Eighty-Eights, the venerable Greenwich Village cabaret spot where show tunes have been celebrated and performers have tested new material for the past decade, is likely to close May 31, due to economics, according to the management there.
Shows are not scheduled in the summer for the upstairs cabaret theater at Eighty-Eights, 228 W. 10th St., and manager Jaye Lee told Playbill On Line that unless a new owner can be found to handle the skyrocketing rent, the song will end May 31.
"The Village is drying up," Lee told Playbill On-Line, citing high rent and "economics" as the reasons for the expected closing. "There are four or five retail places that have closed up in the past few months."
Lee said several possible new owners were expected to meet with the current management of Eighty-Eights to discuss taking over and preserving the space.
On a good night in the past decade, Eighty-Eights was a classic New York piano bar downstairs, with singing waiters and bartenders and their pals jumping in to sing everything from Rodgers and Hart to Lerner and Loewe to the Beatles and David Friedman, with the house pianist-singer. On weekends, married couples, gay partners, drag queens, regulars and tourists would jam the contemporary, casual, deco-style joint. Meanwhile, the upstairs cabaret room hosted Broadway and cabaret talent from around the world.
Sally Mayes, Maree Johnson, Philip Officer, David Campbell, Karen Mason, the late Nancy Lamott, Anne Runolfsson and others have all entertained audiences upstairs at Eighty-Eights.
"It was a great, beautiful, comfortable, warm space," actress-singer Karen Mason told Playbill On-Line. She and her late pianist-arranger Brian Lasser played the space in the early 1990s.
Mason said that having worked with Eighty-Eights owner Erv Raible, "Brian and I always felt we had a place to work down in the Village."
Mason added, "It's sad because it's got great lights and sound.They wanted it to be a beautiful space that showed off the performers, but even when people were sitting off to the side they didn't feel excluded."
Mason, who was appearing in Jerome Robbins' Broadway during the time she played a Christmas show at Eighty-Eights, said, "They always made it a home for new singers. Where are new people going to go?"
Owner Raible could not be reached for comment.
If the venue does close, vocalist Charles Cermele will be one of final performers there. His show, Ask Me Again, begins May 5 and continues 8 PM Wednesdays to the end of the month. Cermele previously played Eighty-Eights in February.
For information about Eighty-Eights, call (212) 924-0088.
-- By Kenneth Jones