×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Supper’s resurfaced

Shaking the supper club stigma requires constant innovation

Once the backdrop for Ricky Ricardo’s orchestra, the Mocambo is now a Sunset Strip parking lot. And for much of Hollywood, supper clubs have gone the way of the ’50s sitcom — big on nostalgia, short on relevance.

However, that didn’t dissuade Chris Isaacson from looking for a restaurant to host his Upright L.A. Cabaret show last year.

“Everyone told us cabaret was dead,” he says. “People automatically assume a smoky piano bar with two people singing all these old songs.”

Upright eventually found a home at Mark’s Restaurant on La Cienega Boulevard. When the first show sold out, the show stretched from one-night stand to one weekend a month. It’s now moved into more spacious digs at La Boheme.

Still, shaking the supper club stigma requires constant innovation.

“Our show is always Broadway with a twist of pop,” says Isaacson, who created the show with co-producer Shane Scheel and music director Trapper Felides. “We’re three guys in our 20s –nothing’s off limits.”

In other words, for every rousing rendition of “Oklahoma,” there’s a fair share of Fiona Apple and the Dixie Chicks. Tomorrow, Upright performs the music of Rupert Holmes, who will be on hand to sing “Escape: The Pina Colada Song.”

Since opening in December 2003, Vibrato Grill Jazz in Bel-Air has played host to its own big-name talent, such as Chuck Mangione, Toots Thielman and an impromptu performance by Stevie Wonder.

“When (Dave Brubeck) walked onstage, I wasn’t sure if he was gonna make it to the piano,” says owner and jazzman Herb Alpert. “But he played like he was a teenager.”

The question remains whether famous musicians and filet mignon are enough to keep young Hollywood in the same venue for a 90-minute set.

“We’ve struggled with that,” says Isaacson. “Sometimes you can feel that energy in the audience, ‘Ok, got to get to the next place.’ ”

While a few L.A. bastions like Largo and Gardenia have held tight to the supper club’s one-stop shopping, a new round of restaurants are reintroducing dinner and a show.

LA BOHEME
8400 Santa Monica Blvd.
(323) 848-2360
Uprightcabaret.com
Show: Performances by a dozen members from Upright L.A. Cabaret’s roster
Dinner: Three-course prix fixe
When: Tomorrow, to accommodate Rupert Holmes; normally, the second Saturday of each month
Cover: $15; $39 for dinner

VIBRATO GRILL JAZZ
2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel-Air
(310) 474-9400
Vibratogrilljazz.com
Show: Jazz, sometimes performed by greats like Kenny Werner and Dave Brubeck
Dinner: Lighter-styled steakhouse
When: Nightly; closed Mondays
Cover: Dinner required to sit at a table; $20 minimum at the bar

TOWER BAR
8358 Sunset Blvd.
(323) 654-7100
Sunsettowerhotel.com
Show: Standards performed by Frank Sinatra’s pianist, Page Cavanaugh
Dinner: Italian-California bistro
When: Cavanaugh performs Tues.-Fri.
Cover: None

More Scene

  • Marianne Rendon, Matt Smith, Ondi Timoner

    Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Team Talks 'Fast and Furious' Filming

    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten [...]

  • Producer Mel Jones poses at the

    'Dear White People' Producer Talks Hollywood's 'Black Tax'

    “Dear White People” and “Leimert Park” executive producer Mel Jones is extremely familiar with growing up and watching “white men in all types of roles and never [seeing] ourselves as a part of those narratives.” Now, there may be some more opportunities for writers of color to tell their own stories, but, she notes, there [...]

  • Rebel Wilson Isn't It Romantic

    Rebel Wilson on Twitter Gaffe: 'It Was Purely to Lift My Fellow Plus-Size Women Up'

    “I obviously misspoke in that situation,” Rebel Wilson told Variety at the premiere of her latest film “Isn’t It Romantic” Monday, acknowledging the gaffe in which she claimed to be the first-ever plus-sized woman to star in a romantic comedy during an October appearance on “Ellen.” Following the comment, Wilson was met with criticism from Twitter [...]

  • NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 11:

    How Lena Waithe Convinced Halle Berry to Team Up for 'Boomerang' TV Series

    Halle Berry wasn’t immediately sold on the idea of a “Boomerang” reboot. The 1992 romantic comedy, which starred Berry, Eddie Murphy, and Robin Givens, told the tale of cocky ad executive and insatiable ladies’ man Marcus (Murphy) who meets his match in his new boss Jacqueline (Givens) — an exec who treats him the same [...]

  • Rebel Wilson and Miley Cyrus'Isn't it

    Why Liam Hemsworth Wasn't at His 'Isn't It Romantic' Premiere, but Wife Miley Cyrus Was

    Liam Hemsworth had every intention of bringing his wife, Miley Cyrus, to Monday’s premiere of his new romantic comedy “Isn’t It Romantic.” However, the Aussie actor was forced to skip the evening because of some “health things.” That didn’t stop Cyrus from attended the red carpet shindig at the Theater at the Ace Hotel in downtown [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content