Barbara and Scott
The Two of Clubs


Welcome to The Metropolitan Room

Lennie Watts
Lennie Watts
New York's nightlife is going to get a big shot in the arm starting May 11th with the opening of a brand new club in Chelsea called The Metropolitan Room. Co-managed and co-booked by two well-known names in the entertainment world, singer/director Lennie Watts and comedienne Kim Cea, this promises to be a show room that will finally fill the void left with the closing several years ago of the much-beloved Arci's Place. Comfortably seating as many as 125 customers and offering acts with cover charges that range from $15 to $35, it will be that "middle class" club that falls between clubs like Don't Tell Mama on one end and Feinstein's at the Regency on the other.

The full name of the new club is The Metropolitan Room at Gotham because its location is the former Gotham Comedy Club. In fact, The Gotham was so successful in its ten years at that location on West 22nd Street between 5th & 6th Avenues, that it's moved to a nearby venue three times the size. Both clubs are owned by Chris Mazzilli, assuring cabaret-goers that there are deep pockets behind this new addition to the nightlife circuit.

The new room opens on Thursday, May 11th with Billy Stritch performing his tribute to Mel Torme at 8 p.m., continuing on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. The cover will be $30. [See below under "Show ... Tell Tell" for future upcoming acts.]

Multi-award winning entertainer Lennie Watts, who is also a veteran of running New York City nightclubs (most recently, The Encore), gave us the lowdown on the new room and the man who owns it. "Chris Mazzilli always loved music and he has, for some time, wanted to do something like this. We're going to offer an eclectic mix of performers from jazz to intimate concert work." When asked to further elaborate on the kind of music we might find at The Metropolitan Room, Watts said, "Since Eighty-Eight's, Fez, The Bottom Line and Arci's Place have closed, we'd like to provide a home for the artists who worked in these rooms. More than that," he continued, "we want to expand the audience for this kind of entertainment and will support it with advertising. We want it to be the kind of place where people go because we have a reputation for quality. The goal is to have audiences come to hear someone they don't know because they know the room only books the best entertainment in town."


Douglas Ladnier Puts it All Together

Douglas Ladnier
Douglas Ladnier
Photo: Maryann Lopinto
Douglas Ladnier takes more chances than a lottery, but he pays off like a blue chip stock; he is, by far, the most audacious performer in cabaret. There is nothing conventional about this remarkable singer, from his exquisitely rangy baritone voice to his own inventive and original arrangements. His new show, titled Root Position (a term denoting where the bass note is in a chord), offers a remarkable demonstration of his vocal prowess coupled with an artistic sensibility so keen, so fresh, so intellectually and emotionally satisfying that you leave Danny's Skylight Room in a state of euphoria.

Most cabaret acts open with a catchy, uptempo number to grab your attention and energize the room. Ladnier, perhaps the most innovative contrarian this side of the Hudson River, opens his show with the melancholy "Nightlife," moodily singing that "The Nightlife's/not a good life/but it's my life." Without pausing to allow for applause, he segues from there into a mysteriously romantic "Moondance" before concluding his opening song cycle of three tunes with a grabber rendition of "Killing the Blues." Finally, the audience is allowed to applaud; and what a thundering ovation that bold beginning deserves.

If you like your songs dark and gloomy, if a mournful ballad with a soulful cry is your musical meat, nobody chews on this material more effectively than Douglas Ladnier. Mind you, he's got a sense of humor, too. Consider what he quite accurately refers to as "the world's only sad sing-a-long." Combining "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" (you could weep at the way he sings it) with a stunningly slowed down version of "You Are My Sunshine," Ladnier has us sing the latter that, in that context, sounds like a sly and sarcastic torch song.

Yet another original coupling involves the famous Disney number "Small World" with an original work of Ladnier's with a political point of view called "The World." Once again, he does something different by slowing down that peppy Disney tune until, in his resonant deep tones, it becomes downright profound. He slices that famous lyric into his own song like a surgeon, creating something unique and powerful in the process.

Is everything five stars in this show? No. If an artist like Ladnier didn't fail from time to time, he'd think he was playing it too safe. You've got to be willing to fail in order to grow and change. His patter sometimes undermines the effectiveness of his songs; he might speak less to greater effect. He sings too often with his eyes closed (although he is keeping them open more often than in the past). And though his act is admittedly changing from week to week, he had a couple of songs unworthy of his talent in the show that we saw; a couple of standards replacing those lesser numbers would make his show just that much more audience-friendly, but even without those changes, this a special show.

Douglas Ladnier appears every Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. at Danny's Skylight Room through April and May.


Show ... and Tell

At 11 p.m. every Saturday night, the best time you can have (with your clothes on) takes place at Danny's Skylight Room when the great Mary Bond Davis takes the stage. This post theater club act by the powerhouse singer/actress who originated the role of Motormouth Mabel on Broadway in Hairspray is rip-roaring fun, with the emphasis on roaring. Mary Bond has one of the biggest voices on the Great White Way and an effervescent personality that is just as gigantic. But she's not just loud, she's sensitive, smart, and a terrific lyric interpreter. Believe us when we tell you, you don't want to go home after the theater on Saturday night; you want to see Mary Bond Davis at Danny's.

As promised, here are some of the shows coming up at the new Metropolitan Room at Gotham: Terese Genecco brings back her critically acclaimed Frances Fay tribute, Drunk With Love on Friday May 19 at 8 p.m., Saturday May 20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday May 21 at 7 p.m.. Cover will be $20. We originally saw this show at The Encore and we were knocked out by the combination of Genecco's talent and craft. She puts on a terrific show.

The clarion voiced Karen Mason brings her Nightlife Award-winning show to The Metropolitan Room the next weekend, starting on Thursday, May 25 through Sunday May 28th. The Sunday show is at 7 p.m., the others are at 8 p.m.. The cover charge for her show will be $30.

There will be some single date booking at The Metropolitan Room on weekdays, as well, as the club fills its schedule, eventually booking two acts per night instead of just one. During these early weeks, one will be able to find Karen Mack and Michael Holland bringing their hugely popular Gashole show to the new room on May 18 at 9:30 p.m. with a cover of $15. Also, Jamie deRoy and Friends will take up residence on May 31st at 7 p.m. Cover TBD.

Elsewhere around town, David Ippolito, the wonderfully irreverent and entertaining singer/songwriter, will be doing his own show at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 1st at Birdland as part of Jim Caruso's Spring Season of cabaret shows. On May 15, the delicious bad boy from Taboo, Euan Morton, will be doing his show at Birdland at 7 p.m., as well. He sold out three shows recently at Joe's Pub so better get your reservations in soon.

Here's something new: "An epic cabaret trilogy" meaning that the multi-talented Tedi Marsh will be singing three entirely different shows in repertory. Tedi Belts Broadway can be seen on Thursday, April 27th at 11 p.m. at Don't Tell Mama. Tedi Jives Jazz is available on Wednesday April 19 and Tuesday April 25th at 7 p.m. at Don't Tell Mama, while Tedi Rocks Retro is available at The Duplex on Tuesday April 18th and Tuesday April 25th at 9:30 p.m.. You'll note that she's performing a double-header on April 25th with one show at 7 p.m. at one club and a different show at 9:30 p.m. at a second club. Now that's ambitious. As her postcard cleverly puts it: "3 shows, 2 venues, 1 Tedi."


-- Barbara and Scott Siegel


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