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Adam Gwon Makes More Friends at Feinstein’s/54 Below



You may or may not know Adam Gwon’s name or work.  His sung through, debut musical, “Ordinary Days,” was well received at the Roundabout Theater in 2009, and continues to be licensed, bringing his work to an increasingly larger audience.  In the interim, Mr. Gwon has won just about every award an up and coming musical theater writer can hope to do.

In an intimate evening of cabaret at 54 Below on Saturday night, Mr. Gwon treated us to some of the conversational story songs which distinguish him as a writer. Mr. Gwon was at the piano with an exceptional guitarist and arranger, Andy Zinsmeyer, by his side. They shared the stage with a cadre of Mr. Gwon’s talented musical theater performer friends. By the end of the evening, even the strangers in the audience were his new friends too.

Mr. Gwon opened the show with a song called “Warming Up,” in which he expressed his happiness at being back in front of a live audience again for the first time in nearly two years. 

Diana Huey then sang “Alaska,” a politically inspired cabaret song about a girl and her male friend who had moved up north. Ms. Huey is a bundle of musical theater talent I want to see more of in the future.

Etai Benson

Etai Benson, who has the boyish charm of a young Paul Rudd, joined Ms. Huey for the romantic duet “Just Curious,”from Mr. Gwon’s musical, “String,” about a security guard who falls in love with one of the three fates …who seemed an awful lot just like a resident of the building.  He followed that with the solo “Kick Ass Party” from Gwon’s musical, “Scotland, P.A.,” in which he became amusingly drunker as the song progressed.

Diana Huey, Etai Benson

Sarah Lynn Marion shared the song “Other Lives,” also from “Scotland, P.A.” about certain residents of a sleepy Pennsylvania town.  In this song, a young woman tries to cope with the emotional pain of having had an absent mother.  One of the joys of attending songwriter showcases is the chance to discover amazing new talents.  Ms. Marion is one such exceptional performer, whose depth of emotion and passionate delivery, along with her very warm, fine singing voice, make her a Broadway star waiting to be discovered.

Sarah Lynn Marion

Ms. Marion teamed with Zachary Noah Piser on the love duet, “Clairvoyant”. Mr. Piser followed that with the very cleverly turned lyrics of “Why I Love Football,” which, it turns out, has to do with the singer’s sexual obsession with one of the football players. Mr. Piser has a cuddliness that makes me want to see him as Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” Casting directors, take note!

Adam Gwon, Sarah Lynn Marion

Kyra Kennedy expressed frustration with her fictional life in “Don’t Wanna Be Here.”  She later closed the show with “Favorite Places,” a song with a very clever turn in which, after singing about geographic locations, she sings that the favorite place she will never visit is the heart of her beloved.  Ms. Kennedy will be going off soon to do the debut production of the new musical based on the film, “Mystic Pizza.”  I look forward to seeing it, and hearing her again. 

Kyra Kennedy

The last but not least of his talented performer friends is Ciara Reneé.  She has eyes which are big, open windows to her soul and a voice to match.  That made her another favorite of the evening for me.  She sang “Uncharted Territory”and the deeply moving, “I’ll Be Here,” which was probably my favorite song of the evening.

Diana Huey and Andy Zinsmeister

No question, Mr. Gwon is a keen observer of the human condition, and someone who will be writing an important chapter in the story of the next generation of musical theater creators.

Jeffery Lyle Segal is a multifaceted theater artist who has worn many professional hats. He started as a musical theater performer in his teens. He attended Stanford U., Northwestern University, and SUNY at Binghamton to study acting, directing and dramatic literature. He also wrote theater reviews for The Stanford Daily and was Arts Editor of WNUR Radio at Northwestern. After college, he is proud to have been the first full time Executive Director of Chicago’s acclaimed Steppenwolf Theater Company. He left them to work as a theater actor and director. His special effects makeup skills got him into the movies, working on the seminal cult horror film, Re-Animator.He also did casting for several important Chicago projects, sometimes wearing both production hats, as he did on Chicago’s most famous independent movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. While living in Los Angeles, he joined the Academy for New Musical Theater, where he developed two book musicals as a composer, lyricist and librettist, Down to Earth Girl (formerly I Come for Love, NYMF 2008), and Scandalous Behavior! (York Developmental Reading Series 2010). He wrote, produced and performed his song “Forever Mine” as the end title theme of the horror film, Trapped! He also has written songs for his performances in cabaret over the years, and the time he spent pursuing country music in Nashville. Most recently he created a musical revue, Mating the Musical, for the Chicago Musical Theater Festival 2016. In NYC, he has attended the BMI musical theater writers’ workshop, and the Commercial Theater Institute 14 week producer program. He is currently creating a company to develop new musicals online. He still keeps up his makeup chops, working with top doctors in NYC and Chicago as one of the country’s most highly regarded permanent cosmetic artists ( and as a member of Chicago local IATSE 476.


