The small performance venue — located within The Supper Club on West 47th Street — was scheduled to shut its doors at the end of January. Jim Caruso, host of the acclaimed Monday-night Cast Party, worked as a freelance promoter and helped book the room Monday, Friday and Saturday nights. During his tenure, Caruso presented evenings that featured such theatre favorites as Karen Mason, Debbie Gravitte, Billy Porter, Julia Murney, Alice Ripley, John Tartaglia and Max von Essen, among others.
Caruso spoke to Playbill On-Line Jan. 13 and said, "We had been told that we were working through the end of January. We were able to keep the bookings [through this month]. I had to cancel February and March unfortunately, which disappointed a lot of performers. I was able to keep the January bookings and was in the process of finding a new space for everything starting in February."
Then, at 4 PM Jan. 12, Caruso received a call from the club saying that "tonight's the last night, and please cancel everything. I feel terribly for all of these performers who had hired publicists, who spent their very hard earned money on putting shows together, flyers, posters, postage, all of the things that go into this kind of an endeavor. . . I got on a phone and called [performers for] 11 nights of shows and canceled." Caruso was given no reason for the closing of the room.
Although the closing was a shock, Caruso is already at work finding a new performance space for the many acts he had booked. Although he was not able to name his new performance home, an announcement is expected shortly. Caruso did add that the final Cast Party Jan. 13 was an extraordinary evening, featuring the talents of Mamma Mia!'s Karen Mason, Avenue Q composers Jeff Marx and Robert Lopez, jazz singer Natalie Douglas, composer John Bucchino, singer-actress and former "Miss America" Kate Shindle, actor-composer Matt Zarley, former Saturday Night Fever star Paige Price as well as Billy Stritch on piano. "As always, it was the most exciting, bizarre mix!" Caruso said.
Cabaret in Manhattan has faced some difficult times within the past decade. The King Kong Room now joins the Firebird Room, Arci's Place, Judy's and Rainbow & Stars, which all showcased some of New York's finest cabaret talent and have closed within the past few years.