Los Angeles Cabaret Review: A NIGHT AT THE STORK CLUB (Three Clubs Lounge in Hollywood)

by Tony Frankel on January 8, 2017

in Theater-Los Angeles

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A SALUTE TO GREAT SONGS AND A GREAT CLUB

Any excuse to expose selections from the Great American Songbook to a modern audience works for me. And a cabaret revue entitled A Night at the Stork Club does just that. Playing at Hollywood’s Three Clubs for one weekend only, this accessible entertainment gives a nod to Manhattan’s erstwhile club, one of the most famous watering holes in the long history of American nightclubbing. It was—from its opening in 1929 to its demise in 1965—the place to see and be seen in the Big Apple. The slick, sexy, smoky creation of a native Oklahoman and ex-bootlegger named Sherman Billingsley, the Stork was, in the words of legendary gossip columnist and radio loudmouth Walter Winchell, “New York’s New Yorkiest” joint. The club was actually more famous for who attended—and who didn’t attend—then who performed at the notoriously right-wing Club, a haven for Winchell’s Red-scare cronies.

Yet there’s nothing subversive or daring about this slight entertainment. It’s simply an enjoyable presentation, cruise ship-style, of three engaging performers, a crafty piano player and a mean horn blower. The supper club element comes courtesy of Three Club’s wicked cocktails served alongside light fare at the intimate bar’s tiny tables; the sliders are awesome (the only right-wing element about this show is our President-elect hovering over everything like a drooling vulture).

Vocalists Justin John Moniz, Ashley Lambert and Laura Michelle Hughes are accompanied by the swell jazz pianist Phil Kadet (who performed every number sans sheet music) and Jason Gamer on trumpet. This 60-minute fast-paced collection of songs by Porter, Berlin, Bernstein, Gershwin, Rodgers and other dual-syllabic surname composers is split up by one intermission. Occasionally contextual (romance, breakups, songs made famous by The Rat Pack) and often done as medleys, our intrepid performers, who had a rock ’em, sock ’em blend, gave us everything from the famous (the still-catchy “Lullaby of Broadway”) to the obscure (the winning “Mr. Right”).

One of my favorite moments was Ashley’s engaging go at “Ev’rything I’ve Got Belongs to You”, easily one of the funniest, sauciest romance numbers in musical theater history. Not only did she nail it, but the audience laughed heartily at Lorenz Hart’s astounding lyrics, as fresh as ever. Laura’s sassy take on “I Can Cook, Too” from On the Town was molto entertaining, and Justin—the most solid singer of the swanky affair—offered “So in Love” from Kiss Me, Kate. Phil had a chance to show off his strutting and striding skills soloing before acts I and II, but he did well to subdue his swagger so he could service his singers during the numbers. I missed the distinction associated with those who performed at the Stork Club, but a generic rendering of the most enduring songs in history ain’t nuttin’ to scoff at.

A Night at the Stork Club
The Three Clubs Lounge and Theater
1123 Vine St in Hollywood
ends January 8, 2016
for tickets, visit Brown Paper Tickets
for more info, call 323.741.0529 or email thestorkclubla@gmail.com

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