Posted on October 28, 2014 at 3:11 am

I have a lot of history with Merkin Concert Hall. When I was 20 years old, my first job in New York City was as the accompanist for a community choir called the Rottenberg Chorale, which was conducted by the great Elayne Robinson Grossman. I was hired for the job by Sean Hartley, who worked for the Lucy Moses School where the Rottenbergs were in residence, and I spent two years working with them – our concerts were always at Merkin Hall, which was therefore the first concert hall in New York City that I ever set foot on. So when Sean called me in April, twenty-four years after the first time he called me, and asked if I would do a concert in the Kaufman Center’s Broadway Close Up series this fall, I said yes immediately, even though I knew it would most likely fall right in the middle of rehearsals for Honeymoon In Vegas.

The only way that it was going to make sense for me to do the concert while my head is so deeply preoccupied with Honeymoon was that I had to have singers join me who I loved singing with. If I couldn’t make great music, it wasn’t going to be worth it. Well. I got what I wanted.

My beloved Betsy Wolfe sang from Songs for a New World and The Bridges of Madison County, in addition to reprising one of her most sensational numbers from The Last Five Years. The incredible Jesse Warren-Nager showed up on TWO DAYS’ NOTICE, and while he was still doing his full schedule of shows at Motown, and sang a song from Parade that he’d performed at the University of Michigan when he was a student there (Go Blue!), a song from 13 that will never be the same now that he’s done it, and a beautiful rendition of a song from Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes. And finally, the wonderful Brynn O’Malley raced over from Honeymoon In Vegas rehearsal to preview her amazing rendition of one of her big songs.

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It was a really lovely night, and it was a treat to be back at Merkin Hall after all this time (even though it did seem like it got a lot smaller). Thanks to Sean and the whole Kaufman Center gang for inviting me and for taking such good care of us!

BETSY: Stars and the Moon (Songs for a New World)

JASON: The Old Red Hills of Home (Parade)

JESSE: That’s What He Said (Parade)

JASON: Moving Too Fast (The Last Five Years)

BETSY: A Summer In Ohio (The Last Five Years)

JESSE: What It Means To Be A Friend (13)

JASON & BETSY: Falling Into You (The Bridges of Madison County)

JASON: It All Fades Away (The Bridges of Madison County)

JESSE: Someone To Fall Back On (Wearing Someone Else’s Clothes)

BRYNN: Anywhere But Here (Honeymoon In Vegas)

JASON: I Love Betsy (Honeymoon In Vegas)

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to share this lovely night with us.  It was an unexpected pleasure on all fronts. Now back to Honeymoon In Vegas rehearsals – first preview is on November 18!

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