Club Bené Shows & Performers

Morgan Memories – Club Bené Shows & Performers

Club Bené Stationary

Club Bené Stationary from 1973.

I sometimes wonder if Mr. Joseph Beninato, the owner and creator of Morgan’s Club Bené, could have ever conceived of just how meaningful and beloved his little piece of Broadway would be years after its last patron visited?  Mr. Beninato’s dream of converting his 12 year old 14-lane bowling alley into a theater showing Broadway shows debuted on October 8, 1968 with the opening of the 1959 stage musical “Gypsy” staring Carol Bruce in the lead role of Gypsy Rose Lee.  “Gypsy” was based on the memoirs of Lee in a book by Arthur Laurents (West Side Story, La Cage Aux Folles), with music by Jule Styne (Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, Funny Girl, etc.), and lyrics by the now legendary Stephen Sondheim (West Side Story, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, many others).

I encountered references to Club Bené while reading the autobiographies of Regis Philbin and John Travolta.  In its heyday, Club Bené hosted many big name artists of their time though it was likely not large enough to be able to afford names on the level of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Marquee Signs for Club Bené

Nighttime Marquee Signs for Club Bené taken by Morgan Resident Camille Thomas. Image Courtesy of Camille Thomas.

It is always interesting is to hear someone mention who they saw performing at Club Bené.  It was always exciting for me in my time in Morgan to see who was on the marquee while making the jug handle around the building to go home.  I have never seen a compiled list of performers who performed in or shows which were performed at Club Bené or its successor Krome.  Probably the majority of bookings were made by Patrick Schiavino, who did the bookings for 20 years starting some time in the very early 1980s. Over the years, I had been collecting such a list and published it on this page.  Following this page’s initial publication, I received very welcome feedback from this web site’s readers who generously provided me with the names of additional performers which I have added.  As I receive more updates, I’ll eventually add them to this page.  While what we have thus far may not be complete, indeed we may never be able to see a complete list, it certainly is extensive.  I believe it is the most extensive list of Club Bene/Chrome performers available anywhere.

If you have some more to add, please make a comment below.

Watch for the upcoming Morgan-NJ.org page about the history of Joe’s Kozy Bar, Kozy Lanes and Club Bené.

To see more topics about Morgan and the surrounding area, scroll to the top of this page and click on any of the links.

Club Bené Menu

Menu from the April 22, 1973 Nancy Wilson Performance at Club Bené.

Shows:

  • Gypsy with Carol Bruce – Opened 10/8/68
  • Carnival with Eileen Fulton – Opened 11/5/68
  • Neu Dimensions Las Vegas Revue – Opened 12/3/68
  • The Owl and the Pussycat with Sonny Fox and Luba Lisa – Opened 1/3/69
  • Goodbye Charlie with Fannie Flagg – Opened 2/4/69
  • The Fantastiks with James Pritchett – Opened 3/4/69
  • A Girl Could Get Lucky with Rosemary Prinz – Opened 4/8/69
  • Never Too Late withe Margaret Truman – 5/69
  • West Side Story – Opened 6/3/69
  • The Pajama Game – Opened 7/1/69
  • How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying – 8/69
  • Mame with Jan Lawrence & Brian O’Mahoney – 1971
  • Little Shop of Horrors with Ellen Greene
  • Once Upon a Mattress
  • Promises Promises
  • Puss n Boots – Matinee
  • Wizard of Oz – Matinee
Don Imus at Club Bené

The Tradition of Taking a Photo of Mary Beninato with Club Bené Performers!
Left to Right: Founder and Owner of Club Bené, Mr. Thomas Beninato, Don Imus, Mrs. Mary Beninato. Image Courtesy of Donna Andrejewski.

Performers Identified via Various Sources:

