Thursday, May 19, 2016

Double Header at The Metropolitan Room on Friday Night, May 20th 2016: Gay Marshall and Dennis McNeil!

Tomorrow night, May 20th, 2016, if you are in New York, the place to be is The Metropolitan Room. Two great artists are bridging the past with the present. Those two artists are Gay Marshall and Dennis McNeil. They are celebrating two of the greatest artists of the Twentieth Century: Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra respectfully in two separate shows. Gay will kick the evening off at 7PM with Gay Marshall sings Piaf: La Vie L'Amour with Tracy Stark on Piano. At 9:30, Dennis McNeil will keep the music flowing in A Century of Sinatra with special guest, Jerry Costanzo, who happens to have his own special Sinatra tribute called Sinatra Inspired. At the end of this blog is a very special offer to my readers (Thank you, Bernie Furshpan).
I'm sure that most of my readers know about Piaf and Sinatra but I would love to introduce you to the two artists keeping their legacies alive.

Ladies first! Gay Marshall 
Gay Marshall brings her acclaimed, electrifying concert, Gay Marshall Sings PIAF, back to the
Metropolitan Room tomorrow night (once again at 7PM), featuring music from her  Billboard Top World Album, Gay Marshall sings PIAF la vie l’amour.  Her vivacious and wholly original take on Edith Piaf presents the French icon as a versatile powerhouse of heartwarming and heartbreaking emotion. Full of personality and humor, Marshall delivers the dramatic repertoire – including her own English adaptations - with stirring authenticity, and not a hint of imitation. Her song selection is an unusual mix of the well known (La Vie en Rose and L’Accordeoniste) and the rare (Avec Ce Soleil and The Lady From Pigalle) with superb accompaniment by Tracy Stark.

Here is our Interview:

What Does  this time in your life means to you?
Add caption

What this time in my life means to me .... Discovery and being grateful to be in New York. I've seen SUCH GREAT performers lately like Stacy Sullivan, Angela DiCarlo, Amber Martin, Jason Kravitz, Cheryl Stern - it is so inspiring to see all these creative people - only in New York do you get such a variety of incredible talent and original creations.
Plus I am working with such wonderful people and honored to be a part of events like the evening celebrating James Gavin at the Metropolitan Room which was on Tuesday the 17th, being a guest in Kim David Smith's show at Pangea next Monday the 23rd, being a part of Justin Sayre's Night of 1000 Judys next month, and Francesca Cappetta's show on June 18th at 54 Below. OF COURSE RIGHT NOW I'm really looking forward to my Piaf show at the Metropolitan Room with Tracy Stark this coming Friday May 20th.  New York gives you so much to discover.

If there were no barriers to entry, what is one thing you would be doing? 

Hosting my own talk show!

What goals do YOU desire to achieve in your lifetime?

Like Uta Hagan said : "In order to be interesting on stage, you have to be interest-ED  and have forward moving action."   I think the same thing is true in life - stay interested in others, in events, and keep moving forward ! And of course, drinking 8 glasses of water a day ....

If you could be known and celebrated for one thing, what would it be?

Delivering the goods.

What is your first memory of entertainment?

Seeing a gorgeous production of My Fair Lady when I was 8.

What was the inspiration and impetus for doing this project?
Edith Piaf

I fell became fascinated with Edith Piaf's life story and her unstoppable spirit. Then, when I discovered the songs, it was practically not a choice - I had to sing them. Then, because a lot of people don't speak French, I had to translate half of them. I love keeping this extraordinary repertoire alive!

What other projects would you like to tell us about? 
I have an Ethel Waters inspired CD called Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night  - music from the 20's and 30's foot stompin blues which is a blast and as soon as I can afford 5 musicians - I'd love to get that show on!

If you could let go of something that has held you back, what would it be? 

Worry filled doubt!

What recent show has resonated the most with you, and why?

