The Cabaret Chronicles: Shawn Ryan, Joe Bachana & More!
Happy Friday, one and all! It's been another busy week in the cabaret world, and I saw a number of great performances - read all about them below!
On Saturday, March 21st, I had the pleasure of singing backup in Joe Bachana's show, High Hopes: Songs from my Childhood at the Metropolitan Room. It was a feel-good, family-friendly show that featured a chorus of five children, ages 4-6 (including Joe's own two daughters), as well as Joe's wife, Nancy (who did a lovely "Que Sera, Sera")! The songs were songs that Joe grew up with, and included "Come On Get Happy," "Rainbow Connection," "Candy Man," "Up, Up, and Away" and (of course!) "High Hopes!" Joe's charming personality and smooth, easy-to-listen-to voice were well-suited to the upbeat material, and the children did a terrific job with their songs - they sang out loud and clear, and clearly loved every second of being on stage! Particularly touching was "You Two" from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which Joe sang with his two daughters. Musical director John DiPinto contributed some terrific arrangements and provided excellent piano accompaniment. I really had a great time doing the show - but I think I had an even better time watching the kids have the time of their lives on stage!
After Joe's show, I stayed at the Metropolitan Room to catch Shawn Ryan's show. Based in L.A., Shawn is a talented singer-comedian who always puts on an entertaining show. A semi-finalist in NBC's America's Got Talent in 2006, Shawn seamlessly blends comedy and cabaret and is extremely quick on his feet, so his shows are never the same twice. He takes his time to get to know his audience (in fact, one of his staple songs at the top of any show is "Getting to Know You," and during the song he takes the opportunity to meet and greet several different audience members!), and always incorporates audience members into his patter between (and sometimes during!) songs. Accompanied by a terrific trio (musical director Kelly Park on piano, Skip Ward on bass and Gasper Bertoncelj on drums), Shawn treated the audience to a fun, super-high-energy show. One of my favorites was the opening number, "Plus One," which has terrific lyrics by Shelly Goldstein, and catchy music by Kelly Park and Shawn, himself. It's a clever, funny song about turning thirty, which the singer prefers to refer to as "twenty nine plus one." From that opening to a zippy "Down With Love" closing (followed by Shel Silverstein's "I'm Checkin' Out" as an encore), the show was 100% enjoyable - in fact, I laughed so hard at some points, my cheeks started to hurt!
After Shawn's show, a few of us headed over to Rodeo Bar to hear Shawn's bassist, Skip Ward, playing with Bill Malchow and the Go Cup All Stars. It ended up being a blast - the bar was deliciously dive-y and the New Orleans-influenced rock was the perfect way to cap off an already great evening of entertainment!
On Sunday evening, it was off to the Algonquin Salon at the Algonquin Hotel. This was a special night, as it was the 1st anniversary of the Salon's residency at the Algonquin - and the talent came out in droves to help celebrate! Salon regulars such as Tanya Moberly, Gretchen Reinhagen, Sue Matsuki, Bill Zeffiro, Rob Langeder, Maureen Taylor, Raissa Katona Bennett, Sarah Rice, Susan Winter, and Janice Hall all contributed great performances, and newcomers Adriana McPhee and Devlin also delighted the packed room with their talents. One of my favorite moments of the night was when Salon founder and host Mark Janas played a breathtaking solo piano version of "Rhapsody in Blue" - absolutely gorgeous! Congratulations to Mark and also to the Salon's executive producer, Peter Napolitano (who treated us to another great parody this week!) for creating such a wonderful, supportive place for singers, songwriters, and musicians to share their talents.
Monday night, March 23rd, I (as usual!) headed to Birdland for another great Cast Party. The room was practically bursting at the seams with talent, which made for a really fun night! Christina Bianco, who just finished performing in Forbidden Broadway, delivered a high-energy "The Song Is You," cabaret diva KT Sullivan gave us a sneak peak of her new Dietz & Schwartz show (which just opened at the Algonquin), singer/songwriter David Goldman did my FAVORITE song of his, "Sorry Said The Moon," William Blake brought the house down with "Come Rain Or Come Shine," oh, I could go on and on! Another standout was singer/songwriter Zoe Lewis, who was visiting from Provincetown, MA, and did a fun, quirky song called "That Thing," which featured an amazing recorder solo (who knew that recorders could sound so cool?!) by Roxanne Layton. Host Jim Caruso was his usual entertaining, witty self, and Tedd Firth (piano), Steve Doyle (bass) and Steve Bakunas (drums) did a great job of backing everyone up!
On Wednesday, March 25th, I headed over to the Time Out NY Lounge to catch theSet NYC, which is a monthly variety show featuring up-and-coming performers in nearly every genre. On the night I went, there were a few singers (host RedWine, jazz/blues singer Anna Fiszman, and 22-year-old singer/songwriter Melanie Fontana), a few comedians (Liz Miele and Rob O'Reilly), a magician (Nick Ignazzi), and a dance team (Frida, Moncef and Ronja, who all hail from Sweden). Each set lasted about 10 minutes, and because the lineup was so varied, the time absolutely flew by! I spent a few minutes after the show chatting with Pim, who is one of the producers of theSet NYC, and he said that they work very hard to scout new talent in the city and provide a supportive atmosphere to allow these talents to showcase themselves and grow. Kudos, then, to Pim and the other founders/producers (R. Lai, L. Mordis, and R. Taliver) - from what I've seen, it looks like they are doing a terrific job of achieving their goals! I'll definitely be heading back for future performances - with no cover, no minimum, and a whole boatload of talent, it's a hard deal to beat!
Where I'm going this week...
Monday, March 30th: Cast Party at Birdland! Hosted by Jim Caruso, this fantastic open mic is THE place to be on Monday nights! It usually begins at 10:00, but this week it's starting at 11:00. As always, if you want to sing, be sure to get there early to sign up!
Tuesday, March 31st: Terese Genecco & her Little Big Band at The Iridium. I'm so looking forward to this - Terese is a fun, high-energy, Rat-Pack-style entertainer who always puts on a great show. She'll be joined on Tuesday by her top-notch 7-piece band, which is helmed by Barry Levitt at the piano. Sets are at 8:00 and 10:00.
Wednesday, April 1st: Metrojam at the Metropolitan Room. This monthly open mic, hosted by Joe Bachana, is a great place to sing, network, and enjoy some great entertainment. In honor of the date, this Wednesday's Metrojam will have a special "April Fool's" theme!
That's all for now have a great week and check back for another update next Friday!
Pictured: Shawn Ryan