Sierra becomes Disney Main Stage Performer on the Cruise Ship “The Magic”

August 27, 2012
Sierra joined the Disney family in November of 2012 as a Main Stage Performer on the Disney cruise ship Magic, performing as both Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother in “Twice Charmed – An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story” and Ursula the Sea Witch in “Villains Tonight,” amongst other on-board entertainment.

Sierra Rein to Co-Host The Salon on August 26th for “Happy Birthday, Mr. Bernstein” Celebration

August 26, 2012
I’m thrilled to have been invited to co-host the multiple award-winning The Salon, a weekly open performance event hosted by Mark Janas THIS SUNDAY! The theme of the evening is “Happy Birthday, Mr. Bernstein” and will feature songs written by Leonard Bernstein and others associated with the American composer, conductor, lecturer and pianist. Mark Janas was a student and friend of Bernstein, so I’m sure a lot of interesting stories and memories will be told. Etcetera, Etcetera – 352 West 44th Street, NYC 10036 – on Sunday, August 26th from 7-10:30PM. (Sign-Up Begins at 6:15.). There is a $10 cash cover collected at the door and a $15 food/drink minimum (cash or credit) per person. The skirt steak is to DIE for, as well as the salmon, and I highly recommend any of the martinis. Bring your sheet music (bring other titles just to make sure duplicates don’t happen), and be as on theme or off theme as you wish!. More information about The Salon: www.markjanasthesalon.com / www.markjanasthesalon.blogspot.com

Sierra performs in 600-strong Choir at Marvin Hamlisch’s Memorial

August 14, 2012
Sierra was invited by musical director and conductor of Essential Voices USA, Judith Clurmanto, to sing at Marvin Hamlisch’s memorial on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012. It was a star-studded event that concentrated on Marvin’s genius, his love of laughter and humanity, and his music. Read the New York Times article for more about the event.

Kiss the Man Goodbye: Marvin Hamlisch and his Memorial

To anyone in the theater, music, or movie businesses, the passing of Marvin Hamlisch was an earthquake that caused everyone who knows his name to pause in shock. A winner of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, Golden Globe, and Pulitzer awards, Marvin was a gentle giant of composition. It was because of all this that I was humbly thrilled to have been invited by musical director and conductor of Essential Voices USA, Judith Clurman, to sing at his memorial this past Tuesday morning. It was a star-studded event that proved to be less about the people in the temple, but more about Marvin’s genius, his love of laughter and humanity, and his music. Read the New York Times article if you want to know who was there and some of what was said.

I was one of six hundred people who gathered at the Temple Emanu-El on East 66th Street (the same temple that George Gershwin was memorialized in, and I could not help but sense a moment in history, sitting in that space on that morning). We all wore black and had three songs in our binders to rehearse. We rehearsed filing in and out of the guilded and gloriously high-ceilinged inner sanctuary, rehearsed with the conductor and piano, went through a song with Broadway star Idina Menzel, and then took a very quick break. No cell phones or water were allowed when we returned to the sanctuary. When we filed in again, the center was filled with people except for the first two rows. I sat towards the front (about 10 rows back) and on the lefthand side facing the…uh…whatever the Jewish equivalent of the Altar is, near the piano and solo spot, but towards the opposite side of the main speaker’s pulpit.

Hamlich’s casket was up on the main area, bursting in yellow flowers (the top almost completely covered by them). As we waited, we saw that VIPs and family members were arriving. Passing in front of me, I saw President Bill Clinton and Liza Minelli, as well as actress Julie Hagarty from Airplane!. But I knew the place was filled with political, theater, and movie stars, as well as people from around the world who had a personal or professional connection to him and his music. While I’m not a dancer, and never considered A Chorus Line ever to be a part of my repertoire, Marvin Hamlisch’s music has permeated my life and has woven its way into my psyche. Which is why I was so happy that the loving speeches (which made up 3/4 of the hour and a half long memorial) were so terrifically spoken, portraying a wonderful sprite of a man. I was honestly never more entertained by eulogies before! When described, he seemed to rise above the pettiness of everyday life – he was always musical, always trying to help strangers and friends, and had a lust for life and the humor in it. The speeches were touching and hilarious – so many personal jokes were regaled about Marvin and how he made people laugh, and I found the same number of laughs coming out of my mouth as were lumps in my throat. Maybe more, even.

