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Cabaret

Part Two: Musical Nirvana With Jason Robert Brown’s at Feinstein’s/54 Below

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Photo credit: Erika Kapin

Before you even forget, go right now and get tickets for the Jason Robert Brown concert at Feinstein’s/54 Below. You can even livestream it at 7pm tonight by clicking here. This is a must for musical theatre lovers as Jason debuts not one new song, but five. The maestro is working on four new musicals!

Here is our review from last night, which we carried on today. Brown’s music is so prolific and his personality charming and engaging. Watching Brown you realize he is a showman besides being a genius songwriter, orchestrator, healer, a generous band leader who writes charts, so that each of his phenomenal nine-piece orchestra, which features Gary Sieger, guitar, Randy Landau, bass, Jamie Eblen, drums, Lisette Santiago, percussion, Tony Kadleck, trumpet, Alison Shearer, alto sax, Ben Kono, tenor and bari sax and Clint Sharman, trombone have a solo and a chance to shine.

Today we are starting with “The Shed Shack,” Jason’s New Orleans sounding blues tribute.

“Invisable”featured guest Anastasia Talley. The song came about when Jason was asked to write a song for a young girl named Josie, in treatment at the Ronald McDonald House. “Josie’s bones grow incorrectly and very weak,” Brown wrote. Brown went to meet Josie and her mom. Over multiple visits, Brown spoke to Josie, got to know her, and took pages and pages of notes—but was unable to find the song in her story. As he exited Josie’s room after his final visit, Josie’s mother told Brown: “She just wants to make sure she’s not invisible.” That was the inspiration Brown needed to write “Invisible,” a pop-rock anthem on his album How We React and How We Recover, released on Ghostlight Records.

From another new show comes “The Western Wall,” For this song strains of Middle East permeate this haunting drum and flute inspired song. The song also has strains of the 60’s and a melodic structure similar to Jesus Christ Superstar. This song comes from The Connector. Brown will join the faculty of Princeton University for the upcoming fall semester as part of the University’s Atelier guest artist program. Brown will workshop The Connector,  with book writer Jonathan Marc Sherman and director Daisy Prince about an aspiring writer who has his first article published by The Connector, a magazine with a storied history. All three artists will be on hand to develop the piece with students over the course of the semester. The musical will receive a large-scale reading/workshop presentation in association with The McCarter Theatre at the conclusion of the semester. Now this was one of the shows I knew about as one of my favorite songs is “Cassandra” from this show.

From Brown’s How We React and How We Recover the salsa driven “Melinda” ended the set, but of course there was an encore.

The last song of the night was the prolific “All Things In Time,” which I leave you with the lyrics.

All things in time.
If not today, if not tomorrow,
Then all things in time –
We can’t predict
What comes to pass.
All we control is how we react
And how we recover.
Something like faith,
Deep in our skin:
Everything in its time.

All things in time –
Some things come quick, some things come easy, But all things will come
Given the chance,
Given the room.
I can’t decide the length of a day,
The depth of an ocean –
I just decide what to explore.
Maybe it’s just wanting it more –
Want it enough,
Let it begin.
Everything in its time.

No way to know –
No guarantees,
Nothing but choices.
Plenty to lose,
Plenty to fear –
Let’s make a deal:
I will be here,
Waiting with you,
Trusting what’s true,
Stumbling blind
But knowing we’ll find
Everything
In its time.

Seeing Jason Robert Brown in concert is to discover joy. His musical stylings run the gamut, but he has his own syncopated beats, infused with blues notes and resolve. It is hard to video because my body is constantly absorbing, dancing and memorizing his musical vocabulary. Brown is a musicians, musicians who heals the world with his profound lyrics. This is a show not to miss.

Jason Robert Brown: Feinstein’s/54 Below. To get tickets go here.

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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