January 3, 2008 (*scroll down to read all 2008 Newspapers!)
Merry Christmas. Happy Chanukkah. Happy New Year. Now. Back to work! Don't get me wrong. I like to fa la la as much as the next guy, but we have showbusiness to produce here, kids! This coming Monday at 7:30, Birdland will be up to it's beak in Broadway supah-stars! The concert celebration of Scott Alan's new CD, “Dreaming Wide Awake” will feature some serious A-listers, including Shoshana Bean, Stephanie J. Block (left), Liz Callaway, Danny Calvert, Eden Espinoza, Jonathan Groff, Cheyenne Jackson, Carly Jibson and Jill Zadeh. The band will consist of Sean McDaniel, Jake Ezra Schwartz, Steve Gilewski, Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf and Blair Lawhead. Jesse Vargas, who arranged and orchestrated “Dreaming Wide Awake,” will serve as the evening's Musical Director. The show has been sold-out for decades, but if you get to the club early, you can snag some bar seats. Those tickets will be $25 plus a $10 food/drink minimum. After the concert and subsequent cd signing, I'll be delighted to host the first Cast Party of 2008! Who will show up? Who will sing? Who will thrill? Who will - not thrill. I can't wait to find out.
As if I even had to say it, we're over-the-moon about the upcoming Chita Rivera concerts. On Monday, January 14, the awesome Miss R. (left) will be singing up a storm and dancing her gorgeous legs off at Birdland at 7pm and 10pm. “Chita Loves Broadway Cares” will be a joyous celebration of the Broadway family that she loves so much - and they'll be in attendance to cheer her on, believe me! The first show sold out before we had time to announce it, so we were thrilled to add the second show. There are a few seats left for that one, and bar seats are available andreserve-able. Call the club NOW (212-581-3080) to catch one of the all-time iconic razzle-dazzlers. Many thanks to my co-sponsor TheaterMania.com, for being so incredibly supportive on this project! We won't be doing a formal Cast Party after the Chita show, although something tells me that the music and celebrating will go on and on into the night!
Broadway at Birdland!
SO many brilliant performances are coming up in the Broadway at Birdland series! On January 28, Amanda Green will ask the musical question, "Does This Song Make My Ass Look Phat?" with a cast that includes Brooks Ashmanskas, Jenn Colella, Jonathan Dokuchitz,Jeny Foote, and Amy Spanger. Musical director for the evening will beMatt Gallagher. On February 4, Curtains star Jason Danieley (left) will perform "Love: A Work In Progress." February 11 will find Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen back on the Birdland stage, celebrating the third anniversary of their unique and expanding collaboration. On February 18, Billy Stritch will be in concert singing those brilliant Mel Torme songs from his brand new CD "Billy Stritch Sings Mel Torme." Country/pop fans will be excited that Victoria Shaw will be returning to our stage with another edition of "Under The Covers," co-starring Richie McDonald(lead singer of the supergroup "Lonestar") and Grammy-winner Marcus Hummon. If that isn't a great two months of entertainment, I'm not sure what is! Call Birdland for reservations - 212-581-3080 orwww.BirdlandJazz.com.
January 10, 2008
I mean really. Scott Alan's concert and CD celebration on Monday was one of the all-time great Broadway at Birdland bashes! With a cast of sterling Broadway babies like Shoshana Bean, Cheyenne Jackson,Jonathan Groff, Stephanie J. Block, Liz Callaway (all seen at left), Lisa Brescia, Danny Calvert, and many others, how could it miss? Jesse Vargas arranged Scott's marvelous songs, and led a spectacular band. Scott was a funny, charming and talented host. Everyone was on their game, and the SRO crowd whooped it up in a major way. 75 people were turned away at the door…it was a mob scene! You can see all the photos on either Music of Scott Alan at Birdland or Backstage, with many thanks to Linda Lenzi and Genevieve Rafter Keddy at BroadwayWorld.com for shooting all those pretty faces!
The following Cast Party kept the momentum going, with a packed house to usher in 2008! The parade of talent included Lari White (left), Natalie Weiss, Amanda Green, David Goldman, Kassira, Ben Cherry,Christine Lavin, Hayden Tee, Katherine Luckinbill, Hilary Kole,Maude Maggart, Kirsten Gray, Mark Aaron James, Marvin Parks,Aaron Davis, Ben Rausch…and Liz O'Donnell, who sang an entire song without opening her mouth. Yes…that was a first…and hopefully not a last! Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle outdid themselves on piano and bass, and I was dazzling beyond belief. At least that's what I'm telling YOU. Check out Mark Rupp's great photos on Flickr.
This coming Monday, our schedule is going to be a bit different. The 7pmChita Rivera benefit concert sold out so fast, that we decided to add a second one at 10pm. That one will wind down around 11:30, and everyone will want to stick around to celebrate and congratulate Chita. I have absolutely no idea when Cast Party will get under way. All of that is to say, that we'd love to see you, but expect a very limited Party. Billy Stritch will be at the piano, and the place will be packed with Broadway folk, but I can't guarantee anything other than a lot of fun. If all else fails, please join us the following Monday, January 21 for your fave open mic, which will be brought to you at its regulary scheduled time.
January 17, 2008
It was one of the best nights ever. Monday's CHITA LOVES BROADWAY CARES event at Birdland thrilled everyone involved. To see that legendary lady (left) singing and dancing on our stage was almost surreal, and I'm thrilled to tell you that we will be sending a whomping big check (to the tune of $12,040.00) to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. You might ask 'Who was there, Jim?” My reply might have to be “Um, who WASN'T there, reader?” Broadway heavy hitters like Raul Esparza (with Chita, below left), Barbara Cook, Tommy Tune, Michael John LaChiusa, Lynn Ahrens, Phyllis Newman, Larry Grossman,Amanda Green, Harvey Evans, Joel Grey, Celeste Holm, Troy Britton Johnson, Jerry Mitchell, Cady Huffman, Ron Abel & Chuck Steffan,Mary Testa, Carol Hall, Jeffry Denman, Victoria Shaw, Angie Schworer, Jack O'Brien, Austin Miller, John McDaniel, Kevin Ligon,Jenna Esposito, Tiger Martina, Jennifer Smith, Max von Essen, Julie Gold, Terri Klausner, Steve Marzullo, Brian Nash, Hunter Bell, Barrett Foa, and Marilyn Maye were just some of the faces we spied. We were excited to see Jenna Russell and David Evans, the two stars of the London production of Sunday in the Park with George. They were there with one of their producers, David Babani, who is helping bring the show to Broadway this season!
You just have to check out the fabulous fotos on our FLICKR site. (Thanks to Mark Rupp, Steve Sorokoff and Joe Marzullo for catching the fun!) Of course BROADWAYWORLD and THEATERMANIA posted some photos - check those out, too. The following Cast Party with Billy Stritch and Steve Doyle turned into a joyous ode to Chita - with lots of great performances dedicated to Ms. Rivera, who whooped it up from the audience until closing time.
This coming Monday, there won't be a Broadway at Birdland concert, but there WILL be a Cast Party! We're so excited to meet and hear Ma, Wu,Liu, Gao, and Yu, the five final contestants from China's “MyShow,” which is the Asian version of “American Idol.” They're coming to NYC to check out the Broadway scene, and Camp Broadway and Nederlander New Century thought Cast Party was a good place to bring them after a night of theater! We couldn't be more thrilled - the footage of their performances will probably air on Chinese TV. I only hope my black eye will have disappeared by then. Yes…I walked into an elbow. You can't make up something that dull. I'm currently in Fresno, California, slathering it with cover stick, Derma-Blend and dozens of MAC products, so I can look ravishing for a Liza concert (see below), although I hear that 'bruise is the new black.' Please don't say, “I'd rather fight than switch” when you see me. I've heard it.
When you're on your way to the club, look up! On the east side of the building is an awesome new addition to the Cast Party family...a billboard! Many thanks to owner Gianni Valente for the space!
January 24, 2008
Cast Party has never been more international. Monday night saw hoardes of talent from such far-flung places as China, Australia, England, Canada and New Jersey. The winners of the Chinese version of “American Idol” (called “My Show”) brought three tables worth of entourage, fans and camera crew! They also brought great energy, gangsta chic (left) and one of the strangest pop songs we've ever heard, complete with a boy soprano aria.
Needless to say, they were a hit, and we wish them all the luck in the world. The kids from Oz, Matthew Carey, Katrina Ryan and Mike Hainesperformed brilliantly, with the Deputy Premier of South Australia, Kevin Foley, in the house! Fiona Farmilowe, definitely a great Brit, purred a definitive “Fever.”
I'd have to say that the hit of the night was Saska-tune-meister Ari Weinberg (left with Christine Lavin and Malan Breton), who sang a newish ditty called “Chutzpah a Gogo.” (Funny - it didn't sound newish.) It's one of the better pieces of special material ever, and we look forward to Ari's return! We were also thrilled to see brilliant instrumentalists like cellistTrevor Exter, trumpet-guy Dominick Farinacci, sax-dude Nathan Childers, and pianists Rich Siegel and Tony DeSare burning up the Birdland stage. Of course Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle accompanied the masses on piano and bass quite brilliantly! You can see proof of all the fun on our Flickr! site!!
This coming Monday you'll be happy to know that we do it all again, withDavid Budway and Mr. Doyle performing as the Cast Party Symphony Orchestra. Dig out a zippy tune, dust off your zither, and join us, won't you?
Broadway at Birdland!
Cast Party would be nothing without the amazing talent that storms our stage every week. We thought it would be fun to ask some of our beloved regulars to share a memory about their fave Monday night hang. They can wax poetic, qvell or rant about anything they like, as long as it's Party-centric. Our very first guest is the always perky, always sparkley, always adorable Jenna Esposito:
When I first started “Cast Party-ing,” I knew virtually no one in the city. I would attend every week and sit at the bar by myself, eagerly awaiting the moment my name would be called. Ah, what a difference 3 years makes! I have to say, though, that my favorite “Cast Party moment” actually did not take place at Cast Party. I was attending a friend's Memorial Day bar-b-q last year, and one of the other attendees was Broadway hoofer Jeffry Denman (of whom I'm a big fan!). I knew who he was right away, and introduced myself. He gave me a funny, puzzled look and said, “Jenna Esposito…why do I know that name?” Suddenly, his girlfriend piped in and said, “Oh, I know - from Cast Party!” - at which point they both broke into the “Jenna Esposito, You Got Me On The Go” theme song (as created by Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch). Stardom at last!
On Monday, January 28 at 7pm, we'll be dee-lighted to welcome back the gorgeous and witty Amanda Green to our stage, where she will ask the musical question, “Does This Song Make My Ass Look Phat?” Joining Mandy in the musical naughtiness will be Brooks Ashmanskas (The Club, The Producers), Jenn Colella (Urban Cowboy, High Fidelity), Jonathan Dokuchitz (Hairspray), Jeny Foote (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and Amy Spanger (The Wedding Singer). You probably know that Amanda co-composed the Broadway score to High Fidelity, and is one of our all-time favorite writers. The winner of MAC Awards, Bistro Awards, and a Jonathan Larson Award for excellence in songwriting, Amanda's considerable talent and passionate following comes as no surprise, given her parentage: she's the daughter of the late, great writer, lyricist and performer Adolph Green(“Singin' In The Rain,” “The Band Wagon,” On The Town) and the fabulous actress Phyllis Newman. Of Amanda's work, the Wall Street Journal said, “Green is a master of the craft. She specializes in murderously witty songs that crackle with Sondheim-style wordplay.” Call Birdland for reservations at 212-581-3080 or click on www.BirdlandJazz.com. You'll be glad you did!
Then, on Monday, February 4, Broadway leading man Jason Danieleywill make his Birdland debut with “Love: A Work In Progress.” Danieley, currently starring on Broadway in Curtains, will bring a unique combination of Blues, Country, Folk, Showtunes and Standards, all delivered with a healthy dose of Americana flavor. Joining him will be Dan Lipton on piano, Christian Hebel on fiddle, Mark Vanderpoel on bass, Michael Aarons on guitar/banjo/mandolin, Damien Bassman on percussion andTheresa McCarthy on backing vocals. In addition to singing, Danieley will join the band on tenor guitar. Raves the New York Times, Jason Danieley is “a natural charmer… his singing is sensitive, pure and gorgeously robust.”
Jason Danieley is currently starring on Broadway as Aaron Fox in Kander & Ebb's Curtains, a role he originated in the show's March 2007 premiere. He made his Broadway debut over ten years ago, as the title character in theater legend Harold Prince's production of Candide, for which he received Theatre World and Drama League Awards, as well as a Drama Desk nomination. In 2000, he famously took it all off for the hit production ofThe Full Monty, in both the original Broadway and West End casts. A frequent guest of New York's highly acclaimed City Center Encores!Series, Danieley has scored leading roles in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn andStrike Up The Band. Recent Off-Broadway appearances include: The Trojan Women: A Love Story; Dream True; and Adam Guettel's Floyd Collins. Jason has also performed, by special invitation as a guest artist, alongside many of the country's leading orchestras, including the New York, Boston and Philadelphia Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and the St. Louis, Utah, Minnesota and Boston Symphonies. Call Birdland for reservations - 212-581-3080 or click onwww.BirdlandJazz.com.
Thinking ahead to future Broadway at Birdland concerts: Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen (February 11), Billy Stritch Sings Mel Torme(February 18), "Under the Covers With Victoria Shaw" (February 25),Beverly & Kirby Ward (March 3), The Marcy & Zina Show (March 10).
February 7, 2008
There was a lot of love at Jason Danieley's Monday night concert entitled “Love: A Work In Progress.” The beloved Broadway leading man and his show were adored and cheered by throngs of family, friends, fans andCurtains co-workers (including Edward Hibbert and David Hyde Pierce,left). Other genius Broadway notables were there, including composerLynn Ahrens and performers Michael Winther, Alysha Umphress,Michael Longoria and Jason's co-star Karen Ziemba. Watch for Jason's return to Birdland - you have to hear his extraordinary arrangement and performance of Adam Guettel's “Love To Me.”
The following Cast Party was equally starry and fun-filled. Many thanks go to Birdland for my birthday tiramisu. Here's hoping the powdered sugar and cocoa stains come out of Julie Garnyé's fabulous Monique Lhuillierblouse (left). It was so great to see the legendary cabaret-owner and producer, Jan Wallman! She, along with the rest of us, were dazzled by performances from Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Christine Pedi, Julie Garnyé,Phoebe Kreutz and the original Cast Party Boy, David Raleigh, among many others.
Special mention goes to an act called “Cashino,” starringSusie Mosier and John Boswell as Pepper Cole and Johnny Niagra. Their manic, desperate and hilarious take on Lounge Lizardry made the night! To see photos of the whole magilla, click on Flickr, with many thanks to photographer Mark Rupp, for always being there!
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to announce the jubilant return of acclaimed performing duo Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen on Monday, February 11 at 7pm, as part of Broadway at Birdland. Capathia (Broadway's Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me) and composer Louis have lots to celebrate: it's their third engagement on our stage, and it's the third anniversary of their remarkable collaboration. Highlights are sure to include selections from Twelve Songs on Poems by Maya Angelou, Dream Suite, on poems by Langston Hughes, and highlights from their recent debut recording South Side Stories.
Joining them for this special celebration are their favorite accompanists, pianist Kimberly Grigsby and bassist David Phillips. Raved the Chicago Sun Times, “Something quite magical can happen when a composer has a specific voice to serve as his muse. Consider the case of Louis Rosen and his songbird of choice, Capathia Jenkins, performing Rosen's nostalgic, romantic, emotionally charged song cycle…”
Call Birdland for reservations: 212-581-3080 or click onwww.BirdlandJazz.com.
In the weeks to come:
Billy Stritch Sings Mel Tormé on February 18
Under The Covers With Victoria Shaw on February 25 with Special Guests Richie McDonald and Marcus Hummon
February 14, 2008
Happy Valentine's Day!
