The music stopped playing March 15 at Arci's Place, the New York cabaret that has spotlighted several Broadway and cabaret favorites during its four-year run.
Expensive Park Avenue rents were cited as the reason for the abrupt closing of the plush nightspot. John Miller, the manager-emcee of Arci's Place, said in a statement, "We love the neighborhood, but unfortunately the cost of doing business on Park Avenue has proven too rich even for my blood. We are in negotiations for a new venue in midtown Manhattan on the West Side," he explained, "which we believe will be better situated for our customers who have come to expect the best in cabaret entertainment from us. We anticipate opening the new establishment, which will include a dining room, a cabaret room and a piano bar, in July or August."
The closing scuttles engagements that were ongoing or coming up, including gigs by Donna McKechnie, Jana Robbins, Lonnie Ackerman and Melba Moore.
Arci's Place opened its doors in 1998, and its first headliner was current Mamma Mia! star Karen Mason, who returned to the cabaret's intimate stage several times. Other performers who made Arci's their home included Donna McKechnie, Christine Ebersole, Sam Harris, Tom Wopat, Marilyn Sokol, Baby Jane Dexter, John Barrowman, Carol Woods, Margaret Whiting, Priscilla Lopez, Paige Price, Sally Mayes and several others. Acclaimed Gypsy standby Jana Robbins was currently in the midst of a month-long Sunday-night gig singing the songs of Cy Coleman, and Melba Moore, the Tony-winning Purlie star, was scheduled to play a two week engagement beginning March 20. Lonnie Ackerman was performing Tuesdays and McKechnie had two more shows of her My Musical Comedy Life planned.
Rich Aronstein and Jerry Friedman of r/j productions also issued a statement concerning the closing of Arci's Place: "Our appreciation goes to John Miller for his trust in us as Entertainment Managers and to the members of the press who have expressed such support for our choices. We look forward to the new Arci's Place and hope we will all enjoy great nights together again in the immediate future." New York cabarets have traditionally had a difficult time making a profit. The long-time downtown cabaret, Eighty-Eight's, closed its doors in May 1999, and Rainbow & Stars, the cabaret space high atop Rockefeller Center, also stopped business in the 1990s. The Firebird in the theatre district also stopped presenting cabaret work earlier this year.
Two top cabarets that continue to draw crowds are The Oak Room, located inside the famed Algonquin Hotel, and the Cafe Carlyle, part of the Carlyle Hotel.