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Karen Miller's Last Night at Danny's

Saturday, December 18, 1999

by John Kenrick

(Please note: All the photos below are thumbnails - click on them to see larger versions.)

"Through the years we all will be together,
If the Fates allow . . ."

Karen Miller starts her final night performing at Danny's (18009 bytes)Karen starts her final evening performing at Danny's with a little Sondheim.

We were fine – until Karen played "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

After all, we've had a lot of practice at saying goodbye these last fourteen months. Ro's last night at Eighty-Eights . . . the last night at Garage . . . Karen's last night at Eighty-Eights, and Eighty-Eights closing altogether. Now, after six successful months at Danny's, Karen was ending her 23 year piano bar run. As one friend put it, "As often as we've done this, why doesn't it get any easier?" But "Les Millerables" are team players, and an army of us had turned out to shake the rafters one last time.

Karen Miller 
    dons her wimple (39730 bytes)Mother Superior and her many singing "postulants" handle the musical question, "How do you keep a wave upon the sand? - With a dyke! "

Karen started with "Comedy Tonight" and "Love is in the Air," the longtime opening combo she had not used since coming uptown. This kicked off a parade of old favorites, from Camelot to Oklahoma. While circumstances had the chorus looking a little downhearted, we sang our hearts out - not knowing when we would have a shot at these numbers again. The SOS medley of South Pacific and Sound of Music raised the roof, with "Mother Superior" in fine fettle at the keyboard.

Gentry Leland Claussen was the first "blast from the past," joining Luis Villabon for the "Lullaby League/Lollipop Guild" set from Wizard of Oz. She also did two super solo sets. She and Karen shared some sentimental banter that set a few people sniffling, especially when Karen coaxed her to the microphone saying "It's the last time I get to ask you to do this." But otherwise we were quite fine – until Karen played that damn Judy tune.

Yours truly had a few topical lyrics ready - surprise, surprise. Would I waste a final opportunity? "Be Our Guest" included:

Now she's leaving all the guppies and the yuppies
For some puppies?

And, just for good measure:

With her talent for survival
We can pray for a revival!

Karen Miller 
    and John Kenrick (40276 bytes)John Kenrick and Karen Miller.

Karen asked me not to cook up anything goopy, so I wrote new last verse for "Modern Major Theatre Queen - the "Les Millerables" anthem - which took a decidedly upbeat approach:

We started at the Duplex
Not the new one - the original.
A place where we sang showtunes,
Not the stuff that's aboriginal.
Then Eighty-Eights, where Karen
Ro and Irv would let us belt a few
So loudly that it landed us
An episode of Donahue.
A decade full of fun
Till some jerk had the face to ruin it.
A pit stop at Garage
Then, thanks to Danny, we kept doin' it.
Now Karen needs a rest.
Though there are tears, why go creating scenes?
We always will be proud to say
We're Karen Miller's theatre queens!
So though tonight's a sad one,
We're still plucky and adventury
(She just might reconsider
At the start of the new century!)
So still, in things theatrical,
On Broadway, off or in-between
We are the very models of
The modern major theatre queen!

Carson's cake for Karen (17966 bytes)Carson presents his glorious chocolate creation, baked in Karen's honor.

Then out came a spectacular homemade German chocolate cake (Karen's favorite - what else?), and we sang an appropriately gender-bending "For She's a Jolly Good Fellow." But Karen had more than two hours to go, so going to pieces was out of the question – at least until she played that blasted song from Meet Me in St. Louis.

On to: Part Two