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Review: Isaac Mizrahi at the Café Carlyle

by Photo of Paul Hansen

The noted fashion designer makes his Carlyle debut.

Review: Isaac Mizrahi at the Café Carlyle

The cold winter evenings of New York continue to be warmed by vibrant performances at the Café Carlyle. Following the successful Café debut of best selling writer Jill Kargman,  acclaimed fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi is currently in his premiere engagement at the esteemed venue.  The title of his show is Does This Song Make Me Look Fat?         

As I watched the performance,  I was reminded of a number of  parallels between Mizrahi and his immediate predecessor at the Café.  One of the secrets to performing well before a live audience (particularly in a small venue) is to project a sense of complete ease with the space.  Both Mizrahi and Kargman exuded that sense of relaxed confidence. Similarly, both are gifted, fluid and witty raconteurs who occasionally venture off into the bawdy.    

Isaac has a pleasing, well focused voice which he uses intelligently and expressively.  He opened with a buoyant rendition of John Kander's and Fred Ebb's "Yes." The remainder of his song list covered the gamut from Elton John to Cole Porter as well as the Eartha Kitt favorite "C'est si bon."  

At one point during the evening Mizrahi's mike failed during the middle of a song.  No problem.  He gamely continued singing anyway until he was handed a replacement.  Actually, his voice sounded just fine without the mike. Despite the momentary glitch,  the sound levels were quite well balanced for the small size of the Café's space.  

Mizrahi is accompanied by a lively five piece band, several members of which he has worked with for well over a decade.  At a couple of points during the show he teasingly accused the young trumpeter, Benny Benack III, of trying to steal the spotlight when Benack performed some bravura passages.       

Of course Mizrahi is also an acclaimed fashion designer, and he shared a few anecdotes about dressing the rich and famous, including Faye Dunaway and  Liza Minelli.   He has also designed costumes for Broadway and prominent opera and ballet companies.   Multi-talented, Mizrahi has had a steady presence in film and television.  He has hosted his own talk show and is currently serving as a weekly judge on Project Runway: All Stars.  

As his performance came to a close, Isaac had several encores.  He ended the evening with the thoughtful gesture of singing the theme song to the Mary Tyler Moore Show,  which drew a number of tender "Ahs" from the audience.        

Upcoming engagements  at the Carlyle include John Lloyd Young who won a Tony Award for his performance as Frankie Valli in the Broadway hit Jersey Boys.  He reprised the role for Clint Eastwood's film adaptation of the musical.  Young  performs at the Café from February 14 to 25.  He will be followed by singer Joan Osborne from February 28 to March 11.    Osborne is returning after a successful debut engagement at the Carlyle last year.  

And like reassuring clockwork Woody Allen performs every Monday night at the Carlyle through June 19 with The Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band.  

Although all of the elements of a successful cabaret show were present at Mizrahi's Carlyle debut,  the spontaneity of the evening created the sense that instead of a performance the audience was at a party hosted by a fun, talented and witty host (complete with party gifts, no less).   And in the chill of winter and with everything else that is going on in the world, I think that we could all use a good party.

Isaac Mizrahi is performing at the Café Carlyle through February 11.


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