The next Spotlight On YOU Open Mic is exactly 1 week away! Are you ready to join the spotlight? Time to pick your song and invite your friends!
While you ponder over your song choice for the evening, I want to entertain you with my interview with the very talented and multi-award winning composer/musical director/performer Bill Zeffiro a.k.a. "the Zeff".
For those of you who don't know Bill Zeffiro, he is the winner of seven Manhattan Association of Cabaret (MAC) Awards and the 2014 Midtown International Theatre Festival award for Outstanding Cabaret Performance. In 2012 and 2013 he was honored by MAC for Best Special Material Song. He also received the MAC for Piano Bar/ Singing Instrumentalist four years in a row. Appearances include the Café Carlyle, Town Hall, The Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel and Lincoln Center. He played Richard Nixon at the York Theatre in the Musical Drama ‘Jack’ for which he has also composed additional music. His play “Frame 313” aka ‘The Backseat Of The Lincoln’ was produced by Ensemble Atria in the Midtown International Theater Festival and his songs have been recorded and performed by Tony Award Winner George S. Irving, along with Emily Bergl, Ann Morrison, Terese Genecco, and Marissa Mulder. Bill wrote book, music, and lyrics for The Road To Ruin which played the York Theatre and was directed by Broadway legend Pat Birch. Plans are currently in the works for an Off Broadway production in 2018.It was also on the Talkin’ Broadway Top Ten Best Cast Albums. His CD “Better Than Nothing” a collection of his original songs was just released and is available at https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/billzeffiro. He is completing book, music lyrics on his new musical ‘Mommie Deadest” and composing a one act opera. He appears regularly playing and singing at La Rivista in Manhattan. He is regarded as an expert on the music of Kay Swift, and produced the legendary Merkin Hall concert in 1986. Other writing projects include scripts for USA Television Network’s UP ALL NIGHT.
I first met Bill back in 2013 at the Salon when I was brand new in the world of cabaret. I remembered him singing and playing one of his original songs and I was super impressed!
Bill is an all around entertainer who is great at engaging his audience.
I've had the pleasure of working with him at several shows over the years and it was always a great experience! Bill is an extraordinary musical director who is gifted with the ability to scope out what "works" with each and every performer he works with which makes him super fun to sing with. You will see what I mean when you join us next Friday!
For this interview, I asked Bill the following questions:
1) Can you share with us an interesting fact that most people don’t know about you?
I love studying American history and oddball presidents in particular. I'd be willing to bet that I have more extensive knowledge of Warren G. Harding than almost anybody else in the cabaret world.
2) Over your years of music, do you have a particularly interesting story that you'd like to share with the readers?
Well, I guess meeting and singing for Sinatra at an East Side Italian place , owned by 'the boys', back on Columbus Day 1990. Frank came in for dinner with his wife, his best pal Jilly, his daughter, Tina, and former Mayor Wagner. After they settled in he left his table to come into the bar, so I started to play 'All The Way' , he right at me and said,"Pretty Baby, pretty." That got my courage up, so while he was in the bar I played and sang all Sinatra.
As he was heading back to his table, I played a song I thought he'd like:
"This Love of Mine." Frank stopped. Looked over at me and said,"Hey. I wrote that!" And blew me a kiss. That's my best story and 'Pretty Baby, pretty." Goes on the tombstone.
3) What motivates your creativity and passion for life? What inspires your music? Name three things that never fails to put a smile on your face!
1. George Gershwin
2. Frank Sinatra
3. Kurt Vonnegut
4) Share with us what you have in the pipeline for us to be on the lookout for!
We're doing a reading/backers audition of my musical ,"The Road To Ruin," on November 9th and 10th directed by 5 time Tony nominee, and two time Emmy winner Pat Birch.
I've also begun work on a one Act opera 'Truman and Nancy' based on a the beautiful graphic novel 'Capote In Kansas' by Ande Parks and Chris Samne.
The premise is that Truman Capote enters the home where the Clutter family was murdered and meets the ghost of 16 year old Nancy Clutter. She tells Truman her spirit can't be free unless he promises to honor and memorialize her family; not just tell how they died. I see it as a two person piece around 30-40 minutes long.
So, basically, I try to always stay in motion. That's what I learned from Kitty Carlyle, Kay Swift and mainly my mother.
How fascinating! I know that I enjoyed the stories and I would be surprised if you weren't! Come join us at the SPOTLIGHT next Friday and experience for yourself! Bring your favorite song!