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.

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Many famillies have supported keeping John F. Kennedy Drive in Golden Gate Park free of car traffic. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fight over future of JFK Drive heats up

Shamann Walton compares accessibilty issues to segregation, likens street closure to ‘1950s South’

Tara Hobson, center, principal at SF International High School, welcomes a student back on Monday, April 26, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD seniors get a chance to say goodbye to school in person

Deal to briefly return older students to school leaves many parents and teens dissatisfied

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City College union deal staves off layoffs, class cuts

One year agreement allows community college time to improve its finances

San Francisco Giants pitcher Logan Webb (62) faced down the Rangers Tuesday in a two-game sweep by the giants. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Webb posts career-high 10 strikeouts as Giants finish sweep of Rangers

The Texas Rangers arrived in San Francisco with one of the hottest… Continue reading

A Homeless Outreach Team member speaks with homeless people along Jones Street in the Tenderloin on Wednesday, May 6, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Breed proposes another street outreach team to divert calls away from police

San Francisco would launch a new street outreach team to respond to… Continue reading

Most Read