Capathia Jenkins and Louis Rosen both put on the most gorgeous show for Broadway at Birdland on Monday night! The place was filled with friends and fans, including the fabulous Sara Ramirez from Spamalot and “Gray's Anatomy” (with Capathia, left, thanks to Mark Rupp). This was the musical duo's third appearance with us, and we can look forward to their fourth!
The following Cast Party was one for the record books! The casts of Altar Boyz (left) and Celia both showed up to hawk their amazing wares, complete with t-shirt and ticket giveaways. Algonquin-bound Lari Whitegave us a taste of her upcoming show, “Love Letters.” Tony DeSareshowed why he's been held over at Bemelman's Bar at the venerable Carlyle Hotel. Billy Stritch pulled out some of his amazing Mel Torme material. Christine Lavin was never funnier. Erich Bergen - all the way from the Vegas company of Jersey Boys - asked the musical question, “I'm Not A Girl.” Natalie Douglas proved she's one of the most talented divas in town. Carrie Jackson and Gil Benson showed off their swinging and singing talents. Katherine Luckinbill dazzled everyone with her voice and vivacious personality. Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle were brilliant, as always, as the Cast Party Symphony Orchestra. They'll do it all over again this coming Monday, and we sure hope to see YOU! If you click onFlickr, you can see proof of all the fun.
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to announce the return of exceptional composer, arranger, vocalist and jazz pianistBilly Stritch, live in-concert to celebrate the release of his acclaimed new record, “Billy Stritch Sings Mel Tormé,” Monday, February 18, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, critically-heralded and popular concert series Broadway at Birdland.
Born as a tribute to legendary jazz singer Mel Tormé, “Billy Stritch Sings Mel Tormé” features specifically-selected songs from key moments in the classic vocalist's remarkable career, ranging from early moments to all-time classics like “Lulu's Back in Town” and “Mountain Greenery.” Says Stritch, “I first heard Tormé when I was a teenager and from that point on he was my favorite jazz singer. One of the high points of my career was opening for him with my trio, Montgomery Plant and Stritch, at the 1988 JVC Jazz Festival at Carnegie Hall. What a memory - and what a man. There'll never be another Mel Tormé.” Raves the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Billy Stritch is “the epitome of jazzy sophistication as he sings the songs of Mel Tormé.”
An award-winning composer and performer, Billy Stritch has won international acclaim for his interpretations and passion for the Great American Songbook, a healthy mix of fresh perspective, laid-back humor and expert showmanship. Born and raised in Sugar Land, TX, Stritch got his start at age 12, playing piano at his neighborhood First Presbyterian Church - and quickly developed into a widely-known prodigy, particularly once he arrived in New York City. He has produced, arranged for and performed onstage with world-renowned icons including Liza Minnelli, Christine Ebersole, Marilyn Maye and Charles Aznavour, and was a guest conductor for The Rosie O'Donnell Show.
As a composer, Stritch co-penned the 1994 Grammy Award-winning song, "Does He Love You?," recorded by Reba McEntire and Linda Davis, which has sold over four million copies nationwide and was named one of the Top Ten Country Songs of that year. Stritch has headlined every famed nightspot in Manhattan, including Rainbow and Stars, The Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room, The Russian Tea Room, The Blue Note and Birdland. In 2001, he landed the role of piano-playing crooner Oscar in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of 42nd Street, opposite Ebersole - which led to a long-standing and hugely celebrated professional partnership, across dozens of stages and television shows.
Please call Birdland at 212-581-3080 or click www.BirdlandJazz.com for reservations.
February 21, 2008
Monday night's Broadway at Birdland concert showcased Billy Stritch at the top of his game. After a loving introduction by BFF and Tony-winning dazzler Christine Ebersole (left), Stritch stormed the stage to celebrate his brand new recording, “Billy Stritch Sings Mel Tormé.” (If you check out our sponsor ads below, you can purchase one of your very own!) The Stritch/Torme musical union is a natural, as evidenced by the stomping, hooting and hollering that followed each song.
Christine Lavin has been called 'The Mother Teresa of Showbusiness' because of her boundless kindness and support of other performers. Needless to say, she was the perfect gal to pinch-hit for me when I came down with the crud. She even pulled a Larry King and interviewed me by phone from my sick bed (left), so everyone could participate in my unfortunate and badly-timed illness. She kept the franchise running with style and panache, and I can't thank her enough! There sure was a lot of talent in the house, like the mega-composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked),Jenna Russell (currently starring as Dot in Sunday in the Park With George), Chelsea Krombach (Wicked), Celissa Henderson (Godspell),Marvin Parks, Jeanne MacDonald, Kevin Ray, KT Sullivan, Heather Sullivan, Allison Wonderland (real name), and Phoebe Kreutz, whose “This Song Is Going To Make You Cry” mentions the death of Bambi's mother. The duo “Small Potatoes” was a big hit, too, delighting the packed house with “Waltz of the Wallflowers.” As always, Cast Party was a crazy mix of showbizzery, and you can see photographic proof on ourFlickr site, thanks to Mark Rupp. Thankfully, we'll do it all over again next Monday night, with Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle accompanying some of the best and most unique talent on this or any other planet. I'll be there, too, so bring Purell. And lozenges.
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to announce the return of honored and hugely successful songwriter & performerVictoria Shaw and her celebrated showcase Under The Covers With Victoria Shaw, Monday, February 25, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, critically-heralded and popular concert series Broadway at Birdland.
Hosted by Shaw, Under The Covers… has become a recurrent highlight, featuring a wide variety of top-selling songwriters and musical acts from across the pop, rock and country worlds, and offering intimate acoustic performances of huge hit songs - along with the little-known stories behind them. Already confirmed to join Shaw are Grammy-winning songwriterMarcus Hummon, and Richie McDonald, who was lead singer of the popular country band Lonestar.
Responsible for over 65 million album sales, Shaw is best-known as the writer of “The River,” one of Garth Brooks's biggest hits, as well as “I Love The Way You Love Me,” recorded by John Michael Montgomery, and “Nobody Wants To Be Lonely,” performed by Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera. Her songs have also been recorded by such major stars as Olivia Newton John, Boyzone, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, Reba McEntire, Tricia Yearwood, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Michael McDonald. The winner of two Emmy Awards, Shaw is also an accomplished singer, releasing four albums (two on Warner Bros. Records and two independently, on her own Taffeta label), and touring extensively throughout the U.S. and across Europe. She also notably opened for Garth Brooks at his historic 1997 Central Park concert.
Marcus Hummon is one of Nashville's most consistently successful and innovative songwriter/musicians. He wrote Rascal Flatts' “Bless the Broken Road,” which won the Grammy for Best Country Song in 2005, and scored back-to-back chart-smashing singles with the Dixie Chicks: "Ready to Run," which also won a Grammy, and "Cowboy, Take Me Away.” In addition to penning songs like Tim McGraw's #1 hit, "One of These Days” and Sara Evans's chart-topper “Born to Fly,” a CMA nominee for Song of the Year, he has also recorded four albums of his own.
For more than a dozen years, Richie McDonald was the voice and most recognizable face for the platinum-selling, CMA- and ACM Award-winning country group, Lonestar. As frontman for one of the most successful bands of the '90s, McDonald's vocals propelled songs like “Amazed” and “I'm Already There” to the top of the charts, earning him Songwriter and Song of the Year honors from BMI. In 2007, McDonald left Lonestar and is currently working on his first solo album, to be released later this year.
Call Birdland for reservations: 212-581-3080 or www.BirdlandJazz.com.
Grammy winner Lari White will explore the endless varieties of love in the Oak Room’s Valentine Show, “Love Letters,” February 12 to March 1. Among Lari’s selections are “Lush Life (Strayhorn), “Sorry/Grateful” (Sondheim), “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” (Bacharach/David), “I Wish I Were in Love Again” (Rodgers & Hart), “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” (Bergmans/Legrand) and “A Box of Old Love Letters,” among others. Musical director is Don Rebic, with Steve Doyle on bass and Eric Michael Gillette as director. Shows are Tuesday through Thursday at 9 pm and Friday and Saturday at 9 and 11:30, with a $65 cover charge per person and $30 food and beverage minimum or $70 prix fixe dinner (dinner is required at the early shows Friday and Saturday). Reservations: 212-419-9331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In recent years, Lari, a Florida native who divides her time between New York and Nashville, has produced country superstar Toby Keith’s platinum album, “White Trash with Money,” co-starred as June Cash in the Broadway musical, Ring of Fire, based on the songs of Johnny Cash, and starred in a salute to Marilyn and Alan Bergman for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Series. A graduate of the University of Miami, where as an Isaac Bashevis Singer scholar she studied voice and musical engineering, Lari moved to Nashville, where she won first prize on the Nashville Network’s talent show “You Can Be A Star.” An RCA recording contract led to her Gold album, “Wishes.” More solo albums followed and she earned Best Gospel Album Grammys for the 1995 compilation “Amazing Grace” and “The Apostle” soundtracks. She appeared as the Angel Sculptress in the Tom Hanks’ film "Cast Away," and in Lifetime’s "No Regrets." She’s currently producing an album on Mac Davis and preparing for a spring concert with the Nashville Symphony with Marvin Hamlisch, who conducted her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Pops in 2007.
“Every once in a while you hear a new voice that sings and soars and brings new pleasures. Such a voice is Lari White.”...Alan and Marilyn Bergman
February 28, 2008
People occasionally ask me about my favorite Birdland nights…and I honestly have to say that I love each act that we bring in for different reasons. However, “Under the Covers With Victoria Shaw” continues to stay very close to my Texas heart. The round-robin showcase has become a recurring highlight in our series, featuring a wide variety of top-selling songwriters and musical acts from across the pop, rock and country worlds. This past Monday, Vic brought Richie McDonald (the former lead singer from the platinum-selling supergroup Lonestar), Marcus Hummon (composer of “Bless The Broken Road” and “Cowboy Take Me Away”), Jim Brickman (“Valentine”), Mark Hudson (“Livin' On The Edge”), and Julie Gold (“From A Distance”). Lari White, Merle Dandridge and Caroline Cutbirth lent their amazing voices to the proceedings, and it was just one of the most special, heartfelt musical nights ever. I'm so proud that we can host "Under The Covers" - and can't wait for the next one.
The following Cast Party was a blast, since lots of folks from the first show stuck around to continue the fun. What a star-studded crowd it was, with the Las Vegas Phantom himself, Brent Barrett singing a perfect “Someone To Watch Over Me,” “Trading Spaces” hostess Page Davis belting “Maybe This Time,” and demon decorator Douglas Wilson crooning his snarky parody of “My Way.” Country dude Cooper Boone and guitar-man Will Knox made memorable Cast Party debuts - we certainly hope to see them back again soon! Surveying the scene were two stars of Broadway's newest hit, Sunday in the Park With George, Jenna Russell and Alexander Gemignani, British cabaret superstar John Barr, and the entire board of theAustin Cabaret Theatre. (Many thanks to Stuart Moulton for bringing such a fantastic bunch. He does a dandy job running that venue - and has been unbelievably generous to so many of us performer-types. Trust me, if you have an act, beg Stuart to book you. You will never be treated as well - he goes beyond the call of hospitality duty.) Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle worked their fingers to the bone as Cast Party Symphony Orchestra, as they will next Monday night. Bring your showtune, your standard, your original ditty, your polka, and get on the list! We can't wait to see you! (You can see US if you click on Flickr!)
By the way, do you know about Manhattan Users Guide? It's a daily e-newsletter that keeps you on top of everything that's going on in our grande ville: a slick, inside look at news of art and entertainment, the best shopping and hippest restaurants. I start every single morning with black coffee and M.U.G! Charlie Suisman, an award-winning journalist, author and Big Apple expert, writes the most entertaining and useful email you'll receive all day! He's been so supportive of Cast Party and the Broadway at Birdland series - you can thank him by subscribing - just click onManhattan Users Guide!
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com, the leading source for exclusive theater information and live-events tickets nationwide, are proud to announce the Birdland debut of Beverly and Kirby Ward, performing partners on-stage and happily married for over two decades off-, Monday, March 3, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, critically-heralded and popular concert series Broadway at Birdland.
A rare perfect example to the age-old adage that “the couple who performs together, stays together,” To Have and To Hold offers an intimate and telling glimpse into the life and love of Beverly and Kirby Ward, coming off 23 years of blissful marriage, all spent in musical theater. Filled with stories from the road and their trademark personal spin on music ranging from Gershwin to The Beach Boys, the WARDs offer true onstage chemistry; indeed, they were once dubbed “the most romantic couple in southern California.”
Kirby Ward has been in the entertainment industry for over 35 years and is a veteran of over 60 theatrical productions. As the original Bobby Child in the London West End premiere of Crazy For You, he received an Olivier Award nomination and later a Helen Hayes Award nomination at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Kirby was also featured in Hal Prince's hit Broadway revival of Show Boat. As director and choreographer, Kirby has created material for Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor, worked with Bette Midler and James Caan on the film For The Boys, and directed and choreographed both off-Broadway and regionally all over the US. He was named Best Director of 2002 and 2005 in Boston for his critically-acclaimed productions of Singin' in the Rain and Crazy For You, and recently received the San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel Award for Best Director of a Musical. Raves the Boston Globe, Kirby Ward “is a one-man dynamo who simply lights up the stage the moment he enters.”
Beverly Ward also starred in the U.S. national tour of Crazy For You, for which she too received a Helen Hayes Award nomination while playing the Kennedy Center in Washington DC - alongside fellow nominees and musical theater icons Carol Channing and Chita Rivera. Coming from a very musical family (indeed, one that had to institute a “no singing at the dinner table” rule!), Beverly has recently added composer to her list of accomplishments. As a singer/songwriter, she has performed at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, New York City; the Thataway Café in Greenwich, CT; and The Space in New Haven, CT. Describing her music, Beverly says, “I think it's folk...with some pop and jazz and maybe even country thrown into the mix.”
For more information, or for tickets, call Birdland at 212-581-3080 or clickBirdlandJazz.com.
March 6, 2008
Beverly and Kirby Ward (left) brought a serious amount of showbusiness razzle-dazzle to the Broadway at Birdland stage on Monday night! The married-in-real-life duo sang and danced their Equity socks off, absolutely thrilling the house. Their show was slick, polished and razor sharp, much like the supperclub acts of the 50's, but with a fresh musical take on standards and some wonderful original tunes.
I say it every week, but the following Cast Party was truly unique, eclectic and occasionally even hilarious. Along with lots of regulars like Jenna Esposito, Lodi Carr, Joan Crowe, Steve Sorokoff, David Goldman, andLes Christines Pedi and Lavin, were lots of fresh-to-us newcomers. Katie Cass and Ben Cherry (left and below, thanks to Mark Rupp), sang their respective faces off, as did Michael Booth, Jutta Dichmann, Shannon Pearson, Sally Glass, Jory Levine, Michael Patrick Phelan, Ann Fraser Thomas and Susan Winter.
It never fails to amaze us how much musical talent there is in the world - and we're thrilled that they come to Cast Party to show their stuff! Baby Jane Dexter also made a surprise visit, and proved why she's one of the most beloved cabaret gals on the circuit. So guess what? We're going to do it all over again this coming Monday! Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle will be reprising their roles as Cast Party Symphony Orchestra, so you know the music will be extraordinary. I'll be the overdressed host, begging for applause, peppy tunes and occasionally mercy. Click on Flickr to see some phabulous photos of our nights together - and feel free to leave a comment or two!
Broadway at Birdland!
On Sunday, March 9, we're thrilled to tell you that The Broadway Boyswill be back on our stage at 7pm! This spectacular vocal sextet was assembled by Jesse Nager in order to create a new sound for theater and non-theater audiences alike. By mixing pop, jazz, gospel, and funk elements to Broadway standards, The Broadway Boys have created what has been called, "A symphony of sound!” The Broadway Boys includeJesse Nager (Mary Poppins), Maurice Murphy (Spelling Bee), Daniel Torres (The Pirate Queen), Michael James Scott (Mamma Mia!), Peter Matthew Smith (Hairspray), and Danny Calvert (Altar Boyz). They'll have som serious special guests onstage with them, including Shoshana Bean(Wicked), Tracee Beazer (The Wedding Singer), Stacy Sargeant (A MidsummerNight's Dream), Nikki Renee Daniels (Aida) and very special guest Broadway Boy, Aaron Tveit. Call Birdland at 212-581-3080 for reservations, or click on www.BirdlandJazz.com.
