SOUND ADVICE: Steve Schultz steps in with 'Over the Edge'
Published: Friday, June 14, 2013
By DAVID MALACHOWSKI
ARTIST: Steve Schultz
ALBUM: Over The Edge
Pleasant Valleys Steve Schultz has sparkling CD, Over The Edge, with a few ties to our area: famed keyboardist Pete Levin joins in, as well as drummer Eric Wagner.
Schultz wrote all of the songs here save for a clever cover of Billy Joels New York State Of Mind, which he offers as a bonus track, and he certainly has a way with a majestic pop tune.
Joel is surely an influence for Schultz as is Ben Folds, and this CD kicks off with the melodic, piano-driven ballad Shadow, a melancholy remembrance sung in an earnest, capable voice, as he pulls the heartstrings with just his voice and piano.
Title track Over The Edge has much more, with a delightful bounce that sounds like a lost Supertramp track, starting out with piano, horns join in for a big build, while theres a lush a string section in gorgeous The Hands Of Angels.
Other highlights include the expansive The World Outside and dreamy heartbreak ode Slow Down, where he sings, When I close my eyes, I live white lies.
Theres a certainly a lack of new romantic balladeers these days, and here Steve Schultz has stepped up to the plate, and hit it out of the park.
David Malachowski is a guitarist, producer and freelance journalist. The Freeman seeks CDs by local artists or artists appearing locally for review. Please send all CDs (please, no CD-Rs or demo CDs) to Daily Freeman c/o Preview, 79 Hurley Avenue, Kingston, N.Y. 12401
Covering Bedford Village, Bedford Hills and Katonah
Let Them Entertain You: BCT's Gypsy is a Winner
Performances for for two consecutive weekends beginning Nov. 12.
By Michael Iachetta | November 12, 2010
Everything is coming up roses in the Bedford Community Theater's hit musical revival of the Broadway classic "Gypsy" being staged through this weekend and next at the Bedford Hills Community House, 74 Main St.
What the talented area amateur performers are doing represents community theater at its best. They are breathing new life into one of the all-time great Broadway shows revolving around the mother of all show business mothers pushing her two daughters towards stage stardom at all costs in the dying era of vaudeville, only to be abandoned by them just as she has been abandoned by the men in her life.
And the BCT is doing the family saga with a cast of around 60 performers, a Broadway-size pit band that does justice to the music, and four solid leads in the belting Elise Godfrey as Mama Rose , Gene Pope as the long-suffering Herbie, the sensitive late life love in her life, and Rose's two late-blooming daughters, her fave Baby June (Kayla Moore) and her ugly duckling Louise (Michelle Tendy).
It doesn't give away anything to say that Louise grows up to become the legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, and Ms. Tendy, a psychology major at SUNY Purchase, may have the best, classically-trained voice on the stage while she fleshes out her notes with acting poise beyond her years in her sensitive performance as the budding Gypsy.
Or that Ms. Moore, a seventh grader at Fox Lane Middle School, is already a veteran performer who has appeared in the Westchester Broadway Theater's "Peter Pan," makes the opening series of the classic "Let Me Entertain You" numbers a joy .
Or that Ms. Godfrey, a member of the PMT Productions Executive Board and a local community theater staple in roles ranging from Reno Sweeney in "Anything Goes" to the title role in "Mame," makes Mama Roses's long-suffering "My Turn" mother's lament an anthem in the inimitable style of the late, great Ethel Merman who gave birth to the first Broadway version of "Gypsy" back in 1959.
Or that the understatedly- talented Pope, last seen as Andrew Undershaft in the BCT's "Major Barbara," brings the same endearingly genuine loving characteristics to Herbie as Boyd Gaines did in the same role in his Tony Award-winning performance of "Gypsy" last season. Indeed, that "Gypsy" won the Broadway dahling Patti Lupone a Tony as Mama Rose, and Laura Benanti won one for her portrayal in a 2008 production of Gypsy.
We mention that because Gaines is now starring opposite Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones in the Broadway revival of "Driving Miss Daisy" and Ms. Lupone and Benanti have leads in the Broadway stage version of Pedro Amalvar's film "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown."
And tickets to those Broadway shows cost in the $120 price range for an orchestra seat. It costs around ten times less to see the BCT "Gypsy" without the Broadway commute and hassle. And you get to see a plethora of BCT area talent maybe even a neighbor or three that has been rehearsing since around Labor Day to bring this enjoyable local "Gypsy" to the local stage.
This is a well-conceived "Gypsy" that runs around three hours with intermission, more than most of the current Broadway musicals, so they don't make them like that anymore. And this "Gypsy" is also an attention-grabber from the get go as director Carin Zakes floods the stage with what looks like a cast of thousands OK, more like 60from the balloon girl (Ava Goodstein) to the multi-talented voice over ace Jim Brownwald (who goes on to play multiple roles) to what looks like a ballet troupe that goes on to become Mama Rose's various touring troupes with names like the Toreadorable/Hollywood Blondes (headed by the lovely Carly Dieck and her many counterparts, Jenai Cayea, Nola Dankin, Sami Naus, Charlotte Thompson and Julia Hagen).