The Rabbi (I unfortunately don’t know his name, but he was a family friend) spoke about the sadness he felt that Marvin was taken before he had the chance to finish the things he had planned for the future. He quoted from Ecclesiastes 9:11: “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” It spoke volumes to me that life cannot be fair, even to someone as hard-working and giving as Hamlisch. The Rabbi also quoted a beautiful poem “After My Death” by Hayyim Nahman Bialik, who wrote of the melodies and songs that would be lost at the event of his own passing. Friends and family members spoke one after the other, including President Bill Clinton and Hamlisch’s wife, Terry.

It was Terry’s eulogy that got us all wrecked. She spoke of how he never said “no” to anyone, was always eager to jump in to any project or good deed, how he kept her laughing by singing an entire musical on their bed late at night, how he loved music and the future of music by teaching students for free, and how he went by “Marvin” and refused to consider himself above anyone else. By that time, we had sung “The Way We Were” in five-part harmony (600 voices, plus those who sang from the main audience), was a stunning thing to hear even from within the wall of sound. We did so full-voiced and proud. However, after Terry spoke and we all watched as she walked to the coffin and placed her hand on it to say goodbye, there couldn’t have been a dry eye or lump-less throat in the audience or the singers. So, we were forced to stand, lift our music up, and sing “What I Did For Love” in quivering tones. I can’t remember the last time it was that hard for me to sing through an emotion, a TRUE emotion and not just “acting” tears. We were able to take a breath and swallow our vocal lumps as Idina sang the verse of “At The Ballet,” then join her a little stronger at the choruses. We all watched as the coffin was carried down the aisle and the family and friends exited after. When we returned to our break room, we were all muted, red-eyed, and contemplatively quiet. I took a moment to sign the poster that was made for the Hamlisch family on behalf of the singers (I saw Craig Carnelia’s name under mine as I signed, go figure!), and then went out the door to see the front entrance of the temple surrounded by media and mourners.

The hearse was there, parked in front of the temple’s entrance, as well as the lead-car. The lead car was ablaze with more yellow flowers, only this time it also included rainbow-colored lollipops (assumably to reflect “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” a famous song by Hamlisch that reveals more about his personal character than anything else). I watched as the lead car and hearse drove away, then went off on my own way, happy to have said goodbye in person. I also reflected that a person can matter a lot to both a King and the Common Man, as long as he or she is always striving to do good and create amazing, beautiful, heartfelt, and important work. It didn’t matter how famous you were in that temple – everyone who cares about music lost a great creative friend of the arts this month.

Some pictures I took outside of the temple (click on an image for a bigger, clearer version):







Sierra makes it to the Top Seven in the MetroStar Talent Challege

August 13, 2012
After Round 2 in the Top 10, Sierra was chosen to be in the Top Seven competing singers in the 2012 MetroStar Talent Challenge. The 2012 MetroStar Talent Challenge, the fifth annual edition, took place on seven consecutive Mondays from July 9 to August 20, 2012. 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. www.metropolitanroom.com

“AEA NYC Member Sierra Rein wins a week of free car rental with Union Plus” on ActorsEquity.org!

I’m a lucky girl this week!

August 11, 2012

“Actors Equity Association (AEA) member Sierra Rein, of New York City, is one of the five lucky winners of a week of free car rental with Union Plus. She was randomly selected from more than 12,600 participants in the Union Plus Car Rental contest.

Sierra says that she already has a few trips in mind to use her prize. “We may take an Anniversary drive outside of the city and get away from it all for a day. I’m also in a vocal group, Marquee Five, and we sometimes need transportation to out of town gigs – this prize might help lower our travel costs,” Sierra says.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Press – Marquee Five on Broadwayworld.com “Neil Sedaka Guest Stars in Touching Career Tribute”

Stephen Hanks, Cabaret reviewer, has been busy these past few months and took some time to do a writeup of a number of shows he’s seen! Check out the second page of his article on Broadwayworld.com – near the 3/4 mark, he writes about the Neil Sedaka Tribute/Concert for City Greens concert “Love Will Keep Us Together, that Marquee Five was a part of. It was so memorable, so wonderful to hear him sing again – especially on a brand new piece of music for his upcoming CD.

