Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interview: Michael James Roy Brings Showtunes to New World Stages Every Monday

Do you hear the people sing? Well, if it's a Monday night at 10PM and you're happening by the New World Stages at 50th Street and 9th Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, you just might.

Coming up the stairs from the Time Out New York Lounge, there's much mischief-making and merriment at the recently re-launched open mic extravaganzo, Songs at The New World. It makes a perfect chaser to a night at Musical Mondays at Splash, as you'll be just drunk enough from the recently ended happy hour to stand in front of the crowd and belt a few bars.

Michael James Roy is a musical director, composer and pianist-about-town. He can be seen every Monday and Wednesday happy hour at the infamous NYC showtune dive Marie's Crisis. While I can't necessarily sing by any definition of the word, Michael has always been there to pretend that I have somewhat passable prowess when it comes to belting. This week I caught up with Mr. Michael James  to tickle his ivories about his "new" Monday night party at New World Stages, Songs at the New World.

You're looking cute today... all clean-shaven. Is that for the re-launch?
Yes! I figured if Songs at the New World was going to have a new look, so should I.

So, the re-launch is this Monday… tell me about it!
Well, it's called Songs at the New World: A Boozy, Belting Bash. It's an uber-eclectic open mic night; from showtunes to emerging singer/songwriters. We are there every Monday night at 10pm in The Time Out New York Lounge at New World Stages. We've been there every week for the past three years... and as we all know, after three years it's time for a face-lift.

You said, "we are there..." Who's "we"?
The host of the evening is the lovely Colleen Harris. You may have seen her last year in her highly-lauded cabaret "This Time". The girl can sing. It's delightful.

What is the type of crowd and vibe a newcomer can expect?
We have a really sexy crowd for an open mic night. And the talent is amazing.

What should someone who's coming bring to the party?
If you're a serious singer, you shouldn't be caught dead in this town without your book, so bring that. We also have an extensive music library available, so if you don't have time to run home to Astoria, we've got you covered. If you just want to hear some great music, bring some friends and buckle in for a fantastic show.

What does a run-away-successful night at your party entail?
My favorite nights are when we are packed with a mix of people who are all there for the same reason: we celebrate music and the artists who create it. And when cute boys play the guitar...

No, that's it. I'm back.

How long have you been doing events like this?
This party was one of the first gigs I booked when I moved here over 3 years ago, and remains my favorite show that I do.

What are some other events you enjoy?
Every Monday I host Double Pianotration Mondays. I play at Marie's Crisis from 5:30-9:30, and then we head uptown for Songs at the New World at 10.

Wednesday: "Hot Mess Humpday Happy Hour" at Marie's Crisis, played by yours truly.

Thursday: Broadway Sessions with Ben D. 10:30p Midtown Theater. Ben delivers a delightful evening with current broadway casts as they sing and dish.

Also, I have to say that whenever I go to Campus Thursdays I have a legendary evening. So, thanks for that, Justin.

(You're welcome. There's plenty of twinks for everyone. - Ed.)

Friday: Mostly Sondheim at the Duplex. It starts at midnight, but hang out past 2 for a drunken good time.

Sunday: Sunday Social is a brand new party by 21st Century Life (we miss you in the WEST Village, boys). It's at Eastern Bloc, and I loved Confession for my post-Saturday detox, so I'm looking forward to what they will do with this party.

What are your favorite songs to play?
I like playing songs when the singer takes charge and really gives it to you. I can only follow a singer when they are willing to lead. Give me passion and a story, and I will like the song.

Your least favorite?
"Suddenly Seymour" is tired. She could have a really fierce comeback, if only she would go away for a while.

What else can we expect from you and this event in 2011?
This year is packed for me! I am the musical director for Colleen Harris, and we have some shows coming up that I am very excited about. Also my lyricist, Austin Helms, and I are premiering a new work later this year, so stay tuned for that. And for Songs at The New World; It started out as the "little open mic that could", and I think this is going to be the year for establishing itself in the community. I hope you can join us for the ride.


- Justin Luke

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