Monday, May 14, 2012

Jennifer Sheehan!


"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

Happy Monday! 

On May 23rd, 2012 a Tsunami is going to hit Feinsteins
Her name is Jennifer Sheehan

I am a child of the 60s. I was born in 1961 in Conway, South Carolina. Al though it was my formative years, I still remember the music, the clothes, the feel of the era. 
Today, I'm writing about a young woman that wasn't even alive when I moved to New York in 1979! She happens, however, to also have an affinity for the 60s and will be doing her own celebration at Feinsteins starting on May 23rd and taking us straight through June 2nd.

Jennifer tells me she is excited because her musicians and she are getting a chance to do ALL kinds of music...from Bacharach and the Beatles to the Bossa Nova, Broadway, Barbra and Bebop--and that’s just the B’s! It’s the kind of show that will appeal to people who lived during the ‘60s AND younger people who are fascinated by the era. And judging by comments I’ve read under YouTube videos from the ‘60s, a LOT of teens and young adults DIG those FAR-OUT HITS of the LOVE GENERATION! ;-)
 
By the way, they're trying to make it as affordable as possible. Tickets start at $30! 

I did a little research on May 23rd, 1960. 

On May 23, 1960, a Monday, a tsunami destroyed much of downtown Hilo. Tsunami, or seismic sea waves, are generated in several ways, including by large submarine explosive eruptions, by landslides where rock slides into or beneath the sea surface, and by large earthquakes that displace rocks below sea level.

The waves generated spread outward in all directions and travel across the oceans at speeds between 425 and 500 miles per hour.
Most tsunami that cause widespread damage are produced by large earthquakes that cause fault movements of the sea floor, including the one in 1960. These giant waves wreak their havoc first near to, and then far from, the site of the original earthquake. 

On newsstands on the cover of Time Magazine was the Paris Summit. 
On May 23, 1960, the Israeli government reported the capture of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust, who had hidden for a decade in Argentina.

And taking us through to June 2nd, 1969 (Jennifer's show closes on June 2nd),  A fierce firefight where 8 American solders were killed during an assault on an enemy bunker complex in Vietnam.

 The #1 song on June 2, 1969 was Get Back by The Beatles.

 Australian aircraft carrier "Melbourne" slices US destroyer "Frank E Evans" in half, killing 74 (South Vietnam).

The music of the 60s reflected the mood of the world. I believe more than any other time including during World War II.
I can't think of a better person to rise up to the task than Jennifer.
Described by Elizabeth Ahlfors in Cabaret Scenes as “special, sensational, smashing,” Jennifer Sheehan has become one of the most sought after new voices in the concert and cabaret world. Ms. Sheehan headlined a sold-out run of her critically acclaimed show at the Metropolitan Room in New York last year. “You Made Me Love You— Celebrating 100 Years of the Great American Songbook” was described by Stephen Holden of The New York Times as “smart and far-reaching.” And of Ms. Sheehan, he said, “Young, good-looking and very astute, Ms. Sheehan gives you hope.” And that is exactly what everyone had and needed throughout the '60s, HOPE! 

I asked Jennifer who the most iconic person was she ever met and if that person lived hup to her expectations. 
 
Several years ago, Jennifer was performing in Los Angeles and her mom and she had one day to see the sights of the city. 
Earth, Wind, and Fire

At breakfast, her mom asked her what she most wanted to see. The first thing that came out of her mouth was: I’d love to see the guys in Earth, Wind and Fire. (Jennifer's mom has many of their albums and Jennifer became a big fan, growing up.) Her mom got a kick out of her answer, but suggested they look at a tourist map and make some realistic choices! So, they headed out for all of the traditional tourist destinations and eventually wound up early that evening having a Mexican dinner at a restaurant across town. As they climbed the steps of a nearby parking garage to leave, they noticed a couple walking upstairs ahead of them. Although Jennifer could only see their backs, she instantly knew who the man was. It was Verdine White, the amazing bass player for Earth, Wind and Fire! (He actually is Jennifer's favorite band member because of his big smile and exuberance on stage— that, and his trademark funky dancing to the beat, enhanced with lots of fringe!) As they all walked on the roof of the garage, he turned to get into his car and Jennifer's mom saw that, yep, Jennifer was right! It was Verdine, with his wife. 
They couldn’t let the opportunity pass, so they approached to introduce themselves and thank him for the music they love so much.
Verdine White
They ended up having a lovely little conversation, and they were very gracious. (They didn’t, unfortunately, tell him about their wish at breakfast, fearing he’d think they were kooks!) When Jennifer and her mom got into their car, they sat there for a moment in sheer disbelief. Then, for the next hour, they called everyone we knew to tell them about their amazing experience. 
 Have you ever lost your concentration on stage? What caused it and how did you get back on track?
I don't think I've ever lost my concentration on stage.. however, sometimes I find I need to "quiet my mind" if I have too many self-doubts swimming in my head during a performance.. it's not good for me.. or my audience! :)

