Some inspiration for the weekend from other blogs…

Sierra here, taking a much-needed break and writing about some inspiring words from others I recently came across in my Internet journeys…

I just discovered Jon Rubenstein’s blog “Adventures in Compassion” – read this entry here about casting director Mark Bennett’s thoughts about compassion in the creative business. Michael Kostroff (actor, audition seminar teacher) sent it to me via Excerpt here:

“We all come into this world innocent, full of hope. As long as babies’ basic needs are met, they are happy. That’s why young children are such good actors – they have come not to impress or to achieve, but to play. Then that innocence gets drilled out of us and we spend years trying to get it back; as Sainte-Beuve said, “There exists in most men a poet who died young, whom the man survived.” But we still all have the desire to tap into our innate creativity, to experience that moment of transcendence in which we are most creative, and most generous. William Blake called this mysterious power the Imagination, and he said it was God.”

Whether or not we believe in God, there is that energy and momentum that comes out of creativity; even at the most tired, I always have the energy to sing, to perform. Anyway, read the rest of the blog entry, it’s really understanding and thoughtful about how we as performers and creative entities need to treat each other with compassion rather than cutthroat jealousy.

A second wonderful blog entry I recently read was from that of Michael Roderick’s wonderful Producing blog One Producer In the City – I read his blog entries in my inbox practically every day. I may not be a Producer in title, but as an actor who should self-produce and understand the producing world’s ups and downs, I feel this is an important blog to read (I also keep up with Ken Davenport’s The Producer’s Perspective in my inbox and Google Reader as well).

In this entry at One Producer in the City, Roderick talks about the ways and means to navigate between two friends who don’t see eye to eye, and compares it to the issues a Producer may have to face when dealing with all the creative people on his team. I was struck at how each action is good for ANY relationship, whether one feels stuck in the middle of a conflict or not. Excerpt here:

“4. Make suggestions with them in mind- Once someone has communicated a frustration, think through what might be a potential solution and present it as something that will help them. For example ‘________ I completely understand where you are coming from and it seems that perhaps the easiest thing to do is to try it this way. If ___________ is still upset, we can revisit it and find out why’ “

Read these blog entries, check out the other entries of the above blogs, and look forward to treating everyone with compassion, respect and open minds.


Sierra Rein “I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing” – William James

Some Great Upcoming Performances by Friends!

This text completely stolen from the newsletter – become a member & sign up for weekly and special emails filled with Cabaret news!

Broadway Voices, the small ensemble of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, presents their new show, celebrating the Tony-Award winning composer of In Trousers, Falsettos, Elegies: A Song Cycle, A New Brain and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at THE WEST BANK CAFE/LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATER (407 West 42nd Street, NYC – 212-695-6909 – ) on Sunday, May 2nd at 1:00 & 4:00 pm and Monday, May 3rd at 9:30 pm. This season, Broadway Voices features the talents of Dan Baillie, Ben Coleman,
Michael Connolly, Tim Howard, Sonelius Kendrick Smith, Michael Morisi, Jim Vivyan, Seth Watsky, TJ Witham and Phil Zipkin, under the artistic and musical direction of Adam West Hemming. In What More Can I Say?, Broadway Voices present their own gay twist on the William Finn Songbook. All proceeds will benefit the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, a two-hundred voiced chorus with over thirty years of history of innovative programming, and service to the LGBT community. There is a $20 cover plus a 2-drink minimum.

They came to sing at The Salon on April 25th, and blew me away…and see who musically directed them? Yup, it’s Marquee Five’s own Adam West Hemming (tenor, musical director, arranger!).

MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets) has announced the nominees for the The 24th Annual MAC Awards which will be held Tuesday, May 4th at 7:30 PM at BB KING’S BLUES CLUB (237 West 42nd Street, NYC – 212-997-4144 – ). Tony nominee Sharon McNight (Starmites) will host the annual awards ceremony, which will also feature the presentations of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams (Hallelujah, Baby!) and Board of Directors Awards to Peter Leavy (the creator of Cabaret Scenes magazine) and Board of Directors Awards are given to “people, organizations or publications that have shown extraordinary support to the cabaret community.” The event will be directed by Lennie Watts, with musical direction by Tracy Stark. Julie Miller produces. Tickets may be ordered online at .

