Monday, May 26, 2008

Vitello's Green Room - Red Hot!

I finally got a chance to attend a typical Saturday night in the open mike-style Green Room of Vitello's on Saturday, May 24 with steady attendee Marge (she goes Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays - what a loyal devotee!) and her friend Don Pruitt, who is spreading his wings as a cabaret singer. In the past, at Sterling's Upstairs, I could hear the operatic voices from below, sometimes to the dismay of the singer onstage. What a fun-filled evening it turned out to be! Don loves to try out new material and I have to admire his audacity. He's into pop and most of those singing are highbrow with lots of opera experience. Don held his own with upbeat arrangements of "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Moon River". He was having a ball and made us feel good too! I've promised to join him at Open Mic at the Gardenia one of these weeks, as I must sing again outside of my shower stall! Danny Guerrero is at piano on Saturdays only and what a treat! - he's a terrific accompanist - and his wife Norma also performs. She's a soprano, with arias her strongest suit. Lawyer by day Randy Garrou is really a legit tenor and his friend Mario Starache is another virtuoso tenor: they did a dueling duet that was dynamic - and 90 year-old Dominick Zuneri was a marvel with his crowd-pleasing "O Solo Mio". Bravissimo and God Bless! I hope I look half as good at 90, if I make it!?
Catherine Guard offered a wonderful "Lush Life" by Billy Strayhorn as well as an aria - she has great potential! and regular Chris Taylor sang several pop songs with a nicely tuned intimate flair, including the enjoyable "The Air that I Breathe".
It's one-of-a-kind open mike cabaret! It's Italian, it's opera - sometimes intense, but casual, it's virtuoso singing, it's dinner and drinkies while you listen, it's Famiglia!!!!!!!!!!!! Go!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Brava Patti!

Photo credit: Peter James Zielinski
My greatest desire is to see Patti Lupone win a second Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Gypsy. Even though I have not seen her in the role of Mama Rose (at least not yet!), it is so right for her and she cannot be anything but sensational. I thought Tyne Daly acted the hell out of it and I'm sure Patti Lupone sings it better than La Merman herself! She claims to be the oldest Mama Rose to date, and Daly was the youngest, at the time she did it. Again, we see, that age has nothing to do with brilliance. Will look forward to the newest cast recording of this Gypsy - out in August - that includes several never before recorded songs, that were axed from the original score before the show opened with Miss Merman. Brava!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Being Jake Unterweger

It was a rare treat to see actor John Malkovich live onstage in a unique multimedia production entitled Seduction and Despair as Austrian serial killer Jake Unterweger this past Sunday, May 4 in Santa Monica (played 2 performances only Sat & Sun). Despair was part of the Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra season. Malkovich delivered yet another deliciously 'icy calm' portrayal, this time of the true-to-life madman/journalist/poet who helped LA police track down murder suspects in the red light district in 1990, as he - without their suspicions - continued his killing spree, by strangling 3 prostitutes with their bras. Malkovich tintillated, shocked and thoroughly engaged the packed houses, as he reenacted, among other things, the crimes. At one point the ever playful actor picked up a flower, and it was amazing fun to witness the dozen or so different things that he did with it over the coarse of a scene. The orchestra under the baton of Martin Haselbock, was magnificent and the two sopranos - Celine Ricci and Robin Johannsen - simply divine! Mr. M directed as well as starred and if he stages the piece again (and I am sure that he will-most likely in New York) don't miss it!