Then, we're dee-lighted about the return of the celebrated and honored songwriting & performing team of Marcy Heisler (bookwriter/lyricist) andZina Goldrich (composer), in The Marcy & Zina Show, Monday, March 10, 2008 at 7:00pm. The Marcy & Zina Show will feature the duo's best-loved songs written for theater and cabaret, as well as introduce new songs from the upcoming Broadway production of Ever After. Raves David Finkle of The Village Voice, Goldrich and Heisler “sing the songs they write with the kind of wit and intelligence of the Dorothy Parkers and Fields...
[They] have been turning out smart lyrics and sophisticated melodies for some time. Keep in mind they're the ones whose nifty love song rhymed 'quesadilla' with 'IKEA.' The team's strength lies in making the intelligent hummable - something predecessors like Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and the Gershwin Brothers were always able to do.”
Goldrich and Heisler, who have been collaborating since 1993, were recently voted "Best Knocking on Broadway's Door Songwriting Team" in the Village Voice's Best of NYC edition, as well as the 2002 recipients of ASCAP's Richard Rodgers New Horizons Theatre Award. They have toured both domestically and internationally, performing their music at some of the world's most prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Canada's “Juste Pour Rire” comedy festival and the Kennedy Center. Their song “Taylor, the Latte Boy” has been recorded by Christiane Noll and Susan Egan, and is featured on Kristin Chenoweth's album on the Sony label. Their body of work has garnered much respect as well as several songwriter awards, including 4 MAC Awards, 2 Bistro Awards, and several musical theatre grants. Their 32-song folio, Goldrich and Heisler Vol. 1, was published last year and is already in its second printing. In 2004, Goldrich and Heisler authored Junie B. Jones for Theatreworks USA, which enjoyed a six-week run at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, as part of New York's Free Summer Theatre Program and is currently touring the country. Please call Birdland for reservations: 212-581-3080 orwww.BirdlandJazz.com.
March 13, 2008
Birdland was home to a delightful double header this past week, with The Broadway Boys on Sunday, and The Marcy & Zina Show on Monday. Those Broadway Boys were in rare form, and between their hip arrangements, spot-on harmonies, amazing guest stars and a packed house, we are counting the minutes for a return engagement! That's BB Michael James Scott and Daniel Torres flanking guest stars Tracee Beazer and Tituss Burgess to the left. Songwriters Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich returned with one of their usual extravaganzas, showcasing clever lyrics and gorgeous melodies! Their special guest stars includedScott Coulter, Jill Abramovits, Aaron Tveit (all seen below left),Stephen Bogardus, Ann Harada, and one of the best bands around!
The following Cast Party was very international, with performers schlepping from England, Germany, Australia and even Jersey. Allie Schultz, one of our fave almost-Sandys from the TV series, “Grease: You're The One That I Want” blew the roof off the joint, as did many, many other swell and fabulous folks. You can see some photos of the many talented-types taken by birthday boy Mark Rupp on Flickr! As you probably know, we present Cast Party every single Monday, starting around 9:30 at Birdland, one of the best music rooms in the world. Tedd Firth and Steve Doylewill be holding court as Cast Party Symphony Orchestra next week, and I will be hosting my heart out. No wonder CBS-TV called us “Extreme Open Mic!”
Broadway at Birdland!
Since Monday and Tuesday's concert version of “The Last Five Years” starring Jason Robert Brown and Lauren Kennedy has been sold-out for two weeks, I'm not going to waste time telling you about it! I hope you already have your tickets! The following Monday, March 24 will mark the Birdland debut of the songwriting team Heitzman & Reid (left). Their eclectic material has been called “witty” and “well-crafted,“ with “songs that bring down the house” (Los Angeles Times). Michael Heitzman and Ilene Reid will be performing an evening of their songbook which will include songs from past shows, trunk songs and a whole lot of new material. Grammy nominated for their participation in the Broadway musical Swing, Heitzman and Reid are also most recently known for their production ofBingo that played Off-Broadway in 2005-2006. For their Birdland debut, they are thrilled to be joined by many of Broadway's finest performers -Judy McLane, Klea Blackhurst, Ann Harada, Jesse Nager, Danielle Greaves, Beth Malone, Q Smith, Joi Danielle Price, Devin Richards, and many others including a reunion of the three fabulous Bingo Broads,Liz McCartney, Liz Larsen, and Janet Metz. Please call Birdland at212-581-3080 or click on: www.BirdlandJazz.com for reservations!
March 27, 2008
BINGO! Everyone was a winner on Monday night, when composersMichael Heitzman and Ilene Reid brought their songbook to the Birdlandstage! Singing their eclectic trove were some of the best performers the New York theater scene could provide, including the original cast of the duo's hit, “Bingo,” Janet Metz, Liz McCartney and Liz Larsen (left). Many thanks to Mark Rupp for all the great performance photos - and you can see them all on FLICKR!
The following Cast Party was, as usual, varied, brilliant, shocking, and hilarious. There was the addition of lots of instrumentalists, which we always love. Sean Harkness, Eve Silber, Fortune Esposito andChristine Lavin on guitar, Jeff Gans on 8-string bass, and Todd Londagin on trombone and tap floor. The very young, but very talentedCharlotte Cutler brought her own impressive band, including dad Rick Cutler on piano, Dean Chokakis on bass and Bill Hayes on percussion. (These guys are no musical slouches, playing for both Minnelli andStreisand on a regular basis!) The addition of Julian Fleisher and Mary Liz McNamara brought a hipster vibe we loved, and Baby Jane Dexterproved that she is a cabaret legend by singing her heart out. (Her story about the exploding stripper still has us weak in the knees.) The Altar Boyz (left) were seen lurking and enjoying the Party, so you know it was the place to be! We do it all over again this coming Monday, with Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle performing as Cast Party Symphony Orchestra. You gotta come see what all the fuss is about!
April 3, 2008
Monday night started off with a fundraising dinner and show celebratingBarrington Stage, a brilliant arts venue in Berkshire County where so many performers, writers, directors and artists are able to create new works. It wasn't a Broadway at Birdland event, but there sure were a lot of B@B alums involved! Our friend Eda Sorokoff is on the board of directors, and helped put together a bang-up show hosted by genius composer William Finn. That's Mary Testa (left, thanks to Steve Sorokoff) showing off her incredible vocal talents. Let's say it…the girl can sing, and if you've seen Xanadu on Broadway, you know she's one of the more hilarious divas on the Great White Way!
The following Cast Party was a smash, too! One of our favorite singing/tapping/trombone players, Todd Londagin, showed up with a crew of folks to celebrate his debut performance at “Feinstein's at the Regency.” Of course, we made him give us a sample of the show (left, thanks to Sal Pedi) and everyone was terribly entertained, includingMichael Feinstein himself. Not only is Michael the best friend of the Great American Songbook, but his support of Cast Party has been phenomenal! Anyway, the Cast Party Symphony Orchestra - Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle - went beyond the call of musical duty, accompanying everyone brilliantly throughout the evening. Click on FLICKR to see proof of all the fun. So guess what? We do it all over again this coming Monday around 9:30. Please join us! Bring your sheet music, your pointe shoes, your ventriloquist dummy, your fire baton, your bagpipes, and your balloon animals and show us what you got!
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com, the leading source for exclusive theater information and live-events tickets nationwide, are proud to announce Annaleigh Ashford & Alex Lacamoire Monday, April 7, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, critically-heralded and popular concert series Broadway at Birdland. Broadway Star Annaleigh Ashford and Musical Director Alex Lacamoire will bring you an exciting evening of cabaret including standards, jazz and pop classics from Janis Joplin to Doris Day.
Annaleigh Ashford is presently gracing the Broadway stage in Wicked as the 'Popular' witch, Glinda. Last year she gave "stalwart comic support" as Margot, the ditziest Delta Nu, in the original cast of Legally Blonde - The Musical, and is featured in the MTV version. Ashford has worked with a variety of well-known directors both in theatre and film, including Jerry Mitchell, Joe Mantello, Jack O'Brien, Casey Nicholaw, Jonathan Demme and Michael Patrick King. Annaleigh is currently working on a musical adaptation for Catch Me if You Can. Alex Lacamoire is the Musical Director for In the Heights and also worked on the Off-Broadway production, where he earned a Drama Desk nomination for orchestrations. He music supervised and co-orchestrated High Fidelity, and served as the music director of Wicked on Broadway, for which he also contributed music arrangements. Alex' many other credits include Bat Boy - The Musical, the National Tour of Godspell, Stephen Schwartz's Captain Louieand Legally Blonde - The Musical. Call Birdland at 212-581-3080 to make a reservation - or click on www.BirdlandJazz.com.
April 10, 2008
Mondays in New York have gotten so insanely busy lately. Every benefit, concert, award show and party has been scheduled for Broadway's dark night, so I'm constantly amazed that there are enough like-minded people to pack all the events. But it happens! The adorable Annaleigh Ashford(left), along with musical director Alex Lacamoire, had Birdland packed like sardines with fans, friends, family, and cast-mates cheering her nightclub debut. Broadway's current Glinda in Wicked sang everything from Doris Day to Janis Joplin, all with her own magical touch! We can't wait to have her back, so be watching this newsletter so you can get your tickets in time! If you check out our Flickr site, you'll see lots of gorgeous photos of this gorgeous girl by Steve Sorokoff, Mark Rupp and Ryan Paternite!
The following Cast Party was equally jammed with bunches of newcomers and beloved regulars. Julie Halston, The Funniest Woman On Earth, gave us a taste from her new book, 'Monologues for Show-Offs,' which she co-wrote with Donna Daley. (We'll be celebrating said book in earnest on April 21!) Aussie superstar Tim Minchin (left) performed a screamingly funny song from his show at New World Stages. By all means, catch this guy before he leaves town. His dry wit and rock and roll vibe will blow you away! Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle were the Cast Party Symphony Orchestra, as they will be next week, so join us in the music, mischief and merriment. And mirth. Did I mention the mirth? I'm eXpecially excited to tell you that the cast and creators of Glory Days, a brand new show opening at Circle in the Square in May, will be coming to sing a song or two. Our pal Nick Blaemire (in Broadway's Cry Baby) happens to be the composer and lyricist of the show, in case you need an example of “when it rains, it pours.” Jesse Vargas, who did the vocal arrangements and orchestrations, will be at the piano, which always makes us happy.
The emails poured in after the sad announcement of Bob Dolphin's passing. In case you weren't lucky enough to know him, Bob was one of our long-time Cast Party regulars who rarely missed a Monday. The 83-year old singer/tap dancer never failed to dazzle us with his energy, humor, joy and optimistic view of life. He had a kind word for every single performer, and his sincere affection for talent was in constant evidence. One night he quipped that his good health and longevity were a result of luck, the steamed mussels at Birdland, and…oxygen tanks (left). We'll miss you, Bob.
April 24, 2008
Last week's Leading Men III benefit for Broadway Cares was certainly one of the most fun, star-studded and entertaining events in Broadway at Birdland history! Hosted by John Tartaglia with Seth Rudetsky at the piano, and starring (among many others) Skylar Astin, Jonathan Groff(warming up, left, with Seth and John), Jim Walton, Norm Lewis, Chris Sieber, Bobby Steggert and David Burnham, all of whom helped raise over $5800. Many thanks to Wayman Wong and Alan Muraoka for producing and directing the third, but hopefully not the last, Leading Men extravaganza! Also, we love all the photos by Linda Lenzi (left), Mark Rupp, John Hoglund, Aubrey Reuben, Steve Sorokoff and Walter McBride, which you can see on our FLICKR site, as well as BroadwayWorld.com and Playbill.
The following Cast Party was about as crowded with great talent as any I can remember! We celebrated Julie Halston and Donna Daley's new book, Monologues for Show-Offs, of which Douglas Wilson (left) seemed particularly enchanted. Jake Wilson (below, left), star of the online TV show “The Battery's Down" gave us a hilarious sample of what his crazily-popular show is all about. Brad Oscar and the afore-mentioned Mr. Rudetsky sang two songs from David Krane and Stephen Cole's new musical, The Road to Qatar. Marilyn Maye sang, and once again, got the whole crowd up on their feet. Charlie Puth, a 16 year-old jazz pianist, freaked everyone out with his extraordinary chops. Billy Stritch held court at the Bosendorfer, and Steve Doyle was on bass, as it should be. It couldn't have been any more fun.
Next Monday, while I'm in Mexico singing and dancing my piñatas off withMs. Minnelli (see below in our Sponsors section), Cast Party will be hosted by the fabulous Christine Lavin, with able help from Tedd “Is He A Dad Yet?” Firth and Steve Doyle on piano and bass. (Another nice run-on sentence, Jim.) We hope you'll show up with your peppy ditty, your clogging shoes, your zither, your musical comb and/or your impressions ofLe Pétomane. Really.
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to host America's comedic treasure Mo Rocca in MO ROCCA 'CROSS AMERICA, Monday, April 28, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, critically-heralded and popular concert series Broadway at Birdland. Performing along with Mo Rocca will be Charles Osgood (Host of “Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood”), Annaleigh Ashford (Wicked), Stanley Bahorek (Spelling Bee), Julian Fleisher (singer-songwriter-host) andBrian O'Brien (Spamalot).
Mo Rocca asks “Who would beg to differ with Lee Greenwood when he sang "I'm Proud to be An American?” No one, except perhaps those freaky secessionists up in northern Vermont. But sometimes in loving America, we forget to love our individual states. Each has its own state bird, flower, tree, even soil and seashell. (Oregon's is the Hairy Triton. Gross).” In "MO ROCCA 'CROSS AMERICA", humorist and actor Mo Rocca pays tribute to the specialness of our states. It's an evening of fun, factoids, prize giveaways and song, as Mo's friends sing about their home states. Country Roads, Take Me Home To...California, Here I Come, Right Back...Home Again in Indiana! As any singer can tell you, a nation is only as strong as its weakest state.
Mo Rocca is a contributor to NBC's “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and CBS's “Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood” and is known for his off-beat news reports and satirical commentary. His “Five Minutes With …” segment is featured weekly on LXTV's “First Look New York.” A former correspondent for Comedy Central's “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” he can be heard regularly on NPR's hit weekly quiz show “Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me” as well as “All Things Considered.” Creator and host of AOL's “Mo Rocca 180°” (www.morocca180.com), Rocca's blog provides side-splitting and insightful observations on everything from the Presidential election to pop culture news. Please call Birdland at 212-581-3080 orwww.BirdlandJazz.com.
May 8, 2008
Jeremy Schonfeld's CD release party and concert was packed - packed - I tell you - with throngs of screaming fans, friends and co-workers who couldn't get enough of his fantastic original material. That's Jeremy (left) with Jarrod Emick and Adam Jacobs, two Broadway boys who took part in the show, the music and the fun. Check out the new recording, “37 Notebooks.” Congrats to everyone involved, and come back to Broadway at Birdland soon! (Check out Genevieve Rafter Keddy's great photos onBroadwayWorld.com!)
The following Cast Party kept the musical action going, with lots of talented folks in town from all over the country. San Franciscans Barry Lloyd, Lua Hadaar and Linda Kosut showed their stuff (left), andCaroline Lee Jones showed why she's beloved in Texas. Maude Maggart and John Boswell gave us a taste of their Algonquin show. Gil Benson and Carrie Jackson bopped into the night. There were lots of regulars, a few newcomers, and fun was had by all! You can check outMark Rupp's photos on the Flickr site! Many thanks to David Budway and Steve Doyle for being the connsumate Cast Party Symphony Orchestra! We do it all over again this coming Monday, and we can't wait to see YOU!
