Cafe Society Swing OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Carol Rosegg
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    December 16, 2014
    Closing:
    January 4, 2015

    Theater: 59E59 Theaters / 59 East 59th St., New York, NY, 10022

    Synopsis: 

    Cafe Society - the legendary New York jazz venue, the first racially integrated club in the city, and the hottest ticket in town. From its idealistic anti-racist beginnings to its demise in the 'Red Scare' of the late 1940s, Cafe Society hosted stars including Lena Horne, Count Basie, and Billie Holiday, and was famously "the wrong place for the right people." Evan Pappas fronts this swinging show, along with stellar vocalists and a top-flight band.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Cafe Society Swing

    Rich Songs Tell a Jazz Club’s Bittersweet Story

    Laura Collins-Hughes

    December 23, 2014: You there, with the shopping bags and the frantic look on your face. Longing to duck out of the holiday hordes, even just for a little bit? Consider taking refuge in the rich and gorgeous music of Cafe Society Swing. A buoyant revue wrapped around a bit of New York history, it boasts a tight eight-piece jazz band and the arresting talents of the French singer Cyrille Aimée, the standout among four fine vocalists. The enveloping atmosphere and the sheer beauty of the music make Cafe Society Swing a balm for the soul, though the story it tells is bittersweet. Set in the late 1940s, it traces the demise of the Greenwich Village jazz club Cafe Society, whose owner, Barney Josephson, once said he “wanted a club where blacks and whites worked together behind the footlights and sat together out front.” Written by Alex Webb and directed by Simon Green at 59E59 Theaters, the show gives us that flavor, at least onstage — and goes one better in a way that’s still remarkable today. “The drummer is a woman,” someone behind me murmured as Lucianna Padmore took the stage on Wednesday night. Ditto the bassist, Mimi Jones, and the tenor sax player, Camille Thurman.

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