An Uncertain Song for New York's Cabaret Scene

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They're considered New York's prime spots to hear the American Songbook in an up-close-and-personal setting. But in recent years the city's hotel lounges and bars have come under threat. The Oak Room, a vital part of New York City's jazz and cabaret scene, shut its doors this month after 32 years in the Algonquin Hotel.

The Four Seasons and the Pierre Hotel also dropped their lounge music, and the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center had its last dance in 2009. Insiders point to a combination of tough economics for cabaret venues and changing audience demographics.

But not all news for cabaret audiences is gloomy: A new nightclub and restaurant called 54 Below is scheduled to open in early June in the space below the legendary Studio 54.

In this podcast, Naomi Lewin talks with three guests about the changing state of New York cabaret: Will Friedwald, an author and critic writes about jazz and nightlife for the Wall Street Journal; Andrea Marcovicci, an actress, singer and a 25-year veteran of the Oak Room; and Tom Viertel, a Tony-Award winning theater producer and a collaborator on 54 Below.

Weigh in: Do you go to hear live cabaret? What do you think of the Oak Room's closing?