I was over the moon to be awarded a MAC Award from the Manhattan Association of Cabarets for Best Recurring Special Event. Thank you to everyone who voted, with a special thanks to Jenna Esposito for reading my heartfelt acceptance speech to the crowd! I sure wish I coulda been there!
Broadway at Birdland!
On May 12, Pamela Luss will introduce songs from her new album MAGNET on Savant/HighNote Records. Hear what JAZZ TIMES has described as "quite possibly the finest-to-date interpretation of Alan and Marilyn Bergman's 'How Do You Keep The Music Playing?', adding "She knows how to break [your heart] with excruciating tenderness." Call Birdland at 212-581-3080 for reservations!
May 15, 2008
To misquote George Gershwin, “an open mic is a sometime thing.” Cast Party is no exception. We have seen our share of brilliant superstars, memorable debuts, and performances that warrant arrest for loitering in front of a microphone. You just never know. This past Monday, we had many beloved and loyal regulars, but there were quite a few newcomers who really floated our collective boats. Shannon (left) dropped in after a recording session at P. Diddy's Bad Boy Recording Studio next door. After much deliberation, he decided to sing Donnie Hathaway's “A Song For You,” and kicked all kinds of R&B ass. We sure hope he'll be back soon.
Samia Mounts (left) was another fresh face with tons of talent and good hair. We're always stunned at the never-ending parade of excellent new voices we get to hear. Of course, with regulars like Christine Lavin,Hilary Kole, Antonio Edwards, Ray Jessell, Rob Langeder, Jenna Esposito, Joan Crowe, Sue Matsuki, Suzanne Carrico, Lodi Carr,Colleen McHugh and SO MANY more, the entertainment is always top notch at Cast Party! Tedd “Daddy” Firth and Steve Doyle outdid themselves on piano and bass. Tedd, in fact, received the biggest laugh of the evening when discussing an anatomically correct baby gift. We won't go into details, but we will never think of Tedd the same way. Click on FLICKR to see lots of phabulous photos (I hate when I type like that) by the phenominal Mark Rupp.
Broadway at Birdland!
You just saw her starring as Nanette in No No Nanette last week at City Center Encores! Now - we got her at Birdland! Making her Birdland debut on May 19 in Dreaming Wide Awake, Mara Davi will share the songs that fuel her fantasy life, make her heart soar and her toes tap. The evening of song, which will include two hits from the recently premiered musicalDancing in the Dark, is a blend of jazz, musical theatre, and contemporary music all arranged with Davi and Waite's fanciful touch. Mara is known best for her work on Broadway as Maggie Winslow in A Chorus Line and more recently as Janet Van De Graaff in The Drowsy Chaperone. At City Center Encores! she played Emily Benson in Of Thee I Sing, and will be seen in the upcoming No, No Nanette in the title role. Davi played Princcess Buttercup in the workshop of The Princess Bride and toured USA and Japan as Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street. Currently, Davi is developing the role of Gabrielle Gerard in Dancing in the Dark, a new musical based on the movie “The Bandwagon.” Davi's favorite piano man, composer/conductor/pianist Adam Waite has had the privilege of performing alongside many great jazz musicians including Claudia Acuna, Kenny Burrell, and Charlie Biddle. Since 2005, he has been the Music Director for Broadway's Greatest Gifts: Carols for a Cure, and is the recently appointed Artistic Director of the Lyrica Chamber Orchestra. Call Birdland at 212-581-3080 or click on www.birdlandjazz.com for reservations!
Coming up on Monday, May 26, we're thrilled to welcome back Georgia Stitt & Friends!
May 29, 2008
On Monday night, composer Georgia Stitt had Birdland jumping with throngs of people absolutely loving the many extraordinary performances of her amazing songs. The place was packed with show folk and the ones who love them, and we can't wait for her return to our stage! The followingCast Party was blessed, literally, by guest host critic/author/impressario -- and occasional cantor -- Scott Siegel (left - photo by Steve Sorokoff). Performing a stirring Hebraic blessing over the wine at the start of the evening, he received laughs and applause aplenty. One member of the congregation (I mean audience) almost made a donation. Following that, keeping religion and chit-chat to a minimum, Scott focused on the performers and pulled in a talented, eclectic brace of entertainers on a night when most of the regulars were away for the Memorial Day Monday. One of the biggest names Scott garnered, making his Cast Party debut, was the multiple Nightlife Award-winning jazz vocalist Allan Harris, who performed a stunning "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis. There were lots of other new talents on hand, as well, including a spectacular guitar player by the name of Billy Rogan, and a couple of composer/singers, Brit Neal andGalia Arad, all of whom wowed the crowd. Among the returning favorites it was great to have David Ippolito and Ray Jessel back, as well as the young phenom from Dallas, William Blake. Anchoring the evening at the microphone were folk star Christine Lavin, theater star Michael Winther, and composer icon, Ervin Drake, who premiered a new comedy song that had the place in stitches.
Cast Party audience member par excellence, Jeanine Tolve (she has been coming every Monday night for years and years) got up to sing. She was sensational, though Scott was asked not to tell Jim for fear he'd insist she sing again (whoops!). This Cast Party had a slightly different feel than most others, perhaps, in part, because Scott was guest hosting. More than half the folks were at Cast Party for the first time! Many of the newbies were Scott's fans from his concerts at Town Hall. Not only did they get to see more than 33 performances in slightly over three hours (I'm not even going to mention Scott's clothes), they also got the chance to hearChristine Pedi channel more famous voices than a satellite dish. She also brought along the best surprise of the night: Lance Maron, the one and only singing Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor from South Africa! He was damned good, too! With the brilliant Cast Party Orchestra of Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle, it was another fun night at Cast Party. Many thanks to Scott Siegel for standing in for me while I'm in the UK with Liza and my onstage brothers (left - photo credit: Maestro Billy Stritch), where we're having almost as good a time as you. The whole thing happens again next week, with Christine Lavin, 'the nicest human in showbusiness,' guest-hosting, and Tedd and Steve rounding out the musical party. We hope you join them!
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com, the leading source for exclusive theater information and live-events tickets nationwide, are proud to announce KATE SHINDLE Monday, June 2, 2008 at 7:00p.m., as part of the long-running, Nightlife Award-winning concert series Broadway at Birdland.
Kate Shindle will make her solo Birdland debut on June 2nd. Along with friend, composer and musical director Brian Lowdermilk, she will present a widely varied set featuring works written and/or performed by artists such as Bill Withers, John Mayer, Ray Charles, Michael John LaChiusa and others. Expect selections from the vast world outside musical theater, a couple of favorite standards, a few fabulous showtunes, and of course, some Brian Lowdermilk.
Kate Shindle is currently costarring as Vivienne in Broadway's Legally Blonde. Previous Broadway outings include Cabaret (Sally Bowles) andJekyll and Hyde (Lucy). She has given critically acclaimed performances in shows like After the Fall (Maggie) at the Alley, Himself and Nora (Nora Barnacle) at The Old Globe, Gypsy (Louise), A Midsummer Night's Dream(Helena), The Woman Upstairs, The Mousetrap, The Last Five Years, First Lady Suite, and Sympathy Jones, for which she won the New York Musical Theatre Festival's Outstanding Individual Performance award. Shindle co-founded the World AIDS Day concerts with her friend Jamie McGonnigal, participating in the productions of Children of Eden, Pippin(with Ben Vereen and Rosie O'Donnell), and The Secret Garden. Film and TV work includes Capote and The Stepford Wives, and she can be heard on recordings of Jekyll and Hyde: Resurrection, Jeremy Schonfeld's recently released 37 Notebooks, her old, old solo album Till Today, and the not-yet-released Dracula studio album.
Brian Lowdermilk won the Richard Rodgers Award for his musical Red(with collaborator Marcus Stevens), as well as the Alan Menken Award. Along with his writing partner Kait Kerrigan, he was the recipient of a 2006 Jonathan Larson Award and a 2004-2005 Jonathan Larson Fellowship at the Dramatists Guild. They are members of the BMI Musical Theatre advanced workshop, ASCAP and the Dramatists Guild. Their shows include Henry and Mudge, The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown, The Woman Upstairs, and Wrong Number. Their latest show, Tales from the Bad Years, premiered in concert form at the Laurie Beechman Theater in May 2008.
WHEN: Monday, June 2, 2008 at 7:00p.m.
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves), NYC
Tickets: $25.00 + $10.00 Food/Drink Minimum (Per Person)
Tickets can be purchased online by clicking: BirdlandJazz.com, or by telephone: 212.581.3080.
June 5, 2008
I'm still in the UK having a ball singing and gyrating with the one-and-onlyLiza May Minnelli. Our London run was a smash, Nottingham was thrilling, Birmingham was swell and we killed 'em in Manchester! If you know anyone in Glasgow, tell them we're on our way and to come see us on Friday! It's all been great, but I can't believe I missed one of my favorite Broadway Goddesses, Kate Shindle, in concert at Birdland! She and her musical director, Brian Lowdermilk, sang everything from Ray Charles toMichael John LaChiusa, and the crowd went nuts.
The duo blew the roof off Birdland with their encore of “Defying Gravity,” bringing show folks like the afore-mentioned Mr. LaChiusa, Nicolette Hart, Nick Kenkel, James Sampliner, Jen Bender and Kait Kerrigan to their feet! That's Kate on the right of the photo, with her friends Kevin Pease, Zach Linnert and his mom, and Jen Bender!
I'm so lucky to have had Christine Lavin guest-hosting Cast Party for me in my absence! (We're proud to tell you that Christine has just been named one of the 100 Most Influencial Independent Musicians of the last 15 years by The Performing Songwriter Magazine with such others asDavid Byrne, Jimmy Buffett, Janis Ian and Elvis Costello!) Birdland was packed with beautiful and talented people, including two gorgeous lantern-topped gals. The front lantern-girl is Domenica Cameron-Scorseseand the one behind is none other than Broadway's Daphne Rubin-Vega! (left, by Michael Katsobashvili). The stage was clearly star-studded, with musical appearances by Marilyn Maye, Klea Blackhurst, Tony DeSare,Hilary Kole, David Ippolito, Frank Basile and one of our favorite Oscar-winning regulars, Celeste Holme! The extraordinary Las Vegas superstarClint Holmes closed the evening, singing an inspirational song about singers and their songs. Christine always brings in some amazing composers, and this time, welcomed Bonnie Koloc, Mike Agranoff,Lorraine Ferro, Kevin So and Garry Novikoff. Of course, there were beloved regulars like Rob Langeder, Jenna Sparkles Esposito, Ray Jessell, Jenny Lynn Stewart and the doubly-hilarious Twin Duo Anthony & Will. Mr. Ippolito gets a big thanks for bringing Sid Bernstein, who is responsible for bringing the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Herman's Hermits to America! Did you know that in 1979, he offered The Beatles a billion dollars to reunite? They said no. (He told Lodi Carr that at the time, he had $40 in his checking account, and shuddered to think what would have happened if they'd said 'yes!') There are not many things I wouldn't do for a billion dollars, so watch your steps, all of you. Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle went beyond the call of duty accompanying the throngs, and I'm thrilled to say that it happens all over again next week! Ms. Lavin will start the evening, and I will be Back In The USA halfway through, so we can all celebrate like mad! If you really miss me, you can read a Q&A I did forGenre Magazine, with many, many thanks to publisher Bill Kapfer andErik Powell!
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com, the leading source for exclusive theater information and live-events tickets nationwide, are proud to announce STEVEN BRINBERG as SIMPLY BARBRA SALUTES THE TONY AWARDS. BRINBERG will be singing songs from 60 years worth of nominated and winning musicals along with special guests Tony nominated SIAN PHILLIPS (Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Marlene) and award-winning actor BOBBY STEGGERT (Camelot, The Slug Bearers of Kayrol Island), on Monday, June 9, 2008 at 7:00 p.m., as part of the long-running, Nightlife Award-winning concert series Broadway at Birdland.
Two-time Mac and Bistro award winner, STEVEN BRINBERG, writes and stars as SIMPLY BARBRA, a critically acclaimed tribute to the legendary Barbra Streisand. BRINBERG delivers a masterful performance showcasing his “uncanny ability to truly capture Streisand's vocal mannerisms in speech and song” (THE STAGE).
SIMPLY BARBRA has toured Australia, New Zealand and England twice, ending last year in a West End run at the Arts and Playhouse Theatres. He has traveled the world in concert with Marvin Hamlisch, and his solo show has played Singapore; Hong Kong; Sag Harbor (Bay Street Theatre); Philadelphia (Walnut Street Theatre); San Francisco (New Conservatory Theatre); Los Angeles (Cinegrill); Sun Valley (Bruce Willis' Liberty Theatre); Atlantic City (Taj Mahal); Windsor, Ontario (Windsor Casino); Provincetown (Town Hall); Miami Beach (Colony Theatre); Houston (Theater Lab Houston); Albany (Empire Center); Arlington (Signature Theater); St. Louis (Sheldon Concert Hall); Chicago (Davenport's); and three sold-out turns at The Mohegan Sun Casino.
BRINBERG has performed at Stephen Sondheim's birthday concert at the Library of Congress; Carnegie Hall with Uptown Express; and on Broadway in the concert version of Funny Girl with Whoopi Goldberg. Film credits include Camp, Boys Life, and Next Year in Jerusalem. BRINBERG's television appearances include “The Rosie 0'Donnell Show,” “Sally Jessy Raphael,” and “Jerry Springer.”
WHEN: Monday, June 9, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves), New York City
Tickets: $25.00 + $10.00 Food/Drink Minimum (Per Person)
Tickets can be purchased Online: www.BIRDLANDJAZZ.com; or byTelephone: 212.581.3080.
June 19, 2008
To say Klea Blackhurst and Billy Stritch were fantastic onstage together would be a bit of an understatement, if you ask me. This dynamic duo stormed the Birdland stage for a concert on Monday night to celebrate their new CD, “Dreaming of a Song;” and what amazing music they made! These two are like a neo-Steve and Eydie, and the starry audience flipped for their sounds.
Oh yes, they'll be back! The excellent energy in the room only got better as Cast Party got under way. Our great friend (and current boss!), Liza Minnelli (left, thanks to Mark Rupp) brought a table of swells that included choreographer Ron Lewis (The Act and the upcoming Bazazz!), and lyricist David Zippel (City of Angels and Woman In White). Liza's long-time musical guru (and Cast Party constant) Billy Stritch was still in the house, so he gladly accompanied her on an impromptu medley of “It Amazes Me” and “Music That Makes Me Dance.” Do I need to tell you that the crowd went ballistic? They did.
Then, we were all thrilled to meet and hear Lala Brooks (left, thanks toMark Rupp), who was the lead singer for The Crystals back in the day. She sang two of her monster hits for us - “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “And Then He Kissed Me!” Then, that jazzy diva, Ann Hampton Callaway, joined the fun and created a song on the spot, which always amazes and shocks everyone! Broadway's Nancy Anderson crooned with her ukelele, Trevor Exter rocked out on his cello, Sean Harkness showed why he's one of the most in-demand jazz guitarists on the planet, and Colleen McHugh was downright hilarious. But there was more! I was thrilled that the two stars of Sunday In The Park With George, Jenna Russell and Daniel Evans, showed up (post-Tony performance) to survey the fun. Survey it all yourself - just click on Flickr!
Jesse JP Johnson (left, thanks yet again to Mark Rupp!) sang his heart out, jazz pianist Max Haymer found a new home at Birdland, billion-record selling writers Victoria Shaw and Gary Burr tried out a new song, andMalan Breton celebrated his birthday! Finally, Christine Pedi got into the act, performing “Rose's Turn” as everyone under the sun, including Elaine Stritch and Joan Rivers. Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle kept all of the music under control, believe it or not, making it one of the all-time best Cast Parties ever!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to announceCHRISTINE PEDI's concert performance, UNCAGED AT BIRDLAND,Monday, June 23, 2008 at 7:00p.m., as part of the long-running, Nightlife Award-winning concert series Broadway at Birdland.
