Broadway, brunch, a bunhead and Barbra
Photo by Bill Westmoreland
Over the next few weeks, the A&E section will welcome back some familiar contributors (Martin Denton on theater, Stephanie Buhmann on art) and debut a few new well-traveled experts in their fields (Ophira Eisenberg on storytelling). This week, we’re proud to introduce a column by Jim Caruso — who made his Broadway debut alongside Liza Minnelli in 2009’s Tony Award-winning “Liza’s At The Palace!” and was called “a top drawer first-rate singer” by Jazz Times (for his studio CD, “The Swing Set”). As host of the long-running “Cast Party” open mic night, he’s welcomed thousands of famous and upcoming musical performers to the Birdland Jazz Club stage. Talented and versatile in his own right, Caruso devotes a good deal of time and effort to singing the praises of others — which is why he makes such a great addition to our roster of contributors. Here’s what Jim recommends you see in September.
—Scott Stiffler, Arts Editor
Tuesdays at 9:30pm
At the Metropolitan Room
34 W. 22nd St. (btw. 5th & 6th Aves.)
$25-$115, plus two-beverage minimum
If there’s a Goddess of Hip, it’s Annie Ross. She was cool before it was cool — and after 50-plus years on the jazz scene, her comfort in the world of bebop and swing is palpable. Her life has been full-to-the-brim, what with Broadway, movies, nightclubs, famous highs and dangerous lows. Now a glamorous 83, she puts her experience and rhythmic stamp on some of the greatest songs ever written. From “Lush Life” to “I Wonder What Became of Me,” each song becoming a polished pool she dives into like a shark.
One of the most impressive jazz singers in town: Gabrielle Stravelli sings, while you enjoy brunch (at Le Pescadeux).
Sun., Sept. 8, 15, 22 & 29
At Le Pescadeux
90 Thompson St. (btw. Prince & Spring Sts.)
No cover, no minimum
Reservations strongly suggested
For my money, Gabrielle Stravelli is one of the most impressive jazz singers in town. With perfect pitch and clarity, she tears through the Great American Songbook with an understanding far beyond her years. A background in the theater doesn’t hurt, either. While other jazz birds swing, scat and snap, eyes scrunched in a self-absorbed frenzy, Stravelli knows whereof she sings — charming her audience with intelligence and musicality. At her weekly brunch gig at Le Pescadeux, she is joined by Pat O’Leary on bass and some of NYC’s finest musicians (including Gene Bertoncini, Ed Cherry, Paul Meyers and Michael Kanan).
Portrait of a complex woman: Steven Brinberg is “Simply Barbra” (Sept. 9 at Birdland Jazz Club).
STEVEN BRINBERG IS SIMPLY BARBRA, IN “MOSTLY MARVIN”
Mon., Sept. 9 at 7pm (doors open at 5pm)
At Birdland Jazz Club
315 W. 44th St. (btw. 8th & 9th Aves.)
$30 cover, two-item minimum
Barbra Streisand is a bit of an anomaly. Arguably one of the best singers in the history of pop music, her icy perfectionism has a habit of rubbing some folks the wrong way. One topic the lovers and haters should agree upon is Steven Brinberg. His “Simply Barbra” character is the funny girl haters long for and the singer fans adore. It’ll be “Hello, gorgeous” for one night only, as the faux-diva storms the Birdland stage with a sweet tribute to Brinberg’s pal Marvin Hamlisch — with whom he appeared on many occasions. Expect the expected (“The Way We Were”) as well as seldom-heard gems like the alternate “The Way We Weren’t” and a song Hamlisch wrote for the revised version of “Ballroom.”
SUTTON FOSTER, WITH MICHAEL RAFTER
Tues.-Fri. at 8:45pm
Sat. at 8:45pm & 10:45pm
At Café Carlyle
35 E. 76th St. (at Madison Ave.)
Call 212-744-1600 or visit rosewoodhotels.com
I fell in love with Sutton Foster, along with everyone else, during her 2002 Tony Award-winning performance in “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” She went on to give charismatic turns in “Little Women,” “The Drowsy Chaperone,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Shrek the Musical” before winning another Tony for her dazzling Reno Sweeney in “Anything Goes.” Foster then stormed the West Coast, amassing a loyal fan base of balletomanes with her starring role in the ABC Family drama “Bunheads.” So, if you wish to see this radiant, fresh-faced triple threat in one of her infrequent Carlyle engagements, you’d better order your tickets now. Expect packed houses, total musicality, loads of charm and a sly sense of humor.
Sebastian Arcelus stars in the Broadway adaptation of John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill.”
A TIME TO KILL
A new Broadway play based on John Grisham’s courtroom drama, written by Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes
Previews begin Sept. 28
Opens Oct. 20
At the John Golden Theatre
252 W. 45th St. (btw. 7th & 8th Aves.)
Previewing in September, John Grisham’s novel “A Time to Kill” becomes the first in his iconic collection of legal dramas to be adapted for the Broadway stage. Set in Ford County, Mississippi, “A Time to Kill” tells the story of a young, idealistic lawyer (played by Sebastian Arcelus) who defends a black man for taking the law into his own hands when an unspeakable crime is committed against his young daughter. You might recognize Arcelus from his role as Lucas Goodwin on the Netflix drama “House of Cards.” After playing Fiyero in “Wicked” (opposite actress/wife Stephanie J. Block) and Buddy in “Elf: The Musical,” this new role will solidify his status as one of the most versatile actors on the Broadway scene.
Jim Caruso’s “Cast Party” happens every Monday night at Birdland Jazz Club (315 W. 44th St., btw. 8th & 9th Aves.). Doors open at 9pm, show at 9:30pm. $20 cover, $10 food/drink minimum. For info, call 212-581-3080 or visit jim-caruso.com and birdlandjazz.com.
_ BY JIM CARUSO (jim-caruso.com)