Marquee Five is a nominee for best Vocal Duo/Group, and will be there to cheer all the nominees and winners on. Come join if you can!

Maureen Taylor brings back her acclaimed new show TAYLOR MADE: BOB MERRILL to THE METROPOLITAN ROOM (34 West 22nd Street, NYC – 212-206-0440 – for one final performance in 2010: On Saturday, May 15th at 5:00 pm. TAYLOR MADE celebrates the “extraordinary” Bob Merrill who wrote songs from “How Much Is That Doggie In the Window” to “People”. Taylor presents songs from musicals such as BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, THE PRINCE OF GRAND STREET, HANNAH 1939, PRETTYBELLE, NEW GIRL IN TOWN, TAKE ME ALONG, SUGAR,THE RED SHOES, HENRY, SWEET HENRY and FUNNY GIRL. Specialty material for films, television shows and for singers including: Doris Day, Sarah Vaughan, Eartha Kitt and Patti Page is also highlighted. Bob Merrill’s vast amount of work spans the simple to the sublime, with numerous chart hits, novelty songs, a Tony Award, and Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. The show is directed by MAC Award winner Peter Napolitano, with musical direction by Matt Castle, and accompanied by Joe Brent on guitar, mandolin and violin. There is a $10 cover plus a 2-drink


Sierra Rein
“I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing” – William James

Three New Performances April 24th, April 25th and April 29th!

See me sing in three separate end-of-April performances!

1. April 24th, 10pm – my sister singer/songwriter Lisa Rein makes her New York debut at The Duplex (61 Christopher Street). It will be an hour of her original songs, performed with George Kelly with backup vocals by myself. The Facebook event is here for updates, and you can click here for reservations. $10 cover + 2-drink minimum.

2. April 25th, 7-10:00pm I’ll be singing with Marquee Five as a Special Guest of The Salon hosted by Mark Janas. This Bistro Award-winning, MAC Award-nominated open mic is one of my haunts each Sunday night (and I blog for them over at The theme of the evening is “It Takes Two (or More) to Tango…Ensemble Songs,” and it is hosted by a cappella quartet Voce. The evening is going to be FILLED with harmony, duets, trios, as well as solos and if you want to bring your own sheet music (or ask Mark Janas if he knows a standard), you can sing as well! Get there as soon as the signup starts at 6:30pm, I have a feeling it’ll be crowded. You can read about the event on Facebook here, check out the blog, and here are the vitals:

7-10pm April 25th, Sunday
at Etcetera Etc Restaurant
352 West 44th Street
(b/w 8th and 9th Ave. on the South side of the street)
$10 cover plus $10 food and/or drink minimum.
And don’t forget to tip the wonderful waitstaff!

3. April 29th, 8pm – I will be singing as part of The Cellar Door Series, and underground cabaret at The Borcalino Room at Flute Grammercy (40 E. 20th St.). You can buy tickets and find more information here. There is a two-drink minimum. I’ll be on the same ticket with Julie Reyburn, Erin Cronican, Lianne Marie Dobbs, Martina Vidmar, and Allissa Crea. The wonderful composer/pianist William Zeffiro will host and play for the evening, which is part of a monthly (ie. the last Thursday) showcase of great talent. The facebook event can be found here.

Hope to see you at any or all these events!


Sierra Rein
“I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing” – William James

In-Laws in Town – Broadway, Good Eats, Auditions & Callbacks.

I’m going to try to be brief with yet another MEGABLOG entry of my last week’s exploits. My husband (Pete) and I were wined, dined, and entertained by my in-laws (Pete’s father Bill and step-mother Janet). Bill is a huge musical theater fan, and has more CD’s of original cast albums and more archived Playbills than I!