Longtime Forbidden Broadway diva, Christine Pedi, comes out of her shell, lets her hair down and throws caution to the musical comedy wind in UNCAGED. Expect hilarity, heartbreak and the occasional "channeling" of more than a few legendary leading ladies.
Forbidden Broadway helped Christine Pedi earn nominations for both a Drama Desk award and an LA Ovation award. She has appeared in companies all over the world including L.A., Tokyo, Singapore, Australia and London's West End. Pedi made her Broadway debut in the revival ofLittle Me, which was directed by Rob Marshall. She recently directed and appeared in The Vagina Monologues at the Forum Theatre in Metuchen, New Jersey. In 2005 Christine was seen in NYC in A Broadway Diva Christmas, “Broadway by the Year 1962,” as well as “The 24 Hour Plays” and “The A Train Plays”. Her work in New York Cabaret has earned herShow Business Weekly's 2005 Best Female Cabaret Singer of the YearAward, a MAC award for her turn as Liza Minnelli in “Judy & Liza Live”, as well as a guest spot on John McD's Cabaret Corner on “The Rosie O'Donnell Show.” Christine can be heard daily, playing showtunes and interviewing theatre legends on Sirius Satellite Radio's “Broadways Best”. She has performed for President and Mrs. Clinton (playing Mrs. Clinton), appeared at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, and headlined on the Queen Mary 2.
WHEN: Monday, June 23, 2008 at 7:00p.m.
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves), NYC
Tickets: $25.00 + $10.00 Food/Drink Minimum (Per Person)
Tickets can be purchased Online: www.BirdlandJazz.com or byTelephone: 212.581.3080.
June 26, 2008
Christine Pedi has more celebrities coming out of her than the parking lot at Spago. Ba-dum-bum. Her Monday night concert was a triumph - and thanks to her hilarious impressions, clever material, gorgeous voice, and swell accompaniment by Matthew Ward, the packed house was thoroughly entertained! I happen to love the photo I took of Christine before the show (left). She's pretty in pink, relaxing with a soothing cup of hot water in our jazzy, tricked-out dressing room.
The following Cast Party had a lot to live up to, considering the star-studded, high-energy hootenanny that happened the week before. But it absolutely measured up, thanks to some talented folks like Chris DiCristo, Jr. (left, thanks to Steve Sorokoff), Max Haymer, The Nunziatta Brothers, Broadway Dan Petrotta, Kevin So, Christine Lavin,Erica Cockerham, Melissa Ward, Kirsten Gray, Harmony Keeney andDavid Ippolito. There were lots of regulars, and numerous new-comers, just the way we like it! Thirteen-year-old Hannah Gauthier from Traverse City, Michigan made her New York City debut on her very first night in The Big Apple! The audience loved her performance of “Roxie” from Kander & Ebb's Chicago! We sure hope she'll make a return visit soon - and are expecting great things from her! The evening was a success, thanks in no small part to the slap and tickle of Tedd Firth at the piano and Steve Doyle on bass. How lucky are we to have these two musical geniuses making up the Cast Party Symphony Orchestra? They're the main reason this ain't your grandma's open mic night. Yes, it's been imitated. But it'll never be duplicated! Check out the Flickr site to see visual proof of all the fun, thanks to Steve Sorokoff and Mark Rupp!
Lots of you (OK…two...) asked about last week's Opening Night of the Hollywood Bowl. (Liza was inducted into their Hall of Fame, along with BB King and Sir James Galway.) Then, Liza, Cortes, Johnny, Tiger and Iperformed three of the Kay Thompson/Williams Brothers numbers withDavid Budway at the piano, and the 90-piece LA Philharmonic. The Marvelous Miss M. then sang “New York, New York,” and all hell broke loose (left, thanks to Steve Schachle). 17,000 people flipped out, throwing their programs into the air, and causing general havoc. I've never seen anything like it, and I've seen dozens of things. Afterwards, I was overwhelmed to meet Dick Williams, whose part I'm singing in the show. He was, of course, one-fourth of The Williams Brothers, and along withAndy, Bob, Don and the extraordinary Kay Thompson, changed the way nightclub acts would look right up to this very day.
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to announceCHRISTINE EBERSOLE & BILLY STRITCH in a concert celebrating their new recording SUNDAY IN NEW YORK, Monday, June 30th, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, Nightlife Award-winning concert seriesBroadway at Birdland.
CHRISTINE EBERSOLE and BILLY STRITCH bring their acclaimed live performance to disc on their latest CD, Sunday in New York. Released on May 13th on the Ghostlight Record label, the jazzy new vocal album was produced by Grammy Award winner Russ Titelman (Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon) and features 13 tracks ranging from Rodgers & Hammerstein's “Surrey With The Fringe On Top”to Stephen Sondheim's “Not While I'm Around.” The collection was culled from material the pair arranged for one of their many Birdland appearances.
In a recent review of their performance at Lincoln Center, The New York Times' Stephen Holden commented: "Ms. Ebersole, a bright, zany soprano and ebullient clown, can whirl on a dime, and in a show like Grey Gardens,evoke an inexpressible sorrow under a facade of garrulous pluck. When she adds a spinning vibrato to her lemony voice, she can turn into a playful latter-day Kathryn Grayson or Jeanette MacDonald, which she began to do on Friday during “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top.” Mr. Stritch, a pop-jazz pianist, gifted arranger and Liza Minnelli protégé with a photographic musical memory...is a solid exponent of the gregarious, swinging Las Vegas style epitomized by Steve Lawrence."
WHEN: Monday, June 30th, 2008 at 7:00p.m.
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves), New York City
Tickets: $40.00 + $10.00 Food/Drink Minimum (Per Person)
VIP Tickets: $60.00
Tickets can be purchased Online: www.BirdlandJazz.com; or byTelephone: 212.581.3080.
July 10, 2008
The Todd Londagin Five provided Birdland with some of the hippest, coolest swing on the planet Monday night! That's right, our favorite singer/tapper/trombone man (left) wowed everyone with his many talents, and some of the best musicians around. Many thanks to Todd and his posse for all the fun and spectacular music!
Happily, loads of folks stuck around for the following Cast Party, making it yet another night to remember. The place was jam-packed with talented types, music moguls, thrilled tourists and an Oscar-winner! (Yes, that'sCeleste Holm with husband Frank Basile and Michael Feinstein, left). Leeann Westover (from the fabulous Lascivious Biddies) sang her signature song, “I Wanna Be Famous,” Vanessa Trouble made a long-awaited return to our stage, Wade Dooley made an impressive debut, and the afore-mentioned Mr. Basile showed off his gorgeous baritone! Nate Birkey came in to celebrate his absolutely brilliant new CD, “Almost Home,” which I haven't taken off my CD player for one second. (It's how I want my life to sound.) There were many beloved regulars, and quite a few newcomers, and you can see almost everyone if you click on Flickr, with many thanks to Steve Sorokoff and his trusty camera! By the way, this coming Monday, Mr. Billy Stritch will be at the helm of the Cast Party Symphony Orchestra, with Mr. Steve Doyle performing as Master of the Bass.
One of our all-time fave diva-licious gals, Natalie Douglas, came in to give us a taste of her upcoming Birdland show, “Café Society.” Happily, the seven-time (hello?) MAC Award-winning singer is coming back for four shows on Wednesday, July 16 and Thursday, July 17, with shows at 9pm and 11:30pm. “CAFÉ SOCIETY” is a tribute to the songs, the people, the spirit and the style that were all a part of the legendary Greenwich Village nightspot of the 30's and 40's, Café Society. Natalie will be joined by her longtime Musical Director, Avenue Q conductor Mark Hartman, and her band of Broadway All-Stars (from the pits of current shows), as they bring Duke Ellington's “Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me,” “Strange Fruit” (which Billie Holiday first sang at Café Society), the gorgeous classic, “A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square,” Cole Porter's “Miss Otis Regrets” and other gems from that amazing era of music. Check out Natalie's MySpace page to get a taste of what this brilliant show is all about. I can't wait! You can make rezzies by calling the club at 212-581-3080 or going towww.BirdlandJazz.com.
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to presentMR. GREEN'S OPUS: THE SONGS OF DAVID GREEN, Monday, July 14, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, Nightlife Award-winning concert series Broadway at Birdland.
Some of Broadway's elite talent including SEBASTIAN ARCELUS (Jersey Boys, Rent), STEPHANIE J. BLOCK (Wicked, The Boy from Oz), SIERRA BOGGESS (The Little Mermaid), MATT MORRISON (SouthPacific, The Light In The Piazza) and MARISSA PARRY (Hairspray) will be joining DAVID GREEN to showcase some of his most celebrated works, both past and present.
DAVID GREEN is a writer and lyricist who put aside his pen and paper for nearly two decades to help some of Broadway's most celebrated artists find their voices and reach for their dreams. GREEN has written lyrics for both the stage and television and for such stars as Tony Orlando, Debbie Reynolds, John Raitt, Cathy Rigby and Liberace. Mr. GREEN will be joined by his collaborators, JOHN GLAUDINI and MICHEAL BORTH, and a few of his talented alums and “extended Broadway family” for an unforgettable evening of trunk songs and the debut of several numbers from his new musical, How The Nurse Feels.
WHEN: Monday, July 14, 2008 at 7:00p.m.
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves), NYC
Tickets: $25.00 + $10.00 Food/Drink Minimum (Per Person)
VIP Tickets: $40
July 24, 2008
They just keep packing the room for us! This past Monday, Marcy Heisler & Zina Goldrich (left, photo by Steve Sorokoff) jammed Broadway at Birdland with fans, friends and family - all cheering the most cheer-ful composing duo on the planet! Between Zina's spectacular piano, clear-as-a-bell vocals and Marcy's fierce belty voice, their clever material has never sounded better. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have singers like Jonathan Rayson and Scott Coulter singing your songs. Those two boys have two of the best voices in town, which is why every songwriter is hot on their - um - heels. The band consisted of Clay Ruede on cello, Mike Croiter on drums and Jordan Jancz on bass. You know this crowd will be back soon, because we love and adore everything about The Marcy & Zina Show!
What followed was a Cast Party masterfully hosted by the divine Christine Pedi (left, thanks to Mr. Sorokoff). She brought in quite a Broadway retinue, including Stephanie (Avenue Q) D'Abruzzo, Nick (Altar Boyz, Glory Days & Green Eyes) Blaemire, and John Treacy (Little Mermaid) Egan.
The very young and constantly adorable sister-team of Ruby and Ava Locknar told Christine that they, too, have dreams of performing on Broadway, so they were literally taken to Table 32 to be blessed by the legendary hand of Celeste (Oklahoma!) Holme. It was another memorable Cast Party moment! Be sure to stop by Cast Party this next Monday, when I'll be hosting, along with Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle on piano and bass. Plan on singing something peppy. That's how we roll, my brothas and sistas.
Broadway at Birdland!
He's back! Tonight (Thursday), Friday and Saturday at 7pm, you can find actor, singer, songwriter, soon-to-be talk show host and brand new father, Sam Harris performing his new show, “Free” at Broadway at Birdland. The show is nothing short of spectacular. The possessor of one of the most extraordinary voices ever, Harris will be celebrating his brand new CD, 'Free.” He's written most of the acoustic driven pop/rock CD, including "War On War," a song currently going viral on YouTube. His Birdland appearance will mark the live debut of most of the tunes, mixed in with a few fan favorites, alont with his unique brand of humor, which recently won him a network talk show deal! Todd Schroeder will musically direct the evening. Call Birdland at 212.581.3080 or click onwww.BirdlandJazz.com.
On Monday, August 4 at 7pm, the stupendous Karen Mason will return to our stage! She'll be celebrating her new CD, "RIGHT HERE/RIGHT NOW", which is an emotional journey of the heart. Karen delivers each song with power, delicacy and grace and this recording produced by Emmy Award-winning composer, Paul Rolnick. Of course, Karen Mason has starred on Broadway, Off-Broadway, television, and recording and "has few peers when it comes to ripping the roof off with her amazing voice that knows no bounds!" (TheatreScene.net) Currently starring as Velma Von Tussle in Hairspray, Karen is a nine time MAC Award winner and has also won the 2006 Nightlife Award for Major Female Vocalist and three Bistro Awards. Ms. Mason originated the role of Tanya on Broadway in Abba'sMamma Mia!, and was awarded a 2002 Drama Desk nomination as Best Actress. Other leading roles include Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard,Mazeppa in Jerome Robbins' Broadway; Rosalie in Carnival, plus featured roles in Broadway's Torch Song Trilogy; and Play Me A Country Song. Karen won the Outer Critics Circle Award for her performance in And The World Goes 'Round, and starred Off-Broadway in her own show Karen Mason Sings Broadway, Beatles And Brian.
Karen has headlined Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Feinstein's at The Regency. She has also shared concert stages with Luciano Pavarotti, Rosemary Clooney, Liza Minnelli, Michael Feinstein, Jerry Herman, John Kander & Fred Ebb, among others.
Call Birdland, as always, at 212.581.3080 or click onwww.birdlandjazz.com.
August 14, 2008
Monday night's Henry Gainza concert was an ExtravaGainza in every sense of the word! First of all, Birdland was totally packed with family, friends and fans of the up-and-coming songwriter. The show itself was a thrilling mix of original pop, salsa and theater songs, all sung by Henry and his spectacularly talented pals, many of whom are starring in the Broadway production of In The Heights.
If you look to the left, you'll see Tituss Burgess, Andy Senor, Jr., Krysta Rodriguez, Chris Jackson, Tony nominee Robin De Jesus, Veronica Vazquez-Jackson, Janet Dacal,Mariand Torres & Darius De Haas. The photo below, with many thanks toSean Patrick Doyle (photography.seanpatrickdoyle.com), shows Henry singing his face off with the fabulous Janet Dacal. It was a really wonderful show, and we can't wait for an encore!
The following Cast Party was a blast, as usual. The evening started withNatalie Hill, who plays ChaCha in Grease on Broadway. She's gorgeous, hilarious, talented, and grew up with many, many Osmonds, so I love her.Tony Edgerton, Brian Lesnick and Adam Baronsky brought some great original tunes to the stage, Angela Bingham was her usual fabulous jazz-chick self, William Blake kicked all kinds of vocal tuchas, and our very own Birdland songbirds, Eliki, Jane and Melissa, added to the musical fun! There were many regulars, and a bunch of swell newcomers, just the way we like it! And it happens again this coming Monday, with a Cast Party Symphony Orchestra made up of Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle. Bring your favorite upbeat song and join us.
If you want to see a vocal expert, you might run to the phone right this second to reserve a seat for Hilary Kole's new show, which runs this whole week at Birdland. Hil has teamed up with Bill…Billy Stritch to you, and the result is a swingin' blast of a time. The material is summery, light and fun, and you'll see a whole other side to this girl. I'm constantly blown away by her musical intelligence, sophisticated taste in material and oh - what a voice. The Bill-Ary combination is a great new addition to the nightclub scene! Opening night was a veritable who's who of showbiz…with TV icons Michele Lee and Cybill Shepherd leading the standing ovations. If you look an inch to the left, you can see all those shining, smiling faces, thanks to Steve Sorokoff! Good LORD, we love our photos, and you can see trajillions more if you click on FLICKR. By the way, if you happen to live in Primm, Nevada (and who doesn't?) or Las Vegas, be sure to catch me singing and dancing with the Dazzling, the Delectable, the Defiant Liza Minnelli at the Star Of The Desert Arena on Saturday night!
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com SOUL DEEP: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK MUSIC, a Broadway Inspirational Voices benefit concert aiding in the preservation of African American music, Monday August, 18 2008 at 7:00 p.m., as part of the long-running, Nightlife Award-winning concert series Broadway at Birdland.
SOUL DEEP: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK MUSIC stars top Broadway talent paying homage to the likes of Bo Diddley, Sarah Vaughn, Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke, Little Richard, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, Public Enemy and many others. The concert is honoring Phylicia Rashadand raising money for Broadway Inspirational Voices, a gospel ensemble comprised of actors performing on and off Broadway, whose mission is to bring people of all races and religious backgrounds together.
