We are a country of laws and most of the entertainers who perform at arguably the most famous and successful open mic in the country are well versed in them. After a quick interview, sign up, and reminder by the host of “only one song and not a ballad” the party starts. The rules and Caruso’s wit make it all work. He’s an instant creative director who strategically inserts the performers in the show. Billy Stritch, Jim’s partner in music and humor creates piano arrangements on the spot, or expertly sight-reads a singer’s music. The Cast Party Symphony Orchestra consisting of Steve Doyle on bass and Daniel Glass on drums keep it rhythmically moving. However, last night the crowd’s reaction to some performances sent out a signal that wisely caused Jim to adjust the rules. Will & Anthony Nunziata started it off with thrilling solos from South Pacific and were asked by Mr. Caruso to “do another”. It reminded me of the special acknowledgement of your superior abilities when Johnny Carson would have a performer join him on the (not casting) couch. Your career was made. Speaking of Johnny Carson, a singer who Johnny had on more than any other made an appearance at Cast Party last night. Jim invited the legendary Marilyn Maye up and she proceeded to break all the rules. At times Marvelous Marilyn seemed to be interviewing Jim, and the ensuing dialogue became a great comedy routine. Marilyn then put on a mini show with Billy Stritch as the laws of Cast Party were glorious broken. Marilyn is currently at the Metropolitan Room if you can scalp a ticket and the Nunziatas will be at The Highline Ballroom for one night only on January 18th.
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