A Night at the Cabaret: Christine Ebersole at Cafe Carlyle

christine e1328129416150 A Night at the Cabaret: Christine Ebersole at Cafe Carlyle

Matthew Broderick, Christine Ebersole and Joy Behar

Last night, The Observer became intimately familiar with the art of drumming. We were inside the Café Carlyle’s cozy confines, sitting at a table within spitting, nay, licking distance of Christine Ebersole’s drummer. Quarters were so tight, we had to lean back to avoid his rhythmic jabs. It was a mini-cabaret performance held by the Broadway legend for a select group of friends and fans in the storied noshery.

Before the show, the maitre d’ greeted familiar faces with old world gentility, asking guests how the holidays had been and how children were doing. After wine and filet mignon, Ms. Ebersole took the stage. Following her opening number, a riff on “Go Down Moses,” she said a prayer:

“I ask you lord that the healing waters of cabaret fortify us tonight. Provide us with our own spiritual armor and prepare us lord that we may have the courage of our convictions to live freely as is our birthright, fearing no man or government collection agency, from this moment until we have reached our final day of judgment. And we beseech thee, Lord that on that terrible horrible no good very bad day, our collective asses will be saved, Amen.” Preach it, sista!

The rest of the set followed the comic-apocalyptic theme, with a mix of classic cabaret tunes from “What’s Going To Happen to the Tots” to “Pennies From Heaven,” Ms. Ebersole wooed the crowd with nostalgic hits, those vocal-heavy ditties of yore that would make Lana Del Ray squirm (and pout).

After the show, Ms. Ebersole was whisked away to the Royal Suite, a 22nd-floor suite once frequented by Princess Diana and her sons. A small crowd, including Anjelica Huston, Matthew Broderick and Katie Couric, toasted the singer and poked around the suite.

The Observer spoke to Ms. Ebersole about her rather macabre, if amusing, rapture motif. Did she believe Armageddon was on the horizon? “Well yes, we are in the shift, but it’s what I tried to portray in the show tonight, it’s not a literal shift its more of a shift in consciousness,” she explained. “I really think that the shift is about recognizing not only our divinity but also recognizing it’s eliminating the illusion of other.” Amen.

We asked Mr. Broderick about the cabaret’s theme. “She seemed to think this is a bad time,” he said, apparently not fully grasping the philosophic underpinnings of Ms. Ebersole’s routine. The period songs, he said, added another layer of meaning to the message. “She’d say ‘it’s the end of the world,’ but then sing a song from 1926.”  For his part, Mr. Broderick believes in a more literal translation of Ms. Ebersole’s message. “This, I think, is the end of the world,” he said with a laugh. And he’s not alone. “My son says this is it.”

After speaking to Mr. Broderick, we walked around the suite, through the living room and the dining area into the master bedroom Princess Di called her own when she visited New York. We stumbled into the second bedroom arranged with two small beds where, according to our guide, the boy princes William and Harry would sleep. We were reminded of a line from Ms. Ebersole’s cabaret earlier in the night.

“We’re just so close to the circus, aren’t we. Without the elephants—no room!”

eknutsen@observer.com