About Last Night: Back to the Future at the Carlyle

Inside Track   About Last Night: Back to the Future at the Carlyle
There are a few "old school" Manhattan hotspots still standing. Gone are Toots Shor's, the Stork Club, El Morocco and other iconic haunts where the crème de le crème of the Manhattan crowd used to go to "see and be seen." One of the last holdouts of that bygone era is the Carlyle Hotel. The moment you enter the Carlyle you feel like you've been transported back to the days when men wore jackets and ties and held doors open for women.

Such was my evening last night at Paulo Szot's cabaret show, and the opening of the Café Carlyle's fall season. The dimly lit room was abuzz with chatter — and the clank of dinner plates — from the crowd of celebrities, including Barbara Walters, Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Barbara Cook, Phyllis Newman and the like.

The host showed me to my table sandwiched between Tommy Tune and Joan Rivers (who was wearing an amazing feather-sleeved jacket — she later told me William Ivey Long designed it for her). I introduced my guest (aka my mom) to Joan, who offered, "You must be proud of your daughter. Well, not so much 'proud' as 'lucky.' You'd be proud if she was a lawyer. You're lucky because you get freebies."

With my mother left pondering my life choices, Paulo took to the stage for what was his first cabaret show ever. He didn't disappoint. The set was filled with Broadway songs and standards — including "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," "If I Loved You" and "Make Someone Happy" — arranged with a distinctive Latin flair courtesy of musical director/pianist Bob Albanese (who also plays a mean melodeon — a mouth-operated mini organ).

Paulo pulled out all the stops for his first gig, surprising the audience by pulling South Pacific co-star Kelli O'Hara onto the stage to sing "People Will Say We're in Love."

As I left the Carlyle I walked past longtime resident Elaine Stritch coming home after performing in A Little Night Music. I hopped in a cab and was whisked back to 2010.

Click here to see photos from last night's show!

The Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th Street at Madison Avenue. For reservations call (212) 744-1600; for additional information, visit www.thecarlyle.com.

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