Two Composer Showcases, April 11th and 12th!

#1: APRIL 11th: I will be singing backup to Bill Zeffiro’s piece “The Road to Ruin,” along with Summer Broyhill, to Jennifer Wren’s lead vocals! But see the lineup of headline singers – MARNIE NIXON! Wow!

THE NEW YORK SHEET MUSIC SOCIETY presents the 8th Annual New Songwriter Series, produced by Board member Sandi Durell. It will take place on Saturday, April 11th at Musicians Union Hall, 322 West 48th Street, NYC, program beginning at 1:45 p.m. It is free to members. There is a $10 admission for non-members.

Scheduled to participate and present new works are: David Caldwell, David Conforte, Hector Coris, Alyce Finell, Annie Lebeaux, Peter Napolitano/Mark Janas/Matthew Ward, June Rachelson-Ospa/Kezia Hirsey, Brad Ross, Bill Zeffiro.

Singers scheduled to perform include:

Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano, Marni Nixon, Kevin Reed, Trisha Rapier, Julie Reyburn, Sandi Durell/Trudi Mann/Donna Trinkoff, Gabrielle Visser and other surprise performers. Tracy Stark will accompany some of the artists.

The NYSMS mission is to keep the Great American Songbook alive and well, which it has been doing since 1980. The Songwriter Series is designed to introduce the next generation of music in the continuation of The Great American Songbook. The NYSMS meets the second Saturday of every month between October and June with sheet music trading from 12:30-1:45 pm, prior to performance beginning at 1:45 pm.

Linda Amiel Burns is President of the NYSMS.

For further information for the Songwriter program: 917 270-5599 or email: srdurell@aol.com

www.nysms.org

#2 APRIL 12th: Dream-Makers and Heart-Breakers: Composers You Should Know.
I will be singing a duet with friend/composer Brian Allan Hobbs on one of his original pieces this night! General Admission: $19.


Dream-Makers and Heart-Breakers: Composers You Should Know

Sunday, April 12 at 7pm TICKETS

This evening features new musical theater compositions of…

Drew Fornarola and Scott Elmegreen (College: The Musical)
Lance Horne (Flight)
Brian Allan Hobbs (Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor)
Julianne Davis (Wood)
Adam Perlman and Margaux Stephanie Reynolds (iLOVE))
Todd Almond (People Like Us)

at The Connelly Theatre
220 E. 4th Street between Avenues A & B
New York, New York 10009
F Train to 2nd Avenue

www.transportgroup.org

A Wonderful Birthday Week!

Had to throw in a post about the marvelous time(s) I had this week, partly due to my first Birthday in New York, and partly due to the visitation of Pete’s in-laws (or two out of the four). My Birthday was the 24th; Pete & I celebrated that Tuesday evening with a sushi feast (we hadn’t really had one since first coming to NY last year). Mmmm…nothing like good unagi! We went to a place called Marumi near the NYU campus. Really good sushi at very decent prices.

Wednesday night was the first double-treat by the in-laws, Bill and Janet. They always take a trip to New York each year with their friends Bud and Judy and go to as many good restaurants and Broadway shows as possible. Thus, they were able to treat Pete and I to a few delicious and theatrical splurges this week. On Monday night they had already taken us to Gallagher’s Steak House right near their hotel, where I ate a steak the size of a frizbee. On Wednesday night, the treats were the famous Sardi’s Restaurant coupled with the show August: Osage County. Sardi’s was really great, and I of course loved the decor of theater star caricatures.


Clockwise from top left: me & glass of wine, Bill looking a bit perturbed,
Pete looking surprised, Sutton Foster’s caricature.

August: Osage County was fantastic, but painfully so. It seemed a soap opera script of a story, but so well done that one cannot help but be reminded that such family structures, lies, and hidden pain does exist in the world. The dialogue was witty, and all the acting was spot on. The audience was indeed enthralled with the ins and outs and twists and turns of the plot and reveals. It’s not the type of story for everyone, but more than a few gasps and groans came from the audience as more and more of this family’s history was cracked open for us to see. Pete actually bought a signed script (the money and all donations collected at the door went to Broadway Cares: Equity Fights Aids). Walking out of the theater, I remarked that the play certainly made me feel a hell of a lot better about any problems my family might be having. Although the show is “wonderfully painful” to watch, it certainly gives one pause for re-appreciating one’s own familial situation. After August, we went back to Sardi’s for a Bill & Janet tradition: dessert and Apricot Sours (a Sardi’s original).

Thursday night, after my day of work, Pete and I relaxed a bit, then jumped online and on mic to record a podcast of www.check12check12.com, hosted by CK. It was a lot of fun, and gave Pete & I an excuse just to hang out and talk with online friends. CK edited about 3 hours of talk into 2 hours of talk! Find this night’s episode, #84, here…and you can find our previous episode, #82, here.

