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Music News: From Rags to Riches: Melissa Errico, Klea Blackhurst, Major Attaway and 100 Years of American Song, Voices of Mississippi

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Ghostlight Records has announced the new release from renowned singer, actress and author Melissa Errico, the  compelling new studio album, Out Of The Dark: The Film Noir Project on Friday, February 18. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, when the world was locked away in lonely rooms with only old movies to watch at midnight, Errico suddenly returned to one of her life-long obsessions – noir! The genre is noted for its dark, disturbing sensibility of intractable fatalism that Paris existentialists discovered in American film during the 1940’s. Noir continues to run as a mesmerizing, mysterious current through modern movies and music, and Errico has embraced it in her own artistic endeavors. She recently co-curated a film festival of noir classics at New York’s French Institute Alliance Française, wrote an essay in The New York Times about having a black-sequined gown specially made to play the role of the femme fatale on stage, and offered Manhattan a concert of noir songs.

The album is now available for pre-order from Ghostlight, Amazon, iTunes, Apple Music and will be available for digital download on all platforms on February 18. Errico will also offer album release concerts at Feinstein’s/54 Below Feb 18 & 19 at 7pm.

 

Birdland will present the return of Klea Blackhurst: “One of the Girls: the Words and Music of Jerry Herman” on Monday, February 21 at 7:00 PM. After a hit engagement at the venue last fall, Blackhurst will bring back her salute to the beloved songwriter for one night only. “One of the Girls” is produced by Denise Cooper, directed by Mark Waldrop, and features musical direction by Michael Rice, who leads the Pocket Change Trio. Birdland is located at 315 West 44th Street in New York.

Feinstein’/54 Below, Broadway’s Supper Club, presents Major Attaway (Aladdin) in Major Attaway: The Genie’s Jukebox on January 31, 2022 at 9:45 pm.

Major Attaway, the longest-running Genie in Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway, is out of the lamp! The first to take over the role, Attaway is ready to explore a different, slightly evil version of the character we all know and love. Who are the Genie’s would-be favorite vile villain cohorts? Come hear Major cover all the answers. And remember, he isn’t bad – you just wished that way!

New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) releasesd From Rags to Riches: 100 Years of American Song on its new in-house label, NYFOS Records. The label’s debut album features the acclaimed voices of mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and tenor William Burden, together with Steven Blier, Artistic Director of the NYFOS who accompanies Blythe and Burden, on piano in works spanning art song, musical theater, jazz, and opera. The album is taken from a live concert recording at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College in New York on March 23, 2000: From Rags to Riches, a compendium of American songs celebrating the last century as the new century began.

Based on the 2019 GRAMMY Award-winning Voices of Mississippi: Artists and Musicians Documented by William Ferris, Jazz at Lincoln Center launches its first Appel Room performances since 2020 with Voices of Mississippi, a multimedia concert event celebrating the blues and gospel music, art, and storytelling traditions of the American South. The immersive concert experience on February 25–26, hosted by eminent folklorist, historian, and former NEH Chairman Dr. William Ferris, will feature live performances by Mississippi-based blues, folk, and gospel musicians, paired with archival film and audio recordings, rare photographs, and spoken-word storytelling.

With four concerts across the two nights, Voices of Mississippi will bring together some of the twenty-first century’s foremost blues and gospel artists, all of whom are direct descendants of the artists documented by Ferris for the original Voices of Mississippi project. Guitarist and vocalist Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars will direct the band as well as perform. He will be joined by multi-Grammy-winning blues legend Bobby Rush making his JALC debut, performing on guitar and vocals alongside Ruthie Foster and Cedric Burnside, with Shardé Thomas on fife and North Mississippi Allstars member Cody Dickinson on vocals and drums.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Cabaret

Tom and Michael D’Angora, Tim Guinee and Joe Iconis Are Back To Save The West Bank Cafe

