last time she made a guest
appearance on this podcast
, Alysha Umphress
was just getting her feet wet in the New York talent pool. Now, five
years later, she is positively drenched!
First came her Off Broadway debut understudying the two female roles in
the Bill Finn revue, Make Me a Song
. Then followed a
very happy run, first at Berkeley Rep
and then on Broadway, in Green Day's American Idiot
(Check out her
hot duet from the cast recording: "Too
Much Too Soon"
Along the way, she's performed in countless cabaret shows - here are
youtube videos of her definitive performances of two of my songs "Celebrate"
and "I Just Wanna Have
in concert. Happily, one of her solo concerts was preserved
with a live recording, which you can purchase from her outrageously
not-up-to-date website: Alysha Umphress - Live at the Laurie
This coming season, you'll be able to catch her on Broadway again (!!)
the upcoming revival of On a Clear Day...
, as well as
on television as a guest star on Showtime's Nurse Jackie
. She's on fire!!
September inspired a flurry of song ideas, 95% of which were rooted in
back-to-school, which made Karen
idea stand out that much more: she wrote "That's when the
Bennys go home." Not knowing what this cryptic sentence meant, I did a
little research, which led me to this
. (At the time of uploading this episode, the Benny Go Home website
experiencing technical difficulties. Hopefully, it will be live again
soon, so you can see what I found.)
In a nutshell, a Benny is a summer tourist visiting the Monmouth or
Ocean County Jersey shore. While there are several explanations for the
origin of the name, the favored one is that it's an acronym for the
cities these tourists primarily came from back in the day, namely
Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York. The locals frown upon what
they perceive to be disrespectful Benny behavior. A grass roots
campaign called "Benny Go Home" has evolved, with logos, bumper
stickers, and things like these three beach scenes
that I grew up in Monmouth County (in fact, Karen Buerkle played the
title role in our community theatre production of Annie Get Your Gun
back in the
early 80s), I couldn't resist this subject matter for the September
song. And since I've been making it a habit of sneaking musical quotes
into several of these Month Upon a
songs, this title offered up a no-brainer. Thanks, Karen!
For the record, I think the members of the cast of MTV's
would definitely be considered Bennys.