By Karen Daly

Photos by Gordon Gilbert, Jr.

The house was packed for the late-October Salon at the Cell, and full of the energy and excitement generated by our O’Neill Award earlier in the month. One of our presenters  appreciated  “an especially warm and loving crowd.”  Salon producer John Kearnshosted an eclectic night, while Belfast artist Brian John  Spencer sketched remarkable portraits. The music ranged from hip hop to Broadway, and the range of theater, memoir and fiction pieces included love stories, ghosts, a vampire and some folks with murderous intent.

Journalist/playwright Pat Fenton read “The Ghosts of Coney Island,” a memory piece about his father who came from from Galway, Ireland and went to Coney Island every winter to be near the sea. Pat wanted to capture the haunting quality of Coney Island in the dead of winter. And he did, with this tender memorial. In January, Pat’s play Stoopdreamer will have a three day run in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, near Farrell’s Bar where the play takes place. We’ll keep you posted on the details.

fenton .jpg
Pat Fenton

New York actress Tara Steinberg wowed the crowd performing “Six Minutes to Life,” a monologue set to music that captures the colors and textures of emotion throughout the lifespan. Rockaway Beach resident Dan Brown wrote and directed the piece.

tara .jpg
Tara Steinberg

Pat Lavin shared the “coming of age” love story of her daughter and her boyfriend who have neurological issues. While visiting Pat’s tiny studio apartment on the Upper West Side, they demand their right to “sleep” together.” And Pat had a clever accommodation. In her funny and tender telling, she showed how through loving each other, the couple learn to love and accept themselves. Pat, a writer, playwright and poet, is a certified hypnotherapist and life coach who helps artists deal with stress and creative access.

Pat Lavin

Maura Mulligan tapped two excellent actors, Jack DiMonte and Dee Nolan for scenes from her play in progress, Cursed, set around the 2016 election. Jack’s character is dutifully leading a meeting at the United Federation of Teachers when a ghost appears and persuades him to mix a magical potion to stop Trump from winning. Instead, the character drinks the poitín intended for the potion and we know how the election went. Maura, author of the memoir Call of the Lark, plans more mayhem ahead when The President gets a visitor “from beyond the veil.”

Maura Mulligan, left. Jack DiMonte, Dee Nolan

Rory K, the charismatic young hip hop artist, switched up the night’s tempo with his lively performance of two songs. In Rory’s track, “Suitcase,” a man is leaving a broken home in Ireland for a new life in New York City. With his remix of Ed Sheeran’s smash hit “Shape of You,” he had ‘em dancing.

Two views of Rory K

Two old friends gleefully share lots, one might say too much, information, as one patient husband (Tom Mahon) waits in the background. Maureen Hossbacher and Sheila Walsh are delightful as the friends in “How Sam Touched The Glass.” Sheila’s one-act play, part of her Evening of 8 One-Acts, tells of a night with playwright Sam Shepard.

sheila 's .jpg
Sheila Walsh, Maureen Hossbacher, Tom Mahon

Gordon Gilbert, Jr. gamely got into the Halloween spirit in costume and in content. Noting, “even vampires write poems,” he read a short poem in the person of a vampire residing in New Orleans. Gordon read a short story that’s to be included in a novel about an East Village vampire who has an unusual relationship with a young woman.

gordon .jpg
Gilbert Gordon, Jr.

Shaun Coen, an award-winning playwright, columnist and feature writer, had a great Salon debut reading from his first novel, The Pot O ‘Gold Murder. A comical thriller set in the tight-knit Irish enclave of Woodlawn, The Bronx, it features a hard-living woman detective who investigates the murder of a popular Irish bartender with whom she once had an affair. Shaun thinks it may be the only novel set in Woodlawn. Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver says “A great thriller! Coen brings into vivid focus not only his characters but also an entire neighborhood. You’ll read this in one sitting— guaranteed!”

shaun .jpg
Shaun Coen

In Derek Murphy’s wickedly funny play “Dyin’ For It,” the Kelly women, played by Maria Deasy, Gina Costigan and Aoife Williamson, plan to speed up the death of their evil patriarch. They practice the art of murder on an innocent head of cabbage. As they head upstairs, the playwright suggests that events will not go as planned for these women.

derek's .jpg
left,  Aiofe Williamson, Maria Deasy, Gina Costigan

We’ve seen Brandon Grimes in Mark Butler’s Ugly Christmas Sweater, The Musical and tonight we heard Brandon introduce his own original composition. Accompanied on piano by Michael Starr, the striking baritone  also sang “The Impossible Dream,” dedicating it to all the artists. A fine way to end a night full of such artistic variety.

brandon .jpg
Brandon Grimes at the mic

Catch the next Salon at Bar Thalia on Thursday, November 2 at 7 p.m.