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Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

The return of the popular series showcases talent, friendship, and the 54 Below brand.

"This is my favorite night of the year!" That was Gail Gordon, a 54 Below regular who can be found enjoying shows in the Tony Award-winning nightclub two or three nights a week, fifty-two weeks a year. With such a track record, Gail could be considered an expert on 54 Below and the club's programming, so when Mrs. Gordon makes a statement like that, it is a bold one. Speaking personally, I'm completely with Gail: the 54 Below Staff show is one of the best nights of the year, and thank goodness it's back.

Fully titled 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW, the program that played Broadway's Living Room on Wednesday night has been a part of the yearly programming since 2016. Each season the employees of the elegant supper club put on a talent show. After all, many New York City restaurant workers have their jobs in the food and drink industry so that they can work nights and spend their days pounding the pavement, looking for show business gigs, auditioning, and going to class. These working people are the entertainment industry hopefuls that will fill the stages of regional theaters, cabaret rooms, and (they hope) the Broadway. Why shouldn't the servers in the most popular club in town each have their shot at breaking out into song, busting a move, or even reciting some poetry on the stage in the room that they serve? It's a wonderful chance for the regular clientele to see a whole new, a personal, side of the the men, women, and gender non-conforming artists whose smiling faces bring them their Cosmopolitans and Mango Cake. It isn't just the servers who appear in the show, though. On Wednesday night we all got to "meet" kitchen staff, office workers, and Front-of-House-ers that we had no idea (NO idea) were running around with talents that should never, ever, be hidden.

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Produced and hosted by Head Maitre d' Dylan Bustamante and Assistant Programming Director Kevin Ferguson, 54 Does 54 played ninety minutes to a full house of screaming, clapping, and cheering patrons, some of whom everyone learned (by applause) were already fans of the series, and others who were experiencing the love and music fest for the first time. Unlike previous iterations of the show, there was no monologuing, there were no movement pieces, and no paint was utilized during the program. The evening was completely music-based, although wild card Luis Palomino did include a somewhat interesting pantomime as a lead-in to his Enrique Iglesias song, and drag artist Tara Bull performed some spot-on stand-up before her musical improvisation at the piano (both the stand-up and the improvisation were an evening highlight). Other than these two artists, though, all fourteen of the remaining performers leaned into the art of making music, and it yielded for the audience some impressive surprises.

For instance, sous chef Eunice Rosario brought her own band to open the evening with some bona fide rock and roll, and it was the right way to start the evening - chef Eunice has mad skills and her band really put their back into it in an admirable and enjoyable performance, perfect when followed up by Brooke Beatty rocking out with some Taylor Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye Dayne. Post-pandemic additions to the 54 Below staff, like Coulby Jenkins and Marc Cornes, who were doing their first-ever edition of 54 Does 54 warmed the hearts of regulars like Mrs. Gordon and this reporter, who were thrilled to hear the sweet, supple sounds of their dulcet vocals. There was authentic and appropriate Broadway belting from Alex Martins (flawlessly serving up some Megan Hilty), Grace Flavien (tearing up the stage with some Legally Blonde), Matt Hohmann (who appeared to be singing "She Loves Me" directly to someone in the audience), and Macon Prickett, who is not a Patti LuPone impressionist, just a boy singer who happens to sing just like Patti LuPone (it's mind-blowing). These are all new faces to the 54 family that we have all been getting to know since returning to the clubs, and, thanks to evenings like this, we all know them a little better now, and that's one of the reasons this series is so important. It's about entertainment, but it's about family. When a person spends enough time sitting at these tables and bellied up to the bar while groovy Gretchen Schneider makes the drinks and adorable Austin Peek serves the food, they become like your kids, or, at least, like your niece and nephew. So, getting to watch Gretchen get her Liza on with some "City Lights" or see how much Austin's performing skills have grown over the years (his "Part of Your World" parody is his best 54 Does 54 performance to date) is a real treat because who knows if they will be in the show next time around? After all, this is show business and the restaurant industry - people do move on.

And that was the other theme of the evening.

Beloved Bustamante is leaving 54 Below. Dylan, whose face everyone has seen at the front podium for the last ten years, recently announced he is moving on to new adventures, and there were giggles and tears as his friends and colleagues celebrated him and his decade at Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye 54 Below. After a lovely "She Used To Be Mine," Michelle Cabot could be seen squeezing Dylan in her most loving embrace; co-host Ferguson kept spirits light, throughout the night, as Bustamante stepped into the shadows to avoid becoming emotional in front of the full house, and a slide show of some of the best of the last ten years yielded all smiles and misty eyes. It was a fabulous farewell for this man who has been so important a thread in the 54 Below tapestry. The production of this final show is a sweet send-off for Dylan, and it is easy to see why everyone loves him so. He will certainly be missed.

Although the themes of friendship and family have a prominent presence over the proceedings, it should not detract from the salient fact that this is still a nightclub in the business of entertainment, and potential audience members should not be deterred from attending an installment of 54 Does 54 over a preconceived notion that one must be Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye acquainted with the performers to enjoy the play. Not knowing these people personally, should not keep away those considering investigating The 54 Below Staff Show: wonderful and exciting discoveries lay in wait, here. Among the musical highlights of the evening were Claire O'Neill's performance from GIant: The Musical, Pier Lamia Porter's operatic "To Build A Home," and Javier Garcia's Stevie Wonder finale. These three performers (along with previously mentioned Macon Prickett) need to begin working today (if they aren't already) on their solo shows. They are exciting, they are interesting, and they are ready. Anybody sitting in the seats out front on Wednesday night, be it friend, family, or stranger off the street, would have derived satisfaction from having attended the performance because of their musical numbers.

Thanks to everyone involved with the show, from Dylan and Kevin, to KJ and Amanda in the tech booth, to all of the performers, to the servers continuing to work while their colleagues were up in the spotlight, the entire evening was a marvelously musical, often silly, always touching, example of the kind of programming that has made 54 Below the place to find quality nightclub entertainment these last ten years - the kind of programming that gets a nightclub a Tony Award for excellence.

This is what 54 Below is all about.

Find great shows to see on the 54 Below website HERE.

An earlier version of this article was missing the names of the 54 DOES 54 band members. We apologize to the artists and offer their billing below:

Music Director: Ben Covello
Bass: Gene Steficek
Guitar: Eitan prouser
Drum: Nathan Repasz

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye
Eunice Rosario

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye
Kevin Ferguson

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

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Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

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Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

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Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye
Luis Palomino

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

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Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

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Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye
Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye

Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye Review: 54 DOES 54: THE 54 BELOW STAFF SHOW at 54 Below Welcomes New Faces And Bids Bustamante Bye Bye Photos by Stephen Mosher


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Cra... (read more about this author)


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