What have you learned about making your relationships in the industry more solid and resourceful?
 People are much more supportive and willing to offer advice than you might think.
I came to New York as a student at Julliard, without any industry connections or even friends and relatives in the area. At first, I was a little intimidated by the professionals I met and I assumed they were too busy to have time for me, but the cabaret community, especially, was warm and welcoming... for which I am grateful. I try to reflect my appreciation by supporting others, including younger singers trying to make their way.
 
Your thoughts on Arts in Education
 The Arts are vital — emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. They expose us to new perspectives and insights, they inspire and enrich us, they provide an outlet for our creativity, and they help us learn how to collaborate and connect with each other. Scientific research is showing how early exposure to music enhances brain development!
 
And, at the other end of the spectrum, I’ve learned from past performances at nursing homes how important music can be for patients suffering severe cognitive losses. I performed for Alzheimer patients who were no longer able to communicate well with language, but who responded to familiar old songs by humming along.

As for my interest in popular American music, I would love to see more young people exposed to the brilliant standards of the Great American Songbook. School music programs should teach not only classical music, but classics from the golden age of Broadway, Hollywood musicals, Tin Pan Alley... our musical heritage. You might be surprised how many young people (even at Julliard!) can tell you all about Mozart, Beethoven and even abstract classical composers, but would struggle to name songs by Irving Berlin or Jerome Kern or Cole Porter. I was lucky to have had parents who played all kinds of music, watched movie musicals with me, and took me to shows and concerts.
 
And they provided me with lessons in piano, dance and singing. Arts programs in schools can help fill in the gap for young people who don’t have those opportunities. By the way, I recently led master classes for high school music students in South Carolina and Georgia and I was excited to see how eager they were to learn more about these songs and their composers.

What one role would you like to play that you would never be cast in and why?
Billy Bigelow in "Carousel," only so I could sing "Bill's Soliloquy"-- one of the best theater moments of all time, in my opinion. I think I'm more likely to play "Louise" at this point, but Mama Rose in "Gypsy" would be amazing-- "Rose's Turn" being the other best theater moment of all time. ;) I don't think I'm likely to be cast as Cassie in "A Chorus Line".. but I would love to do it, if only for the "Music and the Mirror" song and dance sequence! Love that number!
 
What life lessons did you learn from your parents?
 From my dad-- Treat absolutely everyone with dignity and kindness. Learn from history and appreciate nature. And always recycle!!! 
From my mom - Try to follow the Golden Rule; pay attention to what’s going on in the world and try to help where you can; and share your enthusiasm about things you love, including great music, movies, theatre, documentaries, and a good pun!  
 
I’m campaigning for Carol Channing to receive the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor in 2012. If you agree that she should receive this honor, can you say why you think this should happen
 Of course she should! Carol Channing is a living legend of Broadway (3 Tonys, right?) and movies. By the way, I absolutely love the Kennedy Center Honors shows, don’t you? The retrospectives are always moving, and the tributes by other artists often give me chills!

 How do you chose your material?
 Usually I start with a theme that I'm attracted to for a show.. for instance, my previous show celebrated 100 years of the Great American Songbook and spotlighted various composers through the decades who have added to that wonderful body of work. 
 
My new show will be about music from the ‘60s—a decade that exploded with innovation, creativity and variety! As a 20-something, I’ll bring a different perspective to the music—that of someone who’s been intrigued by the era and now has more insights and appreciation, thanks to videos and other research opportunities on the internet!

After choosing a theme, I pick songs that really speak to me, that illuminate an aspect of the theme, or that, perhaps, present a dichotomy. It all has to fit into a theatrical storyline, too. Sometimes it feels like trying to put together a jig-saw puzzle!
  
What do you consider your biggest success in Show Business thus far?
 I've had some very exciting and encouraging moments in my career... including performing at Carnegie Hall as a guest of Michael Feinstein and at Radio City Music Hall as one of six vocalists in "The Christmas Spectacular." I had a magical time at the Metropolitan Room last year, performing my previous show. My musicians and I were  grateful for the amazing turnout and the lovely reviews. It really was a ball. Other highlights include winning some very encouraging performance awards!
The Johnny Mercer Foundation's first-ever Margaret Whiting Award
The Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence
The Noël Coward Foundation's First Competition Award
The Julie Wilson Award

 
What one change would you like to see in today’s industry?
 I would like to see a shift in focus from brash, in-your-face, over-sexualized, formulaic entertainment to songs and performances that are more meaningful, creative, personal and honest.
 
