The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings







Etcetera and
Short Term Listings


NYC Restaurants


New Jersey







Free Updates
A CurtainUp Review
An Evening at the Carlyle: A New Musical Revue

You're a Carlyle Girl, just a Carlyle Girl
The place that you come to hold court.
—Carlyle Girl
An Evening at the Carlyle
Dennis Holland
(Photo: Pierre)
We rarely see a revue these days. Decades ago, they were the thing, popular at intimate clubs like the Village Vanguard and Julius Monk's Downstairs, with talents like Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Judy Holiday. There was no book, just a series of songs, dances, sketches to tell something about the characters and their era.

Al Tapper tries to bring back that spirit with An Evening at the Carlyle, set in the Carlyle Hotel's Bemelmans Bar. Never mind that the show is located midtown, not uptown and in The Algonquin Theater, not the Algonquin Hotel. Got that straight? There is no particular era here. The costumes are contemporary. The problems of loneliness, loss, and yearning are timeless. Many songs are dated.

The revue centers around the legendary bar and some regulars. These glimpses of ordinary people with the usual idiosyncrasies of humanity, lend the show a certain charm.

At the center of the bar is Tommy (Dennis Holland), an affable, sympathetic bartender who guides customers in and out as smoothly as he mixes Martinis. He is also the most effective singer, interpreting with nuance and sensitivity. Tommy knows everyone, often greeting them with a personal identification; for example, "Carlyle Girl" (Amanda Gabbard), a sad, repetitive refrain about one chic regular looking for a connection. It is not a particularly memorable melody but it sets a reflective mood.

If there's a bar, there is a barfly (Kelli Maguire) who comes early and stays late. Maguire portrays a struggling songwriter with a strong belt and infectious personality who delivers a recurring theme about her life: "My mother was despotic/ My father was quixotic/ So that's why I'm neurotic.". Both Maguire and Holland play only one character. Choreographer Rachelle Rak — limber, quick, with leg extensions that won't quit— appears once as herself to give some advice ("Breathe") The other three actors rotate through the personalities that include a Yankee fan, young struggling roommates, and a Madoff-styled CEO.

They also portray but don't impersonate the rich and famous who have wandered into the bar, and they do this with malicious glee. These celebs, unfortunately, are the show's weaknesses, popping in and out without purpose and lacking the heart that director Tom Herman tries to infuse into the show. Most effective is Amanda Gabbard in a blonde wig as a energy-driven Ann Coulter who states, "(I'm) The Whitest White Woman in the USA." Gabbard also invokes Barbra and an over-blown Liza. Michael F. McGuirk's wannabe Sinatra has a smooth but bland vocal delivery, and Jason Rowland is a lecherous Donald Trump with a blonde fright wig.

Tapper's 22 tunes are all original, but are they good? Accompanied by David Wolfson on piano, let's say they range from, "Joltin' Joe." a catchy mid-20th century baseball tribute, and a nostalgic tribute to "Brooklyn." At the other extreme is "You Make It Easy to Love You, " a syrupy country/pop ditty sung by two young lovers.

As the evening passes, the now well-juiced barfly is put in a cab for the Bronx and the Yankee fan is close to boarding his "Loneliness Train." After the last call, it is easy to see why the bartender yearns to get home to Brooklyn.

The show's highlight is John McDermott's with such familiar touches as Ludwig Bemelmans drawings over the bar, intimate lighting, and cardboard caricatures on each side (one being Carlyle regular, Woody Allen, clarinet in hand). A smart opening has Tommy twisting some lemon peel into two glasses of sparkling water for audience members at a front row club table. While An Evening at the Carlyle is pleasant enough, the sophistication put into the set is missing in most of songs and in the hard-working, often-stereotyped characters who sing them.

An Evening at the Carlyle
Original book and score by Al Tapper
Cast: Amanda Gabbard, Dennis Holland, Kelli Maguire, Michael F. McGuirk, Dan Stone, Rachelle Rak and Jason Rowland.
Director: Tom Herman
Musical direction: David Wolfson
Musical Staging/choreography: Rachelle Rak
Scenic design: John McDermott
Costume design: Cathy Small
Sound design by Josh Liebert
Lighting: Brant Thomas Murray
Running Time 80 minutes with no intermission intermission
The Algonquin Theatre, 123 East 24th Street (between Park & Lexington Aves)
From: 6/8/09; reopened for open run
Sun. through Tues. at 7PM.
Tickets: $35, 212-868-4444. ($20 tickets available to seniors and students at box office
Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on performance 8/3/09

SONG LIST So This is Bemelmans-Ensemble
Bundle of Contradictions-Barfly (Kelli Maguire)
Roommates- Roommates (Amanda Gabbard and Michael F. McGuirk)
I Hate Sondheim-Barfly (Kelli Maguire)
Carlyle Girl- Tommy (Dennis Holland)
When Nobody Else is Around- Carlyle Girl (Amanda Gabbard)
Carlyle Girl Reprise- Tommy (Dennis Holland)
I Still Like Steve- Barfly (Kelli Maguire)
The CEO's Lament-CEO (Michael F. McGuirk)
Who'd Want NY With No Trump-the Donald (Jason Rowland)
The Whitest White Woman in the USA-Ann, CEO, the Donald (Amanda Gabbard, Michael F. McGuirk, Jason Rowland)
Breathes Rachelle (Rachelle Ray)
Bundle of Contradictions 2- Barfly (Kelli Maguire)
Joltin' Joe- Tommy (Dennis Holland)
What Do I Do?-Barbra (Amanda Gabbard)
Bundle of Contradictions 3- Barfly (Kelli Maguire)
You Make It Easy to Love You Lovers (Amanda Gabbard and Michael F. McGuirk)
Did You Do It For Love-Yankee fan (Jason Rowland)
Bundle of Contradictions 4- Barfly (Kelli Maguire)
The Sinatra Sound- Sinatra Wannabe (Michael F. McGuirk)
Under the Rainbow- Liza (Amanda Gabbard)
Loneliness Train-Yankee Fan, Tommy (Jason Rowland and Dennis Holland)
Brooklyn- Tommy (Dennis Holland)
So This is Bemelmans Reprise-Ensemble
Subscribe to our FREE email updates with a note from editor Elyse Sommer about additions to the website -- with main page hot links to the latest features posted at our numerous locations. To subscribe, E-mail:
put SUBSCRIBE CURTAINUP EMAIL UPDATE in the subject line and your full name and email address in the body of the message -- if you can spare a minute, tell us how you came to CurtainUp and from what part of the country.
Highlight one of the responses below and click "copy" or"CTRL+C"
  • I agree with the review of An Evening at the Carlyle
  • I disagree with the review of An Evening at the Carlyle
  • The review made me eager to see An Evening at the Carlyle
Click on the address link E-mail:
Paste the highlighted text into the subject line (CTRL+ V):

Feel free to add detailed comments in the body of the email. . .also the names and emails of any friends to whom you'd like us to forward a copy of this review.

South Pacific  Revival
South Pacific

In the Heights
In the Heights

Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook

Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide


©Copyright 2009, Elyse Sommer.
Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from