Feinstein, a onetime protege of Ira Gershwin's, has dedicated his career to celebrating the body of work he calls the Great American Songbook through singing and playing piano in venues large and small across the U.S. For many years his home base was Feinstein's a Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, which closed on New Year's Eve 2012.
Feinstein will make his debut gig in his new home Dec. 20-30, after which he will appear there twice a year.
"In the grand tradition of The Copacabana, Reno Sweeney, The Stork Club and yes, Feinstein at the Regency, I've watched 54 Below light up Times Square as the number one destination for live entertainment and great food. I am thrilled to join the Tony Award winning team behind 54 Below's success and look forward to our new adventure together," Feinstein said in a statement.
The name change apparently will not affect the space's idiosyncratic programming, which has included reunions of Broadway casts (including last week's Spring Awakening reunion), offbeat bands, iconic performers such as Patti LuPone and Barbara Cook, and the ineffable Sondheimas, described as "the annual quasi-religious celebration of the birth of the savior of musical theater, Stephen Sondheim." "Beloved and respected by his audiences and musical artists around the world, Michael Feinstein is a fantastic performer and synonymous with great entertainment," said 54 Below proprietor Steve Baruch in a statement. "My partners, Tom Viertel, Richard Frankel and I are honored to begin this exciting new collaboration with Michael adding additional vision and creative energy to 54 Below. We look forward to a successful, starry alliance together, one that will take our great venue to higher heights."
John Iachetti, formerly general manager of Feinstein's at the Regency, will join the Feinstein's/54 Below staff as general manager of the restaurant operation.
54 Below director of programming Jennifer Ashley Tepper, who will remain with the venue, told Playbill.com, "I'm thrilled about the new relationship, and I think it will bring a new fold of artists and audience members into our already-expansive 54 Below family."
Tepper said, "I will continue as the Director of Programming, curating and overseeing the hundreds of celebrated shows at 54 Below each season. Michael Feinstein will be bringing not only his own engagements to the venue, but also his relationships. I'm really looking forward to working with new artists that Feinstein's has existing affiliations with, and integrating them into our current programming."
Asked if there plans to change the kind of shows she has been booking, Tepper said, "With 16 shows every week, there is a lot of room at 54 Below for all different kinds of programming! We will continue with all of the diverse, unique programming we've been presenting: reunion concerts, casts of currently running shows, emerging artists, solo debuts, songwriter celebrations, and so on.
"Our club has always been built around featuring an exciting star headliner each week who plays several performances. We have had many thrilling headliners at the club, from Patti LuPone to Jeremy Jordan. Michael Feinstein and John Iachetti's many previous successful collaborations with artists means that we will now have several new headliners to add to our current assemblage of stars. Just wait until you hear all of the headliners we have planned to present together!
"It's also worth noting that we have a sensational fall and winter season already announced, featuring shows I've already programmed––from headliners like Norm Lewis and Lena Hall to solo debuts like Phillipa Soo and Josh Grisetti to songwriter celebrations like Jeff Bowen and Cy Coleman to reunion concerts like Footloose and Bare to unique shows only we do like Charlie Rosen's Broadway Big Band and The Joe Iconis Christmas Spectacular."
In addition to his concerts and albums, Feinstein has appeared on Broadway four times, starting in April 1988 with Michael Feinstein in Concert, and continuing with Michael Feinstein in Concert: "Isn't It Romantic" later that same year. He returned in 1990 with Michael Feinstein in Concert: Piano and Voice, and again in 2010 with an offbeat show, All About Me, in which he was paired with comedian Dame Edna for an evening at Henry Miller's Theatre (now the Sondheim Theatre). The pair alternated between music and comedy.