Review: Whereas JIM CARUSO'S CAST PARTY Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary With Elegance at Birdland

Proclamations abounded as Jim Caruso and his creation celebrated a milestone.

By: Jul. 28, 2023
Review: Whereas JIM CARUSO'S CAST PARTY Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary With Elegance at Birdland
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Jim Caruso’s Cast Party celebrated its 20th Anniversary at Birdland Jazz Club on their traditional Monday night. Gianni Valenti, the owner of Birdland Jazz Club, stepped out onto the stage and gave a special opening speech congratulating the Cast Party team, Jim Caruso, Billy Stritch, Steve Doyle, and Daniel Glass on their great achievement. In cabaret, residencies are nearly impossible to sustain. Most long-standing residencies, like At This Performance and Broadway Sessions at The Green Room 42, are only once a month. Birdland Jazz Club has the only two shows in cabaret, Cast Party and The Lineup With Susie Mosher, that have been able to sustain weekly shows for multiple years. It is a true wondrous achievement to have a show every week lasting 20 years, with over 1040 shows and 1840 performers but who’s counting? Billy Strich was.

Review: Whereas JIM CARUSO'S CAST PARTY Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary With Elegance at Birdland

Before Cast Party, Birdland was a strictly jazz venue. Jim Caruso and the rest of the crew were able to bring a new side to Birdland by creating their open mic night and giving a professional platform to many different types of performers, from singers to tappers to ventriloquists, and to even hula-hooping strippers… yes, you read that right. This allowed the venue to expand their audience but it also introduced them to new artists that those audiences never would have known or heard of. Cast Party has been able to bring new diverse genres to Birdland Jazz Club, creating more opportunity for everyone.

Not only does Cast Party help Birdland but it also assists performers, the cabaret community, and the theater community at large. This was made official when Amanda Green, long-time Cast Party friend and performer, was welcomed on stage, where she presented Caruso with a special proclamation from the Mayor of New York announcing “whereas” July 24th, 2023 as Jim Caruso’s Cast Party Day. But it didn’t stop there. Billy Strich, then, got up from the piano to present Caruso with another proclamation from the New York State Senate stating “whereas, Jim Caruso’s Cast Party is an exemplary show that brings joy to many New Yorkers and visitors.” If that was not enough, Natalie Douglas walked on stage to present yet another proclamation, this time from The New York City Council, “whereas,” giving honors to the show, as well. Amanda Green, Billy Strich, Jim Caruso, and Natalie Douglas all posed together for a photo, holding up these three official proclamations, smiling with pride and joy. 

Review: Whereas JIM CARUSO'S CAST PARTY Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary With Elegance at Birdland

There were many regulars and friends at the show on Monday night. After Jim Caruso and Billy Strich sang their own rendition of ELEGANCE from Hello Dolly, they welcomed some familiar faces to the stage including Karen Mason, who sang her own edited version of CABARET, celebrating the 20th anniversary, Julie Benko & Jason Yeager, Nicolas King, Max von Essen, and John Manzari. Many people who graced the stage have had a long history with the show, notably Ruby and Ava Locknar, who have been coming to the show with their mother, famed singer-songwriter Victoria Shaw, since they were six and four years old, respectively. Ruby even helped Jim create Pajama Cast Party, when the pandemic hit, to keep the show alive, virtually. Natalie Douglas gave a sincere speech about how she has done over 200 performances at Cast Party and it has given her the platform to network and develop her skills. The show has also helped the new-age vaudevillian (as Caruso likes to put it), Bryce Edwards, find his niche and hone his craft. Even noted writer Bruce Vilanch took a moment to talk and congratulate the Cast Party gang. The night was filled with touching and heartfelt moments that showed just how special Cast Party is to the community.

Review: Whereas JIM CARUSO'S CAST PARTY Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary With Elegance at Birdland

Notable performances included Susie Mosher, as she stole the stage with her classic improvisational song. There wasn’t a single person in the house that wasn’t cracking up. In addition, Kenn Bosinger showed how he could sub for Jim Caruso, anytime, by singing a hilariously beautiful medley of MARIA from West Side Story and THEY CALL THE WIND MARIAH. They are both people that had an influence on my interest in cabaret and I always enjoy seeing them perform.

If you would like to catch the proclaimed Jim Caruso’s Cast Party at Birdland Jazz Club yourself, you can find Monday night tickets here. Cheers to Cast Party and another 20 years because, as Valenti said on Monday night, “As long as Birdland is around the Cast Party will be around.”

The CAST PARTY Band Includes

Billy Stritch, Piano

Steve Doyle, Bass

Daniel Glass, Drums


JULY 24TH PERFORMERS

Karen Mason

Julie Benko & Jason Yeager

Nicolas King

Amanda Green

Ruby Locknar

John Manzari

Natalie Douglas

Bryan Eng

Susie Mosher

Bryce Edwards

Ava Locknar

Max von Essen

Jenna Esposito-Cannizzaro

Michael Winther

Kenn Boisinger

Ben Jones & Ron Abel

Luke Hawkins

Kate Curran

Matt Baker

Sara Shay

Jonathan Ehrens

Jacob Khalil & The Birdwatchers
 

This article features photos provided by Kevin Alvey of Birdland.

Visit the Birdland website HERE, the Billy Stritch website HERE, and Cast Party creator and host Jim Caruso's website HERE.

Review: Whereas JIM CARUSO'S CAST PARTY Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary With Elegance at Birdland




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