Friday night was incredibly fun. We all once again went out to dinner, this time at Patsy’s, one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite Italian restaurants in New York. While at dinner, Janet regaled us with their afternoon adventure, where they saw Tony Bennett sit at a table near them during Brunch. (Damn, and all I’ve seen is Lewis Black walking down the street in Hell’s Kitchen!)

The after-dinner show was the Tony-award winning In The Heights, a show I had been wanting to see for ages. I was particularly excited to see it because Javier Muñoz, who had understudied the role of Usnavi for ages and who had done the staged reading of Runway 69 with me last year, had taken over the role a month ago. It’s so thrilling to see a guy you work with take the stage over in a Broadway show. And he was fantastic…the show brilliant…and made me appreciate my new home of Washington Heights all the more. In fact, the setting is placed on the street near 181st street on the A train…my stop is one more north of this one. I’m glad I got more acquainted with the area before seeing the show; there were a lot of references to places, concepts and jokes that I might not have gotten had I seen the show right after moving. I got the line about the 9 train not running anymore, and I instantly recognized the huge Washington Bridge rising behind the set. The soundtrack is really pulsing, both theatrical and incredibly down to earth, the lyrics heartfelt, and the characters both funny and real. I really appreciated this show for the mere fact that there are NO villains in it, no “bad” people, no one person trying to destroy the other. Everyone had individual desires and purpose; it was more about the struggle to converse with one’s own inner demons and trying to fit in with other people’s expectations of the world and within the confines of society at large that created the conflict of the show. There were latin stereotypes, to be sure, but no one had a hidden agenda that made him or her an “unbelievable” character. It was refreshing to want to root for everyone on stage, and to not be faced by ugly, stereotypical villains commonly seen on the “New York street scenes” of theater and film.

After the show, I was able to take Pete, Janet and Bill backstage to meet Javier! We literally walked across the stage – my first time on a Broadway stage! Pete pointed out – and meet Javier in his dressing room. He is such a sweetheart, and he projects positive energy and grace. He was just getting used to the dressing room and was still in the midst of arranging himself within it, but was so thrilled by his new situation.


Top: Javier Munoz and myself. Bottom: the set of In the Heights and audience

On Saturday the 28th, I had a group Birthday dinner. I originally wanted to go to Cowgirl, but they were fully overbooked. I then went with John’s Pizzeria near Times Square. Food was good, beer was good, friends came and went throughout the evening. Jay the Pal also joined in, and got rambunctious with the ladies, too! Problems included waiting 1 1/2 hours for a table (although I was waiting to get a spot way before guests arrive) and the room itself was quite loud and hard to talk through. Next year, I’ll find someplace quiet and intimate for my group. For dessert, we enjoyed Pinkberry, which was right around the corner. Tried the Pomegranate flavor and was ridiculed by friend Rodrigo (who prefers Red Mango to Pinkberry).


Top Left: Myself and a stern-looking Gabe. Top Right: Myself and Pinkberry, my other love. Bottom: Becca and new pal Jay!


Okay…whew…we got to Saturday. SUNDAY I split between a convention, rehearsal, performance, and dessert:

First up was The Film, Stage & Showbiz Expo, a yearly convention for a huge number of events, panels, classes, exhibitors, and free stuff. I had signed up for the Los Angeles one but couldn’t at the time, and I signed up for the New York version with every intent not to miss it. So, I went for an hour and a half – meeting up with my friend Mark – and did a quick walkthru, collecting brochures, informative postcards, and signing up for raffles (haven’t won anything yet). In the interest of being a team player for the entertainment industry, here’s some URL’s of companies I will look into for possible career aid/help/marketing material (however, I do not endorse them as viable products…this remains to be seen!):

So, after the Showbiz Expo, I went to my first rehearsal for “Ruddigore,” met the cast for the first time as well as my co-star puppet, Mathilda. Afterwards, I ran over to the Algonquin Salon to sing for my in-laws, who had gone there ahead of time with Pete to enjoy the open mic for the first time. As they are big Sondheim fans, I sang “Children will Listen” from Into the Woods. Pete recorded it; I will blog about it and post it HERE soon.

Afterwards, we went to Carnegie Deli for basically a really late dinner/early dessert. I had the strawberry cheesecake, and we went home with leftover pastrami sandwich and potato latkes. We love leftovers from really good restaurants! Bill and Janet left the following morning, back to Palo Alto, and Pete & I were left with a pretty regular schedule (plus rehearsals) for the week.

Above: the massive strawberry cheesecake, with Pete’s thumb for scale. Had to take 1/2 home in a doggie box!


Thanks go to Bill & Janet for a marvelous series of
restaurants and shows this past week!

BOOKED: “Ruddigore” at the Theater Ten Ten

April 24 – May 24, 2009
RUDIGGORE, or THE WITCHES CURSE!
by Gilbert & Sullivan
Directed by David Fuller

I just booked my first “on stage and scripted” (and memorized, and acted, and…) production in New York! It’s on a modest stage, but with a hearty and solid theater company called Theater Ten Ten (http://www.theater1010.com/): “Founded in 1955, Theater Ten Ten, New York City’s longest continuously operating Equity Off-Off Broadway Theater.”

