New York’s Broadway Comes to San Francisco with Bay Area Cabaret

The San Francisco Bay Area has always been a location for great music and theater performances. And during the 1960s, famous stars from New York’s Broadway shows were often scheduled to perform.

One of those stars appeared here in the stage production of the musical “The Boyfriend” before winning a Tony Award in 1968 for her Broadway performance in “Hallelujah Baby,” a musical about the history of civil rights struggles from 1900 through the 1960s. Leslie Uggams also starred and hosted her own variety show on CBS in 1969.

Here she is with one of the most talented people to come out of San Francisco’s George Washington High School and San Francisco State College, Johnny Mathis:

In the 1960s, we had clubs where you could catch a show from the likes of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald in a “cabaret performance.” Cabaret means that the venue offers food and drinks to guests as they sit at tables instead of theater seating. One of our most favorite cabaret-style venues was the “supper club” called the Venetian Room in the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill.

After years of booking big names from the theater, the movies and television for cabaret-style entertainment in the City, most of the venues could not compete with the larger concert arenas. The Venetian Room was closed in 1989 to all but those who hired the room for special events.

That changed in 2010 when founding executive producer Marilyn Levinson, a fifth generation San Francisco native, started bringing musical stars back to the historic Venetian Room with her nonprofit organization called Bay Area Cabaret. This 11-year-old nonprofit seeks to broaden the audience for this more intimate type of musical entertainment by offering a selection of performances.

On Sunday, November 2, Leslie Uggams will be performing her first live San Francisco show in more than two decades. Here is a sampler of Ms. Uggams talent in a one-woman show from a couple of years ago:

Bay Area Cabaret has scheduled shows though May of 2015 for this current season and individual tickets are available. Check out: