Archive for February, 2012

Putting It All Together

Well… with just a little over three weeks to go, I FINALLY tracked down a capable accompanist who is not going to bail on me.  This morning, we met at the studio and it sounded great (even if my accompanist was doing little more than sight reading).  While K did a fine job of playing for me, it allowed very little time for her to focus on what I was doing and what to critique.  Happily, she had very little to comment on except for a few spots I KNEW could have been better.  Usually the first time hearing the full accompaniment for a piece (rather long… let me see… 11), makes me a bit apprehensive especially when I’m not sure of the pianist’s ability.  But as I have been taught over and over the best ones will follow you and BOY did he ever!  I think the addition of the full accompaniment only enhanced many of the pieces.  I can’t wait to hear what the final product will produce!

“Songs I Have Learned” is going to be bookended by two (what I feel are) more inspirational pieces.  A bunch of fun character-driven tunes (my favorite kinds) and some emotional ballads will comprise the remainder of the set that will be divided into two.  Each of the songs hold a special place in my heart a lot of which I will share.

Yesterday at work, I was approached by a customer who had just come from the theatre’s revival of Escanaba in da Moonlight.  She had heard in the intro to the show that I would be presenting a show on March 16th.  I definitely will need to attend Saturday night’s show (an extended night) to see if this was so… not that I had not planned to see it before, just haven’t found an open date on my calendar.  I was asked if I would be interesting in performing at a special ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of Clem (the Civil War statue that was injured a few years ago in the “microburst” that destroyed our village hall).  The service is scheduled for Memorial Day following the ceremony at the cemetery.  I said I would be happy to and to keep me informed of the details.

Speaking of hometown events, the Boys’ High School Basketball team has completed its regular season.  A PERFECT 20-0 record!!! The first time in school history!  I have not been to a game in many seasons and I do kind of miss them.  Perhaps, I will be able to make one of the games on the tournament trail.  We shall see.

Songbird

Yes, as you may have guessed I am adding my own thoughts on the music of one Whitney Houston.  Saturday evening, I received a text from my cousin asking me if I had heard of Whitney’s passing.  Right after reading the message, I checked out the hub of social activity and sure enough there were already 20 posts devoted to the diva.  Growing up in the 80s, I was lucky enough to have lived to see and hear the infectious music of two powerhouse phenomenons: both of them are gone.  However, they each left an indelible mark on the music world that still has yet to be surpassed.  In the 1980s, Ms. Houston shared a stat of having 7 number one singles in a row!   Not only was she a pop diva but frequently returned to her gospel roots with such notable entries as the soundtrack to her film The Preacher’s Wife.

The 1990s was also a high point for Whitney with the monstrous film and soundtrack to The Bodyguard which featured a cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” as well as performing what is arguably the finest performance of the National Anthem of any Super Bowl.  Who else can claim to have had their version played on radio stations across the country weeks after it was presented?

Say what you will about the tragic life outside the music.  I choose to leave that for the tabloid mongers.  Anyone who lived during the 80s-90s can name at least one Whitney Houston song.  Like it or lump it, her music is infectious whether it be a hit pop ditty that makes you want to get up and dance (With somebody who loves me) or a powerful torch song.  OH… and lest I forget, she served as the Executive Producer and Fairy Godmother on a multi-ethnic version of a televised version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

My favorite Houstons song is a duet with Jermaine Jackson that I do not believe was a major hit.  I only discovered it as part of a Greatest Hits compilation more than a few years ago.

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And her remarkable Anthem from 1991:

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She could have so over done this but chose to keep it straight and simple and is all the more powerful for it.  Thank you Whitney!

A VERY PRODUCTIVE LESSON

It is gettng very close… about a month and a half (of course, February is a VERY short month!!!!).  However, I am very, VERY pleased with where I am at this point in the process.  After all, I have never before embarked on an adventure quite like this… from infancy to finish, my OWN creation but I would be lying if I did not tell you that I am really excited!  K told me that we are definitely where I need to be just going through each piece one by one over an over again.  I see two of my list are more challenging than others for reasons that are very apparent to both of us!  Definitely will be focusing on those this week.

I was thrilled by one of her comments today!  It seems that her family was listening to one of the songs I will be performing (one of my top picks… one that HAD to be on the program). She informed me that my interpretation outshines the artist who performed the song in the OBC (Original Broadway Cast for those of you not in the know).  Let me reiterate that this will be an extremely family-friendly show with no questionable songs or staging (I’ll save that for my grand 20th spectacle).  In fact, I would not be surprised if I incorporated a bit of audience interaction throughout.  Not to worry, I would know who NOT to call upon.  St. Patty’s Day weekend… I have a spot to fill perhaps a nice Irish tune.

It seems that I have been a walking billboard for my terrific coach.  Not one but two people have asked me how to get in touch with her.  My cousin, who is in a band, told me that she has been trying to find a good vocal teacher and was unaware that there was one in the immediate area.

In other production news, it seems that “the other me” has made quite an impression.  The promotional photo for the theatre’s redux of Escanaba in da Moonlight features a gentleman who just happens to share names with me but bears little resemblance.  Numerous people around the area have come up and asked me how the play was going.  At times, I have forgotten what they were talking about and inform them that it is not me in the cast.  I have worked on stage with J2 but not this time.

Coming Soon to the Great White Way

Seems like spring is the beginning of the new Broadway season.  Guess they have to get in to hit that Tony deadline.  In any case, I see a gaggle of revivals, hollywood turned stage productions (for better or worse), and one-man shows among the already established shows.

It appears that there is a new revolving door musical aiming to hit a certain demographic (in this case screaming adolescent females).  Daniel Radcliffe ended his employ at the World Wide Wicket company back in early January.  Darren Criss (from Glee) Succeeded him for a two week run.  And now, Nick Jonas is in the Business until July. Hope that this does not become the next Chicago with every teenage heartthrob stepping into the role of J. Pierpont Finch.  A good show should stand on its own.  On a side bar, Radcliffe and Criss have more in common than H2$.  Darren’s production company (began at all places at the dreaded school up north) created the internet sensation “A Very Potter Musical.”

Opening soon for a limited run is the newest entry in Disney’s production juggernaut.  Newsies, a little movie musical from the 80s that starred a young little-known actor named Christian Bale.  I do not think it was a major hit but has legions of cult fans 😀

Ghost: The Musical.  The less said the better.  Sounds like a mess and I don’t mean because of the famous clay scene.

In the new revival scene there is a play and a favorite musical about to hit NYC.  Phillip Seymour Hoffman is going to fill Willy Loman’s shoes along with Andrew Garfield (the Amazing Spider-Man not the musical the new reboot of the cinematic saga) in Death of a Salesman.

 Now for the show that I have had my eye on ever since the news arrived.  Lord Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece is coming back!  Starlight Express that WONDERFUL engine that could will be skating back into the heart of theatre goers in March.  Jesus Christ Superstar enjoyed a new production in Canada last summer and is making its way to the Neil Simon Theatre in March.  I just hope that this production is better than the 90s offering that was dreadful and they had the audacity to film it for all to see (not that the 1973 version was the work of genius but King Herod was much more interesting).

Finally…. for a very limited run, the performing wunderkind known as William Shatner will be gracing the stage for the first time in 50 years in a one-man production all his own.  I can only imagine…