Senior editor Kristin O'Meara stopped by at the new Village Gate
for a little music. Her report follows:
Reed Travel Features
NEW YORK -- The Village Gate, a New York institution, is back
with a bang, and its first show takes a satirical swipe at popular
Music lovers, especially jazz fans, mourned the loss of the
original Gate, which two years ago lost its lease on Bleecker
Street after 37 years of operation, and were further chagrined by
its replacement, a CVS pharmacy.
Late last year, owner Art D'Lugoff moved his operation uptown to
sleeker, if smaller, digs on 52nd Street, in the heart of the
On the night of my visit, a Friday evening, the Gate was packed,
mostly with tourists, who came to see the acclaimed new show
conceived by DeeDee Thomas and David Tweedy, called "A Brief
History of White Music."
Black performers James Alexander, Wendy Edmead and Deborah
Keeling cavort through a 28-song set of decidedly "white" songs,
sometimes poking gentle fun and at times unleashing full-scale
The cast clicked off a well-chosen mix of pop tunes, from a
swingily syncopated version of "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" and an
utterly silly rendition of "Leader of the Pack" to a spirited cover
of the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA."
The three performers turned the tables on Elvis Presley with
back-to-back renditions of "Blue Suede Shoes," "Love Me Tender" and
The audience (my table included) howled at Keeling and
Alexander's hysterical version of Sonny and Cher's "I Got You,
Although she was acting against type, Keeling did a masterful,
wicked Cher, complete with love beads and a waist-length,
The three expertly worked the crowd, as Edmead convinced a
red-faced, tuneless tourist to croak along with her to "Itsy Bitsy
Teeny Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini."
Alexander turned in a steamy, ironic interpretation of the
Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," as he yearningly sang to
one-half of a delighted, giggling lesbian couple seated up
The show wound down with a gentle, heartfelt version of John
Lennon's "Imagine," and Alexander, Edmead and Keeling sent the
audience home with the feel-good message of the Beatles' "We Can
Work It Out."
After the show, the audience is welcome to stay for live swing
jazz and dancing until 2:30 a.m.
The preshow crowd can catch a quick dinner here with a menu
offering a selection of hefty salads, sandwiches and entrees,
priced from $10 to $20.
(We liked the chicken and grilled-vegetable salad and inhaled
the bread pudding.)
"A Brief History of White Music" is performed once on Friday
nights, with afternoon and evening shows on Saturdays and
Ticket prices are $40.
For groups, dinner show packages are available for $55,
including a four-course dinner, tickets to the show and
Groups should call in advance for reservations.
For more information or reservations, call the Village Gate at