On Sunday the 11th, after teaching drama at All Soul’s Church, I met Pete, Bill and Janet to see “Sondheim on Sondheim.” This musical review is different from the previous “Putting It Together,” in that big flatscreen televisions (placed together to form movable yet easily watchable screens) show video of interviews and photographs of Sondheim, accompanied by Monty-Python-esque animations. The effect is a Musicology 101 on Sondheim. Some well known music is rearranged, some obscure “cut” music is given new life, and some classic Sondheim works are connected with Sondheim’s own personal history (although he claimed only Merrily We Roll Along was autobiographical in any way). All the performers are great – although Tom Wolpat lacked the gravitas for Sweeney Todd. There were some odd choices in staging (running up and down the set during one number seemed filler), but the general “let’s just learn about Sondheim’s music” was fulfilled. I was particularly brought to tears by Norm Lewis’ rendition of “Being Alive” (Pete can attest to the rivulets of tears pouring down my face) and I LOVED that they sang two songs from Assassins (which Sondheim claimed as the show he wouldn’t change a thing of). There were also some songs I wasn’t familiar with and would like to work on myself – the lyrics to “Good Thing Going” hit me as a song I’d like to sing. After “SonS,” we went out for a sushi dinner, and then we parted ways (the In-Laws to go see another show, and myself to The Salon – read about that event here).

On Monday the 12th, I went to an Equity Chorus Call for The Sound of Music for Atlanta’s Theater Under the Stars. They asked me in the room to come back the next day for a callback (yay!). The next day, Tuesday, the callback prevented me from traveling with the In-Laws to the Cloisters for a visit, but they understood. That night, I took part in two back-to-back online seminars via my computer (it’s getting handier and handier to get information nowadays). The first was one for – I’m signed up with them as a first-tier member (my member profile here), but want to become a fully-fledged member so I can accept tax-deductible donations for my artistic work (there’s a modest yearly membership price) as an Artistic Entrepreneur. Check out FA online – they seem to be one of the best pro-arts financially-minded non-profit organizations, and I have been recommended by several friends to become a part of it. The second seminar was by Miata Edoga of I’m *good* with my money, but I’m working on being *awesome* with my money (which, as an actor, is always ebbing and flowing). Miata really seemed to come from an honest place of experience in trying to balance her art and money, and comes at the issue of finances from an attitude of power and understanding of the artistic world. Just the notes I took throughout her free 1 1/2 hour seminar were enlightening – she also offers financial step-by-step programs as well. I’m not fully touting her programs as I haven’t taken them, but she seemed to make sense during the free online seminar.

So, Wednesday came around and I was called for a second callback for The Sound of Music (double yay!) for Thursday. In the morning, Pete & I had breakfast with the In-Laws at Norma’s (the eggs florentine was wonderful), then hopped into a cab to go to the SS Normandy exhibit at the Southstreet Seaport Museum. Bill is a big history buff and collector when it comes to classic ocean liner history, so this was a great exhibit to see with him. Made me ache to grab a show on a modern cruise liner, although I think the artists’ bunks are somewhat less extravagant than those on the first-class of the Normandy! Pete & I saw Bill off so he could go see Million Dollar Quartet on Broadway, and then hung around at the Seaport for a bit. We then met my Uncle Steve and Cousin Elena, who are doing the East Coast College Tour of 2010 in preparation to make a choice for her scholastic future. After hanging out with them for a bit, I brought them down to Pearl Studios to sit in on Marquee Five’s last brush-up rehearsal for our final performance of “We Can Make It: The Songs of Kander & Ebb” the next day. I was happy they were at least able to sit in on the rehearsal, as my uncle & cousin had to see Columbia University the next day and get on the road in the afternoon.