Here’s a picture I grabbed of Mr. Sedaka (from my seat on the stage) of him at the piano (center, in blue):

Also visible: Terese Genecco on drums, Sean Harkness on guitar, and the head of Kenneth Gartman.

Here’s a picture my husband took of Mr. Sedaka speaking to the audience, with me blurrily clapping in the background. He must have just told a charming joke:

Photo by nichollspete.com

It’s Down to Seven! MetroStar Competition Gets Hot! by Danielle Miceli of NiteLifeExchange.com

“It’s Down to Seven! MetroStar Competition Gets Hot!” by Danielle Miceli. Read the full article here. A nice, if short, reveal of what I sang and how I did. Bottom line: I got into the Top Seven, that’s how I did!

All photos in the article (except the one of Stacie Perlman) are by Adam Jason Photography.

Review – “Into the Woods” at the Delacourt Theater, Shakespeare in the Park



WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!

Full, 100% disclosure here: I looooooooooove “Into the Woods,” as written by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. The first act is perfect, a show unto itself, and the second act is dark, real, full of heart and better than most full musicals out there. I performed the role of the Witch at UCLA, have seen the Bernadette Peters version via VHS countless times, and saw the Vanessa Williams version when it came around to Los Angeles many years ago. I know it by heart. Pete, my husband, actually loves the second act more than the first act, but he’s a Stephen Sondheim fan in general (he likes the gritty ability of Sondheim to comment on life in all its political/social/sexual manners). So, I was eager to grab tickets to The Public Theater/Shakespeare in the Park’s version a the Delacourt Theater in Central Park. It was my first time attempting to get free Shakespeare in the Park tickets! And it was not bad: after waiting from 6am-1pm on my yoga mat under a tree (not a bad way to spend a warm but overcast and not-too-hot morning), I grabbed two free tickets for my husband and I as an Anniversary treat.

It was a fun experience – we had popcorn at our seats (before the show started as to not annoy our fellow audience members), sipped from cans of beer, and watched the show with full view of the stage. And here’s the quick reviw from someone who loves reinterpretation and experimentation with already well-known pieces of art: it was 50/50 for me. Now the long review: In general, I liked the set (although too much action was done on the second tier and I had a hard time figuring out where the voices were coming from onstage at certain moments – they needed spotlights or stillness from everyone else while the main action took place). The use of puppetry was appreciated (the Giant herself is pretty stunning), and while I liked the reinterpretations of the Fairy Tale icons into modern street-wise archetypes, the impact of having idealized “Disney”-like characters go through real-life problems (which is Sondheim/Lapine’s whole POINT of writing the show in the first place) was lost. I liked the Grimm-esque play on people going blind/feet being hacked away at/the dead rising, and Grandmas getting eaten, but other more graphic representations of Fairy Tale plot points (Little Red getting “eaten” by the wolf before getting eaten by the Wolf) was too on-the-nose, and took away the subtext from the monologue-songs that came after. And other changes from the original didn’t make sense – Baker’s Wife becoming instantly pregnant at the same time the Witch transforms (why distract from the Witch’s amazing transformation, and did the Baker have any part in this???), Rapunzel’s twins becoming bones in the Witch’s hands for no discernible reason (woah! The director killed off two infants for no reason!), and the entire structure of having the Narrator be a boy – and thus the entire show is in his head – was an interesting choice, but not an effective one.

See, when it’s just a Narrator (general male or female, no backstory, plain and “everyman” in the Western World of Storytellers kind of way), WE fill in the blanks of how these Fairy Tales connect with our lives, how we treat our children, and force us to think about our reality, our wishes, our plans of having a perfect fairy tale ending. When it’s framed within a boy’s mind (one troubled by the stresses of familial strife at home), we are seeing it only from his point of view. So when the Witch sings “Children Will Listen” to the boy and his real father at the end of the show, the audience is not included in the picture – we are detached from it – and the emotional impact fades away. Plus, the boy’s first words “Once upon a time” was not to US, but to himself as he plays with his toys. If he was directed to imagine a captive audience that he could tell a story to (I remember sitting my Mother down and forcing her to watch me act out musicals as a kid), then I could get more behind the construct. I was all ready to ball my eyes out at the end (I mentioned to my husband that I was sorry I didn’t bring tissues), but I didn’t. I got the overall concept intellectually, but it distanced me from the real impact of the story and the message it contained.

And while I could criticize my fellow actors, I won’t…too much. I really enjoyed the throaty Donna Murphy as the Witch, spunky Sarah Stiles as Little Red, nerd-with-a-makeover Jessie Mueller and Cinderella, Josh Lamon as the Steward (a role that can often steal the show), the glorious singing by Rapunzel (Tess Soltau) and Cinderella’s Mother (Laura Shoop), and the hilarious Princes/Wolf (Ivan Hernandez and Rapunzel’s Prince by understudy Paris Remillard). However, one of the biggest issues I have is that musically a lot of the rest of the cast couldn’t sing this show. Notes were dropped in exchange for “acting” the lyric, low and high notes couldn’t be reached, harmonies clashed, and when the entire group sang in unison it sounded hollow. Where were the voices?!?! Chip Zien, who played the original Baker, was on stage as the Mysterious Man and I truly wanted him to put down his satchel and go “ok, guys, here’s how you sing this show with emotion and pitch at the same time…” And even though I liked the Baker’s mannerisms, he didn’t seem to be able to connect with Amy Adams’ Baker’s Wife, nor she to him. She was honestly miscast – too young, not enough wit and gut, and her jokes fell flat (but, in fairness, most of the humor in the entire production wasn’t there – only Little Red and the Princes had their characters down strongly enough to cause ripples of laughter). I also was confused by the extra ensemble members in the cast – their costumes were Fairy Tale-esque but not specific enough for me to understand why they were there. I enjoyed the in-jokes of including other Fairy Tale characters (those written in the script and those who cameo-ed out of the Director’s imagination), but the extra people on stage distracted me yet again in certain key moments and made me question why they were there (I know they were there to facilitate puppetry, clever scene decoration – loved the use of umbrellas to create the bean stalk – and maybe filling in the vocals, but these are behind-the-scenes reasons, not on-the-stage reasons). I know that this show works with the simplest of backdrops and maybe a few clever sets and props to create towers, cows, giant FX, and the like. It doesn’t need the excesses to make it work.

Even after all this, I still enjoyed watching this Sondheim classic, probably his most accessible show for audience members who cringe at singing killers (“Assassins,” “Sweeney Todd”) or who don’t want to be faced with their own relationship issues (“Company”). Some things were done brilliantly (the aforementioned Giant, the Tower itself, and the chilling way the Witch’s Mother reclaims her daughter), and even semi-effectively done Sondheim is still Sondheim. It was worth the early morning’s snooze under the Central Park tree, and I still give props for expanding on the concepts of what is now an old standard. I just wished the choices didn’t undermine the ultimate goals of the script itself.

I’m in the Top Seven of the MetroStar Talent Challenge



Pinch me! After Round 2 in the Top 10 (I sang “Lazy Afternoon/Lazy” from The Golden Apple/Irving Berlin and “The Joint is Really Jumpin’ in Carnegie Hall” from Thousands Cheer, with Bill Zeffiro at the piano), I have been chosen to be in the Top Seven in the 2012 MetroStar Talent Challenge.

The next evening, which will also include audience participatory votes, will be August 13th at 7pm. The full list of singers (in alphabetical order) is: Altovise, Elisabeth Cernadas, Lianne Marie Dobbs, Tommy Dose, Eva Kantor, Sierra Rein and Billie Roe. Our challenge is to bring in a three-song set, complete with patter, which includes one of two classic theater/standard songs picked by the judges (thus, there will be common songs across the contestants). PAST NIGHTS HAVE BEEN SOLD OUT – MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS NOW!!!

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