This past weekend, to celebrate the birthday of the fabulous Richard Jay-Alexander (Broadway producer and director turned concert director for Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Bernadette Peters, Betty Buckley, etc.), we karaoked like it was nobody's business!
Included in the pack were Ms. Peters herself (who sang an amazing version of "Natural Woman") and Donna McKechnie (who sang, of course, "What I Did for Love"). I chose a nod to Babs and sang "Don't Rain on My Parade." Afterwards, Donna told me I "had a good voice." Why, thank you Tony Award winner, Donna McKechnie! I am sure she wasn't saying that just to be nice.
If you too are part of the karaoke tribe, here's a round up of some of my favorite karaoke and sing-a-long spots in NYC.
Still singing, Blake
Japas 38: This place is great for bigger parties where you can have up to 40 people in your own private room. You can also order both food and drinks. They have a large selection of musical theatre hits from the "biggies" like Cabaret, Chicago and Les Miz. They also update their songbook frequently, so if you're jonesing to sing the new Britney song, chances are they'll have it (9 East 38th Street, between Fifth and Madison).
Planet Rose: Planet Rose is like a midway house between a private room karaoke sanctuary and a huge crowded bar where all eyes are on you. This tiny space can get a bit crowded, but the crowd is a lively crew, and they tend to join in (which is good news for anyone who is prone to a little karaoke stage fright) (219 Avenue A at 13th Street).
Piano's: Monday nights at Piano's is reserved for you hardcore karaoke junkies who long to see your name in lights (starts at 10 PM, 158 Ludlow Street).
SingSing: This SingSing doesn't get its name from the famous prison in upstate New York; however, you can find a few "karaoke degenerates" partying here into the wee hours of the morning. The original SingSing on St. Marks features a ton of private rooms ranging in sizes, so if you're the shy type who wants to get your 'raoke on in private, this is the place for you. They also have a sister SingSing on Avenue A off of Fifth Avenue (open 'til 4 AM, 9 St. Marks Place between Second and Third Avenues).
Marie's Crisis: This is a musical theatre lover's sing-a-long paradise. Arrive early enough and you can nab a spot right by the piano. Tip: Be sure to be extra nice to the piano player if you want to get your tune played (59 Grove Street, off of Seventh Avenue).
Don't Tell Mama: Smack dab in the middle of Broadway's "Restaurant Row," Don't Tell Mama features some great sing-a-long in their piano bar in the back. If you just got out of the theatre, and you feel the need to belt out a tune, go here and get it out of your system. You may even catch a Broadway star or two in the crowd. Don't Tell Mama is also home to our own Seth Rudetsky's Chatterbox on Thursday nights (343 West 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues).
Blake Ross is the editor of Playbill Magazine.