"I don't sing because I'm happy; I'm happy because I sing"

Continuation…and please understand that I’m as enthusiastic about plugging my talented peers in the business as much as I am writing about my own exploits!

Monday, Monday…was filled with music towards the end of it. During the day, I shook off the concept of doing any temp work (hadn’t gotten a call) and puttered around the apartment for a bit. Hung my handmade jewelry rack on the wall, so I was finally able to hang and display my earrings and necklaces for easy reach. A girl’s got priorities! We still have so many more things to hang, and I still need a desk (thinking of this one from Bed, Bath and Beyond, but haven’t decided). Need a hamper, too…and a wardrobe…

Ich! But I digress…music! Music!!! That afternoon, I met up with my friend Brian Hobbs, who asked me to rehearse with him for an audition for BMI, the Broadcast Music, Inc. I’m not exactly sure what the outcome will be if it goes well, but it is simply great to discover him as a composer and work with him and his work. We went through 3 songs which I will memorize and re-work with him closer to when the audition time draws near.

I traveled directly from the Ripley-Grier studios where we were rehearsing (holy crap! Cheap rehearsal places for singers/dancers/pianists!) to The Duplex at 61 Christopher Street off the 1 train. This was to see the Monday Nights New Voices showcase, a monthly celebration and discovery showcase of new singers and new composers produced by Scott Alan (an upcoming composer himself with Broadway knocking on his own door). The structure is thus: a single composer with a solid starting repertoire is chosen for the month, along with 5 or 6 singers from the New York area who are up and coming themselves (ie have not yet made it to Broadway fame, but have the talent and drive to deserve to be heard – hmmm, sound familiar? 🙂 ). The show starts off with each singer performing a song of their choosing. The piano is then turned over to the composer of the night. He or she talks about his or her work and each singer takes turns performing the songs. It’s a great format – singers get to show different sides to their abilities, and composers have a chance to get good, solid singers to perform their pieces.

This night was particularly fun and engaging. I knew no one in the room, had to put my best fot forward. Met David Simpatico, writer of the stage version of High School Musical who sat at my table and talked to me of New York. Met Derek, who is now in a NY Fringe Festival show called “The Johnny” (concept: “The Johnny musical answers the question: What happened to the bullying blonde jock in all those beloved ’80s movies AFTER he lost to the scrappy young underdog? Drawing on inspirations such as The Karate Kid and Back to School, The Johnny musical tells a completely new story that begins just as those nerd-defeats-bully stories are ending.”) I correctly surmised from Derek’s bleach-blonde hair that he was playing the bully himself.

This night was also special because the composer of the evening was Georgia Stitt, someone I had heard of in Los Angeles. My voice teacher, Calvin, had played “This Ordinary Thursday” to me on the piano, and I was struck by her ability to capture simple human imagery in just a few short lyrics. She is also known for being married to Jason Robert Brown, a musical theater composer who is incredibly popular amongst singers and musical theater-philes. Jason was there himself in the audience, probably quite proud of his wife’s continuing rise in acclaim. Between the two of them, quite a talented household.

The singers of the night were Kelly Caufild, Tom Lucca, Michael Lowney, Onyie Nwachukwu, Andrea St. Clair, Lizzie Weiss. Musical Director was Barbara Anselmi, and Donna Lynne Champlin was a hilarious hostess for the evening (check out Donna’s website for some great 80’s hair-shots of her past). Everyone on the staged proved that there is indeed a plethora of talent to pick from in New York. Great voices and stage presence, humor, acting, connection with the audience – everything was exemplified that night.

I’m emailing my submission to Scott Alan to take part in a future MNNV showcase, so keep your eyes peeled for a possible post entitled “Sierra Rein in ‘Monday Nights New Voices’ Next Month!” Or, something catchier.

Next post – I let you know how 1930’s Idol goes! And I plan on revisiting the Algonquin Salon on Thursday.



Saturday afternoon, I met up with a friend of a friend, musical theater composer/writer Mark Garcia. Mark had moved from New York a number of years ago from Los Angeles, and had seen the show “bare” nine times while I was in it at the Hudson Theater (including one of the times I went on as Nadia). We both have Bally Total Fitness memberships, love cats, and are musical theater geeks, so I thought that inviting him to meet up was a no-brainer.

We met and ate really good Thai peanut jicama/veggie salads, talked about our projects (his musicals and new book, my new adventures in open mic & cabaret land). His musicals center around unique ideas, some inspired from news events or found books, and his own book is inspired by his past experience in the theater. I won’t go into them for fear of saying too much, but Mark gave me the first chapter of his book, which I will read.

We then visited the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market on 38th street between 9th and 10th Aves. I instantly regretted it – there was SOOO much stuff I would have bought and taken home, a horrific challenge to my budget. Racks and racks of old clothes, hats, purses, tables spread with antique jewelry, knick-knacks, military outfits & accessories, old books (Playboys!), frames and framed pictures, furniture, furs…oh the list goes on. I bought a long strand of chain & crystal beads plus a pair of old crystal clip-on earrings to wear for the 1930’s Idol show on Wednesday. We also went through a box of old photos – wedding pictures, baby pictures, souvenir photos from restaurants in the New York and New Jersey area. Memories caught for a family but forgotten, only for strangers to pick up and ruminate on.

This box, and indeed all the stuff found at this great flea market, reminded me that the East Coast is incredibly old to the eyes of a Californian, where most buildings are less than 100 years young. Here in New York, families have stayed and passed down their heirlooms for more than 200 years. It also made me a bit puzzled to think about the thinks I will pass down to the next generation – plastic Star Wars toys and digital pictures? And what about furniture? The furniture of the past was made of beautiful wood, hand-carved pieces meant to last for many, many years. What do I have – Ikea :/ furniture, which is bound to be sold used on Craigslist or tossed on the curb if a part of the particle board gets too worn down or has a hole in it. Sigh. Then again, someone in the future may find interest in my Munny figures or MST3K DVD collection….maybe.

That afternoon with Mark & the flea market was a lot of fun. I’ll definitely have to meet up with Mark again (maybe catch a show or go to Bally Fitness together), and the flea market is calling me to it again for this weekend. I’ll try some restraint on the latter…

More to come…