  • Ace Frehley
  • Air Supply
  • Al Dimeola
  • Al Martino
  • Al Stewart
  • Alan Holdsworth
  • Alex Buignon
  • America – 7/25/98
  • American Angel
  • Angela Bofill
  • Anvil – circa 1988-89
  • Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • BB and the Stingers
  • Beatlemania
  • Beaver Brown Band
  • Bernie Mack
  • Big El (Elvis impersonator)
  • Billy Cobham
  • Blackfoot
  • Blue Oyster Cult
  • Bobby Caldwell
  • Bobcat Goldthwait
  • Bon Jovi
  • Bonnie Raitt
  • Boris the Spider Johnny Twinkle Thunderfingers
  • Brand X
  • Brian McNight
  • Brian Setzer Orchestra
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Bruce Cockburn
  • California Guitar Trio
  • Candy Dulfar
  • Carl Perkins – 1989
  • Carmine Appice
  • Charlie Callas – 1980s
  • Charlie Daniels
  • Chicago
  • Cindy Garvey
  • Converge n Acacia Strain
  • Damian Calcagne Band (DCB)
  • Danny Bonaduce & David Cassidy
  • Dave Davies – 12/6/97, 6/3/98
  • David Allen Coe
  • David Benoit
  • David Brenner
  • David Bronberg
  • David Byrne – 10/14/97
  • David Cassidy – 9/15/91
  • Dead Milkmen – 1989 or 1990
  • Devo – 11/19/88
  • Dick Dale
  • Dion
  • Dixie Dregs – 2/20/92, 10/9/92, 12/9/94
  • Don Imus
  • Don Mclean
  • Don Williams
  • Donnie & Marie Osmond
  • Doors Tribute
  • Dottie West
  • Dream Theater
  • Eddie Fisher – circa 1980
  • Eddie Money
  • Eddie Rabbit
  • Edgar Winter
  • Eric Benet
  • Etown
  • Fates Warning – 8/7/97, 12/10/97
  • Fattburger – early 1990s
  • Foghat – 12/7/94
  • Four Tops
  • Frank Gorshin
  • Frankie Avalon
  • Frankie Laine
  • Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
  • Fred Wesley
  • From Autumn to Ashes
  • From Good Homes – 8/3/95
  • Gato Barbieri
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blonds with Jane Mansfield(?) – late 60s (?)
  • George Carlin – 1985
  • George Jones
  • Gerald Albright – early 1990s
  • Gilbert Gottfried
  • Glen Burtnik
  • Graham Parker
  • Great White
  • Howard Stern
  • Infinite Touch
  • Iron Butterfly
  • Jack Bruce Band – 2/8/90
  • Jackie the Joke Man
  • Jan and Dean
  • Jason Bonham – circa 1995
  • Jay & the Americans – early 80s
  • Jay Leno
  • Jean Luc Ponty
  • Jeff Dunham
  • Jeff Healy
  • Jefferson Starship – 11/10/95, 8/13/96
  • Jeffrey Gaines – 11/1/99
  • Jerry Lee Lewis
  • Jerry Reed
  • Jerry Vale
Jesse Blue at Club Bené

Jesse Blue Opening for Marshall Tucker at Club Bené on June 20, 1998. Image Courtesy of VictorNegron.com. http://www.victornegron.com/

  • Jesse Blue – 6/20/98
  • JetBoy
  • Jimi Jamison
  • Jimmy Rosselli
  • Joe Grushecky
  • Joe Pico
  • Joe Piscopo
  • John Alexander (Magician)
  • John Cafferty
  • John Dalby (aka Dr Dirty)
  • John Entwistle (of The Who) – 2/1/96,  6/17/98
  • John McLaughlin
  • John Pizzarelli
  • John Prine
  • John Travolta (In autobiography)
  • John Valby
  • Johnny Lee
  • Johnny Maestro
  • Johnny Winter – 1996
  • Jon Paris – 1996
  • Jorma
  • Junkhead – 3/18/93
  • Kako Matsui
  • Kansas
  • Kenny Rankin
  • Kevyn Lattau – early 1990s
  • King Diamond
  • Kix
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Larry Carlton
  • Larry Coreyell
  • Laura Nyro
  • Lee Rittenour
  • Leo Kottke
  • Leon Redbone
  • Leon Russell
  • Leslie West Band – 12/12/86
  • Leslie West Mountain
  • Little Feat’s – 11/21/98
  • London Lady
  • Loretta Hagen
  • Lou Rawls
  • Loudon Wainwright III
  • Manowar
  • Marillion
  • Marillion – 9/13/97
  • Marshall Crenshaw
  • Marshall Tucker
  • Marshall Tucker Band – 6/20/98
  • Marty Balin (Starship)
  • Marty Stuart
  • Marvin Hamlish
  • Max Creek – 2/9/90
  • Maynard Ferguson – 10/93
  • Meatloaf
  • Merle Haggard – 4/1/95
  • Michael Hedges (Guitarist)
  • Midnight Rain – 2/16/08
  • Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  • Mike Dalton Band
  • Miki Howard
  • Mindless Self Indulgence
  • Morton Downey, Jr. – 1988
  • Motorhead – 1989
  • Mr. Big
  • Mr. Reality
  • Musicuciron
  • Najee
Nancy Wilson at Club Bené

