Come to a cast party!
By the time Liza Minnelli took the stage at Birdland, just after midnight, the party was in full swing: Michael Feinstein hugged the Broadway legend and a bubbly, upbeat crowd sang happy birthday to her.Parker Posey performed a wild, gyrating dance to “Fever,” as TV and movie stars Judith Light (“Ugly Betty”) and Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”) cheered from their tables. Miranda, the Internet singing sensation, closed out the three-hour bash with an atonal rendition of “Orange Colored Sky.”
“Good night, folks, it’s just another night at ‘Cast Party,’ ” said host Jim Caruso, with a deadpan smile. “We’ll do it all again next Monday.”
For the last seven years, Caruso — a genial, wisecracking emcee who just might be Dick Van Dyke’s lost son — has hosted “Cast Party,” one of New York’s most popular and distinctive open-mike nights. His weekly show at the historic club presents a sparkling A-list features a jaw-dropping mix of top Broadway, jazz and cabaret talent, plus rising stars and a parade of wannabees whose cringe-worthy acts rival anything on “American Idol.” It’s a showbiz mecca, a place where the golden era of musical theater lives on.Now, Caruso is bringing the party to Los Angeles. On April 1, he and pianist Billy Stritch will host the West Coast debut of “Cast Party” at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. Although the final lineup is still being put together, Caruso sponsors hope to make the Southern California shows a regular monthly affair.
“There’s obviously a tremendous amount of talent in Los Angeles, and we’re trying to duplicate what we’ve been able to do in New York,” said Caruso, 52, whose ultimate goal is to turn “Cast Party” into a reality TV show. To read it all about it, click on my Sunday Arts & Books article.
-- Josh Getlin
Photo: Liza and Jim Caruso at Cast Party at New York's Birdland nightclub.
Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times