Unless you know what you’re looking for, you might not be able to find ‘Karaoke at the Chuck.’ Though it’s been happening every Friday for more than a decade, it’s one of Warrenton Street’s best kept secrets.
To get there, you have to weave your way through throngs of beautifully dressed clubgoers waiting behind the velvet ropes outside places like Venu and Tunnel. When you do make your way to the other end of the tiny street, there’s one small paper sign on the door of the Charles Playhouse that reads “Karaoke.”
If you’re lucky, there’ll be a couple friendly patrons taking a smoke break out front who can point you in the right direction. If not, just open the front door and follow the noise.
The crowd is largely made up of local theater artists and it’s not unusual to see the casts and crews of national touring companies, including some of the Broadway in Boston folks, when they’re in town. According to House Manager Curtis Challenger, “Richard Dreyfuss, Elizabeth Berkley and Anthony Rapp have all sung here.” Challenger, (who created the weekly event), believes “it’s better than regular karaoke, because it’s all just about having fun.”
Of course, nobody seems to be having more fun than Challenger when performing OutKast’s “Hey Ya,” complete with an unlikely assortment of backup singers and dancers.
Local actress and Happy Medium Theatre co-founder Audrey Lynn Sylvia believes that “the karaoke is usually higher quality because you get a lot of actors singing.” But don’t be intimidated — not everyone in the house is an actor and not all actors can sing.
DJ Jimmy Ice has a huge repertoire of music from standards to contemporary hits, and rumor has it, according to one regular who accidentally let it slip, “sometimes you can sing faster if you buy him a drink.”
Mikey DeLoreto, who is currently appearing in Zeitgeist Stage’s “Bent,” freely admits part of the night’s charm is “cheap drinks, open late and people like me making a fool of myself singing RuPaul. It’s the go to place after a show, usually the first place theater folk, professional and fringe alike, want to hit.”
Many people assume that the lounge inside the Charles Playhouse is only open to patrons of its long-running resident shows, “Blue Man Group” and “Shear Madness.” Truth is, the “Chuck,” as it’s affectionately called by its loyal patrons, is open to everyone, especially for karaoke every Friday night. It is, however, closed on days when there is no “Blue Man Group” show; or as they say in the theater world, when the house is dark.