1973 Club Bené Advertisement for Nancy Wilson.

  • Nancy Wilson – 4/22/73
  • Neville Brothers
  • Nipsey Russel
  • Non Fiction
  • Norman Brown (Jazz Guitarist)
  • Nuclear Assault – 12/23/88
  • Outline
  • Overkill
  • Pat Cooper
  • Peter White
  • Peter Wolf
  • Phil Perry
  • Phish – 10/7/90
  • Phoebe Snow
  • Phyllis Hyman
  • Physical Reality (Led Zeppelin Tribute Band)
  • Pig Vomit
  • Poco
  • Rancid
  • Randy Levine (Comedian)
  • Redd Foxx
  • Regina Bell
  • Regis Philbin (In autobiography)
  • Renaissance
  • Richard Elliott
  • Rick Braun
  • Rick Nelson
  • Rick Wakeman
  • Rightious Brothers
  • Ripping Corpse
  • Robert Fripp
  • Robin Trower
  • Rodney Dangerfield
  • Roy Buchanan
  • Roy Orbison
  • Royal Scam Steely Dan Tribute
  • Rudess/Morgenstein Project – 4/25/97
  • Rx bandits
  • Salt-N-Pepa – 3/20/99
  • Sarah McLachlan – 8/28/92
  • Savage Choir – 4/18/90
  • Savatage
  • Scatterbrain – circa 1991
  • Shock Control
  • Sid Caesar
  • Sister Machine Gun – 5/8/97
  • Skid Row
Smothers Brothers at Club Bené

Smothers Brothers and Mrs. Beninato at Club Bené.
Left to Right: Dick Smothers, Mary Beninato, Tom Smothers. Image Courtesy of Donna Andrejewski.

  • Smothers Brothers
  • Soft Parade
  • Soft White Under Belly
  • Soupy Sales & Tiny Tim – 1970s
  • Spyro Gyra
  • Stanley Clark – 1984
  • Stephen Pisani
  • Steve Howe
  • Steve Morse Band – 8/22/81, 6/11/89, 10/21/89, 8/13/93, 3/5/94, 11/17/95, 4/25/97, 4/25/98, 10/8/99
  • Stuff
  • Suicide Machines
  • Switchblade Symphony & Front Line Assembly – 1998
  • Tanya Tucker – 5/1/83
  • Teena Marie
  • Temptations
  • Testament and Possessed
  • The Fixx
  • The Hooters
  • The Outlaws
  • The Ramones
  • The Rippingtons
  • The Shondells
  • The Stylistics
  • The Tubes
  • The Ventures
  • The Wailers
  • Tiny Tim
  • Tito Puentes
  • Tom-Tom Club show
  • Tommy James
  • Tower of Power
  • Triage – 1995-96
  • Trixter
  • Tunabase – 1/3/86, 11/26/86, 6/12/92, 9/26/92
  • Twisted Sister
  • Uncle Floyd – 10/98 & 1970s
  • VAST
  • Vic Damone
  • Vision Purple – 11/18/90
  • Vito & the Salutations – early 1980s
  • Warrant
  • Warren Zevon – 3/18/2000
  • White Lion
  • Willie Nelson
  • Xenon – 1989
  • Zebra – 1988?

Originally posted on December 10, 2014.

90 thoughts on “Club Bené Shows & Performers

  1. Diane

    My first show was at Club Bene. I saw Scatterbrain, I believe it was 1991. I have many great memories from seeing bands play there. Two bands not mentioned on your list are Mr. Reality and Trixter. My husbands bands also played many shows there.

    Reply
  2. Teri Humcke Burglund

    Went there in the 50’s when it was Kozy’s. Had the best pizza around. My dad insisted if we were having pizza it had to be Kozy’s even though it was not the closest, just the best.

    Reply
  3. Michael mauro

    I opened the show for Imus, in between shows we went to my house and he drank Heineken sitting on the small nursery school chair! Great guy!

    Reply
  4. Michael Beninato

    It was amazing dome of the shows we saw there. Hard to believe the way it went down so rapidly after Uncle Joe passed away. He was a one of a kind man for sure. Our family really enjoyed summer there in the back pool section. the entire family would go every weekend. Swim and eat. It kept us together now were all over the place in different places.

    Reply
  5. Roy Bill

    I was in a local band called Blue Satin and played many partie and weddings at the Club Bene. One night, on one of our breaks, I went into the main room and saw Meatloaf performing. What great memories we have from the Club Bene!

