The FireBird nightclub arrived on the cabaret scene last night, and not a moment too soon. The second floor of the FireBird Restaurant has been turned into a showplace for the best and brightest of New York's musical entertainers.
One of them is there right now: His name is Mark Nadler, and he opened the room with a show that will be talked about for a long time to come. Already considered to be in a musical comedy class by himself, Nadler has truly raised the bar -- and we're not talking about that place you belly up to, although belly laughs are definitely in season at the FireBird during Nadler's engagement through January 25.
Nadler's show, Tchaikowsky and Other Russians, originally premiered at the Oak Room as part of a "Cavalcade" of shows there during the Cabaret Convention last October. Now, like a hit Off-Broadway play transferring to Broadway, it has moved to the FireBird as a sleeker, more sharply defined entertainment, having been trimmed from its original length to a still generous one hour and 25 minutes. A touch less wild and wooly than it was at the Oak Room, Tchaikowsky is still the most extraordinary cabaret act that you're likely to see this year -- and, yes, we are fully cognizant of the fact that we're making that statement in early January. [Ed Note: Click here to read the Siegels' original review of the show.]
The other big news about the FireBird is that, in establishing this new cabaret room, the restaurant has done something revolutionary (not surprising in a Russian place). Unlike any other cabaret venue in town, this one has the equivalent of ringside seating at $50 and less expensive seating at $35 for less desirable locations. (We can think of one or two other venues that would benefit from such a policy.) The $35 seats aren't half bad as they are now, and we assume that management will tweak the seating to improve sightlines during this opening engagement.
The mood of the show is quickly established before you even get to your seat. On your way to the cabaret room, you will pass through The Parlor, where the gifted Lana Rein plays Russian classical music on the piano. Then comes dinner -- and the food at the FireBird, like the performance style of Mark Nadler, has always been superb in its exotic excessiveness. Last night, both were eaten up by a crowd that included such notables as Richard Dreyfuss, Carol Hall, John Wallowitch, Ervin Drake, Andrea Marcovicci, Tovah Feldshuh, and Rex Reed. [Ed. Note: Click here to access TheaterMania's current Photo File feature, which includes some shots of the event.]
Nadler's show is essentially the same as it was at the Oak Room, which means that a visit to the new FireBird nightclub is, indeed, essential.
[More reviews by the Siegels can be found at www.cabarethotlineonline.com. For information on the First Annual Nightlife Awards, to be co-presented by Scott Siegel on January 27 at The Town Hall, click here.]
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