Stacy Sullivan's Since You Asked concert. It was as close to perfect as it gets. Stacy is a golden-throated, charismatic and brave singer. Winding her unusual repertoire around the theme of life as weather was awe inspiring - I didn't want the show to end! 

Who was the most influential person on your work?

Gee it's hard to pick just one. I was lucky to go to Interlochen Arts Academy for high school and had a master of an acting teacher named Lane Bateman who continues to inspire me. Then, studying acting at the Bristol Old Vic School in England, Rudi Shelley and KT Stafford left their precious marks, and finally Uta Hagan - who was everything she was cracked up to be -  here in New York.

Gay Marshall Sings Piaf
If you could go back and change a choice you made along the way as an artist, which one might that have been?

I miss being in straight plays. I so wanted to be in a Rep Company when I left England. But it's hard to regret doing musicals like A Chorus Line and concerts of music I love since there are only about 3 rep companies left here in the US!

What is one instance of knowing you are living in your vision? 

Elly Stone (center)Here with Marshall and Natascia A. Diaz.
I'm glad to say that I've had a few. What immediately stands out is leaving the Shubert Theater 8 times a week and looking at the marquis lights on 44th St. kinda not believing I was on Broadway. And getting to come back to off Broadway in  Jacques Brel ... singing those songs which are so close to my heart for a whole year is a pretty close second !      

If you could do or accomplish ANYTHING and money wasn’t an object, what would that be?

I'd build huge beautiful facilities to take care of abandoned children, and help give them a fighting chance. 

What is your favorite piece of art?
Camille Claudel in 1884 (aged 19)

Almost any sculpture by Camille Claudel, almost any impressionist painting, and absolutely any watercolor by my dear friend Eddie Flotte who is a genius!
If you could sit down with yourself 15 years ago, what would you say? 

I'd say, "Well Gay, best thing you ever did was marry that husband of yours !"

Final Thoughts?

This was hard. And I find I simply can never choose just one of anything!
Please Keep Up to date with Gay by visiting her website HERE.

Also, tomorrow night at The Metropolitan Room, Join blue-eyed Dennis McNeil for A Century of Sinatra… The Greatest Entertainer of All Time to celebrate the life and legacy of the legendary man and his timeless music, Francis Albert Sinatra.

Award winning tenor, Dennis McNeil was 1993 National Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. As a leading tenor at the New York City Opera he was awarded the Richard F. Gold Career Award for his portrayal as ‘Mark’ in their New York Stage Premiere of Michael Tippet’s A Midsummer Marriage. He also holds first place awards from the Southern California Opera Guild and the Victor Fuchs Memorial Competition and was a recipient of the Emily Baratelli Memorial Award from the New York Opera Index. He is a Sullivan Grant Recipient as well as a recipient of a Rex Foundation Grant from the Grateful Dead.

Here is my mini-interview with Dennis:
What was your first professional job?

Got my equity card working chorus and small parts in 86 doing summer stock with the Sacramento Music Circus.

What are you working on now?

A Century of Sinatra!
We've put together a really swell show celebrating the life and legacy of Frank Sinatra. Great songs and stories to go along with. We will be in New York this Friday, May 20 at the Metropolitan Room and in San Diego next Tuesday, May 24 at Martinis Above Fourth.

What's next?

My 50th show at the Comedy and Magic Club is coming up on my birthday in July opposite Jay Leno's weekly show. It's a great milestone of 50 completely different monthly cabaret/nightclub shows with Ed Martel my Music Director.
It's been a great run and we've built up a super and loyal audience. Lots of regulars that come to every show.

When you were in school, what did you imagine you would do for a living? Did you have a strong sense of direction in terms of career, or a sense that there were many options open to you?

I left high school with the plan of being an architect. A D- in calculus changed that course pretty quickly and a random music class opened up a new possibility for me. With no musical background at the beginning, I graduated with two degrees in music and economics. But I always had this feeling I'd be in the public eye. So music sort of found me. And chose me.

