Friday, March 9, 2018

Cabaret Month: Caitlin Fahey, Joe Regan, Sean Harkness...and MORE!

Liza Minnelli with Robert Osborne (who passed a year ago this week)
Unity is strength... when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.
-Peace advocate Mattie Stepanek

Happy March 9th, 2018!
March 9 is the 68th day of the year. There are 297 days remaining until the end of the year.
It is National Barbie Day! It is Cabaret Month. There's ALWAYS something to celebrate!
On this date in 1961, the year I was born, Sputnik 9 successfully launches, carrying a human dummy nicknamed Ivan Ivanovich, and demonstrating that the Soviet Union was ready to begin human spaceflight.
Let's also celebrate that went before us and paved the way. Today is Will Geer's Birthday!
Mickey Spillane was also born on this day. His stories often feature his signature detective character, Mike Hammer.
More than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally. Spillane was also an occasional actor, once even playing Hammer himself.
It is also Joe Franklin's Birthday!
It is also Middle Name Pride Day Observed Friday of the first full week of March. Most people don't know this but my middle name is Dale.
It is also Meatball Day!

I continue my series today in honor of Cabaret Month and leading up to the MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Awards. Meet three of the nominees: Caitlin Fahey, Joe Regan, Sean Harkness

Caitlin Fahey
Party of One for New York Debut Female

What does your MAC nomination mean to you?
When I moved to New York in 2015, I started working with Rick Jensen and Lina Koutrakos,  attending their Advanced Performance Workshop every Saturday morning at Don’t Tell Mama, but feeling quite confident that I was not yet ready to start working on my first cabaret show.
Little by little building blocks of confidence grew: receiving good feedback in class; my first public performance in New York City during Rick and Lina’s 2015 Christmas show; getting up the nerve to bring a song to Open Mic at the Met. And eventually, I came to realize that the only way to get better in this art form was to start working on a show. From that first conscious decision back in 2016 (despite my misgivings that I still wasn’t ready) to the first night of my debut show last June when they announced my name and the stage lights went on with me in the spotlight, it has been an incredible ride. And now to be honored with a MAC award nomination, well that is just the icing on top of a rich, decadent cake.

What Are you reading now?
I’m reading a book called Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble. It's a nonfiction book about a woman who spent a year eating whole unprocessed food in search of a more locally based, sustainable way of eating. We live in an era of instant gratification, especially in New York City, where practically any food can be delivered to your front door with the push of a button on your phone.
There is something to be said for spending time in the kitchen cooking with real whole foods and knowing exactly what’s in it (as well as what’s not in it!). It's inspired me to delete Seamless and put my oven to work.

What is your bookstore wish list?
with Katie Dunne McGrath
I'm more of a library type girl. The New York Public Library has a great app that lets you download ebooks using your library card.  I typically read on my phone during my commute to work. I could also spend hours getting lost in the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. It's a great place to find new songs.

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career?
I come from a classical/musical theater background. I had no idea what cabaret really was until I took my first cabaret performance workshop with Lina and Rick in 2014 while I was still living in Boston.
with Katie Dunne McGrath and Ruth Carlin
I signed up on a whim. I hadn't sung in a while, but I wanted to find something I could do that fit in with my work schedule. I got up in this little venue in Framingham, Massachusetts and sang Anyone Can Whistle. When the song ended, Lina looked at me and said “That was great. But let me ask you something, what does whistle mean to you?” And I promptly burst into tears. I’ll never forget that moment. A simple question unlocked something visceral inside of me that I didn’t even know existed and from that moment on I was hooked.

What has been your greatest experience in this profession?

My greatest experience in cabaret has been the people I have gotten to work with and come to know along the way.  When I moved to New York, I knew one person.  Over the last two and a half years, through cabaret, I have found great teachers, mentors, and friends who I love and adore. It's been such a gift.

Have you ever considered teaching a class?
Maybe eventually! Nobody can predict the future, but I’ve only got one show under my belt so I still have lots to learn myself.

What is your life mantra?
(I have two.  One for work: you are a strong, confident professional female. And one for life: you are enough, you are so enough, it's unbelievable how enough you are.)

Who is your chief musical inspiration?
I don’t even know where to begin. Any list of people I came up with would be too long and I undoubtedly would leave someone off by accident. I can only say that what inspires me most about the people on that long list is that they take up space, command a stage, make me listen to the lyrics, and make songs their own.
Those are the people who inspire me to dig deeper, go further and do more.

Final Statement
Thank you to MAC for nominating Party of One for New York Debut. I can't wait to see everyone on March 27. I have a feeling it's going to be a fun night!

