rambling reporter

Strikes on the mind, new shows on boards

This week, as everyone re-adjusts from Monday's taxi semi-strike and now begins holding a collective breath about the possibility of a Broadway strike, life does march on, at least momentarily. On Thursday, Chazz Palminteri officially opens his one-man show (performing 18 characters, no less) at the Walter Kerr, where "A Bronx Tale" is scheduled for a limited 16-week run through Feb. 10. … Three off-Broadway shows of more than routine interest also make their debuts: The Roundabout's production of J.T. Rogers' new play, "The Overwhelming," opens tonight at the Laura Pels on West 46th; also tonight, "The Brothers Size" starts at the Public on Lafayette. On Wednesday, "Fuerzabruta," the latest from the creators of the highly original "De La Guarda," officially begins a limited 16-week run at the Daryl Roth on East 16th. … Meanwhile, on the high end of the cabaret circuit, the feisty Eartha Kitt continues to hold forth at the Cafe Carlyle through Saturday, to be followed by Steve Tyrell (Oct. 30-Dec. 31), then Elaine Stritch (Jan. 1-19) and Judy Collins (Jan. 22-March 1). The town's other premier cabaret venue, Feinstein's at Loews Regency, currently has the marvelous Mary Cleere Haran doing a tribute to Doris Day, also through Saturday, followed by Joni James for two days (Sunday and Monday), then Lynda Carter for a week (Oct. 30-Nov. 3) and a new Chita Rivera show for three weeks (Nov. 6-24). Soon after, Feinstein himself does his always new but always annual Christmas show at his intimate club, from Nov. 27-Dec. 29. Linda Eder takes over there for the room's big New Year's Eve show. … Speaking of Doris Day, she's one of the few of the great movie singers who never played a New York nightspot during her active days as a star, nor did she ever appear as a headliner in a stage show at a big New York first-run movie theater in the heyday, when stage-and-screen shows were a regular addition to the city's entertainment scene. Sinatra did (often). Lena Horne did (often). So did Dean Martin, Judy Garland, Perry Como, Jane Powell, and the list goes on. Certainly Tony Martin was a regular — and a top draw —on that circuit, too, which made it a sentimental journey indeed when Martin, who'll be 95 in December, returned to the New York club scene for the first time in years to do a two-night stand at Feinstein's on Sunday and Monday. Looking dapper and handsome if initially a tad nervous, he also turned out to be a potent draw; there wasn't an empty seat in the place for either of his two shows. (For his opener, the crowd included his wife of 59 years, Cyd Charisse, plus Arlene Dahl, his co-star in 1954's "Here Comes the Girls"; also Ginny Mancini, Steve Ross and David Letterman's bandleader, Paul Shaffer.) If Martin's pipes are not exactly as they were when he was 60 years younger belting out "There's No Tomorrow" and "You Stepped Out of a Dream," I don't think anyone expected them to be. What's amazing is that he sailed through the dozen or more songs without ever dropping a lyric or struggling for a line, something that can plague singers at 25. Not only is Martin a survivor in the strictness sense, he still is as charming and likable as always, and surprisingly self-effacing — and at Feinstein's he was, indeed, among a crowd that appreciated the pleasure of his company.