S mall cabarets showcasing singers, comedians and sometimes dramatic acts are now flourishing in what may be a comeback of variety-type entertainment in Los Angeles.
Occasionally a well-known star will show up at a small restaurant- showcase to try out new material, and many would-be stars put on their best acts, hoping to be seen and cast in bigger forums.
So, come to the cabaret, where you might catch a star or one on the rise. Here is a sampling of 10 nightspots that offer live performances:
At My Place, 1026 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, (213) 451-8596. Open nightly 7 p.m. to about midnight, closing at 2 a.m. on weekends. Anything accessible, melodic and original goes, according to partner and talent booker Matt Kramer. Cover is $2.50 to $7.50 on weeknights, $6.50 and up on weekends, with a one-drink minimum.
Seymour Hamm's, 2001 Pacific Coast Highway, Lomita, (213) 326-5650. Open Monday-Thursday 4 p.m. to about midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 2 p.m.-2 a.m. and Sundays 4 p.m.-midnight. This variety bonanza features every kind of talent, even a 3-year-old who sings and plays the drums. Sundays at 7 p.m. there is a talent contest, with finals the end of every month. Mondays and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. there are variety showcases with original one-act plays; Wednesdays are comedy nights, 8:30-10:30 p.m., with proven comics; Thursdays are music nights, offering a house band with guest local bands, and Fridays and Saturdays are open-mike nights. Two-drink minimum.
Variety Arts Center, 940 S. Figueroa St., Downtown Los Angeles, (213) 623-9100. This entertainment complex houses the Society for the Preservation of the Variety Arts. The Italian Renaissance-style structure was a theater for radio and TV performances in the '30s, then a game-show studio in the '50s. The fourth-floor Variety Garden Ballroom features a dinner show Fridays and Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. There is a $5 cover charge, no drink minimum. The ground-level Ed Wynn Comedy Lounge offers non-stop comedy. The lounge is open Thursday-Saturday 10 p.m.-2 a.m.; $5 cover charge includes two drinks.
Mischa's Restaurant and Cabaret, 7561 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (213) 874-3467. Open daily 5 p.m.-2 a.m., with shows at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Owner Mischa wanted a restaurant where one would be "transported into Russian culture," as in its Russian fairy tale room, or the Tomanov room with balcony or the private lovers-only Byzantine room--where guests are served any of 70 vodka varieties and a Russian variety show. The Friday-Sunday extravaganza, with stage visible from all rooms, features Russian Gypsy singers, an accordion band, a master violinist, polka dancers or belly dancers and sometimes such exotica as Ukrainian contortionists. There is Latin jazz on Mondays, in-house '50s and '60s music on Tuesdays. Wednesdays and Thursdays feature such variety as comedy, blues or jazz or a hypnotist. Cover charge when big-name guest artists perform. Table minimum of $10 for dinner or $7 for drinks.
Crackers, 710 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim, (714) 978-1828. Entertainment nightly 8:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Waiters and waitresses serve food and drinks, then perform short song-and-dance acts. The 3 1/2-year-old club is near Disneyland. There is a $3 cover Fridays and Saturdays; $1 Sunday-Thursday; no minimum.
Rose Tattoo, 665 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 854-4455. Open every night, 9:30 p.m.-2 a.m.; there is a restaurant upstairs, but live entertainment is in this elegant cabaret named after the Tennessee Williams play. "Stardom Pursuit," on Sundays, is like TV's "Star Search": 10 male and female singers vie for a chance at the $5,000 final prize. Mondays feature a Broadway-style variety night. TV regulars often drop by and Mamie Van Doren and Kevin Dobson are frequent performers. Ruth Buzzi hosts Tuesday's "Comedy Night" and known comics perform; Wednesdays present an all-male exotic revue, and Thursday-Saturday features headliners--local talents or known stars. Cover charge varies from $5 to $10 with a two-drink minimum, except for Monday's free shows.
Alleycat Bistro, 3865 Overland Ave., Culver City, (213) 204-3663. Open Monday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Jazz is a mainstay along with the comedy at this supper club in the Culver Center shopping
mall. On Mondays, "Variety Showcase," from 9 p.m. till
closing, has amateur comedians and singers (who must pre-
audition); Tuesdays feature three top acts chosen fromMonday shows. Wednesdays bring on jazz or pop music, and Thursday-
Saturday there are jazz acts. Cover is $4-$10.
LGT Vegas, 11000 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills, (818) 365-9502. Show times Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30, 10 and 11:30 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 9:30 and 11 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., and Sundays, 8:30 and 10:15 p.m. The environment evokes a Las Vegas showroom. One-hour shows feature singers/dancers, impressionists, bands or a hypnotist. Two-drink minimum, no cover.
Gardenia Club, 7066 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, (213) 467-7444. Shows every night except Sundays, beginning at 9 p.m. A traditional supper club with top-class singing from soul to Broadway. One may see such pros as regulars Estelle Reiner and Andrea Marcovicci, or beginners. Cover varies from $3 to $10, with a two-drink minimum or dinner.
Carlos 'n Charlie's, 8240 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (213) 656-8830. Entertainment nightly in upstairs lounge, 8:30-10 p.m. Comedians, music acts, magicians and mentalists are featured performers during Thursday-Sunday shows. A variety of singers, comics and magicians entertains during the Tuesday "Showstoppers," and a comedy-improv troupe performs Wednesdays and Thursdays. Cover charge is $6-$10, with a two-drink minimum.