The Cabaret Chronicles: Rob Langeder, The Algonquin Salon and More!

By: Apr. 24, 2009
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Happy Friday, folks!  Looks like we're finally in for some gorgeous weather this weekend - hooray!  This past week was a busy one for me, but happily, a good portion of my time was occupied by some terrific shows.

On Saturday, April 18th, I was very happy to head to the Metropolitan Room and join 2007 MAC Award winner Rob Langeder for a few duets in his new show, Anyplace I Hang My Hat...!  Loosely woven together by stories about his life and travels, the show touches on music that has influenced his life and reflects upon how his life has influenced his music.  From a beautiful rendering of "The Nearness of You," which his mother used to sing around the house, to "Is You Is, Or Is You Ain't (Ma' Baby)," which he learned from a Tom and Jerry cartoon, to a medley of "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," "My Kind Of Town (Chicago Is)" and "Manhattan," which highlights the three major cities in which he's lived, Rob puts on a high-energy, powerfully sung, and thoughtfully constructed show.  I'm thrilled to be singing in it, but half the fun is sitting back and listening to the rest of the show!  

The following night found me at the Algonquin Salon, which takes place every Sunday in the lobby of the historic Algonquin Hotel.  Founded and hosted by pianist/musical director Mark Janas, the Salon features a different guest co-host as well as an optional theme each week.  Singers, songwriters, musicians, spoken word artists and all sorts of other artistic types fill the lobby of the Alognquin, and spend the hours between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. sharing their talents and enjoying the talents of others.  This week, the guest co-host was the aforementioned Rob Langeder, and the optional theme was "Frankly Frank" - a tribute to two of Rob's favorite "Franks": composer Frank Loesser and everyone's favorite crooner, Frank Sinatra.  Performers were encouraged to do songs associated with either of those two "Franks," or any others they could think of!  Rob, himself, kicked things of with Frank Loesser's "Hamlet;" Joan Jaffe and Hal Blankenship saluted Sinatra with a duet of "You Make Me Feel So Young;" Frank Torren (who could have gotten by with his first name alone!) also  chose to pay tribute to Sinatra with a swingin' "Day In, Day Out;" Raissa Katona Bennett delivered a fun, high-energy rendering of Loesser's "Rumble, Rumble, Rumble"...oh, there were so many great performances, I could go on and on!  Most of the performers chose to stick to the theme, and some of the more creative choices includEd Scott Andrew Hutchins performing two short songs by L. Frank Baum (whom most of us know only as the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz!), Tanya Moberly sharing her rendition of "Frank Mills" from Hair, and Mark Watson performing the theme from Love Story, which was written by Francis Lai!  Very fun! 

On Monday evening, it was off to Patsy's on 56th Street for dinner and a show!  I had the pleasure of sharing the bill (of the show, not the dinner!) with singer Sal Manzo, and we had a terrific time!  Well-known for being Frank Sinatra's favorite restaurant, Patsy's has been family owned and run since it opened in 1944, and it has a rich history of being a destination for singers, actors, and musicians.  While Patsy's is renowned for its delectable Italian fare and celebrity diners, it is not usually a place to hear live music, which made Monday night very special!  The upstairs dining room was turned into a performance space, and those attending the performance were treated to a 5-course meal and a very fun show (if I do say so myself!), which included a few duets and - of course - some great Italian songs!  After the show, I hightailed it over to Birdland for the last hour of Cast Party, which (as usual) was great fun!  Teenager Charlie Puth wowed the audience with his jazzy piano playing, Jula Kalshoven (visiting from Denmark!) delivered a great "Easy to Love," Gene Santini gave us his best Tony Bennett on "Fly Me to the Moon," and Cast Party favorite Christine Lavin put a new twist on one of her most well-loved songs, "Good Thing He Can't Read My Mind," by performing the newly-scripted MALE version of the song: "Good Thing She Can't Read My Mind!"  As always, host Jim Caruso and the Cast Party Symphony Orchestra (Tedd Firth on piano and Steve Doyle on bass) kept things hoppin', boppin', and sounding terrific!

Where I'm going this week... 

Saturday, April 25thRob Langeder at the Metropolitan Room.  Rob's second performance of his new show, Anyplace I Hang My this Saturday at 5 p.m.  Featuring songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat "King" Cole and Elvis Costello, among others, the show is a "raucous" romp through all-time song favorites as well as some lesser known gems.  And (lucky me!) I get to join him for a few duets and backup singing! 

Sunday, April 26thThe Algonquin Salon - FREE singer/songwriter/musician soiree in the lobby of the famed Algonquin Hotel.  This Sunday's guest go-host is singer/songwriter/director/producer Hector Coris (yep, he does it all!).  The optional theme for this week is "The First Time" - material which represents some kind of "first" for each performer.  Runs from 7-10 p.m., be sure to arrive early to sign up if you want to sing!  This week Matthew Ward fills in for founder Mark Janas as host/pianist. 

Monday, April 27thCast Party at Birdland!  Hosted by Jim Caruso, this fantastic open mic runs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. but again, make sure you get there early to sign up if you want to sing!  

Tuesday, April 28th:  The 24th Annual Bistro Awards (presented by Sherry Eaker in association with BACKSTAGE).  This year, the annual "Critics' Choice" cabaret awards show is honoring Charles Aznavour and Liza Minnelli, along with 30 other artists - should be a fantastic show!  The show is taking place at Gotham Comedy Club and is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. 

Have a great week, enjoy the lovely weather and the Yankees - Red Sox games, and check back for another update next Friday!

Pictured: Rob Langeder


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