Nicholas Kaminski brings an exciting new voice to The Green Room 42
Decades ago, in the 1950s and 1960s, there were clubs and resorts that specialized in producing musical revues for their guests. It was a place where young performers like Kaye Ballard and Alice Ghostley honed their skills before coming to conquer Broadway and a place where young writers like Bock & Harnick and Kander & Ebb honed their craft focusing on what was called once the “specialty”. Equipment.”
Nicholas Kaminski, whose eponymous show opened Saturday at Green Room 42, is a new writer who would have felt completely at home in hill stations where smart, topical songs were created at a blistering pace. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Kaminski sing his songs individually at Michael McAssey’s “Open Mac” in Pangea. They are always something fresh and unexpected. Seeing an entire evening of his work was something I looked forward to. I am happy to report that it did not disappoint. Along with his friends, Staci Jo Johnson, Rachel Phalen, Jada Valenciaga, Bart Shatto, Kelsey Kaufman, Lauren Ranahan, and Aaron Remy, he delivered over a dozen well-crafted story songs that herald the arrival of a new very individual musical theater voice. . Mr. Kaminski has a knack for catchy melodies and ironic, self-deprecating lyrics that have the elegance of Bock & Harnick combined with the debauchery of William Finn.
Not all gems, but about half a dozen that really sparkle and shine. It started with two songs from discontinued musicals based on movies. “Cast Me, I’m Homeless” from a Soap dish musical and “The Dread Pirate Roberts” from a princess bride musical captures both the off-center quality of their satirical source material. It featured several songs from a musical based on the rise and fall of “Polka King” Jan Lewan (who was in attendance.) Aaron Ramey and Kaminski concocted a plan in a song called “Big Famous”. Staci Jo Johnson savored every double, triple and quadruple meaning in “Mama Like Kielbasa.” Remy and Johnson struck a chord in “I Propose.” The highlight of the section, and indeed of the entire evening, was “Serious Music“, a really well-crafted character monologue.
He delighted in two songs written specifically for use in open mics. Lauren Ranahan brought incredible millennial energy to “Saved by the Taco Bell” and Kelsey Kaufman gave “Straight Man Song” a genre twist. The final section of the concert was devoted to works from Kaminski’s first musical Starborn: A Disco Odyssey, which was kicked off by Jada Valenciaga’s bold and wonderful performance of “I’m Back.” It was an intense homage to glam rock space operas. Special mention should also be made of Rachel Phelan’s very touching rendition of “A Safe Place to Land”.
Kaminski and all the performers were backed by a wonderful band consisting of musical director, Emily Cohn, bassist, Will Blakey, and drummer, Daniel Silverstein. Kudos to the director, Allison Sheff, for giving the show some good bones and moving things along quickly. Nicholas Kaminski performs some of the same material this Saturday at 5 p.m. on Don’t Tell Mama. It’s well worth your time to experience this exciting new writing voice before you have to pay Broadway prices.
To learn more about Nicholas Kaminski, visit his website, kaminskimusic.com, or follow him @njkamins on Instagram. For tickets to her show at Don’t Tell Mama, go to donttellmamanyc.com. For more information on upcoming artists at The Green Room 42, check out greenfignyc.com.
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