I don’t know the reasoning behind gay men’s fascination with powerful female singers, but it’s alive and well in my generation. Fortunately for me, my friends Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Jake Wilson capitalized on this notion with “The Girly Show,” a cabaret evening filled with up-and-coming musical theater performers. Old standards by the divas of yesteryear (some still thriving alive) like Barbara and Liza were tossed off the piano in favor of seldom-heard selections and contemporary favorites that gave the collection of women a chance to shine.
After two months in Montana, I was eager to re-immerse myself in the New York culture scene. I’d barely had time to open my suitcases before I tumbled out of my apartment into the flow of pedestrian traffic that carried me to the uptown subway platform; the girls would prove to be a welcome respite from the bombardment of senses unique to New York.
The juxtaposition inside the dimly lit Laurie Beechman Theater was a massage of the senses. My ears and eyes were delighted by each and every one of the ladies who took the stage during the hour-long set. I may have been partial to certain ladies when I arrived – after all some of them are friends of mine – but by the time I left I had discovered new talent, all while jump starting the musical theater bug that laid dormant in me during my time in Montana.
It’s confounding at times coming from a classical dance background and having so many friends in the musical theater world. Each group of friends, dancers and singers, sometimes question my fascination with either idiom, but I think if they all just let me expose them to the top tier of each world, they’d likely change their views.
(Andrew and Jake introduce some of the ladies.)
The program that Andrew and Jake lined up was one such evening. Despite having no “name” stars within the crop of eight women, each is well on her way to establishing a career in the musical theater world. What I was most impressed with was the range of humor and heartbreak that so many of them were able to find with the material. There were only one or two numbers that seemed like “throwaway” choices; even Susanne Layton’s rendition of the overdone “Taylor, the Latte Boy” seemed wholly new.
Here’s a heartfelt thanks to the girlies (and gentlemen) who made this evening possible, and helped welcome me back to the New York arts scene.
(The lovely Natalie Weiss and the dashing Andrew Keenan-Bolger.)
(The hottest boys you will ever see. Ever.)
(Dana Steingold and Natalie Weiss sing "Poor Little Patty.")
(Vanessa Ray performs a stunning rendition of Pasek and Paul's "Perfect.")
(The luminous Jessica Hershberg taps into her comic side for a delectable "I Slept With Someone...")
Anyone who has been reading the Rant for a while knows that I tend to gush when it comes to my friends at University of Michigan. With graduation just around the corner, I couldn't be more proud or excited that they are making the journey to New York in May. Until then, I have a few YouTube videos that were just posted to tide me over.
First up are two of my best friends, Michael Lowney and Jessica Hershberg, singing the glorious duet "Say It Somehow" from one of my favorite musicals The Light in the Piazza.
Next is Max Kumungai singing "Muddy Water" from Big River, which he performed a full production of earlier this year in Ann Arbor. Gives me chills every time!
Ann Arbor is a fantastic city. A mere forty minutes away from the armpit known as Detroit, it's an artistically fruitful environment with charming boutiques and restaurants on almost every corner. Chief among those unique Ann Arbor restaurants is the sandwich shop Zingerman's, which is about as close to a tourist destination as there is.
My first trip to the behemoth sandwich shop, which seems like a cleaner and trendier version of NYC's Carnegie Deli, was a bit overwhelming. I believe we went on a Saturday afternoon, where the line snaking through the cramped deli counters pushed me up against windows hiding slabs of meat and barrels of mac and cheese. It was well worth braving the crowd. The sandwiches are big enough to feed the Big Friendly Giant, which means I can successfully make it through about a quarter of mine.
Last week, my wife on Facebook Jessica, my brother because we grew up doing musicals together Michael and I, took a walk through the winter snow to stuff some Zing in our bellies.
(Nah, let's shoot a JC Penney ad!)
(She just found out I'm GAY.)
(Top model jump. Very difficult after gorging at Zingerman's.)