Art should be unsettling...I am not interested in playing lovable characters. What I am interested in is playing women who are unconventional. - Nicole Kidman, DuJour

Joe Regan
Nominee: Piano Bar Pianist
Joe Regan is a Pianist/Singer who plays in Piano Bars, Cabaret Rooms, on International River Cruises, and Resorts. He opened for Steve Ross at the 75th Anniversary of the Chrysler Building and has been a MAC Award nominee (Manhattan Association of Cabaret) for Piano Bar Instrumentalist in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2018.
He is currently on staff at the Performing Arts School at The Mayo Performing Arts Center and is a Teaching Artist with the Papermill Playhouse in Education and Outreach.

Currently Playing:
“Don’t Tell Mama” (343 W. 46th St. New York, NY (between 8th & 9th Ave.)
Tuesdays 9pm-3am DonttellmamaNYC.com
"16 Prospect" (16 Prospect st. Westfield, NJ) 16prospect.com
Thursdays 8-11pm
Sundays 6:30-9pmWhat is it about performing in small, intimate venues that draws you to perform in cabarets? 
It is gratifying to be close enough to the audience to see, hear and feel their reactions. In a theatre, you don’t notice anything beyond the first row. You can also interact with the audience when they are up close.

Do you like introducing any unsung or new songs in your work?  
I do like to use material that is new, reworked, or rarely done. It keeps the audience on their toes and makes professionals pay attention! There is always some Jerome Kern song that is almost never done, but it calls to me.

How do you manage it all? In other words, how do you balance a personal life with a professional life? 
I guess it is difficult to manage a life with a partner/family who follows a “normal” Monday-Friday 9-5 schedule.....I have some days where I work from 9pm-3am in a Piano Bar, and some days when I have to be at choir rehearsal, or a theatre classroom at 8:30am. Every day is a combination of things. As a musician, you never have one job. I have six!!
I teach at the Performing  Arts school at The Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, NJ (Musical Theatre classes)
I work as a Teaching Artist with the Papermill Playhouse in Education and Outreach. We do cabaret performances at The Lillian Booth Actors Home of The Actors Fund in Englewood NJ.
I play in the piano bar at Don’t Tell Mama NYC on 46th St. every Tuesday evening.
I Play at 16 Prospect, a music venue in Westfield NJ every Thursday and Sunday evening.
I play seasonally in piano bars is Key West, Provincetown, and for a GLBT river cruise company.
I have a small consulting business of my own called JBR Consulting.

How did you come up with the setlist for your show?
When I play a cabaret show alone, the set list is made with a theme or source material in mind, and then I choose a story, and the tell it with the source material. (and I make sure it is never longer than 55 minutes).
For a piano bar, it’s all about what I feel from the audience. I often start the evening before the “rush” begins by asking for requests. I then give them the choice of Broadway, Pop, Rock & Roll, Country, American Standards, or Oldies from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s 80’s...

What is your show-day ritual? 

I never thought much about a ritual, but I guess I kind of do!
I don’t like to eat or drink before a show or performance, and if it’s a late show, I’ll take a little nap in the afternoon.

Who are your biggest musical influences?
Michael Feinstein, Peter Mintun, Steve Ross, Gerry Deiffenbach and Ricky Ritzel.

Why don't cabaret shows attract more of the public, in your opinion?  
I think that venues need to take chances and make live music part of their everyday operation.
Young people are used to hearing loud music piped in. When seeing and hearing live music is part of your experience, seeing cabaret shows is a more natural fit.

How did your current job come about? 
All of my current jobs have come about from being a lover of Musical Theatre. I have always been curious, devoted, and excited and opportunities appeared! I went to auditions, and thank goodness got parts...I went to piano bars as a customer, I participated enthusiastically, got up and played and sang, and eventually got shifts!

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career?
with Lauren Turner
I have learned as a performer that you have to be yourself and not try to be someone or something that does not feel right.... even if they are paying a lot of money. I worked in a particular club and I was known for my esoteric choices from Broadway the Great American Songbook. But one day the manager said to me, “I need you to be a little more: “BA-BA-BA, BA-BA-BA-RAN” (imitating the Beach Boys), you know what I mean!?” I said to him: “You’ve got two weeks notice.”

Do you have any CDS? When can we expect your new one? 
I do not have any CD’s, but I do get requests frequently, so I guess I should make one... I’ve heard all different types of live recording and studio recording cd’s and frankly, I prefer the “live recording” type.

What are you currently working on? How did this project come about? What is it that you like most about doing what you are currently doing?   Right now my projects are shows that I do during the semester at MAYO and Papermill. My spring semester shows are Thoroughly Modern Millie, Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella. I love working with kids in a performing arts school because all of them want to be there, and they are so enthusiastic!


