Nelson Aspen: Your Home Is Your Castle

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Nelson Aspen

Your Home Is Your Castle

The Green Room 42, NYC, October 5, 2022

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Nelson Aspen

The multi-hyphenate Nelson Aspen took the stage of The Green Room 42 to offer a charming collection of personal stories and pertinent songs (mostly presented in thematically linked medleys). It made for a very relaxed, comfy evening, almost as if he had invited the entire audience into his home for a get-together. The fact that he was promoting his new book (with the same as his show) in the lightest of manners only made it more agreeable. Assisting him along the way was his music director of many years, the extremely talented Gerry Dieffenbach, along with bassist Melissa Slocum and drummer Willie Martinez. Aspen seemed really happy to be doing the show and chatting with the audience.

He began with a salute to the recovered New York City (“Sunday in New York” and “My Personal Property”) that was both clever and charming and showed off Aspen’s ability to swing a melody. He also showed great humor in a musical quarrel between him and Dieffenbach that served as a lead-in to the Pet Shop Boys’ “So Sorry I Said.” A surprise selection followed with the lush ballad “Another World,” the theme song from the former soap opera of the same name, in tribute to his great friendship with its star Philece Sampler. Another actress and life-long friend, the lovely Carol Lynley, spurred a medley of movie songs was —“Wonderful Season of Love” (Return to Peyton Place), “The Morning After” (The Poseidon Adventure),  and “The Pleasure Seekers” (from the film of the same name). A more personal, romantic-mismatch story led to the theme from Green Acres as a duet for the star and his pianist; this was merged with a revivalist treatment of “Movin’ On Up” (The Jeffersons).

Aspen brought on his special guest for the evening, cabaret maven Sidney Myer, to enchant the audience with two from his treasure trove of novelty songs—“You Meet the Nicest People in Your Dreams” and “It’s So Nice to Have a Man Around the House.” Then the star returned so the two could offer up a boisterous duet on “Side by Side.” Aspen followed that with a “standards medley”—“Sentimental Journey,” “September in the Rain,” and “Ole Devil Moon”—which was the most emotional and most deeply felt peformance of the evening. Instead of gliding lightly over these songs as he done on some of the earlier material, Aspen really dug into the feelings within the lyrics and made a touching connection with both the songs and the audience.

He later had great fun with the twisty lyrics and puns of “Rhode Island Is Famous for You,” paired with “Drop Me Off in Harlem” (his current residence), thereby showing his ability to deal with an abundance of lyrics. A finale of “Native New Yorker” and “Dancing Queen” brought the audience onto their feet, energetically dancing, and sending them out on a high and making them eager for Aspen’s next performance.

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."