    Reply
  6. James Makowski

    I remember attending numerous great shows at Club Bene. Some of the shows/performances I attended not on the list (and I’m sure I’ll recall more in the future) include Peter White, Don Mclean, Kako Matsui, Michael Hedges, Gram Parker, BB and the Stingers, Big El (Elvis impersonator), Joe Grushecky and Leon Russell.
    Thanks for all the great times and memories !
    Jim Makowski

    Reply
  7. Scott DeSimone

    You can add Leon Russell, Norman Brown (Jazz Guitarist), Tommy James & The Shondells, The Rippingtons and Dick Dale

    Reply
  8. Don Fruehwirth

    you need to add blue oyster cult- i saw them there on new years eve but i can quiet remember the exact year–also need to add blackfoot too – i saw many rock shows there over the years

    Reply
  9. Darrell Larsen

    It was very sad to see it go. Grew up in the neighborhood and spent a lot of good times with friends enjoying the pizza and buffet.

    Reply
    1. Larry Kosinar

      My mom, Marion, worked as a costumer and stage guard dog during the 80’s and into the 90’s she even had a bit part in one of the shows.
      Had just droven past the location and the empty lot still has the shadow of what once was.

      Reply
  10. jerry

    WOW, what memories with HOWARD Stern and his giant plastic vagina to REGIS and Joy Philbin with the blue haired old ladies swooning over him at the place in mid 80’s…………….. acts that will-never be repeated or equaled ………………… .EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  11. Christopher Pasternak

    lots of wonderful jazz shows we saw there, we saw Al Dimeola, John McLaughlin, Larry Coreyell, David Benoit, Billy Cobham

    Reply
  12. Erina

    My mom worked at Club Bene playing piano at intermission during the dinner theatre. She played with no shoes and was billed as “Barefoot Mona”. I was a kid at the time but it had to be late sixties or seventies. I’m not sure if you had Robert Klein on the list but I was recently at my friends going through her parents scrap albums and saw the flyer with him on it. They must have been big fans because anytime he came local (Metuchen Forum) they went to see him.

    Reply
    1. morgannjadmin Post author

      I would be interested in seeing a scanned copy of the Robert Klein flyer and would consider posting it on the web site and giving you and your friend credit.

      Reply
  13. Mike M

    I started working as a dish washer in the dungeon at age fifteen. I probably seen about 1000 to 2000 shows. BUT you forgot MudBox who graced the stage more than ten times. Let’s not forget Darren’s band Elysium or the awesome Systematic. Although Manowar was my first show, I never missed a show a week minimum. Usually Thursday’s for local bands. Miss and love the joint!!!!

    Reply
    1. morgannjadmin Post author

      Thanks, Mike. As people identify acts which are missing, I’ll add them to the list and at some point make an update to the web site. Do you have any memorabilia from your time there that we could post images of on the web site?

      Reply
  14. GregBito

    I remember seeing John Prine there in the early 1970’s. One of my favorite shows/performers and made a big impression on me. Do you remember what dates he played there?

    Reply
  15. Jan Lawrence

    I had the lead role of Mame in that show at the Club Bene in 1971, I think it was…..I was not “famous” enough to make your list. Always a wonderful memory of that place, that great cast, and Joe as the Director. Joe asked me to play Mame when he met me as I attended a performance of the previous show. John Travolta was in that one, playing the geeky brother…cute, even then. The experience of playing Mame was one of my personal favorite gigs of all time. The personnel of the place was always very nice to us. Several of the people in that show went on to do more great things in the business. Sad to think that the place is gone.

    Reply
    1. morgannjadmin Post author

      Hi Jan, I’ll add you next time I update the list. Thanks for letting us know. I agree that it is a bummer that the place is gone.

      Reply
  16. Brian O'Mahoney

    Thanks for reminding me how great that place was. I performed, as a child and teen in several productions at Club Benè Dinner Theater as well as many “Kiddie Shows” as we called their weekend matinees. A family friend was musical director for one of their productions and they needed a kid who could sing. My first show was Mame in, I think 1969. I knew Joe and his two sons and daughter. (I had a crush on Donna Beninato, but she had a terrible crush on 19 year old Johnny Travolta.) Joe always fed the cast at the buffet, a real perk for starving actors. John’s sister Annie Travolta was in High Button Shoes with me. I played Michael Banks when Kathel Carlson and Jimmy Brennan starred in Mary Poppins. London Lee was the weekend lounge performer back then.