SOUL DEEP is produced by AMY BIRNBAUM and DOMINIQUE SHARPTON. The one-night-only event will star LALA BROOKS (The Crystals), CHUCK COOPER (The Life, Tony Award- Chicago), LILI COOPER (Spring Awakening), ASMERET GHEBREMICHAEL (Legally Blond, Wicked), CHAD GOODRIDGE (Passing Strange), REBECCA NAOMI JONES (Passing Strange), JUSTIN KEYES (The Apple Tree, High School Musical Tour), ADRIANE LENOX (Tony Award- Doubt, Caroline or Change), rapper JOSHUA MELVIN, ALAX COOPER, MAURICE MURPHY(Spelling Bee), HARRY THOMPSON, DESTAN OWENS (RENT, Chicago) and SOPHIA STEPHENS (The Lion King). The evening will also feature a 9 piece band and members from Turntables on the Hudson.
WHEN: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 7:00 p.m.
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves), New York City
Tickets: $25.00 + $10.00 Food/Drink Minimum
Tickets can be purchased by Telephone: 212.581.3080
or by visiting www.BirdlandJazz.com
August 28, 2008
Was it the NY1 feature about Cast Party that ran on TV all last week? Was it the fact that Liza Minnelli was singing her head off on our stage? Was it an earthquake, or simply a shock? Whatever it was, Birdland was so packed on Monday, they literally had to turn hoardes of humanity away. Some of my best friends and kickass singers couldn't get in, which was the only drag. During the dog-days of summer, when there are tumbleweeds rolling through most nightclubs, YOU have helped make Cast Party the crazy fun-fest that it is, and we can't thank you enough. In fact we kiss your collective feet in gratitude. If you happened to be there, you saw the unbelievable grouping of Liza, LaLa, Laurel, Luba and Lodi in one room. Yes, Liza Minnelli sang the Aznavour stunner “You've Let Yourself Go,” then duetted with Billy Stritch on “I Can't Give You Anything But Love.” LaLa Brooks sang her signature “Da Doo Ron Ron,” which shot her (and The Crystals) to Number 1 in 1963! Laurel Masse jazzed up the evening, proving why her involvement with the original Manhattan Transfermade them all big stars! Luba Mason vamped the hottest “All That Jazz” in history, which she performed in the Broadway company. And Lodi Carrkept the room swinging with a joyous “'Deed I Do!” Shockingly, not everyone who performed had names starting with the letter “L.” The new cast of The Altar Boyz thrilled everyone with their harmonies and hilarious “Jesus Called Me On My Cellphone,” with composer Gary Adler at the piano! And yes, Mary Louise Parker (left) was there, live and in person, at the same time that you were possibly watching her in her hit TV show, “Weeds.”
The stars of the upcoming Enter Laughing (opening in September at The York Theatre), Josh Grisetti (left, in a photo by Mark Rupp) and Emily Shoolin, sold a lot of tickets with their fabulously funny song, “It's Like.” There were ticket giveaways, and genius performances by newcomers and beloved regulars. And we celebrated Carrie Jackson's birthday! It was a big, big night! I'm still pooped!
You just have to see all the photos of the event on the constantly supportive BroadwayWorld.com, and on our massive Flickr site! You'll see pix from Deven Storm (above), Steve Sorokoff and the return of Mark Rupp! You'll feel like you were there! Come next week. Lord knows who will show up…we sure hope it's YOU! It's gonna be a big Labor Day Weekend Cast Party. Wear red, white and blue. You know you want to.
If you happen to be in the Chicago area, come see me singing and dancing with the afore-mentioned Miss Liza Minnelli at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana! Check the ad, below, for all the details. Also, if you want to read a really funny blog, and enjoy my smart-ass answers to the Proust Questionaire, click on Two Well Read, with many thanks to Wendy Lane Bailey and Laurel Massé, two dazzling redhead divas!
September 4, 2008
Jerry Lewis had nothin' on us. The Labor Day Cast Party was as equally entertaining as the Labor Day Telethon: It was vastly shorter, had lessTony Orlando, and didn't raise $65 million. So you can imagine how proud we were. All kinds of new talent showed up, including the dazzling Lynn Andrews, total redhead Shannon Turner, Dustin Tyler Moore (*my new favorite name), witty-as-hell Tom Nondorf and Maureen McElerhon, who sang a Gershwin tune I didn't know but-am-now-obsessed-with called “You've Got What Gets Me.” Of course, our fave-rave folk diva, Christine Lavin (left, thanks to Steve Sorokoff), killed with one of her quirky and hilarious songs. How lucky are we that Christine visits us every week when she's not on the road singing to her throngs of fans?!! We were also happy to see Patrick Oliver Jones (below left), who is currently starring in TheProducers at The Gateway Playhouse, those crazy Nunziatta brothers,David Goldman, Sammy Goldstein, Jenna Esposito, Rob Langeder - and so many more! And you can see scads of photos from the night on our jam-packed Flickr site!
This coming Monday, I'll be heavily ensconced in Liza-land (read a great review on ShowBiz Chicago), so I've asked the always-hilarious and damn smart Scott Siegel to helm the evening. And he said OK. So join him, along with Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle on piano and bass, in the most insane Open Mic on the face of the planet. (Not that we want to overstate our case…) If you happen to be in St. Louis, St. Charles, or Louisville, come check out the super-extraordinary Liza Minnelli show I've been doing for the past two years. Like I need to tell you, she's the bee's knees.
Geez, I was thrilled to do an interview with Tom Nondorf for his "Leading Men" column at Playbill.com. Read it, if you dare. And thanks, Tom, for the fun!
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to present “THE JEFF BLUMENKRANTZ SONGBOOK” Monday, September 8, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, Nightlife Award-winning concert series Broadway at Birdland.
Broadway stars Theresa McCarthy, Alysha Umphress, and Sally Wilfertwill join cellist Peter Sachon and acclaimed Tony-nominated composerJEFF BLUMENKRANTZ to sing “THE JEFF BLUMENKRANTZ SONGBOOK." BLUMENKRANTZ’s work has been heard in the New York productions of Urban Cowboy, The Audience, and Audra McDonald's song cycle "The Seven Deadly Sins" at Carnegie Hall. His songs have been recorded and performed by such notable singers as Audra McDonald, Victoria Clark, Lauren Kennedy, Megan Mullally, Maria Friedman, and Sutton Foster.
BLUMENKRANTZ's career as a songwriter began at Northwestern University, where he was a four-year contributor to the celebrated Waa-Mu Show. While pursuing a career as an actor in New York, he joined The BMI Workshop and participated in the Dramatists Guild's Musical Theatre Development Program and Jonathan Larson Fellowship and is the 2001 recipient of the BMI Advanced Workshop Harrington Award. His one act musicals, “Woman with Pocketbook,” written with Annie Kessler and Libby Saines, and “Precious Little Jewel,” written with Libby Saines, have been performed at regional theatres and have both won the Ten Minute Musical Competition. 2005 marked the publication of The Jeff Blumenkrantz Songbook, a piano/vocal folio of twenty ongs, and the first episode of The Jeff Blumenkrantz Songbook Podcast, a performance and interview show featuring Jeff's songs sung by some of musical theatre's great talents. In 2008, Jeff produced The BMI Workshop Songbook Podcast, which featured twenty new songs from the members and alumni of the famed musical theatre writers' workshop. He is currently collaborating with lyricist/librettist Beth Blatt on a new musical entitled Hashi.
WHEN: Monday, September 8, 2008 at 7:00p.m.
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street (between 8th & 9th Aves), NYC
Tickets: $25 + $10.00 Food/Drink Minimum (Per Person)
Tickets can be purchased Online: www.BIRDLANDJAZZ.comor by Telephone: 212.581.3080.
In the future: Laurel Massé (September 15), Michele Lee (September 22), Betty Buckley (September 23 - 27), Alexander Gemignani(September 29), Capathia Jenkins & Louis Rosen (October 6), Jason Robert Brown (October 13), Ron Abel (October 20) and Kirsten Childs(October 27).
September 28, 2008
Laurel Massé. Her very name conjours up some serious excitement on the jazz and cabaret scenes, so we were thrilled that she chose Broadway at Birdland to strut her extraordinary musical stuff this past Monday night! Between the sophisticated material, Tex Arnold's slick arrangements and Laurel's inimitable voice, the hour-and-twenty whizzed by, and the crowd cheered and stomped for more. Cabaret icon Julie Wilson (left, thanks toSteve Sorokoff) 'brava'd' herself into a frenzy, and screamed to me, “There's NO ONE like her! NO ONE!” Many thanks to Wendy Lane Baileyfor all the help in making the evening a smash, too. We can't wait for a return visit.
The following Cast Party was equally thrilling. Any event with the above Ms. Wilson, Marilyn Maye, the enchanting cast of The Fantasticks, Nick and Starr Spangler (from the upcoming “Amazing Race” - that's Nick atleft, in a photo by Mark Rupp), comic extraordinaire Gary Mule Deer (on his night off from the Johnny Mathis tour), TV dude Eric Millegan, jazzerMonte Arnold and 'N Sync alum Joey Fatone (below left) is an event I'd wanna attend. And they were all there, no lie. Of course, there were so many more, including Liza percussionist Bill Hayes and his wife Jackie Sanders (singing a hilarious Sarah Palin ditty), Aria Hendricks (swinging herself to pieces), Billy Goulson (kickass new pianist on the scene), showbiz hostess Jamie DeRoy (hee-larious), old pal Eric Garbus (Really? Neil Diamond?), loads of regulars and a handful of newcomers. It never fails to amaze me and everyone else in the room just how much talent there is on the planet. And they all make it to Cast Party at some point. (Check out our FLICKR site to see the proof!) We couldn't be more proud! Next week, join me with Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle on piano and bass, respectively. here will be some swells from the NYMF festival, including the cast of Idaho and a bunch from the upcoming Broadway in South Africa benefit concert!
Be sure to join me on Sunday, when I'll be hosting the Celebrity Table (with pal Scott Nevins) at the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Flea Market in Shubert Alley. For a few bucks, you can meet swell theater and TV folks like Lynn Redgrave, Neil Haskell, Michael E. Knight,Rebecca Luker, Priscilla Lopez, Beth Leavel, Laura Benanti, Kerry Butler, Norm Lewis, Matt Cavennaugh, Mario Cantone, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, Tituss Burgess, Gavin Creel and Malan Breton! I can't wait!
September 25, 2008
Michele Lee IS showbusiness. She's gorgeous (left, photo by Ryan Paternite), funny, sings great, and is so stage-savvy that every musical theater-lovin' student in town should be at her feet with a notepad. Her Monday night show was packed with Michele-fans and supporters of The Actors Fund, which was the recipient of the evening's draw. We spied divas Sandra Bernhard and Natalie Douglas, divos Steven Brinberg andTim Pinckney, genius lyricist David Zippel, legendary restauranteurElaine Kaufman, Michele's former Mame castmate Ward Billeisen, and super-publicist Bobby Zarem helping make up the packed house. One super fan, Suzanne Walters, flew all the way from London just to see the show! Michele and Ron Abel brought us a fast-paced and dazzling evening, and we are counting down the days until they join us again!
The following Cast Party was equally packed and enjoyable, what with visits from my old pal Jim J. Bullock, David Pevsner, Justin Keyes,Christine Lavin, Harmony Keeney, Jenna Esposito, and an onstage musical moment with Lea DeLaria, Todd Londagin, Angela Bingham,Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle that was one of the swingin'-est in recent memory!
The awesome artist/performer Justin “Squigs” Robertson (left) was on hand, sketching the entire extravaganza. We can't wait to see the results of his labors! (Check out his sponsor ad below!) And check out all the fun photos of the evening on the FLICKR site!!
We want to add a very special welcome to our trajillion new subscibers from the TheaterMania Third Avenue Street Fair! We hope you'll make Cast Party and the Broadway at Birdland series your new home-away-from-home!
Broadway at Birdland!
Of course, the shockingly brilliant Betty Buckley is continuing her week of “The Music @ Birdland” through Saturday night, with shows at 8:30 and 11pm. Go see her. We're thrilled that she's made Birdland her musical home!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com will present Alex Gemignani on Monday, September 29th, at 7:00PM. Alex's appearance is part of the Nightlife Award-winning concert series Broadway at Birdland. The Broadway veteran will be featured in an evening entitled, “Getting Gone,” in which cabaretgoers will be treated to Alex's unique interpretation of tunes penned by Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Billy Joel, Sara Bareilles, Ben Folds, and Todd Alsup. He will be accompanied by Tedd Firth on piano, Matt Aronoff on bass, Larry Lellion drums, and Tony Romano on guitar.
Alex appeared as John Hinckley in the Roundabout's 2004 Broadway mounting of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins, returning to Broadway late the following year as the Beadle in a revival of Sweeney Todd. His stage work also includes concert versions of South Pacific (Reba McEntire and Brian Stokes Mitchell)at Carnegie Hall, and Passion (Patti LuPone, Michael Cerveris, and Audra McDonald) at the Rose Theater. Both productions have been taped for PBS's “Great Performances” series. Gemignani participated in a critically-recognized performance of “Opening Doors” from Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along at Symphony Space as part of its Wall to Wall Sondheim to commemorate the composer's 75th birthday. His most recent appearances include revivals of Sunday In The Park With George, as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, and in the national tour of John Doyle's acclaimed production of Sweeney Todd.
WHEN: Monday, September 29th at 7:00PM
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, NYC
Tickets: $25.00 + $10.00 food/drink minimum per person
October 2, 2008
Betty Buckley absolutely tore up the Birdland stage last week with her set of gorgeous songs, masterful arrangements, and that astonishing voice we love. Almost everyone in showbiz came to visit, but I happened to catchSeth Rudetsky and Richard J. Alexander causing all kinds of commotion backstage (left). These three are mad, bad and dangerous to know…and I enjoyed the hell out of our hang! They're ALL invited back any time!
On Monday, Alexander Gemignani was in the spotlight of our Broadway at Birdland series. Talk about a great show - I was blown away by his voice and material. For someone so known for singing the hell out of Sondheim, the guy can swing, too! The crowd was peppered with some real Broadway high-hats. Alex's upcoming Road Show co-star, Michael Cerveris and director, John Doyle (left), were there to cheer him to great heights. We, in turn, can't wait to applaud them when they premiere the new Sondheim score at the Public Theatre!
The following Cast Party was about as varied as it could get. One of the biggest thrills was the chance to hear the acapella quartet, Our Town! We can't wait to visit that burg again! What a fresh, timeless and totally surprising sound they have! Come back, guys! I was also excited to hearJared Bradshaw and Christina Bianco, currently knocking 'em dead inForbidden Broadway (left). (Her Chenoweth is excruciatingly funny!) We were charmed by the return of Elena Bennett and Fred Barton, who can swing our way any time! KT Sullivan gave us a taste of her successful Jerome Kern show at the Oak Room. My friend Jen Bender brought some Broadway dazzle to the evening, with the cast of her upcoming October 6 benefit “Broadway in South Africa,” with songs based on essays written by South African students and penned by the best Broadway composers. There were beloved regulars and a bunch of newcomers, and the entire scene was watched over by none other than Mr. Michael Feinstein and Ms. Marni Nixon. Don't say we don't serve up a unique blend of entertainment! And all for that low, low $10 cover and $10 food/drink minimum. Where else can you be entertained by a throng of talent for almost four hours?!
Time for a commercial. You've probably heard of a brilliantly funny Broadway musical called [title of show]. It's a brand-new, totally ORIGINAL show, penned and performed by four of the most talented, hilarious and generous actor/singer/dancers in town. It's gotten glowing reviews ever since it ran off-off-off, and dreams came true with a full-on Broadway production. I love it a lot. If you've ever sat around with your wildly witty friends discussing showbusiness, this is the show for you. If you've ever had dreams of doing the impossible, this is the show for you. Anyone who ever bucked the odds will understand and relate to [title of show]. Unfortunately, the show is scheduled to close on October 12, but a groundswell of support and some full houses could change all that. So buy a ticket to [Title Of Show] and support fresh and innovative theatrical experiences!
