The Two of Clubs
There continues to be a generally held belief that The City empties out during the summer and that there's nothing to do at night. Well, that's almost true, but not quite. Sure, lots of folks go on vacation and the weekends can be quiet but it's not as if nobody is here. If a tree falls on West 46th Street, we guarantee you that somebody will hear it. It'd probably hit them. The fact is that while there are, indeed, fewer people in town during the summer and there is also far less competition for your live entertainment dollarthere are far fewer shows opening during the summer on Broadway, Off-Broadway and Off-Off- Broadway than at any other time of the yearthis is your chance to check out what's happening in the clubs.
Monday night is a great night to find some of the best nightclub shows in town because you won't have near as much theater to distract you. One of the consistently best places to catch great shows on Monday nights is the Broadway at Birdland series. Each Monday a different top-notch entertainer puts on a show at 7 pm. When that's over, you can cap off your evening by staying right where you are for Jim Caruso's Cast Party which runs from about 9:30 pm to 1 am.
Speaking of Mondays, The Metropolitan Room has been selling out every Monday with its almost summer-long contest that pays off its winner with a paid two-week engagement at the club. We're guest judges on August 11th and the contest concludes on the 18th.
If Monday is a hot night during the summer for clubbing it is hardly the only one. We saw two memorable shows back-to=back at Birdland on a Wednesday night. The early show was Lucie Arnaz who was in great voice and put on an all-too generous show. She featured her two kids plus guest performances by her musical director as well as a special guest star. Lucie sweetly co-opted the complaint about using her kids in her act by noting that her mother, Lucille Ball, gave her her start in much the same way. Nonetheless, the show tended to lose its focus with so many guest spots; a few less would have served the evening better. Lucie, herself, is a dynamic performer with considerable range and versatility.
Later that evening, Natalie Douglas performed her new show, Café Society, at Birdland and impressed us mightily with its strong combination of research and execution. Her show detailed the signal history of the uptown and downtown clubs that went by the name of Café Society. The clubs and their owner set cultural, social, political and certainly musical standards that deserve greater recognitionthank you, Natalie! This is an entertainer who has deservedly become a star attraction at Birdland.
We're pleased to report that the renovations at Don't Tell Mama are destined to reinstate that venerable club back to its status as a hotbed for talent. We've been back there a couple of times this summer and have been impressed with both new cabaret rooms. We saw Kevin Dozier in the larger room and thought him a talented if uneven performer. More recently we caught the disappointing Joyce Moody in the adorable smaller room. She has impressive pipes but doesn't always know what to do with them. These two performers aside, the club is ready to move forward and you can be a part of it this summer by checking out some of their upcoming acts.
Among the upcoming acts elsewhere worth catching this summer, consider Gabrielle Stravelli at the Laurie Beechman Theatre (West Bank Café) on August 12th at 9:30 pm and Brandon Cutrell at the same location on Sunday night, August 17th at 7 pm. Over at the Metropolitan Room, you won't want to miss the original Annie, Andrea McArdle, in her more extended run during mid-August. Those are just some shows we intend to catch ourselves; there are plenty of others to see at this particularly opportune time.