After a friendship spanning 35 years, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch practically finish each other’s sentences.
“There’s an unspoken vocabulary between us. Nothing needs to be said,” explained Caruso before Stritch added, “I know what he’s thinking and he knows what I’m thinking and you just can’t fake that. It’s organic.”
Since meeting in Texas, each has become a star within the tight cabaret community. Caruso has performed in concert and on Broadway and produces the popular “Cast Party” series on Monday nights at Birdland in Manhattan. Stritch is the accompanist of choice for Liza Minnelli, Linda Lavin, Christine Ebersole and Marilyn Maye.
On Friday, Oct. 30, they will be reunited once again in Palm Beach to open the 2015-16 cabaret season at The Colony Hotel’s famed Royal Room.
“It’s a gift. More for us than the audience,” Caruso said. “We can’t wait to work together.”
But, the duo does have a treat for the loyal Royal Room audiences. They plan to move the piano down into the dining room, creating an intimate lounge atmosphere. After an opening set of standards from the Great American Songbook and a centennial tribute to Frank Sinatra, they plan to take requests from the audience.
The format was a hit last year with audiences requesting the usual chestnuts from the repertoire, along with a few unexpected curveballs, like a medley of hits from Donny & Marie (Osmond).
“We never know what we’ll get asked to do,” said Stritch, “but we’re fearless, pretty much willing to try just about anything. As long as the audience understands, we can afford to goof a little.”
Even after years on the cabaret circuit, they have found themselves stumped, searching for songs on their phones during the break. But that’s just part of the fun, they insist.
“We’ll try anything once,” Caruso said confidently.
Caruso pointed out the cabaret repertoire continues to expand beyond the classics of the ‘20s and ‘30s and now includes easy listening pop tunes from the ‘70s and ‘80s and even more contemporary works from up-and-coming composers.
Royal Room audiences will be treated to the full range of classic and contemporary cabaret this season. After Caruso and Stritch’s opening weekends, Oct. 30 – 31 and Nov. 6 – 7, the Colony line-up includes Nicole Henry, Nov. 13 – 14, 20 – 21; Nicolas King, Dec. 3 – 5; violinist Aaron Weinstein and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli, Dec. 10 – 12; and The Four Freshmen, Dec. 15 – 19.
Broadway legend Tommy Tune offers another gala New Year’s Eve engagement, Dec. 31, followed by performances, Jan. 5 – 9.
For 2016, both returning favorites and debut performances round out the schedule: Spencer Day, Jan. 12 – 16; Steve Tyrell, Jan. 19 – 23, 26 – 30; Carole J. Bufford, Feb. 3 – 6; Tony Danza, Feb. 9 – 13, 16 – 20; Melissa Manchester, Feb. 23 – 27; John Pizzarelli, March 1 – 5; The Lettermen, March 8 – 12; Marilyn Maye, March 15 – 19; Jane Monheit, March 22 – 26; and Will and Anthony Nunziata, March 29 – April 2.
For reservations and more information, go to TheColonyPalmBeach.com.