, I had a fabulous time singing backup and a few duets in Rob Langeder's new show, Anyplace I Hang My Hat...! Backed by a rockin' band (led my dad, Fortune Esposito on guitar!), Rob puts on a super-high-energy show packed with well-loved standards and showtunes, as well as a few lesser-known gems. The songs and arrangements do a great job of showing off his vocal prowess as well as his powerful acting chops, and I'm honored to be a part of the show! There's one performance left, on Wednesday, May 20th at 8 p.m. - I can't wait!

On the following evening, it was off the the Algonquin Salon, which is held every Sunday evening from 7-10 p.m. in the lobby of the historic Algonquin Hotel. Founded by Mark Janas and produced by Peter Napolitano, the Salon has quickly become THE destination for singers, songwriters, and musicians on Sunday evenings. Mark serves as host/house accompanist, and every week, there is a special "guest co-host," as well as an optional theme, which always makes for a unique, never-the-same-thing-twice, evening! This past week's guest co-host was my good friend Hector Coris (who did a great job!), and the optional theme was "The First Time," so performers brought in a lot of interesting material - everything from the first song they performed in public to songs containing the phrase "the first time," to songs that they were trying out for the very first time that evening! Performers included 2009 Bistro Award winners Susan Winter and Deb Berman, as well as Salon regulars Gretchen Reinhagen, Richie Eisenberg, Rob Langeder, and Sierra Rein. To add to the excitement, legendary performers Marilyn Maye and Celeste Holm were in the audience - wow!! Also, special kudos to Matthew Ward who did an admirable job filling in for Mark Janas as host/pianist!

On Monday night, I headed over to Birdland for yet another fab Cast Party - sooooooo many talented folks performed, it was unbelievable! Let's see...there were uber-divas Ann Hampton Callaway, Marilyn Maye, and Klea Blackhurst; R&B singer/songwriter Chaz Langley; folk goddess Christine Lavin; talented songbird Maude Maggart, and YouTube sensation Miranda, plus tons of fabulous regulars - definitely a Cast Party for the books!

The next night, it was off to the Bistro Awards at Gotham Comedy Club, which ended up being another terrific show. Liza Minnelli was honored with a special award for enduring artistry and international singer/songwriter/actor Charles Aznavour was presented with a lifetime achievement award. The show was a wonderful celebration of NYC nightlife, and it was a real treat to hear the performances and acceptance speeches from the winners! For a full list of recipients, click here.

On Friday, May 1st, I headed to Metrojam, which is the monthly open mic at the Metropolitan Room, to celebrate Joe Bachana's last night as host! After nearly three years, Joe is stepping down, and he's actually asked ME to take over! So, starting next month, I'll be the host of Metrojam! This past Friday was a great night - many of the performers who have attended Metrojam over the last three years showed up to make Joe's last night special, and they succeeded! Susan Winter, Hector Coris, Rob Langeder, Deb Berman, Richie Eisenberg, Dawn Derow, Miles Phillips, Karen Oberlin, and Maureen Taylor were among the performers, and they were backed by a fantastic house band of John DiPinto on piano, Ritt Henn on bass, and Bobby Sher on drums. Congratulations to Joe on building Metrojam up from the ground and thanks for leaving me with a terrific open mic to host!

The rest of my weekend was spent rehearsing for my upcoming Connie Francis show, so that just about brings us up to date!

I've got another busy coupla weeks ahead, so be sure to check back for an update soon!