Come to the cabaret

The Rrazz Room celebrated its grand opening Monday night in San Francisco’s Hotel Nikko with a lineup of giddy singers who reveled in their art — the art of cabaret.

Perhaps Andrea Marcovicci, who appeared not quite halfway through the two-hour show, put it best when she toasted, “To all the disenfranchised performers who were wondering where their bookings were going to go.”

The new venue takes the place of the beloved Plush Room in the York Hotel, which for nearly 30 years was The City’s premier spot for cabaret. Rrazz ProductionsRobert Kotonly, who with Rory Paull recently had been booking the Plush Room, opened Monday’s festivities by saying that the Rrazz Room represented a “move to the next level of excellence.” He also thanked the artists for appearing “out of the goodness of their hearts.”

The talent — including many singers who will appear at the Rrazz Room in upcoming weeks and months — delivered.

Sultry Paula West, who just finished a six-week engagement including gigs in a Hotel Nikko conference room while finishing touches were made on the under-construction Rrazz Room, started things off in her typical, impeccable style.

She was followed by Sally Kellerman, who knocked out a few smooth bluesy numbers, then by the only man on the bill, the piano-playing Tim Hockenberry, who captivated with his Tom Waits-Joe Cocker-inspired sounds.

Marcovicci, wearing a fur, joked, “It died during the war,” while Terese Genecco, who’s doing late shows Saturday nights with her “little big band,” belted “Unchain My Heart.”

Freda Payne paid tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, while Sharon McNight got big laughs with an ode to bacon. McNight also presided over an auction of gourmet dinners and show tickets for charity.

Lainie Kazan sang her favorite unrequited love song, “The Man That Got Away,” while former Supreme Mary Wilson sang Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why,” hilariously admitting she had no idea what the tune is about. She followed with “I Am Changing,” from “Dreamgirls,” in remembrance of Florence Ballard.

Old-timer Wesla Whitfield, the only one in the group also in attendance at the christening of the Plush Room back in 1979, closed things out, before the entire crew gathered onstage for an unrehearsed finale, Irving Berlin’s “Sisters.”

Pianist Mike Greensill, bassist John Wiitala and drummer Vince Lateano provided jovial accompaniment for most of the singers in a show that revealed the promise of more great music to come.

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