"Nobody knows who Debbie Reynolds is."—Debbie Reynolds
When José suggested we consider seeing Debbie Reynolds at Café Carlyle—apparently her first Manhattan engagement in over 25 years in spite of a busy schedule of nightclub appearances—it was a no-brainer. It's not as if we have a Debbie poster in our living room and know everything there is to know about her, but she's one of the last of the legends from Hollywood's Golden Era (if she'd never done anything else but Singin' in the Rain, that would have been enough) and one of the last of the vaudeville-type stage stars who's still in good working condition. Plus she was a highlight of Will & Grace—what would have stopped us?
The late Bobby Short is memorialized in the Carlyle's lobby.
We'd never been to the Carlyle, but figured springing for the VIP seats would not break us if we were already committing to a menu with $25 apps. We arrived at 6:30 and were promptly seated directly next to the teeny-tiny stage. The room is only a 70-seater, so it was quite cozy. This is where Woody Allen still religiously plays, and it definitely has a jazzy air to it, what little air there is in this breakfast nook of a New York institution.
The captain and waiters were as austere as the room, but in a New Yawk way; this is not a place for European royalty, but for guys and dolls who've made their fortunes working hard and then wheeling and dealing. They are facelifted and be-suited, jeweled and jaded, but they know what's what and were not about to blush in spite of Debbie's reputation as a somewhat bawdy old dame.