What is your favorite “escape” in NYC? 
I love to go to all the piano bars and restaurants with pianists and singers!

What are your other passions outside of music?
My other passions include History, Geography, Mechanical engineering, and Labor Law. (I played piano in Nordstrom stores in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and then eventually I worked in Human Resources for the company, specializing in Labor Law.)
Anything else you wish included? 
There is a lot to be learned from being in the trenches of the piano bar settings in Don’t Tell Mama, Brandy’s, Marie’s Crisis, and the Duplex.  I think that cabaret performers should be required to sit in any one of those places for 3 hours from 9:30pm-12:30am on a Monday-Thursday night. It is a master class in intimate audience interaction every week.

Sean Harkness
Nominee; Major Artist,
Major Duo (with Marcus Simeone)
Ensemble Instrumentalist.
Congratulations on your MAC nomination!

What does THIS nomination mean to you?
First of all, to be acknowledged at all by the MAC community is inherently of
great personal value to me, as this is a growing collection of people who strive for quality, integrity, and high ideals; who labor for excellence with an open mind to
connect with other people's humanity. Now more than ever this matters.
This year I am nominated three times: Major Artist, Major Duo, and Ensemble
Instrumentalist. As each award has subtly
different meanings for me, the combination itself validates an approach I have taken in my career for a number of years now:
I am an Artist on the guitar – I compose, record, and perform my own original music [and interpretations of established works] both nationally and
internationally, and in various formats [solo, duo, ensemble, etc]. I also do a lot of work as an accompanist with other Artists.
In the greater context of Music, whether serving as an Artist or accompanist I am always present as a particular Character – as Sean Harkness. In this way, I am not competing with anyone. Essentially, I am the absolute best Sean Harkness anyone could ever be. With whom would I be competing?
So when someone says, “we need a guitarist for this project” I simply say, “let me open up my Contacts and help you find someone”. I am not competing for those jobs.

It has taken much time and determination to establish myself in the musical
community in this way.

Now all the offers I get are specifically for me. I get calls to “please come and be Sean Harkness in this project because that's what is needed here”.
To be recognized with a combination of nominations for Major Artist, Major Duo, and Ensemble Instrumentalist tells me that this approach is working.
What Are you reading now?
As usual, I'm in the middle of a few things; whichever suits my mood for the
plane, train, or bus ride. That's where I do most of my reading.
I just finished Lush Life: A Biography of Billy Strayhorn, which is a momentous work to me on many levels.
Author Barry Eisler continues to enlighten me with his 'fictional' plots of international espionage and riveting political intrigue.

On the top of the pile is The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke.
These stories were written in the middle 1950s and are still so fresh and relevant. Finally, always close at hand are the works of P.G. Wodehouse, E.B. White, and Douglas Adams. To me, each is a genius of Turn Of Phrase.
Pure word-music.
I love to read. One of my guitar heroes was Jim Hall. He would go to the Met and take inspiration from paintings. I would love to find a way to take musical inspiration from writing.

What is your bookstore wish list?
More from David Hajdu. On any subject.

What is your favorite anecdote that has happened to you in your career?
As we age, we develop catch phrases. They alternately amuse/annoy our loved ones who hear them all the time, but they work on new people... Two of mine are: “I usually know the chords” (generally used to avoid conversations about
politics, sports, astrophysics, etc), and “unless Sting calls” (used to get a chuckle when someone is booking me for a gig over the phone). Fast-forward to the night Sally-Ann Triplett is playing Feinstein's/54 Below.
I helped her find musicians, so I went to cheer them all on from the bar. As she dazzles the crowd song after song, about 2/3 the way in she announces that her dear friend, the great singer/songwriter Sting is coming up for a number! As he walks through
the ecstatic crowd, on mic she says, “and is my friend Sean in the audience? Sean, love, won't you come join us for a number?” As I'm walking to the stage looking stunned, she whispers “let's do the James Taylor song Baby, You Can Close Your Eyes. I know this only enough to know there are chords flying all over at strange times, phrases of odd length with bars of 2/4, etc. I look in a panic
to the band and they each shrug with open palms. Sting, watching all this, with a smirk says on the microphone, “come on up, Sean, you'll be fine” See what just happened? Sting just called and I don't know the chords.

What has been your greatest experience in this profession?
Quite simply the continual experience of being in it. My first guitar came on my eleventh birthday. Six months later, I was playing a weekly gig in the lobby of a local theater. I have been gigging non-stop ever since. I couldn't begin to list or
judge hierarchically the experiences that have unfolded in that time. Each day brings treasure beyond compare of songs, lyrics, and the singers and other musicians who interpret them. Then there are the places we go to do it! Simply
looking forward to what's coming up is a great experience.

