|Times Square ChroniclesThe Concerts For City Greens 2013: I Feel So Much Spring|
|Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.May 30, 2013Despite a one day postponement because of projected rain (which did not materialize,) the Bistro and MAC Award winning series The Concerts for City Greens first spring summer program I Feel So Much Spring, hosted by Raissa Katona Bennett, was a very special treat! The program featured many multiple award winning musicians and singers and some surprises. The enthusiastic crowd of old and young, civilians and cabaret artists and composers, enjoyed every minute of the hour long program. There were at least four performers I had never heard before and they were so good that I bought the CDs of two of them.Let’s start with the musicians. On piano was Bill Zeffiro, on guitar Sean Harkness, on bass Matt Scharfglass (who just finished the acclaimed off-Broadway revival of Stephen Schwartz’ Working) and on drums Terese Genecco. The multi-talented Mark Janas replaced Zeffiro for several performers as noted below.
The program began with stage manager Tanya Moberly singing Zeffiro’s special number “Come With Me To City Greens,” an appropriate homage to the series which is a benefit for Tudor City Greens (all contributions and raffle tickets go to Music and Art for Green). Bennett, who has one of the best lyric sopranos around, was supported by Janas later on “How Could I Not,” and a great match up of “I Had the Craziest Dream” and “Darn That Dream,” three joyful selections.
James Donegan, a newcomer to me, sang the very appropriate “I Feel So Much Spring” from William Finn’s A New Brain. Donegan has a glorious voice and I did buy his CD which is entitled So Much Spring. Later on he rocked on “Don’t Get Around Much Any More.” The most powerful diva in cabaret, multi-award winning Baby Jane Dexter, wowed the crowd (Janas on the piano) with “One Meat Ball.” She had the crowd singing with her on the choruses, and teased the musicians into riffing on the music breaks! There’s no one like Baby Jane Dexter. She’s incomparable!
Mark Janas began a classical introduction and suddenly operatic tenor Jimi James entered from the back singing Figaro’s “Largo Factotum.” The crowd went wild! He was followed by his girl friend, Julie Diniz, who did a wonderful “Summertime.” Bennett revealed that she had met them at one of her classical classes. They returned later to do a wonderful Papageno/Papagena duet from Magic Flute Marissa Mulder began “Illusions” a cappella, and then sang a beautiful “Disneyland” with Zeffiro and the band. It was revealed she will receive the Julie Wilson Award at the Mabel Mercer Cabaret Convention this year! Genecco, who will make her third appearance at the Convention this year with her Little Big Band, rocked on the drums and vocal of “In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening!” Genecco announced she is doing a whole series of Gay Pride events in June but her next appearance, with the Little Big Band, is Monday, June 3 at the Taste of Times Square event on 46th Street from 5:30 – 9:00 PM.
Karen Karsh, from Denver, Colorado, was the other revelation. Karsh has been blind since birth and stood in front of the mic and sang her philosophy song, “Accentuate The Positive.” She explained the proper protocol for dealing with her best friend, her seeing eye dog. Karsh was led to the keyboard and sat down and played and sang her own composition, “If You Could See The Way I Do” a beautiful and moving song about images she has imagined her entire life. It was the reason why I bought her CD!
Sean Harkness, one of the busiest musicians in town, on the Sean Harkness guitar, played his own original composition, the instrumental “Wally the Body Snatcher!” Zeffiro did his own composition too, his latest break-up song, “Lower Your Expectations With Me,” and it was delightfully funny! Zeffiro acknowledged that Genecco and Mulder were responsible for his MAC winning songs and Mulder did a wonderful “Come Fly With Me,” rocking into a higher key on the last chorus.
What was left to close the show? Baby Jane returned to destroy us with “I Put A Spell On You” sometimes singing it directly to a young kid on a scooter in the aisle!
Future concert dates are June 26, August 7, and September 11, at 6 p.m. It’s one of the greatest shows in town. Check out www.tudorcitygreens.org