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Steve Olsen, has his band of Merry Men with Tom and Michael D’Angora, Tim Guinee and Joe Iconis. In 2020, with a GoFundMe and a a star-studded Christmas Day Telethon they raised $345,422 (the target was $250,000). This year they are back with GoFundMe page and are in the midst of planning a star-studded gala event to assist with fundraising.  They have raised $18,755, but are looking for $850,000.
Steve Olsen has stated “Our business quadrupled last week since we announced our closing, There is a movement to keep our doors open a little longer.”
This is Tom D’Angora’s pitch on GoFundMe
Four years ago, we came together as a community and created a miracle to make sure that The West Bank Cafe/Laurie Beechman Theatre would survive the pandemic. Now Michael D’Angora, Tim Guinee, Joe Iconis and myself are asking you all to come together to create one last miracle so The West Bank Cafe can not only survive but THRIVE.
For 46 years West Bank Cafe has been a popular theater district haunt. It has been a launching pad for countless musicians, actors, comedians, and writers — a “must visit” for tourists, a “go to” for locals and a perfect spot for a business meeting, a pre-theater meal or after show drinks with friends.
The road post-pandemic has not been an easy one, but Steve Olsen and the incredible staff at The West Bank Cafe have soldiered on and sacrificed to keep the Cafe afloat. Unfortunately, the challenges have become overwhelming and without our help, our beloved Cafe will close for good in late August.
There were many factors that have led to this situation, but the largest and most unjust was that The West Bank Cafe was overlooked for the RRF grant, which is the reason most restaurants were able to make it post-pandemic. To make matters worse, due to an unfair and ridiculous technicality they were also denied the SVOG. Either of these grants would have made it possible for The West Bank to flourish over the past three years. Being denied both has resulted in the current situation.
It is left up to us as a community to once again step up and take care of our own. The West Bank Cafe will turn 50 in four years, and we must make sure that we are able to toast Steve, eat risotto balls together on the day of the iconic venue’s golden anniversary.
The West Bank Café is more than a restaurant and performance space. So many of us have celebrated birthdays, weddings, opening nights, closing nights, Tony wins, Tony losses, and everything in between there. Everyone is treated like a VIP when they walk through those doors.
The West Bank is home to The Laurie Beechman Theater -a legendary venue that is as vital to the New York theater scene as any Broadway house or Non-profit theater. There are less and less rooms in Manhattan for artists to birth new work in a safe and supportive environment. The loss of the downstairs performance space at the West Bank would be devastating to the community.. The Laurie Beechman is more than a beloved cabaret, it is an important piece of New York City theatrical history.
It is the stage where Joan Rivers performed her final set. It is the room where the original cast of Sunday in the Park With George rehearsed. It is where the Tony Award-winning play Side Man debuted, where Aaron Sorkin’s first two works were produced, where Lewis Black and Rusty Magee cut their teeth, Where countless Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, Tony, and MAC Award-winning artists have developed new pieces. So many stars have not only played but have been born at the Laurie Beechman Theater.
What is more clear than ever is that this restaurant does not just belong to Steve and Janet, it belongs to all of us. It is truly our Westbank Cafe and I believe we can once again pull off a miracle TOGETHER.
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Cabaret

My View: Lucie Arnaz Gloriously Finishes Her “Job” at 54 Below

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Lucie Arnaz concluded her “job” at 54 Below last night as she entranced a celebrity filled audience during the final night of her show titled “ I Got The Job”.   From beginning to end she garnered multiple ovations from an audience that included, Norm Lewis, Linda Purl, Murphy Cross, Paul Kreppel, Bill Hutton, Jamie deRoy, Rolanda Watts, Ken Fallin, MOIPEI, and many others.

LUCIE ARNAZ

LUCIE ARNAZ

LUCIE ARNAZ

LUCIE ARNAZ

LUCIE ARNAZ

EDA SOROKOFF, MOIPEI, NORM LEWIS

LUCIE ARNAZ & MARK SENDROFF

LUCIE ARNAZ & NORM LEWIS

RON ABEL & LUCIE ARNAZ

LINDA PURL & EDA SOROKOFF

RON ABEL, LUCIE ARNAZ, TODD McPHERESON

JAMIE deROY & RON ABEL

KEN FALLIN & STANLEY

EDA SOROKOFF, STEPHEN SOROKOFF, NORM LEWIS

RICHARD HILLMAN & ROLANDA WATTS

RON ABEL & TODD McPHERSON

MARK SENDROFF & LUCIE ARNAZ

THE PARTY

NORM LEWIS & EDA SOROKOFF

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Cabaret

Cabaret Loses The West Bank Cafe and Laurie Beechman Theatre

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The West Bank Cafe and the Laurie Beechman theatre are closing their doors in August.

The West Bank Cafe opened in 1978. The restaurant’s early clients even included the notorious Irish gang, the Westies. The neighborhood was rough. In 1980, The New York Times awarded West Bank two stars, which increased its visibility and attracted a wider range of diners. 
In this era, West Bank Cafe’s owner, Steve Olsen opened the Laurie Beechman Theatre downstairs from the Cafe, which staged plays and hosted events nightly. A young Lewis Black was named playwright-in-residence; Howard Stern aired his third-annual live birthday broadcast from the theater; and the restaurant’s regulars included Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Bruce Willis, among others.

