Close this search box.
the story

During an evening at the Carlyle Hotel’s famed Bemelman’s Bar, veteran bartender Tommy encounters an eclectic, humorous, and occasionally infuriating variety of New Yorkers: neurotic barflies, frustrated renters, Sondheim haters and Sinatra fanatics, ex-con executives, thwarted lovers and even a suprise celebrity or two.

creative team

Book, Music & Lyrics……Albert M. Tapper

Directed by……Tom Herman

Musical Direction……David Wolfson

Choreographer……Rachelle Rak

Sound Design……Josh Liebert

Scenic Design……John McDermott

Lightning Design……Brant T. Murray

Costume Design……Cathy Small

the cast
Amanda Gabbard
Dennis Holland
Kelli Maguire
Michael F. McGuirk
Rachelle Rak
Jason Rowland

Musical Revue is Summer Hit for Al Tapper

NEW YORK, July 21 (UPI) 

An Evening at the Carlyle, a new entertainment created by Al Tapper, has proved to be the surprise Off-Broadway hit of the summer theater season, bringing to the tiny Algonquin Theater stage six talented and versatile actor-singers in a series of vignettes and celebrity impressions performed in the old fashioned manner of a musical revue, not often encountered in the theater these days.

Since its opening last month, Tapper’s 75-minute show has attracted sell-out audiences that seem to revel in the apocryphal and somewhat unsophisticated goings-on at the uptown Hotel Carlyle’s famous Bemelmens Bar recreated at the downtown Algonquin Theater. The elegant bar, named for the artist who decorated it (Ludwig Bemelmans) is known as a glamorous meeting place that offers plenty of opportunity for celebrity sightings.

John McDermott’s set centers on the glittering bar, presided over by a genial bartender named Tommy (played by Dennis Holland), surrounded by cutouts of surrounding apartment buildings with windows that occasionally light up. The bar’s permanent customer is the neurotic Barfly (Kelli Maguire), while tables that extended into the first row of the audience are occupied by other characters identified as roommates, lovers, a New York Yankee fan, and a yokel.

Writer-composer-lyricist Tapper has three Off-Broadway musicals to his credit as well as five books on humor, and he produced the award-winning film, “Broadway: The Golden Age.” His music is peppy, even lusty, without a hint of the rock ‘n’ roll influence that pervades most New York musicals. There are 22 songs in the show and not a clinker in the lot, including a sensational solo for Rak titled “Breathe,” arranged by Steve Gross.

This is a mostly singing show with only snippets of spoken text. The hardest working member of the cast is Gabbard who is cast in six roles, the most amusing of which is Ann Coulter, TV’s politically conservative talking head. Wearing a long blond wig, Gabbard manages to look a lot like Coulter as she sings the show’s most politically incorrect number, “The Whitest White Woman in the U.S.A.”

Holland, as the white-jacketed bartender who has seen it all, has the best voice in the cast and does well with several solos, “A Carlyle Girl”, describing the sophisticated type that hangs out at Bemelmans, “Joltin’ Joe,” a tribute to Joe DiMaggio, and “Brooklyn,” a pacan to the place he calls home after roving the world. Rowland, a putty-faced comic actor who is at his best wigged out as Trump singing, “Who’d Want New York With No Trump,” also gets the show’s only love song, “ Did You Do It For Love?” sung in another role, the Yankee Fan.

McGuirk’s impersonation of the Sinatra Wannabe falls somewhat flat, since he lacks Sinatra’s charisma, but he does well in a romantic scene as the Roommate cast opposite Gabbard in a song about sharing an apartment in high-rent Manhattan. He is even better in a topical song titled “CEO” which touches on some of the outrages of corporate executive greed revealed in the course of the recent economical downtown.

Tom Herman deserves kudos for his direction of the show, which flows smoothly from vignette to vignette and never lags in interest. Other members of the production team are Cathy Small, who designed suitable contemporary costumes and a typical Minnelli show stopper in glittering black, Brant Thomas Murray, whose lighting creates a Manhattan rhapsody, and Josh Liebert, sound designer.

The show offers humor of all kinds, some of it unkind as in the case of Gabbard’s impersonation of a very sloshed Liza Minnelli, who tries to climb up on Wolfson’s grand piano to sing, “Under the Rainbow” and falls.

Funnier is the increasing drunkenness of the plump, man-hungry Barfly from the Bronx, effectively handled by Maguire, whose loudly-belted autobiographical theme song reprised three times, is “Bundle of Contradictions.” To prove that is an apt description of her character, Barfly sings a number titled “I Hate Sondheim” and follows it up incomprehensibly with another titled, “I Still Like Steve.”

behind the Scenes