Serving You Sondheim

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Serving You Sondheim

The Green Room 42, NYC, May 27, 2019

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Those who regularly patronize the comfortable and eclectic The Green Room 42 know Daniel Dunlow as the genial, wise-cracking host. But, he’s also a skilled director, music director, arranger, and singer (his “Being Alive” revealed emotional power and intelligent approach). However, this multi-hyphenate didn’t hog the stage as he created a showcase for the waitstaff, technicians, and associates of the club, plus, one very special guest.

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What tied the evening together was the craft of Stephen Sondheim, in both comic and dramatic mood, including a few obscurities among the standards. Ever heard of “Where Do I Belong?” Neither has almost anyone else; it’s from one of Sondheim’s teenage works under the tutelage of Oscar Hammerstein II. As presented by Mia Melchiorri, it may not be a lost treasure, but it was interesting to hear as a promise of what was to come.

Some of the familiar songs were presented with arresting twists. A rap version of “Getting Married Today” was thrilling as delivered with amazing clarity by Kea Chan with beatbox support from Marty Gasper. “Not a Day Goes By” was given a Motown-inspired treatment by Harris Turner. Among the more traditional, but outstanding performances were the soulful Colin Egan (“Good Thing Going”), the shifting emotions of Faith Porter (“Moments in the Woods”), the mesmerizing intensity of Quentin Garzon (“Finishing the Hat”), and the extraordinary maturity and subtlety of Monroe George (“Send in the Clowns).

And then there was Paige Kapinski, celebrating her 16th birthday, who received the very special present of reprising her performance of “On the Steps of the Palace” from her high school production. This was arranged for her between her mother and Dunlow. Once she began to sing, the giggly, slightly flustered teen vanished to be replaced by an assured and exciting young talent.

Strong musical support throughout was provided by pianist Eugene Gwozdz, bassist Leo Smith, and drummer Sarah Tompkins. Other performers, all of whom fully established their talents, were Nikki Cannon, Gavin Cranmer, Quentin Garzon, Thaddeus Kolwicz, and Lauren Robinson.

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Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."