“The Life of the Party”
Ladies and gents,
I spent last night deep underground. No, I didn’t venture onto the New York City metro system. (Can you imagine?) I was at 54 Below for “The Wild Party Swings: Andrew Lippa meets Charlie Rosen‘s Big Band,” and it was glorious. I know people say size doesn’t matter, but hearing all of those glorious musicians crammed onto that stage playing their hearts out, I have to say I disagree. When it comes to bands, the bigger the better! Fans of Andrew Lippa’s beloved score turned out in droves to see the composer reunite with original cast member Julia Murney, along with a handful of contemporary Broadway stars like Jeremy Jordan, Michael Cerveris, Ciara Renee, Leslie Kritzer, and Christopher Jackson. The charts were off the charts, and somehow the vocalists managed to belt out above the band. It was a thrill ride from start to finish! Mr. Lippa is such a talented singer, such a natural on stage, that if I didn’t love his music so much I’d tell him to take up performing.
I have such affection for that particular venue. I must say it does bring back hazy memories of my days fooling around at Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager‘s pleasure palace, Studio 54. I have an almost Pavlovian response to walking through those doors — I start immediately searching my pockets for Quaaludes. Well, last night I remained stone-cold sober … except for a couple glasses of house chardonnay (they have a minimum). I think it’s just swell that there is a home in the heart of midtown for this kind of fun and sophisticated programming for die-hard theater aficionados.
Also featured at 54 Below this past week was one of the best nightclub acts of all time: the Sisters Callaway doing their show “Sibling Revelry.” Ann Hampton Callaway and her younger sister Liz Callaway are two of the greatest musicians ever to come out of the theater. I first caught their double act at the Rainbow Room more than twenty years ago (my how time flies when you’re hearing great music), and they are better than ever. Seeing them at 54 Below was like seeing Woody Allen at the Cafe Carlyle, Alberta Hunter at the Cookery, or Mel Tormé and George Shearing at Michael’s Pub.
And if you missed Julie James‘s gig there a few weeks ago, keep checking the 54 Below website for her return. She is, of course, one of the stars of Sirius/XM’s “On Broadway” channel, and theater folk love being interviewed by her. But it turns out she is a genius performer in her own right, and I predict you’ll be seeing more of her on stage soon!
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, I hear Lynda Carter‘s new show sold out the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood. I had friends in attendance who were raving. Now she is heading East for performances next week at The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Life really is a cabaret, kids!
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!