Birdland is best known as a jazz club in the heart of the Theater District, but on Monday nights, it becomes a second home and a second stage for many in the Broadway community. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
It's always a party at the legendary jazz club Birdland, but on Monday nights, it's a cast party.
"Cast Party is literally an open mic night for the Broadway jazz and cabaret scenes," says Jim Caruso, the host of Cast Party.
For the past 10 years, with most of Broadway shows dark on Mondays, Cast Party has been giving stars and choristers alike a chance to perform and do it their way.
"Yeah, a lot of times, it is their way. And we have to thank our band. They sight read all of the music. So for us, yeah, we get a lot of surprises," says Gianni Valenti, owner of Birdland.
Along the way, Caruso has become a bit of a star, too, and part of the attraction.
"The spontaneity of it, and the talent, and Jim Caruso, and not necessarily in that order," says entertainer Marilyn Maye.
"Mostly, I come for Jimmy, because he is absolutely adorable," says entertainer Luci Arnaz. "Never ceases to be funny and smart, and makes us all feel like it's a clubhouse."
With that party mood in mind, there's just one rule: no ballads. Keep it upbeat.
Over the years, many big stars, including Liza Minnelli, have come out to Cast Party, but everyone gets a chance. Little Sophia Caruso is not related to Jim, but admits that as a budding starlet, she doesn't mind if the confusion helps gets her on stage.
"It's, like, fun to have the audience smiling and, like, watch you, and you get to get to sing," she says.
It's an open mic and open invitation. Every Monday Night, the doors open at at 9 p.m. Cast Party Starts at 9:30 p.m. There is a $20 cover and a $10 food/drink minimum. For more information, visit www.birdlandjazz.com/event/287807-jim-carusos-cast-party-new-york.