    Reply
    1. morgannjadmin Post author

      Hi Brian – I can add your name next time I update the page. Were High Button Shoes and Mary Poppins performed at Club Bene? If so, do you know what years? Was London Lee the performer at Club Bene? Per chance to you have any programs which I can scan?

      Reply
  17. Jonathan Miele

    My name is Jonathan Miele and I performed in several shows at Club Bene. My 1st show was High Button Shoes in the fall of 1971 and I played Uncle Henry. Brian this is incredible! Other shows I did at Club Bene are Showboat, Where’s Charlie, Lil’ Abner, Brigadoon, A Christmas Carol (Children’s Show.) I know there is one or two more shows that I did there but can’t recall them; I will write again once my memory kicks in. The last time I was at Club Bene was when I choreographed Finnian’s Rainbow in 1972. Linda MacArthur, who was in all of those shows, have been married for 41 years now. Linda played the lead role in Sweet Charity in 1972. We loved Mr. and Mrs. Beninato! Linda and I were very touched when they came to see us on Broadway in Lorilei. Mrs. Beninato cried….they were just like parents coming to see their children….they were proud of us. I will ever be grateful for Joe Hayes and the Beninato’s for hiring me; I landed my first show there exactly one week after arriving in NYC. I would love to connect with others that Linda and I worked with at our beloved Club Bene. I am pretty sure that I have a program of High Button Shoes but that is it. If anyone has any pictures or other keepsakes I would love to connect with you.

    Reply
    1. morgannjadmin Post author

      Thanks for your stories! I’ll update the web site at some point and include your info.

      Reply
    2. Gail Pearson

      Johnny. Gail Pearson, here. i have wondered about you and Linda. Lil Abner, Brigadoon, Showboat(remember Jim Swanson) and only two black actors in cast, so we chorus people did “smudge face”), ,Kiss Me Kate, Flower Drum Song( (no Asians in cast, as I recall), Promises Promises. Unsinkable Molly Brow was first job in NYC. Jimmy Brennen choreographed and Kathel Carlson was Molly. They were not, yet, married. I did nine shows in all. Missing two, here. Gotta find old resume.
      Incidentally, where are you and Linda? I am in LA.

      Reply
  18. PB

    How much personal dust and detail you want? I was a theater stage crew apprentice at the dinner theater, summer of ’73. Odds and ends of circumstances and recollection beyond play titles would be fun to share but a heavy text dose for this space.

    Reply
  19. Marilyn Rix

    please is there any way to find out what years Jerry Reed performed at the club I really would appreciate it if you would be able to let me know

    Reply
  20. Judith Felix

    Hi love this list.. few additions though… my husband Dave went there a lot in the late eighties and early nineties…please add Peter Wolf and Jimi Jamison

    Reply
  21. Gail Pearson

    John Miele Gail Pearson, here. i have wondered about you and Linda. Lil Abner, Brigadoon, Showboat(remember Jim Swanson) and only two black actors in cast, so we chorus people did “smudge face”), ,Kiss Me Kate, Flower Drum Song( (no Asians in cast, as I recall), Promises Promises. Unsinkable Molly Brow was first job in NYC. Jimmy Brennen choreographed and Kathel Carlson was Molly. They were not, yet, married. I did nine shows in all. Missing two, here. Gotta find old resume.
    Incidentally, where are you and Linda? I am in LA

    Reply
  22. Maureen

    B.J. Thomas (“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” and “Hooked on a Feeling.”)
    I worked for the Daily Journal in Elizabeth and the promoter (don’t know his name) would offer us phone interviews with the performers in the days leading up to their show at Club Bene. That would have been about 1983. The woman who replaced me on the “R&R” section got to interview Donny Osmond and I was very jealous.

    Reply
  23. Jim Lander

    Wow, what memories i had of that place. First of all, my grandmother lived in one of the attached apartments when i was a young kid. Then in the early 90s, i was the singer of the band Shock Control. The guitarist and i still talk about club Bene being our favorite place to play. We opened for Peter Wolf there, and played with many great local bands. Alexs’ Treat, China White, just to name a few that aren’t on the list. That place just felt so awesome to be at. Thanks for the post and bringing back such truly fantastic memories.

    Reply
  24. Ruth

    My niece Margie played there many years as the house band but they changed their name so many times I don’t know if they appeared their as the ventures ,holiday,vespers or some other name.

    Reply

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