Two Diamonds and Three Clubs
The Siegels take in Carol Channing impersonator Richard Skipper, hear tunes by songwriter Ervin Drake, and report on new cabaret rooms.
Skipper's new show on Monday nights at The Duplex has been extended through the end of June. His shows are significantly different from one another because he interacts with the audience so often and so effectively. It's a high-wire act, but Skipper is incredibly fast on his feet (even in heels) and, in our experience, he always gets laughs. In fact, we like him best when he kids with the audience; Carol herself was no great shakes as a singer, so hearing Skipper perform her musical theater hits, while nostalgic and amusing, doesn't quite match his real gift of taking Channing's madcap personality to a loveable extreme. That he slants his show heavily toward comedy and less so toward music suggests he has properly calculated what works and what doesn't. He also brings on talented special guests; the night we were there, Audrey Lavine and Scott Coulter performed. The show is a generous one, about 90 minutes in length. Chances are you'll love every single one of those minutes.
There are impersonators, and then there are the real McCoys. Ervin Drake is a real McCoy. Drake, who wrote such songs as "I Believe," "Good Morning Heartache," "It Was a Very Good Year," and many other standards, recently performed some of his famous works in the MAC/ASCAP Songwriters' Showcase at The Lighthouse.
As the special guest of host Jamie deRoy, Drake shared a slew of funny, firsthand stories about the likes of Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand that had the audience utterly transfixed. What a treat this event was!
Finally, here is some extremely heartening news about the state of cabaret in New York. First of all, Dillon's on West 54th Street is expanding its piano bar nights, and the impressive cabaret room that is also a part of Dillon's is becoming increasingly active. More and more shows are being booked into that elegant venue for runs during the summer. We'll keep you informed.
More good news: Plans are afoot for a new room on the Lower East Side, in the vicinity of East 13th Street, that will be booked by Lennie Watts. Two different cabaret acts per night are planned for the space, which is yet unnamed, and performances should begin sometime this summer. This will be a slightly upscale room with no piano bar attached. As more news becomes available, we'll fill you in.