By Bennett Marcus.
The Cutting Room
Soprano stars Vincent Pastore and Dan Grimaldi will present singer-songwriter Karen King for her encore performance at the Cutting Room on Wednesday, June 22. Danny DeVito who was at her first show told King. “Each song was an experience, a great piece of work.” King uses her powerful voice and four-octave range to bring emotion and passion to her songs. “I don’t throw anything away. Each lyric, each line, I feel it personally,” confides Karen.
John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia
Such a stellar performance may be surprising given that the show almost didn’t happen. King and her longtime conductor, Angelo Di Pippo, had been working on the show for a year. A few days before, King’s husband, actor John “Cha Cha” Ciarcia, was admitted to the hospital, suffering from cancer, and she wasn’t sure she could go ahead with the performance. Her friends, including Tony Danza, told her she had to, and she did. “And I felt like I was a different singer, and I surpassed anything I’d ever done before that,” King says. “Even my conductor, who I’ve been working with since I was a teenager, said that. ”Her husband came out of the hospital to see the show, and she continued to work as his condition worsened, and in late November, he passed away. “Cha Cha wanted me to go on,” she says. When he was in the hospital, he told her that music was her destiny. The gig in June will mark her first time doing the show since then. thecuttingroomnyc.com
The set will include pop standards like “If You Go Away” and some rock ‘n’ roll oldies, including “Vehicle,” from the Ides of March, and a medley of Elvis Presley hits, arranged by Di Pippo, She will also do “God Bless the USA,” a nod to Kate Smith, about whom King wrote a musical, which she did off-Broadway. All the songs she chooses have meaning for her.
Tony Danza & Alleva
In addition to writing songs and rehearsing for a new album King continues to run her late husband’s iconic café, Cha Cha’s, in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Cha Cha was known as the unofficial mayor of Mulberry Street, and appeared in the HBO series The Sopranos, and in such movies as Hoffa and Goodfellas. He discovered Tony Danza at a boxing gym, and the two remained lifelong friends. King brought Danza in as a partner in Alleva her Little Italy cheese company. King and her late husband bought the neighborhood mainstay, founded in 1892, so it would remain in business in the face of New York’s relentless gentrification. Danza will be the face of the company, which makes its own mozzarella and ricotta cheese.
Boys’ and Girl’s Towns of Italy
She’s also running a wine business that she’d set up with Cha Cha, Grandpa Chacha’s Wine, imported from Italy. “I’m continuing what my husband and I were doing,” she says. In April, the Boys’ and Girls’ Towns of Italy honored King as its woman of the year at a gala at the Plaza Hotel, and a portion of the proceeds from her Cutting Room show will go to the organization. bgti.org