I’m in the Top 10 of MetroStar!

After Round 1 in the Top 18 (I sang “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” from White Christmas, with Bill Zeffiro at the piano), I have been chosen to be in the Top 10 in the 2012 MetroStar Talent Challenge.

The next evening, which will also include audience participatory votes, will be August 6th at 7pm. The full list of singers (in alphabetical order) is: Altovise, Jodi Beck, Elisabeth Cernadas, Lianne Marie Dobbs, Tommy Dose, Eva Kantor, Nikki MacCullom, Jason McCullom, Sierra Rein, and Billie Roe.

The 2012 MetroStar Talent Challenge, the fifth annual edition, takes place on seven consecutive Mondays from July 9 to August 20. All shows are all at 7pm; the cover charge for all shows is $20, with a two-drink minimum (repeat audience members $15). Reservations HIGHLY recommended. Hailed as “the best of New York’s smaller clubs” by The New York Times, the Nightlife, MAC and Bistro Award-winning Metropolitan Room is located at 34 West 22nd Street. For reservations call 212/206-0440 or to order online visit www.metropolitanroom.com

NiteLifeExchange.com Coverage of MetroStar Continues

Danielle Miceli has been documenting the MetroStar Challenge since the first night, and will continue to do so until the winner is announced on August 20th! Coverage of the 3rd Preliminary Round and the announcement of the Top 18 can be read here.


I’m in the Top 18 of the MetroStar Talent Challenge! Join me July 30th, 7pm

I’ve passed the Preliminary round, and am now in the Top 18 of the MetroStar Talent Challange! Come join me on July 30th at 7pm to hear all the great performers, hear what the judges have to say about each of them, and VOTE yourself on your favorites…hopefully I’ll be one of ’em! Your support is immensely appreciated. The full list of performers can be found here.

More info: The 2012 MetroStar Talent Challenge, the fifth annual edition, takes place on seven consecutive Mondays from July 9 to August 20. All shows are all at 7pm; the cover charge for all shows is $20, with a two-drink minimum. Returning attendees get in for $15 plus two-drink minimum!!! Hailed as “the best of New York’s smaller clubs” by The New York Times, the Nightlife, MAC and Bistro Award-winning Metropolitan Room is located at 34 West 22nd Street. For reservations call 212/206-0440 or to order online visit www.metropolitanroom.com

Press: Marquee Five sings at The Concert for City Greens August 1st

Marquee Five sings at The Concert for City Greens August 1st

From Producer Raissa Katona Bennett:

Wow – we have big news for the August 1st Concerts for City Greens – our third concert of the season is a tribute to the music of rock ‘n roll legend, Neil Sedaka, with an appearance by the man himself!!!

You’d better come early and bring your own chair on: Wednesday August 1 at 6:30pm at Tudor City Greens. (Rain date: Thursday August 2 at 6:30pm.) Paying tribute to the Brooklyn-born hit maker “Love Will Keep Us Together – the Songs of Neil Sedaka” stars the ASCAP Award-winning singer-songwriter Jim Van Slyke, the MAC-winning harmony group Marquee Five, and the actress Carole Demas, co-star of TV’s Magic Garden, and the original Sandy in “Grease.” Also appearing in this special tribute to Sedaka’s six decade-long career will be his niece, newcomer Holland Grossman, who makes her Broadway debut in “Rebecca.”

The Broadway and cabaret veteran Raissa Katona Bennett is the evening’s host and producer. Returning as series regulars are Bennett’s side-kicking drummer — the 4-time MAC & 2-time Bistro Award-winning big band innovator Terese Genecco; the Windham Hill recording artist Sean Harkness on guitar (2012 MAC Recording of the Year), and the composer-pianist Bill Zeffiro. The concert’s featured instrumentalists are David Caldwell, Kenneth Gartman and Ian Herman on piano, and Skip Ward and Matt Scharfglass on bass.

