When you step into The City Club, you enter a vortex of secrets, seduction and the ever-present vices of booze and drugs. Fueled by a musical score that is the lifeblood of this story, you will experience the allure that is The City Club, (www.thecityclubbroadway.com) featuring original blues and jazz and making its American debut at the Minetta Lane Theater, the premiere stage for Off Broadway productions.
Set in the 1930s and delivered from Prohibition, The City Club is the story of “Chaz” (Charles) Davenport, played by Andrew Pandaleon, who inherits a nightclub from his wealthy, but scandalous father. Chaz isn’t his father’s son, and is determined to maintain an upscale and upstanding club that is all about soulful music and entertainment. On the latter, he delivers—led by a former convict turned piano player Parker Brown (played with finesse by Kenny Brawner), the house quartet, and four sultry singer / showgirls, led by Crystal Labelle (played by Kristen Martin). Crystal, who is also Chaz’s main squeeze, is a hardluck girl with a checkered past. Eager to defend Chaz and keep the bad element out of the Club, Crystal is quick to do whatever she deems necessary to protect him, and the club.
But this being an era and a city of rampant corruption amid those seeking revenge for the sins of Chaz’s father, the bad elements eventually bring a cascade of betrayal and tragedy into The City Club, and Chaz is at a loss to stop it. His luscious singers are boozing and using, the local thugs want a cut of the action, and the charismatic Prince Royale, his bandleader and club emcee (played by Robert J. Townsend) plays a deadly game that doesn’t end well. Townsend gives a strong performance as Prince Royale, as well as two other smarmy characters, the Governor, and the Lieutenant’s tough.
The key troublemaker is the gritty Lieutenant (played by Peter Bradbury), a bribing, murdering thug who intimidates Chaz, and worms his way in as a partner in the Club. He brings his own scheme of revenge which ultimately unravels, exposing the dark secrets of the Davenport family.
A jealous love triangle also emerges at The City Club in the form of seemingly sweet Maddy (played by Ana Hoffman), who shows up as the new star singer and soon has Chaz memorized, much to the dismay of Crystal. But Maddy has her own secrets, and is quickly sucked into the club’s aura of decadence and deception.
The City Club is a joint that keeps the show rolling, and its audience entertained even when the people who run the place are struggling with their own demons. Between the story twists, a lineup of powerful blues and jazz numbers, and a talented cast of singers and dancers, The City Club will leave you positively tipsy and energized at the same time.
The City Club is directed by Mitchell Maxwell, and written by an American and British team that includes composer /lyricists James Compton, Tony Demeur and Tim Brown; and author Glenn M. Stewart.
The City Club
The Minetta Lane Theater
18 Minetta Lane, one block south of West 3rd Street between MacDougal Street and Sixth Avenue