Right at 7:30, I dashed from the rehearsal studio to meet up with Pete & the In-Laws to see The Addams Family. Straight out, I knew this was going to be fluffy fun, like the T.V. show – a combination of simple plot, special effects, lights, costumes, macabre puns and singing and dancing. I was more or less right – it’s not going to change the world but it will entertain the out of town tourists. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the amount of puppetry and black-background special effects that were used. One scene involving a floating Uncle Fester dancing with the moon was particularly cute, as was a short scene involving Cousin It dancing with a curtain tassel. All the performances were good – Nathan Lane was perfect as Gomez, the guy who played Lurch stole a couple of scenes, and Bebe Neuwirth was a fine Morticia. If anything, I thought the book and lyrics were stronger (and darker) than the music. The sets and special effects overshined all the performances, though – I don’t think it would be a successful musical without the star names involved, nor do I think it can survive beyond Broadway on tour or regional unless some names and a lot of money are involved. After Addams, we went for traditional after-performance cocktails at Sardi’s Restaurant, although since I hadn’t eaten all evening, I inhaled some salmon.

Thursday brought the second SOM callback in the afternoon (as of this posting I haven’t heard anything back, but who knows!). I met Pete, Bill & Janet at another of their favorite restaurants, Chez Napoleon, to grab some deliciously authentic French cuisine, then left them early to head over to Don’t Tell Mama for Marquee Five’s final performance of our Kander & Ebb review. It went very well, we had a few Press members in the audience, and Bill & Janet loved the show. Pete’s brother, Don, also saw the show with his girlfriend, and afterwards we went 1/2 a block east to try out a beautiful new brasserie and bar on the corner of 8th Ave & 46th called Brasserie Athenee. I had always seen it on the corner, but never had the time to stop in. We had after-show snacks and desserts and cocktails.

Friday was a normal day – although it was World Voice Day! – until the evening, when we saw Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Unfortunately, Angela Lansbury was not performing that week, but I had never seen a full production of the show so it was good to attend “anyway.” I sort of thought the show (which is full of infidelity and unhappy people) lacked bounce (ironically). I got it intellectually, and the story about upper-class people behaving like clowns was clear, but I didn’t really get into it emotionally. The direction seemed darker than it should have been, and one of the performances felt over the top and unbelievable. It reaffirmed my thought that I can play Petra and sing one of the greek chorus members. Zeta-Jones filled the actress-mother role admirably, but I thought that only Alexander Hanson was able to balance being both likable and being a scoundrel in one character well. After the show we had a few moments in the hotel lobby area where the In-Laws were staying, then Pete & I went home and ca-rashed.

Saturday was nice and uneventful until the evening; I met friends Julie Reyburn, Erin Cronican, and Bill Zeffiro for a rehearsal for our upcoming evening together at The Borcalino Room (I’ll blog about this later, too), then met Pete at our friend Keith’s birthday party. On Sunday, after my job teaching drama yet again at All Soul’s Church (woah, it’s been a week!), I met the In-Laws and Pete for one last performance together, this time introducing them to The Salon. The theme of the evening was “Cafe Society,” so I sang two Irving Berlin songs – “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and “It Only Happens When I Dance With You.” You can read about that entire event here.

This upcoming week *seems* uneventful, but it is full of rehearsals and preparations for a busy weekend and following week. I will blog separately about my three upcoming events shortly.

Until then, cheers,

Sierra Rein
“I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing” – William James

New Lineup for the Tudor City Greens Concerts this Summer!

I performed at and quite enjoyed the Tudor City Greens Concerts in the past two years. Now that the weather is warming up, they’re starting again – featuring some great cabaret, Broadway, and club performers! ALL THE SHOWS ARE FREE! Here’s a re-blog of a post from

“What a great month – we were honored with the 2010 Bistro Award for our concert series and garned at 2010 MAC Award nomination as well! Click on the Bistro link to see what great company we’re in with the others being honored (such as Mitzi Gaynor, Alan Cumming and Tovah Feldshu)…
…As if that weren’t enough, just LOOK at the line up we have for our series grand opening on May 5th (6th is rain date) at 6 pm. “Whose Garden Was This” – the Folksinger/songwriters take the park!” Buskin and Batteau, Sean Harkness, (who ROCKED at the Metropolitan Room last night!) Ritt Henn, Mary Liz McNamara, Danny Quinn, and our cabaret newcomer, that singing surgeon songwriter, Dr. Garrett Bennett! These folks kick off The Concerts at Tudor City Greens 2010 season, with our focus this year on different styles, faces and themes.