One more of the eight semifinalist songs competing in the Concerts for City Greens song contest receives its concert premiere: the musical theatre writer and actor Will Reynolds performs his “If the World Looked Like You.” The semifinalist tunes, all of which celebrate the different roles green spaces play in the lives of New Yorkers, are being performed throughout the season. The contest’s finalist songs, chosen after the summer, will be showcased at a special gala concert at Feinstein’s at the Loews Regency, in the fall or winter of 2012. (TBA)

Conceived and developed by Raissa Katona Bennett, Concerts for City Greens (formerly The Concerts for Tudor City Greens) is dedicated to exposing diverse audiences of all ages to free, professional live music in city settings, while linking with other community groups and organizations to promote effective dedication to the “greening” of cities. Bennett won the 2010 Bistro and 2011 MAC Award for hosting “The Concerts at Tudor City Greens.”

The series’ current 5th annual season continues September 12 and October 3, both Wednesdays at 6:30pm. Four of this summer’s concerts are being dedicated to the music of four of the song contest judges: Amanda McBroom (May 30), Neil Sedaka (August 1), Ann Hampton Callaway (September 12) and Michael John LaChiusa (October 3). (The other judges are the quadruple-platinum songwriter and Today Show regular David Friedman, and the two-time Emmy Award-winning MTV executive Matthew Parillo). For information visit www.raissakatonabennett.com

The concerts take place at the South Park of Tudor City Greens Park (between 41st & 42nd Streets, and 1st & 2nd Avenues)

Photo: Marquee Five and VOCA People, July 18, 2012

M5 and VP
After opening for the show, making our Off-Broadway debut

Marquee Five Opens for Off-Broadway Hit VOCA PEOPLE

July 18, 2012
Marquee Five opened for the off-Broadway vocal show “VOCA People” as part of the show’s “Be On (Off) Broadway” series, winning an opportunity to sing for this high-energy, out-of-this-world harmony show. VIEW PHOTO

Marquee Five to perform at concert with Special Guest Neil Sedaka

Marquee Five will perform at at the next The Concerts for City Greens event on August 1, 2012. Special guest of the evening will be Grammy winner Neil Sedaka, who will be present to enjoy the festivities! M5 will perform a medley of Sedaka’s earliest hits and a few other choice selections from his amazing repertoire of music, all brand new arrangements from Music Director Adam West Hemming. And we’ll get to meet The Man himself! Maybe he’ll ask us to tour with him…

Information about the show:

The Concerts For City Greens
Featuring: Neil Sedaka, Holland Grossman (“Rebecca”), Marquee Five, Jim Van Slyke, Carole Demas (“Grease”), Raissa Katona Bennett (“The Phantom of the Opera”), Terese Genecco, Sean Harkness, Bill Zeffiro, David Caldwell, Kenneth Gartman, Ian Herman, Skip Ward, and Will Reynolds.

August 1, 2012 (rain date August 2nd – visit raissakatonabennett.com for announcements)
6:30pm start
FREE to the public, but due to the nature of this special guest, seating is limited
Location: The Tudor City Greens, South Park (map)

More information can be found at Playbill.com

If you would like to receive Marquee Five’s newsletter in your mailbox (just as you can my own) visit this link and fill in your information. Monthly emails or select up-to-the-minute announcements from Marquee Five will follow.

My Off-Broadway Debut with Marquee Five – VOCA People July 18th!

To all fans/friends/family and followers of Marquee Five, I'm thrilled to announce our Off-Broadway debut, opening for the hit harmony-filled show "VOCA PEOPLE" NEXT WEEK on July 18th at 7pm! Come see the show, support Marquee Five, and have a music-filled evening. If you've ever been curious to see what this show is all about, July 18th is the night to do it, since you can see the show for HALF PRICE on the night Marquee Five sings by using the special code below. Please book ASAP as shows can sell out, and tell your friends and family members who may want to see the show that they can save too!

