The Miller's Son (

by Charles Nelson

John Miller, saloonkeeper extraordinaire at Arci's Place, keeps 'em coming back, all right. This is the cabaret about which nobody has a bad word to say. Show business can be pretty cutthroat but, when it comes to keeping clubs open and alive, suddenly all men are brothers. Believe me, The FireBird, Don't Tell Mama, Feinstein's, etc. are thrilled with the success of Arci's. The more clubs in town, the better. And John Miller does it right. From the moment when the unflappable Lori greets you at the door to the moment when you are personally thanked as you leave, the feeling is one of warmth. And that warmth takes the stage as well; ask anyone who has performed at Arci's. The simple layout of the place allows the singer to feel instantly accessible to every person in the room. There's an enveloping quality to Arci's, and it flatters performers. Hence, they're comfortable, they relate, they deliver.

Miller has been very good to people in the theater, and his taste is musically eclectic: performers who continue to work at Arci's include the dynamic Karen Mason , the stylish and wise Wesla Whitfield with pianist Mike Greensill and the terrific Sean Smith on bass, and Broadway's Judy Kaye.

Continuing through December 2, Kaye's show at Arci's is a perfect example of why theater folk should give thanks to cabaret. Kaye is not a pop, jazz, or club singer per se. She is an actress in the musical theater--one of our best. Her ace is her voice, a 24-kt gold instrument with coloratura soprano facility on top and a Broadway belt at the bottom. Her Arci's act is perfectly constructed, and she speaks only when she has to. She can do a ballad, then turn around and lay the ditz.

That's the problem--she does everything well. Kaye is a remarkable talent, a craftsman, and that confuses people in the worlds of both theater and cabaret. I sat there at Arci's, amazed by the fluency of her talent, thinking of all the show she could have done and wondering why people aren't writing shows for her now. Through the medium of cabaret, Kaye keeps her hand in while she waits for an appropriate theater gig to come along. She and other refugees from musical theater owe a lot to cabaret because it keeps them alive, thriving, and singing their little hearts out to appreciative audiences. So let's give thanks to Erv, John, et al. this holiday season for providing that opportunity.

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