As usual, a huge THANK YOU to Hector Coris for the gorgeous graphics he created for our new season.

And if you’d like to make a note of the rest of our season dates, here they are:
(rain dates in parenthesis)
June 1st (2nd)
July 6th (7th) matinee at noon – “A Child’s Garden of Verses”
August 3rd (4th)
September 7th (8th)
October 5th (6th) – (possible matinee, depending on weather and light)

More soon – love and light,
“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop”

Kathleen France, Tim Burton, Lego Art, and a Carousel

Last weekend was chock full. On Friday, I caught Kathleen France‘s guest-star-packed-for-charity show “The Book of Love ” at the Metropolitan Room. Proceeds from the ticket cover price went to a literacy program which concentrates on the youth of New York City. The show was fantastic – not only was Kathleen a wonderful, talented and emotionally giving singer, but the guest singers were incredible as well. In attendance to sing their own love-related songs were Terese Genecco, Julie Reyburn, Shaynee Rainbow, and Peter Napolitano (who recited one of his own essays). Tracy Stark music directed and played piano, Sean Harkness played lead guitar, Skip Ward was on bass guitar, and David Silliman was on the drums. Wendy Russell and Joshua Judge provided backup vocals on a number of songs.

Okay, about Kathleen. She has a spritely personality and a wonderful voice, which can sing rock, country, jazz, legit soprano, and all with control. She has a depth of emotion right under the top layer of her skin, and was able to beautifully act her lyrics with honest tears in her eyes. She is also a comedienne, able to flip into a funny lyric quite easily as well as keep the energy of a funny song bright and flowing. I loved her choices of songs, which included some original works as well as covers of 1980’s rock. Her opening number of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” was worth the price of admission in and of itself. Kathleen is self-deprecating yet not the victim. She is rightly nominated for Female Debut in the MAC Awards. ‘Nuff said.

On Saturday, Pete & I stopped by the Agora Gallery in Chelsea, where Nathan Swaya was about to close his free gallery showing of his lego art. His work is incredibly complex, consisting of 3-D figures made entirely of legos. Some were funny and tragic (a man kneels down, holding the stumps of his wrists up, while two “pools” of what used to be lego hands sit below). Others are quite beautiful, a figure of a human body swimming in water, or a gigantic face jutting out from the wall. His website has a lot of great stuff to look at; however, I was happy to have seen some of his work in person to get a sense of how he utilized lego pieces to create his art. His work can be seen at the Agora Gallery until April 13th (this coming Tuesday!), and it’s FREE so go if you have time!

Pete and I then walked the length of the Highline Park, then got on the Subway train to Park Slope, Brooklyn, to celebrate our niece’s 4th birthday at the Carousel. It was cold, but the Carousel brought out the kid in me – it reminded me of the old Tilden Park merry-go-round my mom & dad would take me on in the Oakland hills. The horses and other animals on the Prospect Park carousel were carved in 1912, and in the center was a neat player-piano-style automatic band (which seemed to have been set to the “Italian love song” playlist). But it was a glorious afternoon during which I let my inner goof out:

Look, Ma! I’m blurry and I’m on a Carousel!

So that was Saturday. Sunday was nice and laid back at home during the day, but at night I went to The Salon open mic. I blogged about this evening here, so feel free to read that entry for more info on The Salon that evening – I sang “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart,” a favorite song of my Dad’s.

Monday’s events had been planned ever since last President’s Day weekend, when Pete & I attempted to see the Tim Burton exhibit at MOMA only to realize that we needed to go back to avoid the crowds and absorb everything. We returned to MOMA on Monday, and spent about 3 hours slowly going through all the wonderful sketches. Although I couldn’t take pictures, I did write down notes on my iPhone on some of my favorite pieces. You can see some of his sketches on the official Tim Burton website (I want that “Art of Tim Burton” book, which is 430 pages long! In the meantime, I bought the book that accompanied the MOMA exhibit).