Soon the redevelopment of 42nd Street spread further west, bringing new businesses and residents to the area. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, the restaurant was a leader in the growing Theater District and Hell’s Kitchen dining scenes. As new theaters opened in the area, the restaurant’s connection to stage and screen remained strong as well. The Laurie Beechman Theatre continued to regularly stage the work of emerging writers, actors, and singers (many of whom later became stars) as well as established acts: The Who even gave four live performances at the restaurant while their musical Tommy was running on Broadway.

After 45 years, the restaurant’s surrounding neighborhood and America’s culinary tastes have changed dramatically. West Bank Cafe has evolved along with the neighborhood and maintained a commitment to serving high-quality food in a unpretentious setting where both theater-goers and theatre stars feel at home.

In 2020 the West Bank was likely to close imminently as it faced mounting debts and a steep drop-off in customers due to COVID. By Tuesday, though, there was an online fundraiser had raised more than $330,000, shooting past its initial goal of $250,000. Donations came pouring in thanks to Tom D’Angora, a Broadway producer and longtime customer. But things took off on Christmas Day, thanks to a star-studded, nine-hour telethon, featuring speeches and performances by Sean Penn, Nathan Lane, Pete Townshend, Debra Messing, Andre De Shields and dozens more performers who have called themselves West Bank regulars during its 42-year history.

The money raised allowed Olsen to pay off the cafe’s debts and save some cash for the future. Sadly it seems 2024 might be the end.

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Cabaret

Jason Robert Brown To Perform at Carnegie Hall In October

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Now here is a concert I will definitely be attending. Three-time Tony Award-winning composer Jason Robert Brown will perform a special concert event at Carnegie Hall on October 25, 2024, at 8:00 PM. He already had a sold-out concert at the London Palladium.

Expect to hear “Still Hurting,” and “Stars and the Moon.” I have included some of my favorite video’s of Mr. Brown’s music sung to perfection.

His repertoire, spans over thirty years of unforgettable and some of the best musical theatre songs ever written.

At the concert some of his closest collaborators and newest friends and some of the most celebrated performers of the stage and the music world – soon to be announced.

The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, New York’s own chamber orchestra, will accompany Jason and his guests with their virtuosic 22-piece ensemble. The evening will be conducted by Jason Robert Brown and Georgia Stitt.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 11am EST on July 19, 2024, with a general pre-sale on Wednesday, July 17th, and a Live Nation presale, starting Thursday, July 18th. Tickets start at $59.50. For ticketing information and further details, please contact CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800, carnegiehall.org, or visit the Box Office on 57th Street and Seventh Avenue.

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Cabaret

My View: Lucie Arnaz…..How Did She Get This Job?

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With apologies to politicians who tout their job creating policies, Lucie Arnaz did not need any assistance to get her current job at 54 Below with a show titled “I Got The Job”.  Lucie got this gig because she is a supremely talented actor/singer/dancer who possesses a distinguished resume and long career of memorable performances on the stages of Broadway, Cabaret, and Concert Halls all over the world… and as I’ve said before about this show….

Lucie Arnaz hit the stage of 54Below with all cylinders on burn and guns ablaze! She performed an evening she calls “I GOT THE JOB” and kept the New York City audience entranced from beginning to end, garnering multiple ovations that seemed as natural as breathing.

For 85 minutes, she owned the stage, dressed to work, in black tights with tuxedo rhinestone striping and a dazzling orange silk blouse with glimmering buttons and cuffs. Basic, simple, perfect. This woman comes with all the equipment to perform, entertain and break your heart. She’s a master storyteller with impeccable timing and the voice shows up for her song after song, from show after show, exhibiting range and colors and nuancing that engage the audience at every turn. The star, of course, is the daughter of showbiz royalty, but she doesn’t rely on that one bit and has her own stories to tell, and they are mesmerizing.

Lucie Arnaz has had an extraordinary life and career and judging by what was on display, last night, I imagine, as Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh wrote, “The Best Is Yet To Come.” Lucie wrote and directed herself in this show, which opened the Birdland Theater years ago, but it has been fully fleshed out and brought to vivid life. Sharing the stage with her is what appears to be a musical soulmate in her Musical Director, Arranger and “Acting Partner,” Ron Abel, whose hands gave Ms. Arnaz her orchestra.

During the evening we were treated to a story of her audition (in a theatre) for THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG. During the audition, Neil Simon walked onto the stage and told her she was a breath of fresh air. She later “got the job.” Last night, she also stole our hearts and, now, we’re helpless and LOVE LUCIE.

LUCIE ARNAZ

LUCIE ARNAZ

RON ABEL

54 BELOW

LUCIE ARNAZ

RON ABEL & LUCIE ARNAZ

54 BELOW

MACRON PRICKETT

54 BELOW

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