Last week my mother and I experienced a very special night out in New York City, the city I have come to call home since moving up here in the 1990s. A Broadway fanatic since the minute I arrived here, I think I have been seeking a night club that celebrates its music and vibe for a very long time.
Feinstein’s/54 Below is the answer to my prayers. Located in the heart of midtown, it’s a cabaret and restaurant in New York City owned by Broadway producers Steve Baruch, Richard Frankel, Marc Routh and Tom Viertel and has hosted shows by such notable performers as Patti LuPone, Ben Vereen, Marilyn Maye and Barbara Cook. It is located in the basement of the legendary Studio 54.
It’s a place that I’ve always wanted to experience, but having moved to the suburbs, I don’t get into the city as much as I used to. However, when I saw a show advertised promoting a re-enactment of a show I saw in London’s WestEnd several times when I was younger called Blood Brothers and was enamored with, I was determined to make this a night out on the town. My mother, a fellow fan of the show (she saw it whilst visiting me over in London once upon a time), jumped at the chance to be my guest.
Blood Brothers is an intense, beautiful musical about two boys, Mickey and Edward, who are twins separated at birth in England in the 1960s. Despite growing up on opposite ends of the social spectrum, they find their lives intertwined as they grow, never knowing their true connection. Willy Russell wrote the show, which ran on the West End for over 24 years. It also hit Broadway in the early 90s.
In addition to the memories, the re-enactment would also feature one of my favorite actresses from my current favorite TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Donna Lynne Champlin, as Mrs. Johnstone, the boy’s mother, as well as so many other Broadway greats: Beau Cassidy (whose father, David Cassidy, starred in the Broadway production) as Mickey, Hannah Elless (Bright Star) as Linda, Collin Kelly-Sordelet (The Last Ship) as Eddie, Kenita Miller (Xanadu), as The Narrator, Bobby Conte Thornton (Starting Here, Starting Now) as Sammy, and Teal Wicks (Finding Neverland) as Mrs. Lyons.
Needless to say, the performance was excellent. My mom was gazing and smiling at the stage the whole time. I had memories slip into my mind of my days in London. The words to the songs came back and slipped easily off my tongue. It was a professional, beautiful tribute to a show, and there were many other Blood Brothers fans in the room.
But let me tell you about 54 Below. It’s a dinner club, so while you are watching a show, you eat and drink. The room is comfortable and living room style, so every seat has a good view. It brings back a sense of nostalgia, as it’s very loungy and a bit retro. 54 Below offers up to three shows nightly as well as a late night lounge, so you don’t even have to leave when the show’s over. When the show ended, several of the performers came down to the bar and stood around chatting with the audience. It’s very informal and engaging, and truly an experience for a real NYC theater goer like me.
If you’re interested in checking 54 Below out, here is their calendar and site, from which you can book tickets. Future shows celebrate the artist Prince, 1776, the Muppets, Broadway Originals featuring Tony Danza, The Pajama Game, Hair and Broadway legends such as Norbert Leo Butz, Carmen Cusack and, naturally, Michael Feinstein. I plan to be there more often, I can promise you that, and you will read more about 54 Below here and elsewhere moving forward. Now please excuse me while I head over to Spotify to listen to the original soundtrack of Blood Brothers.
Disclosure: I was provide with complimentary tickets and a food discount to review this show, but all opinions are my own, as always.