I’ve always liked Tim Burton’s visual style and sense of the comically gothic. Ever since I saw Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!), I enjoyed Burton’s art and unique style. I loved The Nightmare Before Christmas, was fascinated by Ed Wood, Vincent, Edward Scissorhands, and tickled by Mars Attacks and the artistic sentiment behind Big Fish. Although his versions of Planet of the Apes, Batman, Charlie and the Charlie Factory, and the recent Alice in Wonderland don’t thrill me at all (and in fact turned me off as a fan), the big screen adaptation of Sweeney Todd was good and I was entertained by Corpse Bride. In my opinion, Burton fails when attempting to reinterpret someone else’s ideas; he is truly best when he brings his quirky ideas and original stories to the screen instead.

The artwork at MOMA revealed to me just how original Burton’s early work was. I absolutely loved the sketches ripped directly from Burton’s sketchbooks, in particular his creature series and cartoon series (which played on some traditional twists of phrases, like the image of two dogs peering out of the eye sockets of a man as “Seeing eye dogs,” or the loving couple holding each other’s – sawed off – hands). Even the simple outline of a hand with the middle finger saying “I am the only one who can make obscene gestures” made me laugh. He works on themes of monsters, childhood, the grotesque, love, and the often disturbing inner psyche of misanthropes. Skeletons disrobed from their skins, monsters hid behind human masks, and Little Dead Riding Hood scares the Wolf out of the woods. One of my favorite images was captioned “persecution complex,” which featured a miserable creature who was constantly pointed at by multiple hands and fingers…and all the while, the hands emerged from his own body. This theme of being connected to one’s own monster was common throughout his work. Another image portrayed a machine, decorated with familiar mouse-shaped logos, eating colorful unique figures and literally “shitting out” brown boring brown blocks. Burton used to work for Disney…hmmm commentary methinks?!?! The abnormal is always injecting itself into the normal in Burton’s world.

“Never Shoot a Constipated Poodle”

Ahem…’nuff said.

Monday night, I also attended the 2010 MAC Award Nominee Showcase for Song & Special Musical Material.

Oh and if you haven’t seen already, my group Marquee Five is having one last night of “We Can Make It: The Songs of Kander & Ebb” at Don’t Tell Mama April 15, 2010 at 8:30pm. Reservations and more information can be found at the Don’t Tell Mama website as well as


Sierra “I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing” Rein

In Two Weeks: Marquee Five at Don’t Tell Mama with “We Can Make It: The Songs of Kander & Ebb”!

April 15th, 2010 at 8:30pm

Marquee Five returns to Don’t Tell Mama again, only this time as MAC Award Nominees in the “Vocal Duo/Group” category after a successful run of “We Can Make It: The Songs of Kander & Ebb.”

“We Can Make It” is an exhilarating evening of your favorites from Cabaret, Chicago, Flora the Red Menace, The Rink, and more, including stunning new arrangements.

Joining them will be Mark Janas at the piano.
Directed by: Peter Napolitano
Musical Direction: Adam West Hemming

“…the blend of their instruments on tight, five-part harmonies is really something special!…Each vocalist brought their own unique sound and style to the show, yet were able to blend beautifully on the group numbers…a welcome breath of fresh air in the cabaret world to have this type of ensemble show…”
– Jenna Esposito,
Full Article here:

“…sublime harmony.”
– Rob Lester,

“Unbelievable, awesome vocals (and arrangements)…pretty perfect!”
– Stu Hamstra,

Marquee Five, “We Can Make It: The Songs of Kander & Ebb” at Don’t Tell Mama

April 15th, 2010
8:30 pm
Running time: approximately 1 hour.

$17 cover ($12 MAC members/Cabaret Hotline Online/AEA, AFTRA, SAG), 2-drink minimum.

Don’t Tell Mama
343 West 46th Street (Restaurant Row, between 8th and 9th Avenues) in New York City
Near the 42nd and 50th street stops of the A and C trains

Reservations and Information: Call 212-757-0788
After 4:00 PM daily – Open 7 days a week

Online reservations at the Don’t Tell Mama can be made here: