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Here's what I've enjoyed seeing or reading so far...hope you enjoy them as well!

      

 

Entries in 54 Below (11)

Monday
Aug282017

Adam's Call: Liz Callaway: The Beat Goes On at Feinstein's/54 Below: Hits a Home Run with Every Song

Liz Callaway at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: James GavinThis past July I got to attend Liz Callaway's concert, The Beat Goes On at Feinstein's/54 Below. Over a month later, I'm still thinking about this magical evening! It was that inspiring! Liz's show was a master class in music, singing, and cabaret! With every song, Liz taught the audience how to pick music that not only speaks to the artist, but how to share it with an audience. She demonstrated time and time again how one truly connects to a song. When I say connect, I mean, having every fiber of your being invested in what you are presenting.

It's impossible to pick favorite songs because every song was a winner! Liz took us on a musical journey of the 1960s, a decade in which she grew up. I learned so much about Liz through this show, from her fears to her success, Liz didn't hold back. She not only opened up her mouth to sing, Liz brought us in to the inner depths of her soul, revealing so many personal details of how she became the legendary singer she is. I was mesmerized from start to finish!

Liz Callaway at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: James GavinLiz Callaway at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: Photo by Maryann LopintoMy favorite story was hearing about how as a child, Liz was shy to sing in front of people. I mean, seeing her perform, especially at Feinstein's/54 Below, I still have a hard time believing that, as she was flawless in her performance. She makes singing look like second nature, which to me, is the true sign of a goddess. Knowing about her shyness, only made me appreciate her talent that much more.

While many of the songs performed in this concert were from Liz's CD The Beat Goes On, there is nothing like hearing them live (I know because I've been listening to the CD almost non-stop since the concert, and yes, the album is fantastic, but seeing Liz sing these songs in person is a whole different ballgame (like the 1969 World Series winning Met's game to be exact)! 

Liz Callaway at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: Photo by Maryann LopintoLiz Callaway at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: Photo by Maryann LopintoIf Liz were a baseball player, she hit a home run with every song, making her batting average over .400!

Luckily, there is another opportunity to see this show. Liz will be returning to Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) with The Beat Goes On on Sunday, September 10 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

If you missed my interview with Liz about The Beat Goes On, click here to watch it!

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!

Saturday
Aug262017

Adam's Call: Michael Feinstein's "Showstoppers" at Feinstein's/54 Below: Hits all the right notes and then some

Michael Feinstein performing at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: Stephen SorokoffTwo weeks ago I got to attend Michael Feinstein's Showstoppers at Feinstein's/54 Below. What an exquisite evening of talent, music, and stories this was. Michael hit all the right notes and then some! Michael was on fire and I think he almost caused the smoke alarm to go off, he was so smoking hot! 

From the minute the orchestra started, I knew I was in for a special night as they started playing all the big numbers I love from Gypsy to Rent. While not every song from that intro was actually sung, Michael did take the audience on a musical journey of Broadway's showstoppers. But what truly made this concert so special was Michael's interpretation of showstopper. Most people consider a showstopper those big, upbeat numbers that bring the house, but Michael reminded us, that a showstopper can be a quieter, softer moment, and Michael shared that intimacy with us.

Michael Feinstein performing at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: Walter McBrideMichael Feinstein performing at Feinstein's/54 Below, Photo Credit: Walter McBrideFrom his vocal quality to the way he connects to the audience, Michael defines showman. He has the talent, appeal, and variety one needs to be entertained. Whether it's a big band number or a gentler, quieter piano only song, Michael reels you in making you want more. And it's not just his singing that gets you. The stories he tells are so captivating. He has worked with everyone!

I could go on and on about how terrific Michael's show is, but I will leave the rest for you to experience! Michael Feinstein's Showstoppers plays Feinstein's/54 Below through September 3! Click here for tickets!

If you missed my interview with Michael about this show, watch it here!

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!

Saturday
Sep062014

Adam's Call: Catherine LeFrere: Confessions of a Young Character Actress: A Legend In The Making

On Friday, September 5, 2014, I saw a legend in the making at 54 Below in NYC and that soon to be legend was the one and only Catherine LeFrere, who made her concert debut with Confessions of a Young Character Actress. When a singer opens her show with Judy Garland's "Come Rain or Shine" and you immediately think this is Judy's long lost daughter then you know they have something special. What Catherine has is great voice complimented by a booming stage presence.

From the moment the show started, Catherine engulfed the audience because she made us feel at ease with her talented voice and and self depreciating humor. She made us laugh right from the get-go and that alone enables the audience to sit back and relax.

Catherine LeFrere in "Confessions of a Young Character Actress" at 54 BelowThroughout the night, Catherine took us on her journey of being a character actress from playing "Reno Sweeney" in Anything Goes to her most recent triumph as "Dorothy Brock" in The Gateway Playhouse's production of 42nd Street (directed by three-time Tony nominee Randy Skinner). Some of my favorite moments from the show (yes I am forcing myself to choose a few) were hearing Catherine sing Ella Fitzgerald's versioin of "I'm Old Fashioned," a perfect way set up the evening. Almost every lyric in that song describes a part of Catherine to a tee. "Be Italian" from Nine was also at the top of my list. I loved how Catherine, not only sang this song with an Italian accent, but lead into this song by telling the audience how she gets described as ethnically ambigous and then started singing. Genius. I also adored her rendition of Nancy Wilson/Marilyn Mae's "Guess Who I Saw Today," a powerfully heartbreaking song about a wife who sees her husband out with another woman and then confronts him about it. Catherine really conveyed the emotion of this song. Another great moment was getting to hear Catherine sing "Quarter to Nine" from 42nd Street as "Dorothy Brock." 

Catherine LeFrere in "Confessions of a Young Character Actress" at 54 BelowWithout a doubt, the stand-out number of the evening was Meghan Trainor's "All About The Base." This was the part of the evening where Catherine really triumphed! She had the whole audience in the palm of her hand, singing along with her, while she danced about the stage. You could see all eyes were fixed on Catherine. That is a testament to Catherine's ability to draw her audience in even more so than she already had.

From left to right: Musical Director Brian Nash, Catherine LeFrere, Director Will NunziataNo solo concert is complete without some people helping you behind the scenes. Catherine had quite a team assembled. Her show was directed by Will Nunziata who has directed concerts for such Tony Award winners as Lillias White and Cady Huffman. Will has a great eye for excellence, so it's no doubt why these two teamed up together. Will really knows how to weave a story together using the music as the connectors. In addition to Will, Catherine brought in some of the best musicians out there...from her Musical Director Brian Nash (who works with the amazing Natalie Douglas and Natalie Joy Johnson) to Adam Neely on Bass and Jeremy Yaddaw on drums.

Catherine LeFrere in tech rehearsal for "Confessions of a Young Character Actress" at 54 BelowCatherine is really going places and I hope one place she goes is back to 54 Below to do this concert again! It was the first hour since Joan Rivers' passing that I didn't think about the fact that Joan is gone. Catherine had my full attention and that is one more reason I enjoyed Confessions of a Young Character Actress so much. And speaking of legends, Catherine paid homage to a musical theatre legened who was influential in Catherine's course as an actress, her idol Elaine Stritch. From quotes that Catherine has held onto to singing "You're Getting To Be a Habit With Me" from Elaine's Christmas album Stritch, Catherine chaneled Elaine's energy throughout the show.

When this show comes back around, I can't urge you enough to go see it.

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!

Tuesday
Aug052014

Adam's Call: Billy Mitchell's Villain DeBlanks at 54 Below: 1000% pure fun and laughter

So last week I attended the second installment of Billy Mitchell's Villain: DeBlanks at 54 Below. I am not sure there is a noun, adjective, or verb strong enough to describe just how brilliant and fun this show is! Billy has written an amazing Whodunit murder mystery, leaving out just enough details for the audience to fill in the blanks. With a rotating cast of Broadway stars, Villain: DeBlanks is a mash-up evening of murder mystery meets Adult Mad Libs.

I have seen a few of Billy's original shows and this one is by far just 1000% pure fun and laughter! For an hour straight, I had a smile on my face and lots of noise coming out of my mouth from the huge amounts of laughter being spewed. 

July 31 cast of Billy Mitchell's "Villain DeBlanks," from left to right Adam Feldman, Hedda Lettuce, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Jen Cody, Christine Pedi, and Hugh HysellThe particular cast I saw last week was Time Out New York's Adam Feldman, Drag legend Hedda Lettuce, and Broadway's Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Jen Cody, Christine Pedi, Hugh Hysell, and host Heather Shisler. The level of talent on that stage was quite remarkable doubly so, considering the fact that the script wasn't even complete by showtime as the cast awaits for the audience participation. The way the cast tore into Billy's script and brought out the hysterics of an already funny script was unbelieveable! 

July 31 Cast of Billy Mitchell's "Villain DeBlanks" (minus Adam Feldman), from left to right, Heather Shisler, Hugh Hysell, Hunter Ryan Herdlicka, Jen Cody, Christine Pedi, Billy Mitchell (writer), Hedda LettuceBilly is such a strong writer and really knows how to reel an audience in. As of now, there is one chance left to see this incredibly funny, audience driven, show. This Thursday, August 7, 11:30pm, 54 Below Billy Mitchell's Villain: DeBlanks. Click here for tickets!

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!

Tuesday
Jul292014

Adam's Call: Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton: Paradise Road

Cast of "Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton", Photo Credit: Gio MollaWhere do I start with just how incredible the sold-out concert Here She Comes Again: 54 Does Dolly Parton was? Scott Coulter put together a terrific, terrific evening of Dolly's music. He really spanned her whole career and included some of my favorite songs. Sure her big hits "I Will Always Love You," "Coat of Many Colors," "Jolene," "9 to 5," "Here You Come Again," and "Islands In The Stream" were included, but Scott dug deep into Dolly's catalog of music and picked quite a few songs that really highlighted her songwriting ability such as "Down From Dover," "Single Women," and "Two Doors Down," just to highlight a few.

I am a huge Dolly Parton fan, for it was her movie "Straight Talk" that really inspired me to want to be in the entertainment business and have my own radio talk show. Dolly Parton is definitely one of our country's legendary entertainers, but what not everyone realizes is just how magnificent her song writing ability is. Dolly is the queen of story telling when it comes to lyrics. Nobody does it quite like her. It was great to see some of these "story" songs put in the spotlight.

Scott Coulter singing "I Will Always Love You", Photo Credit: Gio MollaKT Sullivan singing "Coat of Many Colors", Photo Credit: Gio MollaI wasn't sure how I would feel about a whole evening of Dolly music sung by other people, but Scott Coulter put together a dynamite cast of singers who seamlessly made each song they sang their own. While I had the Dolly version in my head previously, these singers, made me fall in love with their versions and allowed me to see some of these songs in a new light. After the concert, I told Scott, he has to find a way to get this evening recorded on a CD. For I would listen to it over and over again. The talent on that stage was unreal! Scott really brought in the best of the best!

Scott himself, brought "Two Doors Down" and "I Will Always Love You" to life with his magnificent voice. "Two Doors Down" was the perfect way to start off the show, for it's upbeat, fun, and showcased Dolly's story telling right off the bat!

Jessica Hendy singing "Get Out and Stay Out" from Broadway's "9 to 5", Photo Credit: Gio MollaFay Ann Lee singing "Jolene", Photo Credit: Gio MollaKT Sullivan, "The Queen of Cabaret," certainly made "Coat of Many Colors" all hers. She captured the love Dolly had for the coat her mama made as well as the heartache that was brought by the kids making fun of her for wearing it. Jessica Hendy took "Get Out and Stay Out" (from Dolly's Broadway debut musical "9 to 5") to new heights with her booming vocals while Fay Ann Lee shined bright with "Jolene" (the song Dolly wrote about the bank teller in Tennesse who was trying to steal her husband from her). She really conveyed the hurt Dolly must have been feeling during this time in her marraige. Lucia Spina's version of "Here You Come Again" definitely made me feel like I was being transported back to a Dolly Parton concert, but at the same time, I was hearing this song anew.