Code: VPAMC1211
$39.50 (from $79.50)
Or 212-947-8844
Or 1-800-872-8997
Or mention code at New World Stages Box Office
(340 West 50th street between 8th and 9th ave)

For those who have never seen Voca People, this is a high-energy and hilarious a cappella show about beings from another planet re-interpreting the audience's musical thoughts into fantastic, funny, and thrilling harmonies. The group has been on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, has toured with Sting, and has many International productions. Head over to www.vocapeoplenyc.com for more information.

Emerging Social Networking/Finance Apps and Theater/Cabaret Inclusion

Okay, okay, I’ll admit it – if I see any of the above logos plastered to the front door of a restaurant, I will pause and take a closer look. You see, I’m a sucker for social applications that provide financial ease, perks, discounts, rewards, “punch-card” freebies, anything that will make my pocketbook sing and my interest in trying something new get fired up. I’m an actress/singer – I have had to find the odd cheap meal between auditions or en route to rehearsal, and all these logos catch my “save a buck” eye.  I signed up for LevelUp and Foursquare many months ago, but I was just introduced to Loyal Blocks yesterday, and Social Passport today. I downloaded them simply to check them out and see how I can use them to their full potential…and I’m not the only one of my generation (and younger) to do so, and I had a few thoughts on these emerging social media applications and how it may apply to Cabaret and Theater marketing.

For those who have yet to see these stickers, which are quite common here in New York City, there have been many times where I’ve walked into a brand new eatery just because I saw the “LevelUp” logo.  LevelUp uses a QR code connected to your credit/ATM card to pay for your meals, and you are rewarded twofold: 1. your first visit has a $1-$3 discount automatically, and 2. spend a certain amount, and you’ll get $5-$10, or whatever, off the meal after that. Other android, iPhone/iPad, and mobile-savvy applications offer virtual punchcards (buy 10, get the 11th free), ease of posting to Facebook and Twitter (can we say “Hello, free word-of-mouth advertising”?) and specials-of-the-week to claim the next time you happen by.

I’m gushing about this because I feel that some areas of New York commerce could benefit from this new way of transacting money and encouraging incoming foot traffic/customers…specifically, those of Theater and Cabaret/live music. First of all, these social media applications are more likely to be in the hands of the younger generation, a group that theater and cabaret venues have difficulties reaching and attracting. Secondly, a venue would do more business getting 10 more people through their doors on a “10th visit gets you a waived two-drink minimum” promise, and would not lose much giving some things away for free each time. Plus, with the advent of social networking sites/apps like Foursquare or Social Passport, checking in on a venue instantly brings about a real-time “hipness” to a venue previously considered a hangout for the older crowd.

There are other possibilities: Theater groups can offer discounts to tickets if you share their event on social media, or $5 off company/show t-shirts and merchandise/CDs. Punch your card in for each ticket purchases of 4 shows of the season, and get the 5th and last ticket of the season for free.

The point is not to give away things for free willy-nilly. The point is to attract young, enthusiastic, loyal, passionate people into one’s business and provide incentives to come back again and again. I know many people claim attending the many small-venue venues that charge a “cover and 2-drink minimum” is a burden to their pocketbook. But what if they got to waive the the two-drink minimum after 5 visits? This may prove to be a boost in sales, visits, and – ultimately – audience attendance.

Have a thought about this? Email me your reaction, and I may include your thoughts in a future blog entry on this subject.

(Why did I post this blog entry, you ask?  I’m channeling my inner Ken Davenport here, if anyone wanted to know my inspiration.)

“Cautiously Optimistic” – the songs of Scott Evan Davis in Asbury Park

July 8, 2012
Sierra sings in composer Scott Evan Davis’ show “Cautiously Optimistic,” July 8th, 7pm – a concert of his music by the water at Tim Mcloons Supper Club in Asbury Park, NJ.