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A Guide to New York City Cabarets

Category Broadway

|by Mark Robinson |


These legendary locales are sure to ignite your nightlife

New York City is a great place for finding all walks of entertainment, but one of the genres that the town specializes in is cabaret. There are some terrific places to grab a table and enjoy some of the world’s most exciting talent in the most intimate of settings. Here are six venues that you simply must make a part of your experience in this dazzling metropolis.   

Tony Yazbeck and Luann De Lesseps perform at Feinstein’s/54 Below (Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Tony Yazbeck and Luann De Lesseps perform at Feinstein’s/54 Below (Photo: John Lamparski/Getty Images)

Feinstein’s/54 Below
Almost everyone and anyone is aware of Studio 54, the iconic TV-studio-turned-nightclub-turned Broadway Theater on 54th Street in New York’s Theatre District, which is currently home to Roundabout’s revival of Kiss Me, Kate! What they may not know is that there is, just a story beneath this landmark, one of New York City’s hottest cabaret venues, Feinstein’s/54 Below. On any given night of the week, one will find some of Broadway’s and Off-Broadway’s greatest talents performing standards, original music, and the best of Broadway in this charming and intimate space. Among the Broadway talents who have headlined here are Barbra Cook, Christine Ebersole, Joanna Gleason, Jennifer Holliday, Telly Leung, Patti LuPone, Ben Platt and Chita Rivera.

Birdland Jazz Club
For jazz lovers, the Birdland Jazz Club at 2745 Broadway is the go-to venue. Though the club has had a life at two separate locations, its legacy (wherever it is housed) has always been to provide a premier experience in jazz for all audiences. Founded in 1949, the club has played host to such legends as Count Basie, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Quincy Jones and Sarah Vaughan. Since its rebirth in 1985, it has enjoyed such diverse guests as Harry Connick, Jr., Sam Harris, Norah Jones, Lorna Luft, Liza Minnelli, Charlie Puth and Ariana Grande.

Joe’s Pub
Joe’s Pub is one of the six performance spaces within the complex that is The Public Theatre on Lafayette Street. An intimate music venue and restaurant, Joe’s Pub is a diversely programmed venue, with everything from cabaret and dance, to world music and comedy. Notable for being the venue where Amy Winehouse and Adele made their U.S. headlining concert debuts, other talents at Joe’s Pub have included Sara Bareilles, Bono, Darren Criss, Sutton Foster, Al Franken, Emmylou Harris, Alicia Keyes, Audra McDonald, Dolly Parton, Cyndi Lauper and Hugh Jackman. 

Café​ Carlyle
For a classy evening of classic cabaret, the Café Carlyle, which is tucked inside the Carlyle Hotel, is the perfect destination for upscale dining and entertainment. Found at 35 East 76th Street, the hotel is a slice of American history, as is its performance room. The Café Carlyle has been the host to many notable performers including Bobby Short, Debbie Harry, Rita Wilson, not to mention such legends as Elaine Stritch, Judy Collins and Eartha Kitt. A highlight of the venue’s décor are its glorious murals by French artist Marcel Vertes, who was inspired by Henri de Toulouse-Latrec.

The Duplex
For an intimate cabaret experience in the heart of NYC’s Greenwich Village, The Duplex at 61 Christopher St. recalls those close-quarters venues that are the idealized cliché of the cabaret world. Holding the distinction of being the city’s oldest cabaret, The Duplex prides itself on cultivating new talent while also offering programming that features cutting-edge performers in the world of music, theater and stand-up comedy. Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and Barbra Streisand are among the luminaries who have performed there. The Duplex is also the sight of one of New York City’s favorite piano bars.

Don’t Tell Mama
In Restaurant Row of New York City’s illustrious and historic Theater District, cabaret aficionados gravitate to Don’t Tell Mama, established in 1982. The complex features a restaurant, a piano bar and two cabaret spaces. Among the star-studded alumni of the venue are Paul Newman, Bette Midler, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, Kristin Chenoweth, Mario Cantone & Cuba Gooding Jr. Side note: the establishment’s name draws its inspiration from the song in the hit 1966 Broadway musical Cabaret by John Kander & Fred Ebb. Stop by and enjoy a delicious meal, watch one of their signature cabaret shows and stop by the piano bar afterwards for a drink and a showtune.

Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals, The Disney Song Encyclopedia and The Encyclopedia of Television Theme Songs. He maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com.

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