Lucia Spina singing "Here You Come Again", Photo Credit: Gio MollaAlex Getlin singing "Down From Dover", Photo Credit: Gio MollaI was so glad Scott included "Down From Dover" in this show. He chose perfectly with Alex Getlin to sing this song. "Down From Dover" was written in 1969 and was considered quite controversial at that time. It's a song about a teenage girl who finds out she's pregnant and with the guy no where to be found and rejected by her family, she still holds out hope that her lover might return, but in the end, she sadly delivers the baby on her own, only to find out the baby was stillborn. Alex truly found the perfect blending of powerful and emotional singing. She dove into this song and brought out the right amount of raw emotion.

Mary Lane Haskell singing "The Seeker", Photo Credit: Gio MollaOne real treat of the evening was getting to hear one of Dolly Parton's nieces sing one of her songs. Mary Lane Haskell brought the house down with her version of "The Seeker." This song is all about asking G-d for help. A real Gospel number, Mary Lane, got the spirit moving so to speak, and had everyone clapping along! She really let the Almighty hear just how much she was looking for his guidance.

Tim Di Pasqua singing "What A Heartache", Photo Credit: Gio MollaOne of my most beloved singers was also featured in this evening Dolly Parton music, Tim Di Pasqua. The first time I had ever heard Tim and Scott sing was back in 2005 when they were featured together in first ever "Leading Men Concert" that was held at Joe's Pub. That night, I was blown away by their talent, and now to get to see them again, singing Dolly Parton songs no less, was even more special! Tim sang a rousing rendition of Dolly's song "What A Heartache," which I had always thought was about losing love, but what I learned from Scott that night was that Dolly actually wrote the song about one of her friends she worked with closely that got mistreated by the industry. Tim certainly sang his heart out and I loved that Scott picked Tim to do it for Tim really knows how to get to the heart and soul of a song, as he does so eliqently with his own music.

Natalie Douglas singing "Single Women", Photo Credit: Gio MollaAnother one of my favorite singers featured in the evening was the brilliantly talented Natalie Douglas. She really brought some soul into the evening with her rendition of "Single Women," a great song about a woman going out for a night on the town, hoping to not go home alone. What can I say about Miss Natalie Douglas that has not been said before, only that when she opens her mouth, right away excellence is coming out. She certainly got the essence of what "Single Women" was about.

Carole J. Bufford singing "Hard Candy Christmas", Photo Credit: Gio MollaI was also thrilled that Scott included yet another one of my most cherished songs is sung by Dolly, but written by Carol Hall: "Hard Candy Christmas" from "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." This song has special meaning to me as it was one of the songs featured on my "Ultimate Survival Mix" when I was going through a rough personal time some years back. This song helped me remember that I would be "Fine and Dandy and that I wouldn't let sorrow bring me way down." Bringing new context to this song was Carole J. Bufford. She tore this song up a level I have not heard! With her grand vocal quality, she certainly will be "fine and dandy" for many years to come!

Scott Coulter and Michael Holland singing "Islands In The Stream", Photo Credit: Gio MollaTwo other fun moments in the night was when Scott and Michael Holland (who played piano and guitar) did a duet of "Islands In The Stream." I wholeheartedly agreed with Scott that it was about time 2 guys sung this song. They did a fantastic job capturing the love and fun of the song. The audience just ate it up as well! The final fun moment of the night was when the whole cast sang "9 to 5." What is a Dolly Parton show without one of her biggest hits. It was really fantastic hearing each singer give their take on the lyrics.

54 Does Dolly Parton cast singing "9 to 5", Photo Credit: Gio MollaI hope I've captured just how magnificent this evening was. From the song selection to the talent! It was truly like going down "Paradise Road" (a song from Dolly's Hungry Again album). An evening of total bliss!

This show is coming back to 54 Below on Sunday, September 21 at 9:30pm! I highly recommend clicking here to get your tickets now to this. I also hope that it gets recorded for a live album for that is how phenomenal of a night it was!

That's Adam's Call and I Stand For Entertainment!