Did your family, friends, and other people around you support your ambitions to follow your career? Was there pressure to do something else with your career/life?

At first when I told my dad it would take me a fifth year to complete both degrees he said, "The deal is 4." But both of my
parents came around pretty quickly and have always been my most loyal fans in many front rows. My sister too.

What are the major differences you see in your profession today from when you first began?

Well I started out doing musicals and opera. I was a leading man on National tours and in regional theaters around the country. I've sung in every state. I left the stage 20 years ago and recreated a career of singing and producing special events and private/corporate parties.
I've raised a family in that time and now for the past 7 years I've created all these cabaret and night club performances and career. Each day is different and I've never been afraid to change with the times, my needs, or those of my family. Ive never shied away from reinventing myself as sometimes necessity truly is the mother of invention!
I've been blessed that singing has always been there for me.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

I just started auditioning and getting parts and winning prestigious awards almost from the very get go.  I was cast in a lead role at the LA Music Center Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from my very first audition. That was literally my first time on stage ever! I had a lot to learn and fast!

What do you think it is that makes you who you are?
I don't give up. I live to connect with others whether it is on or off stage and I think that is really who I am. I need to connect with an audience. I sing to each individual as much as I do to the whole. Same in my daily life. It's all about creating a relationship with someone. Telling or creating a story with each connection.

Who was the most influential person on your work?
Well there have been a few but probably the most important one was my voice teacher, William Chapman and his wife, Irene. Do you remember him from the New York City Opera as well as following John Cullum in Shenandoah on Broadway as well as Candide and the short lived Green Willow? He really set me on a solid path where singing and diction appeared easy and natural, thanks to a lot of hard work!

But there was John Raitt who was practically family. He was like a mentor for years. Bonnie would always call me his "other son!" He was like a dad a brother but mostly a pal to the end.

Another was Sammy Cahn, with whom I toured in his show, "Words and Music." After many performances I'd accompany him to dinner and just hear story after story after story of his amazing life and career. He is very much seeded in this current Sinatra Show.

If a million dollars was given to you out of the blue, would you still do what you do artistically?
Yup. Sure would. I think I'd just probably sleep a little sounder at night!

If you could do or accomplish ANYTHING and money wasn’t an object, what would that be?
I'd really like to sing everyday with an orchestra and a big band. So if money is no object, bring the players in and let's start putting on some real entertainment!!

Talk about a life experience that caused an altering of your life plans or perspectives.
For me that was a moment where a chamber choir was singing the song Shenandoah in a cathedral in Munich and the spirits that touched me through the acoustics and harmonics that space provided reached into my soul and awakened something that I've never been able to shake since. In essence I live for that now.
If you are able to make it to The Metropolitan Room tomorrow night and interested in seeing both shows, please use code RSC520, tell them you saw this in this blog, and get $10.00 off of the second show.
Please visit Dennis's Website for More Info
As mentioned, Dennis' guest tomorrow night is Jerry Costanzo. Jerry has his own tribute show, Hello, Mr. Cole (Celebrating Nat King Cole) at The Iridium June 28th at 8:30 PM. Please Click HERE for more Details. And Look for an  upcoming Bog feature on Jerry.

Thank you, to all of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the legacy of Dolly Gallagher Levi!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!   

On May 25th, Let's CELEBRATE! We will celebrate with Carolyn Montgomery-Forant and others at The Triad in NYC! Check out our new promo for our show on the 25th! See if you could come up with a great tweet and tweet it, please tag Richard Skipper for a chance to win two comps! What would YOU like to celebrate on May 25th?
Call 888 596-1027 to purchase tickets or YOU can also do it on THEIR website.
Check out Our Promo:

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
Please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook

Penny Fuller will bethe guest on the Michael Masci Live radio show Tuesday, May 24, at Noon Eastern.
Visit for more information!

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!

Richard Skipper,

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog! Enjoyed the read and thank you Richard Skipper for the mention!