Legendary lyric soprano Barbara Cook is one of the foremost interpreters of Stephen Sondheim, and a Tony winner for originating the role of Marian the Librarian in The Music Man. Last October, she celebrated her 85th birthday with a concert at 2,800-seat Carnegie Hall. Just two months prior, however, Cook played a sold-out weeklong run at a venue of a very different stripe. In her debut engagement at San Francisco’s Rrazz Room, she locked eyes with adoring audiences from a tiny stage that just days before had played host to drag satirists The Kinsey Sicks, and in the weeks ahead would feature Motown legends, big-band jazz, and Australian beefcake strippers, Thunder From Down Under.
“It’s a wonderful place to play,” says Cook of the club, where the bookings are as eclectic as San Francisco itself. “And it’s a wonderful place to see a performance. I believe the way to be the most successful is to be absolutely present and bone honest with your audience. You can certainly do that in a large hall, but the feeling in the Rrazz Room was just amazing for me. It’s so intimate and the audience is so focused. I couldn’t wait to get out there every night.”