By Kristy and Dick Christensen
We enjoyed a lovely evening revisiting the unique cabaret style musical performances at the beautiful Venetian Room of the historic Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill in the heart of San Francisco, California. We were thrilled to have a wish come true.
The evening in San Francisco was so perfect with the glitter of lights from all the high-rise buildings and the Bay Bridge.
Sixty-one years ago, my husband and I became engaged to marry in this very same exciting city of San Francisco. We visited many jazz hangouts and also the famous swanky Fairmont Hotel where high society and heads of state made regular visits. We had a memorable view of the fancy golden Venetian Room with live music, swirling dancing skirts, the clinking of stemmed glasses, food and attentive service people. n In this changed era, the Grande Dame Venetian Room is still enchanting with a golden aura and an atmosphere of intimacy. The room holds 299 people at small tables. The patrons and single night people chatted amicably with the expectant anticipation of a wonderful Kate Baldwin concert they were about to experience. Over the years, the dress code has faded away and the majority of the people were casually dressed. However, elegant couture also blended in with the scene. There was a pleasant hush when the concert was about to begin and then loud clapping and bravos when Kate Baldwin performed. Her pianist accompanist was also superb. The show featured signature songs from her acclaimed performances in Finian’s Rainbow, Giant, Big Fish, and Hello Dolly. The program included songs from writers Sondheim, Ahrens and Flaherty, and Georgia Stitt. Kate was fascinating in the storytelling of her career with her voice and the expression of her hands.
In 1961 another great vocalist Tony Bennett sang his great hit, I Left My Heart in San Francisco in the Venetian Room. To honor him a statue was placed in the front garden entrance to the Fairmont Hotel. No one can look at it without a warm memory of some connection.
The original Fairmont Hotel was completed and ready to open when the earthquake of 1906 struck. The building survived but was badly burned in the following fire. Several owners and their restorations and additions ensued through out the years. A wise new owner hired the best architect he could find – the famous Julia Morgan. She was noted for creating the San Simeon Hearst Castle. Miss Morgan brought the hotel back to the elegant décor of polished marble, gold, and diamond backed mirrors.
In 2010 the Bay Area Cabaret was invited to reopen the musical entertainment of the Venetian Room. This was so successful that the Bay Area Cabaret found a permanent home and is announcing it’s 9th season featuring well known Broadway and Jazz Vocalists A visit here is a unique experience where one can enjoy the artists sharing their gifts in this intimate setting. Plan to go. You won’t be sorry.
Bay Area Cabaret, now in its l5th season of presenting world-renowned Broadway, pop and jazz vocalists, marks eighth consecutive season in San Francisco’s legendary showroom, the Venetian Room at the historic Fairmont Hotel San Francisco 950 Mason Street. The lineup of performers to come in the 2018-2019 season, in addition to Kate Baldwin includes Christine Andreas, Carmen Cusack, Susan Werner, John Pizzarelli, Jessica Molaskey, Catherine Russell and La Chanze. For BAC 2018-2019 season information and video clips of performers visit the bay area cabaret website. (A 501 non-profit organization)