When conductor Elizabeth Gerbi gives the first downbeat, the band strikes up the memorable score and really starts swinging with the reeds (Charles Gray, Jennie LeClere and Kathy Vartuli), the trumpets (David Pratt and Shane Waxler), trombone (Jeffrey Ballerini), bass/cello (Don Cooksey),drums (Eric Wagner) and violin (Yanni Metaas, who has played at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, sings with the John Jay High School male a cappella group called The Rolling Tones, and comes up on stage to play various kid roles as well, including a violin solo).
What transpires next is that producers Diane Bradsell and Patrick Brown, musical director Carol Arucci and choreographer Tricia Arenson proceed to bring "Gypsy" to life, from the opening fixed vaudeville talent show to the closing "My Turn."
There are a lot of stops, chow mein, and unpaid bills and salaries in between because the action of the play covers a period from the early 1920s to the early 1930s, and takes place in various cities throughout the U.S, from Seattle to Omaha, from legit vaudeville stops to a burlesque house in Wichita to Minsky's in New York.
And the stage is constantly being filled with local talent that includes Laura Quinn as Baby Louise, John Timmel as Pop and newsboys Jasmine McGreen, Lexi Naus and Hannah Dieck, even Kimmi Naus and Sarah Zuk as a cow that becomes part of the corny vaudeville act Mama Rose puts together and never really changes over the years even as the kids age while Rose refuses to let them come of age.
Rose keeps surrounding her beloved June with unpaid talent in an act that never catches on, with the evolving June's surrounding cast including the dancing whiz James McAvlanah as Tulsa, and his colleagues, played by Logan Carbaugh, Mitch Kutin and the aforementioned Metaxas. The maturing June (Alex Bradsell) decides to desert the sinking ship to pursue stardom with Tulsa, and the show shifts into a new direction that goes from vaudeville to burlesque, none of that hurly burly too risqué for a young community theater audience that is part of what BCT is trying to attract. Stage manager Maeve O'Neill, costume designer Carolyn Nielsen and set designer Carin Zakes, also the whiz bang director, have their hands full whirling their varied cast around the stage, including talents like Peer Green, Lauron Lewis, Jennifer Wallack, and Richard Gilbert in multiple roles and an ensemble that features Wendy Van Buren, Jennifer Wallack, Maeve Luparello, Lydia Steenman, Sark Zuk and Kimmi Naus, the latter two also playing the front and rear end of a cow as mentioned earlier.
All of which leads up to one of the great comic sequences in the show when Maggie Thompson, Amy Simmons and Ann Peterson respectively play the burlesque queens with a gimmick as the bump-and-grinding Tessie Tura, Mazeppa (with her trumpet) and Electra with strategically-placed bulbs that light up her body fore and aft. Mount Kisco's Ms. Thompson, by the way, is a professional actress coming back to the theater after 20 years spent raising her son. Simmons, a Port Chester elementary school teacher in Port Chester, sings with the Manhattanville College Choir and is also returning to the stage after a 20-year hiatus that offers female shades of Rip Van Winkle. And Peterson, a former theater major at SUNY Oswego who has taught at Stagedoor Manor, is a principal in a New York-based marketing and public relations company. So she--and they--really know how to sell the nuances of their roles depicting broken hearts and dreams that go well beyond their burlesqued lives.
That goes for all the leads as well.
In one of the play's most touching scenes, for example, Herbie reaches a turning point when the ultra-ambitious Rose sends her virginal Louise out onto the stage as a gloved, evening-gowned, stripper-to-be with a gimmick, and Ms. Godfrey, Tendy and Pope movingly bring that achey-breaky, touchy-feely sequence to life.
We could go on and on, but, In brief, this is a "Gypsy" that represents another big step in the life of BCT, founded in the gall of 2002 as part of the vision of Jennifer Vara, then a newly-hired manager in the Bedford Recreation & Parks Dept.
Since then, BCT auditions typically attract close to 100 town residents, from young children making their stage debut to seasoned community theatre participants. BCT is already at work on a 2011 season that includes "The Fantasticks," Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" and "Hairspray."
But judging by the final dress rehearsal performance Patch caught Thursday night, they are going to have a hit with the current "Gypsy." So, to paraphrase a few memorable lines from the show, let them entertain you, let them sell and tell the timeless themes, songs and dance moves, and let them put the show in show business as they sing out the great "Gypsy" book by Arthur Laurents, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim .
Further information and show dates and times: www.bedfordcommunitytheatre.org; phone 244-0474. The theatre is two blocks from the Bedford Hills RR station off Bedford Center Rd. on Main St.
Exploring the benefits of playing music together
Joining the band
Being in a band gives kids a sense of belonging and and a place to feel safe. Thats according to Lois Hicks-Wozniak, a West Point music teacher whos played in bands herself. She joined her school band in 6th grade and played the saxophone.