Take a listen to a really fun interview I did with Teisha Bader on her WGHT radio show, "Curtain Call!" Many thanks to her for a great chat!WGHT Radio - North Jersey 1500
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com will present the Luba Mason Band in Krazy Love…A Cool Brazilian Mood. The two performances, scheduled for 8:30 and 11PM, will take place on Tuesday, October 7th, as part of the Nightlife Award-winning concert seriesBroadway at Birdland.
Mason will be accompanied by her band, Kava, featuring Dario Eskenazion piano, John Benitez on bass, Sandro Albert on guitar, Adriano Santos on drums, Dende on percussion, and Rodrigo Urasai on flute and sax.
Wife of Grammy Award winner Ruben Blades, singer/actress/producer/songwriter Luba Mason is a bona fide star in her own right. The stunning Slovak beauty has starred on Broadway opposite Brooke Shields in Chicago, Matthew Broderick in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and was featured in both Paul Simon'sThe Capeman and Jekyll & Hyde. Making a smooth transition into nightclubs and recording, Luba's follow up to her debut CD, “Collage,” (PS Classics) is titled Krazy Love, executing Brazilian-based jazz with a five-piece acoustic band. Time Out New York says that Mason is “…too good to overlook,” while Jazz Times calls her “…powerfully impressive.”
WHEN: Tuesday, October 7th, at 8:30 and 11PM
WHERE: Birdland, 315 West 44th Street, NYC
212-581-3080 or www.BIRDLANDJAZZ.com
October 16, 2008
On Monday the 13th, Broadway at Birdland decided it would be too, too appropriate to present the celebrated composer of the new Broadway musical, 13, Mr. Jason Robert Brown. As always, the event was Standing Room Only, with every square inch of flooring occupied by chair, barstool and/or shoe. Jason's concerts are always memorable, but this one was made even more special thanks to four singers who won his onlineKaraoke Freak Contest!
Jonathan Shew, Natalie Hawkins, Jonathan Reid Gealt, and Natalie Weiss (left with Jason) all stormed the stage and sang their favorite JRB hits. Stars were born, for real, y'all! We can't wait to see these four up-and-comers do big things on the theatrical scene. And kudos to Jason for 'discovering' such brilliant performers!
We were also happy to meet Allie Trimm and Graham Phillips (left, thanks to Steve Sorokof), two of the young stars of 13. Congrats to them, too, for such early success! The following Cast Party showed a wealth of diverse and spectacular talent! The afore-mentioned Karioke winners stuck around and killed with their show biz savvy and vocal chops. We were so grateful that the award-winning composer John Bucchino gave everyone a taste of his upcoming November 3 Birdland concert. Ashley Gramins sang from her new CD made just for kids. Gay Marshall sang “Milord” from her upcoming Piaf show. We cheered jazz, pop and theater standards, plus some hard-to-define original ditties. And we wouldn't have it any other way! We do the whole thing again this coming Monday, with Tedd Firth at the piano, and Steve Doyle on bass. You've just gotta be there. And you can click on Flickr to see photos of last week's excitement…without a cover charge!
I'm thrilled that I'll be singing in Scott Siegel's Broadway Cabaret Festivalat Town Hall tomorrow (Friday) night at 8:00 p.m. I'll be sharing the stage with an extravaganza of Broadway talent including Brent Barrett, Julia Murney and Daniel Reichard. For more info, click: Town Hall.
If you'd like to read a fun interview I did for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, click on Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS - Web Page. Those people are absolutel angels over there - support them as much as you can!
October 30, 2008
So, I'm in Italy with Liza. But I heard it through the grapevine that my guest-host Scott Siegel (left) dressed as candy corn in an all-orange outfit. It's almost Halloween, so he's got a right. From all reports, the evening glowed almost as bright as Scott's wardrobe. I heard the joint (otherwise known as Birdland) was jumping when a totally packed (below left, thanks to Steve Sorokoff) Cast Party audience was serenaded with nearly forty performances by singers from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and the nightclub world. For starters, there was Charles West (Cyrano and The Scarlet Pimpernel) who wowed the crowd with his powerful leading man pipes -- and he looked pretty damned good, too.
On the (very) funny side, three-quarters of the cast from Forbidden Broadway came in and had silly fun at the expense of The Jersey Boys, Tale of Two Cities, Mary Poppins, and an hysterical send-up of "I'm Telling You I'm not Going" performed by Celine Dion -- in the person of the adorable Christina Bianco. Comedy was king Monday night with Shawn Ryan cutting up, along with Cast Party home run hitters Christine Lavin and Ray Jessel. The high point -- and this happens every time she comes in -- occured when Nightlife Award winner Marilyn Maye held court singing two numbers and drawing the largest ovation of the evening. But there were other big cheers for the performance of Kyu Jan Han singing "I Concentrate on You" -- he totally silenced a previously talky crowd that clearly concentrated on him. Broadway regular Devin Richards and Chris Dilly (from The Kinsey Sicks) were both knockouts, as well.
Among first timers on Monday night, one of the biggest impressions was made by a young woman named Marly Pope. Why does this always happen when I'm away? Hey, maybe I should stay away a little longer! Okay, I will. The extraordinary Klea Blackhurst is gonna guest host next week. I'm so thrilled that she said yes to helm the Cast Party insanity. If you don't know this New York Times front-page cabaret diva, run to Birdland on Monday and meet her. She has pipes that don't quit, and is truly hilarious. Sing your fave Ethel Merman ditty for her. She'll like you.
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party, in association with TheaterMania.com, is thrilled to present composer John Bucchino in concert, as part of the Nightlife Award-winning series Broadway at Birdland. The event will take place on Monday, November 3 at 7pm. Call 212-581-3080 or click:www.BirdlandJazz.com for reservations.
Noted songwriter and pianist John Bucchino presents an intimate solo evening of his work. Bucchino will share songs from his CDs "Grateful," "It's Only Life," and "On Richard Rodgers' Piano," as well as material from his recent Broadway show A Catered Affair. Don't miss this rare opportunity to hear these extraordinary songs performed by the composer himself.
John's collaboration with Harvey Fierstein, A Catered Affair, was recently seen on Broadway at The Walter Kerr Theater. He has written songs for the musicals Urban Myths and Lavender Girl, a piece included in 3HREE, an evening of short musicals compiled by Harold Prince, which had productions in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. It's Only Life, a revue of his songs directed by Daisy Prince, premiered at New York's Summer Play Festival and was presented in a concert version at Lincoln Center. He has also written the songs for the Dreamworks animated film JOSEPH, KING OF DREAMS from which "Better Than I" won the 2000 Video Premiere Award for best song. Some recordings of his work are: GRATEFUL, THE SONGS OF JOHN BUCCHINO (an RCA Victor CD and companion songbook), SOLITUDE LESSONS (another collection of original songs), ON RICHARD RODGERS' PIANO (solo piano interpretations of Rodgers songs on the composer's own Steinway), and the PS Classics release of IT'S ONLY LIFE. In September 2003, Harper Collins published an illustrated children's book, based on John's song, called GRATEFUL, A SONG OF GIVING THANKS as part of their Julie Andrews Collection. The book includes a CD of a newly recorded version of the song, sung by Art Garfunkel, and is a winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Award.
John Bucchino's songs have been recorded and performed by Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, Michael Feinstein, Art Garfunkel, Patti LuPone, Yo-Yo Ma, Audra MacDonald, Liza Minnelli, Deborah Voight, The Boston Pops, The Los Angeles Philharmonic, and many others in venues that include Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, and The White House.
Upcoming Concerts: Bill Nolte (November 10), Jonathan Tunic & The Broadway Moonlighters (November 24), Christine Ebersole & Billy Stritch (November 26 - 29)
November 6, 2008
I could almost hear the cheers in Bologna, Italy! John Bucchino’s gorgeous concert at Birdland was enjoyed by some of the crème de la crème of the Broadway community, including dazzling leading man Brian Stokes Mitchell (with John, left, thanks to Steve Sorokoff), Wickedcomposer Stephen Schwartz, and so many more! We are so grateful to John for bringing one of the most touching and perfect evenings to the Broadway at Birdland series. When you wanna return, John??
The following Cast Party elicited dozens of happy e-mails to me! Hostess-with-the-mostess Klea Blackhurst (left) thrilled everyone with her charm, her humor and boundless joy! Looking super trendy in a ‘Vote’ tshirt and spikey Manolo Blahniks, Klea made it all look so easy. Her special material opener, “Everything’s Coming Up Birdland” started the evening with a bang…this girls about as special as it gets and we can’t wait to have her back on our stage! There were games and presents and great singers galore, including newcomer Andrew Willgens, some of the singingSullivan family, Franz Bloom and his glammy pal Wilma, and regulars like Christine Lavin, Ray Jessell, Jenna Esposito, Rob Langeder and those Nunziatta twins! Concert superstar Michael Feinstein was there to watch the fun, as was Broadway’s Jennifer Smith. I just wish I coulda been there to watch! Check it out next week when Christine Lavin hosts in her own inimitable way with David Budway at the piano, and Steve Doyle on bass!
Watching the election returns in Italy was an almost surreal thrill, and I can’t tell you how moved and proud our little traveling company was to see the voter turnout. Congrats to us all!
Broadway at Birdland!
On Monday, November 10 at 7pm, Broadway singing actor, Bill Nolte, sheds his helmut (Franz Liebkind in The Producers), feline makeup (Cats), wigs (1776), and dance belt (Joseph...), to present his solo cabaret act, “All of Me," as part of the Nightlife Award-winning series Broadway at Birdland.
Directed by Mark Waldrop (When Pigs Fly), with musical direction by Pam Drews Phillips (Crazy for You), “All of Me” features original material along with standard tunes by Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Fats Waller, Johnny Cash and others. With music and comedy, Bill Nolte puts his unique spin on his varied 32-year stage career, touring and travel, life in Las Vegas, and reality TV (“Dancing With the Stars”) in his thoroughly entertaining one-man-show.
Please call Birdland at 212-581-3080 or click on www.BirdlandJazz.comfor reservations. There is a $25 cover and $10 food/drink minimum for this show.
On November 24, Jonathan Tunick (shown left with Patti Lupone at the release party for her CD The Lady With The Torch, featuring Jonathan's orchestrations), will make his Birdland debut with a concert at 7pm. Winner of the Oscar, Tony, Emmy, and Grammy Awards, Jonathan Tunick brings back the sound of the big bands with the debut performance of The Broadway Moonlighters -- featuring New York's finest musicians and a Special Guest you will not want to miss!
Call 212-581-3080 for reservations! $30 cover, $50 VIP, $10 food/drink minimum.
Upcoming Concerts: Christine Ebersole & Billy Stritch (November 26 - 29), The Broadway Boys (December 1), Victoria Shaw (December 8),GuyTunes (December 15th), and The Johnny Rodgers Band Bound Together CD release (December 29).
November 13, 2008
So I’m still here in Italy having an absolute ball on the Liza tour. We’ve played Rome, Florence, Bologna, Bari and Torino. Tomorrow we go to Campignon, Switzerland for a one-nighter, then finish up with the Milan concert on Friday. I really should be keeping a blog about what’s been going on…but you might not believe a word of it! We’ve shopped ‘till we’ve literally dropped, eaten the worst Chinese food on the planet, seen an ad for Mother Teresa - The Musical, were the only ones staying in a hotel/compound/palazzo where we all padded around in our robes and slippers like we owned the joint, sang to each other ‘til the wee hours in a hotel atrium, stared at the statue of David, and eaten in a restaurant called (no lie) “That’s Amoré!” I’m taking a bajillion photos, and you can see some of them on the Flickr site. Enjoy.
Bill Nolte’s Monday night concert was a super-success, thanks to his dazzling personality, gorgeous voice and fabulous song choices. He’s a Broadway baby, that’s for sure, and we were so happy that he was part of our series! Would you believe that it was the 198th show in the Broadway at Birdland series??? That’s a lot of show tunes, folks! Congrats to everyone who has ever performed or clapped…we love you all!
The following Cast Party was guest-hosted by the charming, funny and shockingly adorable Christine Lavin! With massive help from pianistDavid Budway and bassist Steve Doyle, Christine kept the franchise going with a cast of characters any extravaganza would be proud of.Michael Feinstein brought in the extraordinary Loston Harris (straight from the stage at The Carlyle Hotel), who performed a blazing “Take The ‘A’ Train.” (That's Loston, in a photo by Mark Rupp, at left.)
Singer/composer Ann Hampton Callaway (pictured below left, thanks toSteve Sorokoff) performed the romantic song she wrote for Barbra Streisand’s wedding in honor of Mr. Feinstein’s recent hitching to longtime partner Terrence Flannery. She also did one of her improv songs with San Francisco’s young Carly Ozard, who stood toe-to-toe with the dazzling diva, trading blues riffs and creating a song-on-the-spot called “Obama’s Mamas!” Nancy White, one of Canada's most revered singer/songwriters did a song about kayaking and doing what is called "The Eskimo Roll" (a boat-flipping move). Accompanied by Bob Johnson on piano and Sarah Rice on harmony vocals, it taught everyone in the house about dangerously insane Canadian water sports we never thought we'd need to know. And it was probably the first time the word “kayak” was sung on the Birdland stage! Forbidden Broadway’s own Christina Bianco sang one of Ms. Lavin’s hits, "High Heels,” and made everyone extremely happy!
Marty Thomas (left, thanks again to Mark Rupp), owner of one of the best voices on the Broadway scene, flipped everyone out with his talent. We had visitors from other lands, too… Dublin’s Maria Tecci was beautiful and soulful, and Earl Okun, who came all the way from London, played gorgeous jazz guitar and sang "My Room." William Michaels, who is the stand-by for Emile DeBeque in South Pacific on Broadway, thrilled the crowd with two songs, and caused three sisters to catch the vapors.
Next week…I’ll be back to my hosting duties with a bang-up Cast Party, along with Tedd Firth at the piano, and Steve Doyle on bass. Until then,buona fortuna, dove è la toletta, e desidero più ghiaccio*.
Broadway at Birdland!
Are you kidding me? BARBARA COOK is joining orchestrator/musical director/composer JONATHAN TUNICK on theBroadway at Birdland stage on Monday, November 24 at 7pm?! It’s absolutely true, and we can’t believe our luck; to have these two legendary artists as part of our series seems just too good to be true.
Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner Tunick will be hosting his big band, The Broadway Moonlighters, which features musicians from the orchestras of Road Show, The Little Mermaid, In the Heights, Pal Joeyand more. The band is comprised of Les Scott, Lawrence Feldman,Steve Kenyon, Jay Dryer and Jay Brandford on saxophones, clarinets and bass clarinet; Bob Millikan, Glenn Drewes and Kamau Adilifu on trumpets; Jack Gale and Vinny Fanuele on trombones; Lee Musiker on piano; John Beal on bass; and Ronnie Zito on drums. Tony Award winner Barbara Cook will lend her exquisite vocals to the evening.
Jonathan Tunick won the Academy Award for Best Music, Best Original Song Score and Best Adaption for the film "A Little Night Music." He won a Tony for Best Orchestrations for Titanic, a Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement for "No One Is Alone" (performed by Cleo Laine) and an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction for "Night of 100 Stars."
Barbara Cook has starred on Broadway in Flahooley, Candide, The Gay Life, The Music Man and She Loves Me. he received a Best Featured Actress in a Musical Tony Award for her performance in The Music Man, and her one-woman show, Mostly Sondheim, was nominated for a Tony in the Best Special Theatrical Event category. Cook was most recently on the New York stage in Barbara Cook's Broadway. Cook made her solo debut at the Metropolitan Opera, which was also released on DRG Records. Cook's newest CD on the DRG label is titled "Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder."
