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Sterling Effort

Perrywood_jpg Cabaret in  L.A. has never come anywhere close to matching the bountiful and ebullient  New York club scene, but in recent years, with the cessation of regular offerings at the Cinegrill and fewer offerings around the city in general, cabaret lovers have been forced to settle for slim pickings. Thankfully, there appears to be an upswing in this irresistible entertainment form. The Gardenia is still thriving and the wonderful Upright Cabaret at  West Hollywood’s La Boheme Restaurant is attracting a sophisticated crowd of music lovers. I finally caught up with Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s, a classy Studio City venue that just celebrated its first anniversary. Run by veteran showman and public relations specialist Michael Sterling, a mainstay in L.A. for almost 30 years, the weekly Saturday night series is served up along with delicious Italian cuisine at one of the Valley’s most popular restaurants. The spacious and appealing upstairs room was filled to capacity on a recent June evening, and the performer was the charming and gifted Perry Wood (pictured), a resident of  Palm Springs. Along with ace musical director Richard Callaci at the piano, Wood presented Sinatra Revisited: All the Way, a one-hour set of tunes from the late great crooner. The quick-witted and relaxed Wood has a style of his own, which is far removed from Sinatra’s, but impressive in its own right. He has a strong and versatile voice and his phrasing is expressive and captivating. He’s the sort of singer who acts outs a song as much as singing it, capturing a range of rich emotions from wistful yearning to lush romanticism to unbridled joy. From the seductive early number “Come Fly With Me” to the climatic showstoppers like “That’s Life” and “New York, New York,” he commanded the audience’s rapt attention, and the performance sped by much too quickly. He introduced one famous audience member, legendary actress Margaret O’Brien, and enchanted the crowd with his flirtatious appeal. It was a glorious evening, whetting one’s appetite for future offerings at Sterling’s irresistible piece of Manhattan in the movie capital. Reservations and information:  (818) 981-3077.

--Les Spindle

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