New this year, the series is presented by The Storefront, founded in 1999 by artistic director Phil Geoffrey Bond. This young company has already garnered attention for its concert performances of a revised version of the Charles Strouse-Stephen Schwartz musical Rags and for its revues of the music of Schwartz, John Bucchino, and Brett Kristofferson, not to mention the revue Gashole: The Wit and Wisdom of the '70s. In New Mondays, the work of both established and up-and-coming composers, lyricists, and composer-lyricists is showcased; the material is sometimes sung by the creators, sometimes by noted theater and cabaret artists, but always with the composer at the piano. The first show of the series, on June 3, offered songs by George Wurzbach, Julie Gold, and Tim DiPasqua. Subsequent evenings contained work by such folks as David Friedman, Rick Jensen, Michael John LaChiusa, Jason Robert Brown, Tom Andersen and Ian Herman, John Wallowitch, and Gerry Dieffenbach.
On July 8, New Mondays presented new songs by John Bucchino, Amanda Green, and Stephen Schwartz. These were performed by the writers themselves, with the terrific musical comedian Brooks Ashmanskas also on hand to deliver "If You Leave Me..." (an hysterically funny number with lyrics by Green and music by W.E. Kennon) and to join with Green and pianist Tom Kitt in "The 'V' Song" (a paean to, what else, the vagina, with lyrics by Green and music by Curtis Moore). There was also some cross-pollination going on: Green sang "I'm Not That Girl" from Schwartz's new musical Wicked, and Bucchino and Schwartz performed "The Line Forms on the Right," which they co-wrote. And all three writers chimed in for a memorable rendition of Bucchino and Green's wonderfully satiric "Ladies' Man."
One might well expect an underwhelming song or two to work its way into an evening like this, but such was certainly not the case on July 8. Bucchino's versatility was fully displayed in the funny stream-of-consciousness piece "Painting My Kitchen," the wry "Oh Lord, I've Mastered the Plastic Smile," and the touching "I've Learned to Let Things Go." The fact that Amanda Green has inherited significant talent as a lyricist from her father, Adolph Green, was demonstrated in her three selections. And though many of those present in the sold-out house were probably there to hear two excellent songs from Wicked, which is slated for Broadway next season, Schwartz's "Boy on the Roof" and "Forgiveness's Embrace" from his album Uncharted Territory also turned out to be audience favorites.
There is one more New Mondays show left in the current run of performances: Karen Mack, Andrew Lippa, and Michael Holland will strut their stuff on July 15 at 7pm. After a hiatus, the series will recommence in the fall. The Duplex is located at 61 Christopher Street; reservations for this Monday's show may be made by phoning 212-255-5438.
[Ed. Note: Barbara & Scott Siegel will be back next week with a follow-up report on the Québec City Summer Festival]