Have you ever considered teaching a class?
I have taught privately [even a couple name-brand rock-stars who I can't mention!], and quite often I teach Master Classes and Clinics. I also work with/alongside other Artists who teach clinics and classes. Here again [see question #1], I bring my own approach to arranging and interpreting a song; working with singers and other musicians; understanding musical concepts such as chords, voicings, scales, arpeggios, etc.; and the techniques of playing the
guitar itself.
That said, it is a dream of mine to move to Kobe, Japan and teach classes at the Koyo Conservatory, which is a Berklee College of Music affiliate. I'd do that in a heartbeat. Retirement plan?

Who is your chief musical inspiration?
I tried writing them all down once and ended up with six four-column pages in a Word.doc before I gave up.
I suppose it's more of a 'that' than a specific 'who'.
As for 'who', there are so many, and all for different reasons. Glen Campbell was my first inspiration as a boy.

[The more I grew, the more of an inspiration he
became!] Then everyone from Angus Young [AC/DC] to Duane Allman to Jeff
Beck to Pat Metheny to George Benson to Chet Atkins to Tommy Emanuel to …
See? Where do I stop that list?
In every performer – instrumentalists and vocalists alike – I am moved by genuine inspiration in their performance. I hear it loud and clear. [I also hear when it is missing...] Anytime I hear it, I too am inspired. I live for that. THAT is my chief
musical inspiration.

If you were to vote for someone else in your categories, who would you vote for?
Major Artist Male:
Really tough one - Jeff and Eric are each
Jeff Harnar (seen here with Jay Leonhart
seasoned pros with vast and deep artistry to offer.  I'd likely swing towards Eric due to his combination of piano playing, singing, and overall raconteur vibe.
Major Duo:
Carole and Sarah.  Their individual works tower over all others in the category [and anywhere?], and this specific show they've collaborated on is so full of heart and soul.
Ensemble Instrumentalist:
Ray or Dave, Ray or Dave, Ray or Dave...  All of the guys listed are great musicians, consummate professionals, and I work regularly with them all.  Both Dave and Ray, though - they're neck-and-neck in my view, as they each immerse themselves in such a wide variety of styles, artists, and challenges.
Eric Comstock
Really not sure where my pen [mouse?] would land.

A final statement for my blog
Richard, your enthusiasm is contagious. Your engagement with the community and the material it covers is thorough and complete. We love you! Thank you so much for including me in this, and encouraging me to share what is so near and dear to my heart. ~Sean
Check out Sean Harkness' Website HERE

Thank you, to ALL who are mentioned in this blog for gifts you have given to the world and will continue to give

Now, go and do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return!



Here are a Few Testimonials for Richard Skipper Celebrates: Next One March 18th 1PM Laurie Beechman Theater:

Mr. Richard Skipper's Show was beautiful!!! 
It was far greater then I imagine. 
Looking forward to the next show. 
If you have not experienced his events, you owe it to yourself!! You will not be disappointed. 
He is a rare Gem!! 
Darnell Colliers, NYC

I had never been to one of Richard's "Celebrate" shows, so when he invited me to perform, I didn't really know what to expect. Wow! It was a great show. It's not just a show - it's a production! I had such a nice time, and the audience was having a lot of fun. Richard is a great interviewer and his ability to think on his feet, joke, and make the audience feel comfortable is a talent. Congrats!
Shana Farr, New York, NY

My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed Richard Skipper Celebrates. The singers were all wonderful and their backstories were so inspiring. Richard is a very talented host with a sparkling presence and infectious energy. My husband said that he should have your own talk show! Looking toward to seeing you again! Regards, Michelle & Michael Arnold

March 18th, 2018 

Russ Woolley Proudly Presents
Richard Skipper Celebrates
John Kander... On His 91st Birthday!
 

1 PM Brunch Show Laurie Beechman Theater  

Confirmed to perform are Tony Award winner Lilias WhiteDonna Marie Asbury currently in Chicago on Broadway, Jana Robbins (Zorba with two separate tours with Georgio Tozzi and Theodore Bikel), Lucia Spina (Kinky Boots), David Sabella (originated Mary Sunshine in the current revival of Chicago on Broadway), and Sandy Stewart (My Coloring Book) and two-time Grammy nominee Bill Charlap
Click HERE to see The Promo Video
Reserve TODAY to ensure your seats! You Never Know Who You Might See There and What Might Happen!

With grateful XOXOXs ,

 

Phil Ford and Mimi Hines (Courtesy: Mimi Hines)

CallonDolly.com
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Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!  
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Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
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TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY

Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com





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