Anita Gillette, Karen Wyman, Steve Ross and More Join Teens for IRVING BERLIN Tribute at Metropolitan Room This Weekend
This afternoon, Gillette (who began her long Broadway career playing June in the original run of Gypsy and soon moved on to what would be Irving Berlin's final original show, Mr. President) brings song and stories of knowing legendary Berlin (Annie Get Your Gun, Call Me Madam, Top Hat, White Christmas, "God Bless America," "Easter Parade," "Blue Skies," "Always," etc., etc.). She played the U.S. President's teen-aged daughter and will share memories and the stage with teens of today.
Joining forces with Gillette (photo below) and young teen performers will be Steve Ross, the veteran globe-trotting entertainer dubbed the "Crown Prince of Cabaret," and well-versed in the verses and choruses of Berlin, will guest on August 4, along with vocalist Frank Dain, who is also the editor of Cabaret Scenes Magazine, the only print magazine specializing in cabaret. The program is titled for its non-profit Foundation as a beneficiary for the concerts, along with charities serving needy teens. Nightclub and record star Karen Wyman will also sing and add her perspective, having begun her career at age 16 on disc, posh clubs and TV programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Show, and The Tonight Show, going on a whirlwind career, and then giving it all up in the 1980s. While she'll make her much-anticipated full-length show return at the Metropolitan Room this fall, Miss Wyman jumped back in at a benefit for the magazine at Iridium NYC last month. Also guesting is multi-award winning vocalist Karen Oberlin
The teen members of the cast have a love for the standards by Berlin and his contemporaries and have begun professional careers. Singing host Tony Ponella, runner-up in last year's Michael Feinstein Initiative (the national vocal competition for high school students), has already been selected to sing at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, The Duplex, Iridium NYC. In this first year as a New Yorker, the 18-year-old has landed acting roles, including a debut in the same little theatre where Barbra Streisand made hers at the same age. He's joined by Dominique Solano, whose teen years now include that same Feinstein's stage and The Town Hall (Broadway's Rising Stars, earlier this summer) and, notably, a production of Irving Berlin's White Christmas. Seventeen-year-old violinist wunderkind Jonathan Russell already has collaborations with jazz and cabaret artists, off-Broadway, and movie scoring on his resumé. Future Teens of America are represented by even-younger guests such as Karen Oberlin's son Nate Hajdu, who is 10, about the same age series musical director Jordan Siwek was when he spent a year as Gavroche on Broadway in LES MISERABLES before becoming piano-focused.
The programs keep the cover charge at the affordable $10 to encourage teens and families to attend. The drink minimum requirement brings a range of non-alcoholic beverages. Ringside seats are available for $20 and special group rates are available. Through organizations and referral, all performances offer some free tickets (with no "minimum" requirement) for young audience members in life-challenging situations newer to the great tradition of the Songbook classics. Singers volunteer their time and talents so costs can be minimal and proceeds benefit the charities.
The Metropolitan Room has room for "all ages and all kinds of entertainment." A family musical comedy about a first-time nightclub singer and her nursery rhyme-obsessed kids is finishing casting and rehearsing now for performances August 17, 24, and 25. Titled Humpty Dumpty Cracks Up: The Nightmare of Cabaret, it's a playful look at cabaret for all ages (not pre-school kiddie theatre) which has already cast some cabaret notables in surprise roles. Like the songwriter revues, it's a mixed-aged cast for mixed-aged audiences, benefits charities, and is supervised by Rob Lester, cabaret/theatre writer (Cabaret Scenes, www.NiteLifeExchange.com, and www.TalkinBroadway.com).
Cabaret Scenes with Cabaret Teens and Their Guests: Irving Berlin Tribute can be seen: Saturday, August 3 (2:30 pm); Sunday, August 4 (12:30 pm). Guests vary. $10 or $20, plus two-beverage minimum.
Humpty Dumpty Cracks Up: The Nightmare of Cabaret, a musical for all ages, can be seen August 17, 24, 25. All are 2:30 pm weekend matinees. $10 or $20, plus two-beverage minimum, with special drinks like the "Humpty Dumpty Egg Cream" and snacks such as Miss Muffet's curds and whey.
The Metropolitan Room is at 34 West 22 Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Manhattan. Phone: 212-206-04440. Website with full calendar of all music and comedy events, etc., and ticket sales: www.MetropolitanRoom.com.