Jonathan Tunick and the Broadway Moonlighters
With Special Guest Barbara Cook
Monday, November 24 at 7pm
Broadway at Birdland
315 West 44 Street, NYC
$30 or $50 VIP cover, $10 food/drink minimum
Upcoming Concerts: Christine Ebersole & Billy Stritch (November 26 - 29), The Broadway Boys (December 1), Victoria Shaw (December 8),GuyTunes (December 15th), and The Johnny Rodgers Band Bound Together CD release (December 29).
November 20, 2008
Buckle down, Woonsocket, buckle down! We're doing a full week of Liza's at the Palace in beautiful downtown Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where it's cold, and we figured we'd keep better. Last night's opening was a rousing success, with the boss-lady blowing the roof off of the Stadium Theatre, and I'm not just whistlin' Dixie. I rarely do that, and certainly not in this weather. It's bone-chillingly cold, but last night's audience response will keep us all warm through the winter; trust. We're talkin' 15 standing ovations. Those folks must be pooped. If you happen to be driving by, please drop in and see our little skit, which will be running through Sunday night. If, for some reason, you're not in this particular hood, you can always buy a ticket to the Broadway run, which will open on December 3!
Post-Milan and pre-Woonsocket, I was thrilled to return to my hosting duties at Cast Party on Monday night. What a homecoming! Vanessa Trouble, Mark Brignone, Angela Bingham, Loston Harris, Tony DeSare, Susan Winter, Jane Schecter, Ray Jessell, Lina Koutrakos,Jenna Esposito, Earl Okin and Rob Langeder spring to mind as crowd faves. There were also some extraordinary newcomers (whose names I don't have with me on the road, please forgive me!), and who will make triumphant returns to the Birdland stage soon, I hope! Two of our favoriteAltar Boyz (left, by Steve Sorokoff), Ryan Ratliff and Jesse JP Johnsoncame just to show off their hilarious new tattoos…very distinguished, gentlemen!! We DO attract a sophisticated, smart looking bunch, don't we? This coming Monday, join me and my musical cohorts Tedd Firthand Steve Doyle, as we bring you the most off-the-wall, extreme cases of Open Mic-ness you might ever see.
December 4, 2008
Last Monday night at Cast Party was quite a whoopdeedoo. [Don't use that word in Scrabble; I think you would be disqualified.] We had big names, bigger voices, and biggest birthdays. Sorry; I'm not disclosing how old anybody is. That's what Google is for. As for big names, how about Broadway star Alan Cumming (left, thanks to Steve Sorokoff)? How about cabaret star Steve Ross? For big voices, there was opera star Sarah Jane McMahon (she'll be singing with Placido Domingo in January), William Michals from South Pacific, and Brian Cheney. All three of them sang unplugged! Mr. Michals was also joined by the award-winning vocalist Bill Daugherty and they reprised their show-stopping "In Lily's Eyes" from The Secret Garden - without microphones! They had closed Broadway Unplugged at Town Hall with that number just a couple of weeks ago.
As for birthdays, well, the years just keep on coming...Jenna Esposito,Abby, and Ms. Taylor-Corbet (the director of My Vaudeville Man, which is now playing at the York Theatre). In fact, a whole contigent from My Vaudeville Man came to Cast Party, including its two bright stars Karen Murphy and Shonn Wiley (pictured left) who wowed the crowd with a couple of numbers from that critically acclaimed new show. Watching proudly was yet another Broadway star, Meredith Patterson, one of the stars of Broadway's White Christmas; she's Shonn Wiley's wife. Sitting nearby, nightclub superstars Julie Wilson and Michael Feinstein. It was that kind of night. But then we always have those kinds of nights...at least we try!
While I was in tech with Liza (left, in a photo from the NY Daily News) for our opening at The Palace, one of our favorite guest hosts, critic/impressario Scott Siegel stepped into my shoes. Beyond the afore-mentioned Broadway types, he brought in a bevy of cabaret stars, including Scott Coulter, Lennie Watts and Stephen Ray Watkins who provided the evenings most sublime harmonies. Then there were such hot up-and-comers as Jonathan Whitton and Molly Pope. As always, there were fun performances by our lovely Cast Party regulars, including birthday girls Jenna Esposito and Abby, plus Rob Langeder, Ray Jessell, Max Haymer, and William Blake. We even got the official Cast Party photographer, Steve Sorokoff up to play the piano and serenade the crowd. It was fun. We like fun. Let's do it again. Say, next Monday? I'll be back with Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle as the Cast Party Symphony Orchestra.
FYI, if you're following along, you'll know that last night was the opening night of Liza's At The Palace. It was truly one of the best nights of my life, and I don't say that in the fakey-showbizzy way. The reviews are still coming in (Liza Minnelli opens at The Palace, Liza Minnelli dazzles in new holiday show 'Liza at the Palace ...', Liza Minnelli opens at The Palace, Liza Minnelli reigns in opening at The Palace Theatre -- Newsday.com), but you can check Broadway World.com to see all the photos of arrivals, the curtain call, and after-party. MANY thanks to all the Cast Party types who were in da' house and did the big shout-out! I'll never forget it.
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to announce the return of successful songwriter & performer VICTORIA SHAW and her celebrated showcase Under The Covers With Victoria Shaw, Monday, December 8, 2008 at 7:00pm, as part of the long-running, Nightlife Award-winning concert seriesBroadway at Birdland.
Hosted by SHAW, Under The Covers… has become a recurrent highlight, featuring a wide variety of top-selling songwriters and musical acts from across the pop, rock and country worlds, and offering intimate acoustic performances of huge hit songs - along with the little-known stories behind them. Already confirmed to join SHAW are award-winning singer/songwriter TY HERNDON (“What Mattered Most” and “Living in a Moment”) and RIVERS RUTHERFORD, who has written mega-hits for Brad Paisley/Dolly Parton (“When I Get Where I'm Going”), Tim McGraw (“Real Good Man”), Brooks & Dunn (Ain't Nothing 'Bout You), and hits by Rodney Atkins, Kenny Chesney and Montgomery Gentry.
Responsible for over 65 million album sales, SHAW is best-known as the writer of “The River,” one of Garth Brooks's biggest hits, as well as “I Love The Way You Love Me,” recorded by John Michael Montgomery, and “Nobody Wants To Be Lonely,” performed by Ricky Martin and Christina Aguilera. Her songs have also been recorded by such major stars as Olivia Newton John, Boyzone, Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, Reba McEntire, Tricia Yearwood, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Michael McDonald. The winner of two Emmy Awards, SHAW is also an accomplished singer, releasing four albums (two on Warner Bros. Records and two independently, on her own Taffeta label), and touring extensively throughout the U.S. and across Europe. She also notably opened for Garth Brooks at his historic 1997 Central Park concert.
TY HERNDON is an American country music singer, who was signed to Epic Records in 1995. He made his debut that year with the Number One single "What Mattered Most,” followed by the release of his first album, also entitled “What Mattered Most.” This album was followed one year later by “Living in a Moment,” which produced his second Number One country hit in its title track.
Three more albums for Epic followed - Big Hopes (1998), Steam (1999), and This Is Ty Herndon: Greatest Hits (2000). He recorded a Christmas album in 2002 for the Riviera label, followed by his fifth studio album (2007's “Right About Now”) and a second Christmas compilation for the Titan Pyramid label.
Overall, Herndon has charted a total of seventeen singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. This figure includes three Number ones - "What Mattered Most" (1995), "Living in a Moment" (1996), and "It Must Be Love" (1998) - as well as four additional Top Ten hits.
RIVERS RUTHERFORD has been an active writer on the Nashville scene since the mid-1990s. He has penned several Number One country hits, including "Ain't Nothing 'bout You" by Brooks & Dunn, which was the Number One country song of 2001 on the Billboard charts Among the other Number Ones that he has composed are "If You Ever Stop Loving Me" by Montgomery Gentry, "When I Get Where I'm Going" by Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton, "Real Good Man" by Tim McGraw, "Living in Fast Forward" by Kenny Chesney, "Ladies Love Country Boys" by Trace Adkins, and "These Are My People" and "Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)" by Rodney Atkins. He has also released a solo CD called “Just Another Coaster.”
UNDER THE COVERS WITH VICTORIA SHAW
Special Guests: Ty Herndon and Rivers Rutherford
Date: Monday, December 8 at 7pm
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Broadway at Birdland
315 West 44 Street, NYC
$25 cover, $10 food/drink minimum
NEXT: GuyTunes with Nick Blaemire, Justine Keyes & Joey Khoury - December 15!
December 11, 2008
Under the Covers With Victoria Shaw is one of the most unique and musically satisfying events we book in the Broadway at Birdland series, and this past Monday, Vic brought one of the all-time best casts to sing and discuss the huge radio hits they've all had! One of my all-time fave country guys, Ty Herndon, sang his heart out, and even included his first #1, “What Mattered Most,” which was written by Gary Burr (just inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame), who we were lucky enough to have onstage all night! Rivers Rutherford, who wrote the #1 country song of 2001 for Brooks & Dunn, among many, many others, sang and played, much to everyone's happiness! We were thrilled that Mark Hudson sat in with his rainbow-colored beard, great stories and spectacular voice.
Then, Victoria, who produced the country smash-hit group Lady Antebellum (up for 2 Grammys!) introduced her new find, the spectacular Ryan Rothe (left), who made his New York debut with us! You're gonna be hearing a lot about him and his great style and voice…maybe next years' Grammys??
Everyone from Under the Covers stuck around for Cast Party, giving the evening a welcome twang! The afore-mentioned Mr. Herndon clearly became a fan of our own Hilary Kole (left), who sang and swang! The always-amazing Altar Boyz paid us a visit after their show at the New World Stages, and they killed with a new tune. GuyTunes gave us a sample of their creamy harmonies, which they'll be showing off in next Monday's Broadway at Birdland concert at 7pm! (See below!) Tom Leopold, one of the brilliant “Seinfeld” writers, was hilarious, and opened with his encore! His pal Paul Shaffer, who you might know from being a TV superstar, played his one (and only) hit “It's Raining Men.”
Evidently, the song was SUCH a hit that Paul's accountant is OK with the fact that it's the ONLY hit! Two of my fave songwriters, Lisa Lambert and Greg Morrison (who happened to win Tonys for The Drowsy Chaperone) brought in a new tune from their upcoming musical Big Rosemary, performed by leading man-extraordinaire Troy Britton Johnson and Tony-winning Cady Huffman! Add lots of newcomers and beloved regulars…and this Cast Party was one for the books!
In other news, Liza's At The Palace continues it's successful run at The Palace Theater here in NYC! There are no words to tell you how much fun I'm having singing and dancing with one of the all-time best entertainers on the planet. If you haven't seen us yet, and would like to get tickets, click on the link and order away! Liza's making history and breaking records! (Photo at left by Nicholas King.) If you want to see how we're helping light up Times Square, click on Entertainment Tonight!
December 18, 2008
GuyTunes' Monday night Broadway at Birdland concert was an absolute smash - putting everyone into the holiday spirit with their Christmas Hams extravaganza. These guys (Jason Keyes, Nick Blaemire & Joey Khory, left) and are all up-and-comers on the Broadway scene, but we like to think they're on their way to a big concert career as a very clever and musically satisfying vocal trio! They had a packed house of screaming fans, friends and family who couldn't get enough of their seasonal antics…so trust me when I tell you that they'll be back…and soon!
The following Cast Party was a star studded, jammed, hilarious and razzle-dazzling evening of music, too. My boss Liza Minnelli brought her brotherJoe Luft, “Late Night” co-star Paul Shaffer performed his annual holiday Cher impression, Linda Lavin (left, cavorting with me onstage, thanks toSteve Sorokoff) brought a table of pals - and her fantastic husband Steve Bakunas sat in and drummed with us all night, making the swell music even sweller! Regulars like Jenna Esposito, Joan Crowe, Sue Matsuki,Eve Silber, Janet Fanale, Maureen Taylor, Susan Winter, Michael Winther, and Erik Garbus all sang for us. Natalie Douglas showed off her very musical self. My partner-in-crime from Liza's at The Palace, Mr. Cortes Alexander, crooned his face off. “Seinfeld” writer Tom Leopoldwas, once again, screamingly funny. Chicago's Lynne Jordan stopped the show with her funny, bluesy, belty and bawdy brand of entertainment. All in all - an extremely great Cast Party! Next week - superstar Klea Blackhurst will be hosting, along with Tedd Firth at the piano. I'm showing up late, just to watch, hang and be entertained by the throngs. It's my holiday gift to myself…and I certainly hope you'll join me!
December 25, 2008
I couldn't stay away. I mean...why WOULD I?? A few weeks ago, in a moment of self-doubt, I called my friend Klea Blackhurst to see if she would sub for me and host Cast Party. I figured that I'd be pooped from my poo-poo platter of "Liza's At The Palace," Broadway at Birdland and Christmas duties. Happily, she said yes, so I was all prepped for an evening at home decking the halls, trimming the tree and generally taking care of holiday stuff. Of course, by the time Monday rolled around, my proverbial batteries were re-charged, and I found myself donning fuschia wool and heading to Birdland!
And am I glad I did!? It was sheer pleasure watching Klea helm the evening! I've never actually sat and watched Cast Party...since I'm usually up to my eyeballs in talented folks wanting to get onstage! But what fun to relax and be entertained by Victoria Shaw and her two way-talented daughters (Ruby and Ava Locknar), Sarah Rice,Jamie DeRoy, Christine Lavin & Maury, Joan Crowe, Hilary Kole,Malan Breton, Brian Villegas, Steve Sorokoff, Melissa Ward, Fred Barton, Kristin Sargent, Carolyn Ohlbaum, AC Haley, Bill Reuhl and the delightful Billy Stritch!!! We were also thrilled that old friend Simon Green (left) gave us a taste of his Noel Coward Christmas show, currently running at 59 E 59, with David Shrubsole at the piano!
Tedd Firth and Saadi Zain were the Cast Party Symphony Orchestraand kept the musical mojo flowin' until the wee hours! It was so fun to jam with Klea and Billy on the most off-the-cuff rendition of "It's Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas" ever! (left)
All of us at Cast Party and Birdland hope you are having the swellest holiday season ever, and that your New Years resolution is to spend more time with us! Next week...a holiday Cast Party with Tedd Firth and Steve Doyle on piano and bass - and me on the mic! Falalalala!
Broadway at Birdland!
Jim Caruso's Cast Party and TheaterMania.com are proud to announce the award-winning singer/songwriter/pianist Johnny Rodgers in concert at Birdland on Monday, December 29 at 7pm. This evening is part of theBroadway at Birdland series. Reservations are recommended by calling 212.581.3080 or by visiting www.BirdlandJazz.com for further information.
Johnny will be celebrating two new CD releases. The first is the EP “Bound Together” by the Johnny Rodgers Band: Johnny Rodgers on vocals and piano, Brian Glassman on double bass, Danny Mallon on drums, Joe Ravo on guitar. The EP contains four brand new songs. The catchy title cut and rallying call for world unity; “Cry For Freedom,” shaded in Pink Floyd/Beatlesesque sounds; “The Best Of You In Me,” a touching ballad and tribute to those who helped form each of us; and “Lord Let The Angels Sing,” a new Christmas song and destined to be classic, featuring guest artist Ben Taylor (son of music icons Carly Simon and James Taylor).
Johnny's second EP “Let's Make A Date,” featuring guest artist Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy winning superstar Liza Minnelli. The release coincides with Rodgers' Broadway debut in Minnelli's new show at The Palace Theatre, December 2008. The duo is backed by the Johnny Rodgers Band and Liza's musical mentor, her longtime musical director, the late Bill “Pappy” Lavorgnia, on drums.
JOHNNY RODGERS BAND
Monday, December 29 at 7pm
315 West 44 Street, NYC
212-581-3080 or www.BirdlandJazz.com
$25/$40 VIP with a $10 food/drink minimum
NEXT: Ring in 2009 with Julie Halston, January 5th at 7PM!