We know: Your feet are tired from a day of museum- hopping. But you're in New York, so you have to go out. From cabarets to church- basement theater, here are some Upper East Side options for when the sun goes down.
* Brandy's Piano Bar. At Brandy's, everyone likes to sing, from the bartenders to the patrons. The tight, brick-walled space is a neighborhood hangout that doesn't really belong in this neighborhood. There are no suits, snoots or overpriced drinks. Instead, it feels like a spirited family reunion, with lots of long-lost cousins humming along with Uncle Steinway (performers rotate), who plays show tunes and hits from the '60s, '70s and '80s. Arrive early to nab a table or you'll be singing "Tiny Dancer" alone on the sidewalk.
235 E. 84th St. between Second and Third avenues, 212-650-1944. Free nightly entertainment starts at 9:30 p.m.
* Comic Strip Live. We learned this the hard way: Avoid distinctive clothing and steer clear of the stage-side tables unless you're prepared to become part of the show. We counted ourselves lucky to be labeled only "high-maintenance" by two separate performers; some people were called worse. No matter. The laughs kept on coming at the joint that launched Jerry Seinfeld and Eddie Murphy. Check out the wall lined with before-they-were-famous mug shots of Paul Reiser and Ray Romano as you queue up 30 minutes before the set begins.
1568 Second Ave. between 81st and 82nd streets, 212-861-9386, www.comicstriplive.com. Tickets $17 with a $12 drink minimum.
* Cafe Carlyle. It's cool, it's dark, it's intimate -- it's the quintessential New York supper club, with linen-covered candlelit tables, discreet waiters and pastel murals setting the mood. Pianist Bobby Short began performing here in 1968; three decades later, he's still packing them in at this sophisticated cabaret venue in the Carlyle hotel. Short opens for the season May 6 and holds court through June 28. Otherwise, there's always Woody Allen on Monday nights, performing with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Band, and jazz vocalist James Naughton, April 22-May 3.
35 E. 76th St. between Madison and Park avenues, 800-227-5737 or 212-570-7175. Dinner Monday through Saturday; entrees $32 to $46. Cover charges from $50 (James Naughton) to $75 (Woody Allen and Bobby Short).
Other cabaret-style showcases on the Upper East Side include the Stanhope (995 Fifth Ave., 212-774-1234, http://stanhopepark.hyatt.com) and Feinstein's at the Regency (540 Park Ave., 212-339-4095, www.feinsteinsat theregency.com). Check Web sites for schedules.
* Dicapo Opera Theater. Professional-quality opera in a church basement? Believe it. This elegant little theater, the operatic equivalent of off-Broadway, is a real find, offering an affordable alternative to the Metropolitan and New York City operas. The tiny 204-seat theater, tucked beneath St. Jean Baptiste Church, features classical and contemporary productions year-round and is fully equipped with an orchestra pit, attractive lobby and comfortable seats -- the venue even has surtitles so you can understand what's going on. Its recent production of "Pagliacci" was first-rate, with lively performances and imaginative sets. Next up: Stephen Sondheim's "Passion," opening April 24 and running through May 4.
Beneath St. Jean Baptiste Church on East 76th Street between Third and Lexington, 212-288-9438, www.dicapo.com. Tickets $45.
* 92nd Street Y. Founded in 1874, the 92nd Street Y is the cradle of neighborhood culture, with readings, plays and lectures offered daily. Kids learn to swim, take karate and study flute, and their parents spend Monday nights at events sponsored by the Y's Unterberg Poetry Center. Luckily, no events or facilities are limited to subscribers. Most days, the lobby of the main building (there's a West Side location, too) is filled with strollers and walkers, workout fiends headed to InSPArations for a massage and jazz aficionados in for a concert. In April, authors Ian McEwan and Susan Minot and cabaret singers Bobby Short and Barbara Cook are slated to appear. (Note: The Y observes the Jewish sabbath from Friday 8 p.m. to Saturday 6 p.m.; the spa remains open.)
92nd Street and Lexington Avenue, 212-415-5500, www.92Y.org. Admission to the May Center for Fitness, Health and Sport is $30 per day. Tickets for evening events start at $16. Call the box office for cheaper day-of tickets available for some events.
* Theater Ten Ten. More under-Broadway than off, Theater Ten Ten -- housed beneath the Park Avenue Christian Church -- boasts that it's the "longest consecutively operating Equity theater company in New York." We know why after catching its recent nifty production of Shakespeare's "Two Gentleman of Verona," set in the '50s. Production values were low (it's in a church basement, remember?), but the cast was top-notch, and you couldn't beat the 4-to-1 audience-to-performer ratio -- 50 theatergoers perched on metal chairs watching 12 actors onstage. Intimate, and unforgettable.
1010 Park Ave. between 84th and 85th streets, http://members.aol .com/theatr1010. "The Pirates of Penzance," its next offering, runs May 2-June 1; tickets $19. Call 212-288-3246, Ext. 3, for reservations.
* Playhouse 91. Sing loud, sing proud -- about your hot flashes? For women who can relate to night sweats and estrogen pills, then the "Menopause Musical," held in the 300-seat venue, is playing to your tribe. The story follows four women who meet in Bloomingdale's and commiserate about growing (old) pains, all set to such toe-tapping ditties as "My Guy" ("My Thighs") and "I'm Sorry" ("I'm Flashing"). The show culminates with a Rockettes-kicking finale that includes all theatergoers who know that "The Change" has nothing to do with a new hairstyle. As for the men in the audience (six, not counting the three-piece band and ticket checker): You've been warned.
316 E. 91st St. between First and Second avenues, 212-831-2000 (theater info) or 212-307-4100 (tickets), www.menopausethemusical.com. Tickets $49.50. No closing date but will run at least until June 2.
-- Reporting by John Deiner,
Anne McDonough, Andrea Sachs
and K.C. Summers