As an adult, she performed with the United States Military Academy Band. A self-described band geek, Hicks-Wozniak is not alone in her love for being a part of a band. Her daughters, Zoe and Hannah Titlebaum have both played in the West Point Middle School band for the past four years. Zoe plays the flute. She says she chose it, because she knew shed enjoy the challenge and the variety of music she could perform with it. Her favorite song to play is Edelweiss from The Sound of Music. She loves how audiences smile, whenever the band plays a concert.
Hannah chose the French horn because she thinks it looks cool. She also feels that being able to play the horn gives her an edge, when it comes to auditioning for parts, since there arent many kids in her school who can play the horn.
Band builds friendships
The sisters say band participation has also helped them strengthen friendships. My best friends are in band. Not only because we have the same interest, but because we spend so much time together, says Hannah. She adds that the benefits go far beyond just having fun with friends. She says learning to harmonize is an awesome team experience, since kids have to listen to one another in order to blend their music. Its a better team building exercise than any school counselor can do, says Hannah.
While the girls are learning team work, theyre also learning to be competitive. Students get to audition for solo performances and for the honor of representing their school in countywide competitions. Hannah successfully tried out for the Orange County Symphony. Shes also been in the All-County Band. I do like competing with my instrument, said Hannah. And I dont get to do that in school, because Im the only French horn player in my grade. Meanwhile, her sister Zoe says she gets a kick out of putting on a really good performance. I feel really proud of myself, because I know I was working hard on the piece and proud of the band, because we work extremely hard, says Zoe. Some of the pieces we work on for three months. She says per-forming with so many people, who like the same thing really makes the experience fun.
Many kids and adults have great memories of their time spent in band, where they learned a lot more than just music. Eric Wagner is an example. He teaches private drum lessons at his studio in Poughkeepsie He says being in a school band can also teach kids lessons that they can take out into the real world.
Wagner began playing in a school band in third grade and continued performing all the way through college. He was so eager to join, that they let him in a year early and his passion for playing the drums has never waned. He has made a career out of performing and teaching the drums. I developed leadership skills, communication skills, team oriented skills, to name a few. The ability to practice with ensembles and create music together was so essential in my growth as a musician and young person, says Wagner. The performing bug hit me early on and I thrived for the chance to entertain. These were essential skills allowing me to continue to flourish in college and in life. Wagner highly recommends that kids join a band, because of the positive experience kids can get out of it.
Catching the Band Bug
One of his students, Jordan Cornell, who plays drums in the Arlington Central School District, has also caught the bug. Its been great to be part of several bands in school because I love music, and it gives me an opportunity to spend time with others with the same interests, says Jordan. Being part of a jazz band, marching band, rock band and orchestra have really caused me to develop an interest in music that I might otherwise not have gotten into on my own. Besides playing in multiple school bands, Jordan plays in a rock band with five other sophomores from his school. The band is called Tearing Down the Stars. Jordan started playing piano at the age of four and also plays the guitar, but his love for the drums started in the fourth grade and hasnt stopped. The benefits of being part of a band are tremendous, particularly in a school the size of Arlington High School, says Jordans mom, Connie Cornell. Jordan entered his freshman year with the 140 new friends he met during the two-week, full-day marching band camp prior to the start of school.
Making beautiful music
While research has proven many benefits to playing a musical instrument, practicing and performing as a group allows students to take their musical experience to a new level. Everybody depends upon everyone else to make the music right and to make it good, said Hicks-Wozniak. It cant be held together by one person. Everybody has a part. The idea of having a part in making beautiful music with so many other children makes these students passionate about being in the school band.
It is never too early to introduce young children to music making, says Miranda Haydn. As the director of Catskill Mountain Music Together, she works with children from birth to five years of age. Listening to music on CDs, television, and videos is not the same as making live music oneself, she says. Haydn feels all children are musical and can benefit from making music. She says the basic music competence achieved at an early age can be a foundation for formal musical studies in the future. Local programs like Catskill Mountain Music Together and Musical Munchkins work with young children to foster a love for music in a group setting that includes the use of instruments.
It is my experience that formal music instruction of an instrument such as the study of the recorder, piano or violin, at a young age is best introduced in a group situation with plenty of movement, play and singing incorporated in the program, says Andrea Soberman, director of Musical Munchkins of Orange County. Children at this stage learn best in a playful environment and social setting. Soberman feels children are generally ready for individual music lessons by the time they reach elementary school, but she says some would-be virtuosi, may be ready earlier.
Even if a child doesn't begin early, its never too late to start playing an instrument and enjoying the benefits. Poughkeepsie drum teacher, Eric Wagner says his average student begins taking classes between the ages of eight and twelve-years-old. Occasionally, he accepts even younger students, who show enthusiasm for playing the drums. When looking for someone to teach private lessons, Wagner suggests doing some research by getting recommendations from other parents, school band teachers and word of mouth to make sure the teacher has a solid musical background. Find out of if your prospective teacher still performs regularly, says Wagner. This will add to the confidence of knowing, if he is a good teacher and whether the teacher practices his craft.
Janine Boldrin is a writer who lives in West Point with her family.