Storm Large Brings The Sexual Heat Along With Powerhouse Vocals To 54 Below



Doris Day’s “Que Sera, Que Sera, takes on a hint of sexual subversive overtone as flower child Storm Large makes her way through the audience at 54 Below handing out possies.

If you do not know who Storm Large is, she is a musician, actor, playwright and author, who shot to national prominence in 2006 as a finalist on the CBS show Rock Star: Supernova. Large currently performs nationally with her own band, and tours internationally with the Portland-based band Pink Martini. Large also appeared on America’s Got Talent on June 14, 2021, performing a cover of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” which is when I became obsessed.

Large is raw, real, human, and oh so female, and her new show has her explaining her life and how she empathize with all of us during being locked down. Her take on Jay Livingston and Ray Evans “Crazy Train” took on a deeper and more profound epiphany.

Lauper’s and Large’s ode to self-gratification, brought back the 80’s “She Bop“. Large talks between the numbers and we learn how Ms. Large dealt with not performing, in Prince’s “Nothing Compares To You“.

You will never think of Grease’s “Hopelessly Devoted to You” in the same way again after the “Carrie: version Storm maps out. You definitely get a glimpse of the demons that she battles or rather plays with.

Connecting so strongly to lyric and having a range that is unbelievable, Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Shovels & Rope’s “After The Storm” and The Kinks “Strangers” told of heartbreak, longing, loss as Storm played the drums and ukulele. She is multi-talented and it is mind boggling how she is not more nationally and internationally beloved.

A lot of the audience knew Storm’s “8 Mile Wide” from her hit one-woman show Crazy Enough. This song is a female empowerment ode of being who she is and she does not apologize. Despite the song being about her anatomy, this was her father’s favorite song. She sang it to him before he died.

The Hollies “Air That I Breathe” and a song by Storm and her amazing musical director James Beaton, “Angels in The Gas Station” were dedicated to her father. Beaton is also who does Storm’s arrangements including the fabulous “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, that sadly she did not grace us with,

Playing in her band are musicians that are all stellar in the own rights with Matt Brown on Bass, Scott Weddle on Guitar and Greg Uklund on Drums.

You can catch Storm Large: Loving Storm, tonight at 54 Below and I highly recommend you do. If you have never experienced this super nova you will be glad you did.

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Ken Fallin’s Broadway: New York Pops and Marvelous Marilyn Maye



“The astonishing Marilyn Maye sings with the magnificent New York Pops led by Maestro Steve Reineke this Friday evening, March 24th at Carnegie Hall. They are remarkable talents and remarkable people.

Kenny & Marilyn Maye penthouse

Cabaret legend Marilyn Maye takes the stage with The New York Pops for a program of standards and musical theater classics that make clear why she’s been celebrated as one of America’s greatest jazz singers for more than 50 years. Hear favorites by composers who include Porter, Lerner and Loewe, Loesser, and Sondheim, as well as Maye’s special version of “Too Late Now,” which was selected by the Smithsonian Institution for its permanent collection of 20th-century recordings.


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My View: The Only Thing Missing Was A Latte ( with extra foam) Marcy & Zina Party at 54 Below



The only thing missing at last night’s party for Marcy and Zina was a Latte choice in the beverage section on the menu at 54 Below (with extra foam).  The show, titled  Make Your Own Party: The Songs of Goldrich and Heisler was conceived by Scott Coulter and performed by a cast of five. It celebrated over three decades of quirky, heartfelt and utterly contemporary romantic comedy songs written by Marcy Heisler and Zina Goldrich.

From “Taylor the Latte Boy” to under appreciated altos we were introduced to the cast of characters that inspired these inseparable, irreverent friends to write over three hundred and counting musical love letters to the city, the theatre, and the people who make them sing.  The evening was filled with the heart felt stories that these two award winning women have created and was performed by a first rate cast of Broadway super singers.  The lyrics, the music, the luscious harmonies…it was the best party of music I’ve ever been invited to.

The Performers: Jill Abramowitz, Cole Burden, Alex Getlin, Joe Kinosian, Kelli Rabke, and Austin Rivers.

Joe Kinosian,piano, Matt Scharfglass, bass

Marcy & Zina have been performing and writing together since 1992.  Their critically acclaimed romantic comedy songs have been featured in venues across the world, recorded by artists across many genres, and appear in numerous folios and collected works.  Their Off-Broadway musical Dear Edwina earned them a Drama Desk nomination, and other works have been produced by regional powerhouses such as Paper Mill playhouse, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Goodspeed, and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.  Their shows include Ever After, JUnie B Jones, and The Great American Musical, based on the bestselling book by auther/director Julie Andrews.

















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