SHOW ME THE CITY: Isaac Mizrahi has signed up to host “In Your Face-New York,” a multi-sensory mash-up created by Martin Sage that will be held March 12 at Merkin Concert Hall.
“Only too glad” to have been contacted by Sage, Mizrahi said he loves the associations of the people involved — New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast, New Yorker writer Patricia Marx and CBS Sunday Morning’s and NPR’s “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” panelist Mo Rocca among them. Other participants in the 80-minute show are perfume nose specialist Ann Gottlieb, “How to Be Black” author Baratunde Thurston, “Shocked: My Mother, Schiaparelli and Me” author Patricia Volk and jazz performer Jay Leonhart and 1-Train Band.
“It’s a smart, smart form of entertainment. A lot of ad-libbing goes on in the room that actually happens with the audience. That’s one of the reasons I agreed to do it. I think that’s what I’m good at — if I’m good at something — being in the room with an audience and being on my feet,” Mizrahi said.
The designer knows how to work a room, having hosted his “Moderate to Severe” cabaret at the Café Carlyle earlier this year. That will go on tour later this year. On April 20, he and his choreographer friend Mark Morris will perform a cabaret at Morris’ dance studio to benefit that organization. Mizrahi, who has an ongoing gig with QVC, a Lord & Taylor collection and a new-ish deal with Bed, Bath & Beyond, said his performing on-stage is “the most exhilarating and rewarding thing imaginable for me — to get up in front of people to make them laugh or make them listen.”
Sage’s wife Sybil, a former TV writer who helps to put together the quarterly show’s In Your Face-New York quiz — such as the location of the best halal cart and what’s underneath the 72nd Street subway station — suggested Mizrahi as a potential host. Sage previously produced “The Thalia Follies — a Political Cabaret,” a show he created with Isaiah Sheffer, founder and artistic director of New York’s Symphony Space. After Sheffer’s death in 2012, he wanted to develop a show that would be along the lines of “A Prairie Home Companion,” but for New York. In addition to having different hosts, Sage said he wanted to use an assortment of performers from one episode to the next. “Everybody who has been in the show wants to come back and do it again. They just all enjoy being in this atmosphere. It’s fun and it expresses everybody’s affection for the city,” Sage said.
With next season shaping up to be possibly a six-show undertaking, Sage said there is no reason why he wouldn’t team with Mizrahi again. “We already feel like a team. He takes my call — what more can I say?” he said.