The show, “Ruddigore,” is one of Gilbert and Sullivan’s lesser-known pieces, but the reinterperetation behind this version is indeed quite interesting (members and staff of a sanitarium produces “Ruddigore” as an annual musical – “this” year is the 102nd or so – so actors are playing mental patients who are, in turn, playing G&S’s characters).

The thing that truly caught my attention was that there will be PUPPETS utilized in the show, and I will be playing one character who practically relies on her puppet. I’ll be playing the “bridesmaid” Ruth, who is “played by” a mental patient who only feels comfortable communicating through a hand puppet. So, technically I’ll be playing two people, yet three “characters.” In other words, it will be an actress (me) playing a character (the mental patient) who needs a puppet (the puppet Mathilda – in above picture) in order to perform the character of Ruth the Bridesmaid (original G&S creation). There are so many layers, and I’ll just have to find out what makes logical sense to the character and have some fun with the G&S libretto.

Tickets:
Ruddigore credit card purchases at 212-352-3101 or 1-866-811-4111 or at www.theatermania.com Cash only at the door reservations at: 212-288-3246 x300 (24 hour hotline)

Kay the Muppet at the Algonquin Salon! Feb 22, 2009

SOUNDS OF THE SUBWAY SESSION #2:

February 22, 2009:

Wall St 2/3 Train and the Funk Guitar


March 05, 2009:

Church Organ at 1010 Park Avenue Church 1
-a gentleman was rehearsing at this amazing church organ while we were awaiting an audition slot. It was inspirational…for a new Dracula movie!

Church Organ at 1010 Park Avenue Church 2

Sierra

Blast from the Past – UCLA’s Musical Theater Workshop and Carol Burnett presents “Once Upon a Mattress”

I’m in there…in pink with two cones coming out of my hat, standing to the left of Maria Eberline, who played Fred. I played the castle wench who was always being chased by the king. Ah memories…

Just updated: Video of “Whatever Happened To My Part? (Diva’s Lament)”

Check out this former post for newly updated video:

Composer Showcase : Jay Alan Zimmerman, “Broadway’s Beethoven”

March 5, 2009
Sierra sang at the Bigh Night Out’s Composer Showcase of Jay Alan Zimmerman, who has been christened “Broadway’s Beethoven.” He discussed composing both pre- and post- deafness and presented highlights from past, present, and future projects. For information, visit www.jayalanzimmerman.com.

“Strange Fruit” a Fantastic Experience this Past Weekend!

This weekend was the end of a week-long rehearsal process for “Strange Fruit,” culminating in two staged readings and creating what can only be described as an amazing experience for myself. I always dabbled in opera – did the aria “vienni t’affretta” from Verdi’s “Macbetto” in “Master Class,” and did Edith in “The Pirates of Penzance.” This time, I was watching the creative process of some fantastic singers from the Opera world directly, and becoming both inspired and incredibly humbled by their work. There was a great turnout by audience members both performances (Friday night and Sunday afternoon), including heads of opera theater owners and opera directors as well. I’m almost glad I found out about them AFTER the readings for my own heart’s sake.


With Matthew Kreger, who played double roles in the show. He also happens to be quite tall!

Gorgeous Janinah Burnett (Nonnie) and Heather Hill (Dessie), voices to die for!


With Conductor Stephen Gross (upper left), Composer Chandler Carter (upper right), and Librettist Joan Ross Sorkin (lower center).

And then, I come out of a Subway station on Tuesday morning to get a voicemail message from my Mom, who opened her copy of The New York times in her living room in Oakland, California, to see an article in the Arts section about “Strange Fruit” entitled “Interracial Love in 1920, Evoking Modern Blues” by Anthony Tommasini. And there’s a picture of the cast doing the reading – with a tiny blob that she was instantly able to recognize as me! I’m in the middle row, all the way towards the right. Hey ma! I’m in the Times!!!!

SOUNDS OF THE SUBWAY SESSION #1:

as a fan of fellow artistes and a fan in general of sounds and sound design, I’m going to begin a little collective project – that is, as I hear interesting sounds in the subway (musicians, the train, someone talking, me rehearsing something under my breath, the odd insane person yelling at the wall, etc), I will turn on the iTalk function of my iPhone and record a bit of it. I’ll just post an .mp3 for your listening pleasure. Don’t expect to be blown away by the audio – it’s just me offering up and sharing a bit of my New York Subway experience with you.

I will try to post the name of the group/artist if I capture their music – and will include any links I might glean from them if I record their work.

-Sierra

February 22, 2009:

The Jazz Collective at 59th St Station, D Train Part 1

The Jazz Collective at 59th St Station, and me getting on the D Train, Part 2

February 28, 2009:

Sax Player on 7th Avenue D station

Funky “Atari” sounding door chime on the 1 Train (hard to hear)

Sierra