I think that's part of the reason I gravitate to concert and cabaret performing. 
That kind of special, intimate experience is so rare in today's world.. and so magical when it does happen.
 
Do you consider what you wear on stage for your show a costume? Or is it just clothing to you?
 I usually wear gowns.. although I'm planning on wearing something short and fun for my '60s show. 
 
I just love a beautifully-made gown.. it's art to me. So I guess I consider it an artistic extension of myself!

The Oak Room at the Algonquin
Are you happy at the point you are right now in your career?
Last year, one of my career dreams almost came true when I was invited to perform a 3-week engagement at the historic Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel. (I had seen Andrea Marcovicci perform there when I was a teenager, visiting New York with my family.) Unfortunately, as many of your readers probably know, new owners of the hotel announced earlier this year that the room would be permanently closed.
 
It was such a disappointment...not just for me, of course, but for all who love cabaret and the room’s rich history. The news came at a time when cabaret’s great champion, the late Donald Smith, was in failing health; so, the room’s closing was especially devastating news. (I would like to mention that the Mabel Mercer Foundation will present a star-studded tribute to Donald Smith on May 22 at Town Hall.)
Getting back to your question...yes, I am grateful for where I am right now. I was especially delighted when Feinstein’s offered me the opportunity to debut my new show in that exciting venue! (I can’t wait!) 
 Meanwhile, I’d love to find more opportunities to work in theater. I love being part of an ensemble that creates memorable moments on a big stage, too! 
What makes you unhappy?
Waste, willful ignorance, greed.. and a really sad movie!
 How has the industry changed since you made your debut?
I was starting out just as the economy was crashing and the live entertainment industry was taking a big hit. Shows were closing early and regional theaters were scaling back or closing. So, I’m hoping the economy will continue to improve and people will be able to enjoy and support the arts...and artists!
 How on earth do you reach theatregoers now that newspapers are obsolete and there are so many channels on TV you can’t pick the right ones to advertise on and with the web being so hit and miss?
 As wary as I am of Facebook for other reasons, it is a good tool for staying in touch with friends and fans.. that, and I just hope that word of mouth travels if people see the show and they like it! It means a lot. Positive reviews can’t be underestimated, too! 

Also, happily, there are publications like Time Out New York and Cabaret Scenes and web sites like BroadwayWorld and blogs like yours to help promote upcoming shows!

 A genie pops out of the lamp, he grants you three wishes. What are those wishes?
World peace, good health, and love, beauty and joy for all. If that’s too tall of an order for the genie, I’d settle for sleep, more sleep, and just a little more sleep! ;-)

What do you do to prepare for your performances?
Rest as much as is possible during the day. I liken performing a show to running a marathon. When the show is over, I'm drained! I stretch and try to do a full "dancer's warm-up" beforehand.. singing involves your whole body. I also try to have a moment of meditation and focus before I start the show.
 You do an iconic role. Do you think you should on to an iconic costume piece as a memento OR donate it to a museum for others to enjoy?
 The altruistic part of me says I would donate it to a museum for others to enjoy… but it may depend on how fabulous this costume is?! What do you have in mind..? ;)
What is your fondest Memory?
That would be impossible.. I've been blessed with many good ones!
 
For more info on Jennifer

I will be see Jennifer's opening night on May 23rd! Let's make a party of it! If you would like to join our party, please send an email to Richard@RichardSkipper.com.

Thank you Jennifer for the gifts you have given and continue to give to the world!




Your devoted fan,



NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!

May 31
7:30pm
CHICO'S HOUSE OF JAZZ, 631 Lake Ave., Asbury Park, NJ 07712
RICHARD SKIPPER: AT LAST
ReVision Theatre and the City of Asbury Park couldn't have a better summer kickoff! After introducing ReVision Theatre to the great City of Asbury Park 5 years ago, Richard Skipper returns in "Richard Skipper: At Last". Richard is the perfect start to the musical summer of 2012 in Asbury Park. For more information visit www.revisiontheatre.org or call us at 732-455-3059. To purchase $15.00 General Admission tickets please visit http://revisiontheatre.tix.com.
This show is not to be missed! Musical Direction by: Rich Siegel


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
                 
Tomorrow's blog will be..Francie Mendenhall's Memories of The Pearl Bailey REVIVAL of Hello, Dolly!


Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!



  
Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!






TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY
Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com                            

This Blog is dedicated to Harlan Boll and Al Koenig! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! 




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