by Kevin Cody
Comedy and Magic Club owner Mike Lacey invited former New York Opera tenor Dennis McNeil to perform at Live at the Lounge the first time the two met. McNeil was hesitant. Lacey’s Live at the Lounge, next door to Comedy and Magic, only seats 90.
“A show’s a lot of work for 90 seats,” McNeil said.
“Not if you do a lot of them,” Lacey responded.
The conversation took place in 2011. Since then, McNeil has performed 49, mostly sold out concerts at Live at the Lounge.
This Sunday, he and accompanist Ed Martel will perform their 50th Live at the Lounge concert.
Most of the concerts had themes: Romantic songs in February, Irish songs in March, Christmas songs in December.
“It’s my birthday. I’ll sing what I want,” McNeil, who turns 57 this week, said of this week’s show. His performances are almost as memorable for his jokes and stories as for his singing.
The stories are often introductions to songs whose composers he knows from a career that began with singing opera for diners at Verdi restaurant in Santa Monica in the ‘80s and took him to opera companies in New York and Berlin in the ‘90s and then back home to Manhattan Beach, where he developed his cabaret show.
Among the songs, he talks about is Sammy Cahn’s “Three Coins in a Fountain.” McNeil toured with Cahn, a fabled storyteller who wrote many of Frank Sinatra’s hits. After every show, McNeil recalled,…
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