From Sean Patrick’s first margarita at Blockheads to unforgettable shows at The Laurie Beechman Theatre, join him on a nostalgic journey through Hell’s Kitchen as he prepares to leave the neighborhood and head to LA. This is his West Side Story…

Sean Patrick Murtagh in recording studio.
Sean is an award-winning actor and singer. Photo supplied.

So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
My New York story begins in December of 2009 when I came out to visit a friend. I am from the San Francisco Bay Area originally and was perfectly content working and making theater there with no intention of ever leaving. I was between shows around the holidays and at the last minute decided to come to NYC for New Year’s Eve as a treat. I arrived between blizzards, experienced the coldest temperature I had ever felt at that point (17 degrees), spent New Year’s Eve at a party at Rockefeller Center, and somehow fell in love with this city. By April of 2010 I had moved my entire life here. Looking back 13 years later, having achieved the 10 year official New Yorker Status during lockdown, I realize I did it all wrong — you wouldn’t catch me anywhere near Midtown on NYE, though I do still love a New York City snowstorm. Regardless, I fell in love with this amazing city and made it my home. 

What was your first job? What do you do now?
My first job was working as a temp for the Estée Lauder Company. I loved it! Lunch at the DKNY second floor cafeteria and playing with makeup all day. But ultimately, it was not a good fit for what brought me to NYC, which was performing. So after my first assignment with the company, I got a job at Sardi’s waiting tables and meeting so many people I absolutely idolize…and other celebrities. Currently, I work a few different jobs to help supplement my career as a performer — I do some bookkeeping, bartend, and nanny as I continue to audition, perform, and even headline in my own shows. 

What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
Hands down: Last minute tickets to see Joan Rivers. I was uptown on a treadmill when I got a text from a friend of mine who worked for Joan, “What are you doing and can you be at The Laurie Beechman by 7?!” I ran home, with a brief stop at the market for a dinner on the go, showered and got myself to 42nd in record time. The only thing I failed to do was look at the time I received the text, and was 2 hours early! So after a quick trip to the 9th Ave Saloon for happy hour, there I was in the center of the room experiencing her for the first, and unfortunately only time, live in person. She was magnetic and a masterclass in connecting with the audience and owning the stage. She had us eating out of the palm of her hand. We all ended up back at the 9th Ave Saloon to debrief and decompress after such a magical experience. And that’s NYC, getting a text out of the blue for a magical evening you couldn’t have planned.

Sean Patrick Murtagh and boyfriend Jeremy.
Sean and his boyfriend Jeremy in NYC. Photo supplied.

Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen is my backyard, my office, my playground, for me: the heartbeat of the city. For as long as I have lived in this city, Hell’s Kitchen has been my home base despite never having actually lived in Hell’s Kitchen. For starters, the vibe is just unmatched by any other neighborhood. And coming from San Francisco, it is the neighborhood that reminds me most of the Castro-fun/funky shops, great restaurants, wonderful nights out, drag queens, cabaret, but most importantly a real community. As I get ready to head back west to pursue the TV and Film side of my career, there is no doubt what I will miss most about NYC: Hell’s Kitchen.

From my very first margarita at Blockheads to spending hours at the original Kahve writing scripts for my cabarets and reviewing callback side, Hell’s Kitchen has been a huge part of my life and identity. Looking over these questions has actually made me quite nostalgic for so many places that are no longer here like Blockheads, The Renaissance Diner, Bourbon Street, to name a few. It’s been the scene for so many first dates, breakups, birthdays, and chance encounters. When I text my friends, “Meet me for a drink at 5:30,” we never say where, they just show up to ‘Ritas at 5:30 knowing “I’m around the corner! Almost there!” And 15 minutes later I am actually there. Yes, I am that friend…but I make up for it in love and loyalty and I usually buy a round and the guac! Margaritas in Hell’s Kitchen is my favorite way to welcome friends and family when they visit. I love showing them that two blocks away is the utter chaos and mayhem of Times Square, but in Hell’s Kitchen, there’s family, there’s refuge. 

What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
My special power is making people feel comfortable enough to open up and tell me things they have no idea why they are telling me. No matter where I’ve lived, I have people sit next to me on planes, in bars, at coffee shops and just tell me their life story. Usually, they will even say, “Wow, I can’t believe I told you all that!” I reply, “I can and thank you for sharing a piece of yourself with me.” Maybe it’s because I genuinely love connecting people, or maybe I love connecting with people because of this special power of mine, but it’s been a wonderful gift, especially in this city, for making friends and building communities. I almost answered, “bringing people together,” but I definitely believe I am able to bring people together because of this…and where do I bring them together you ask? To Hell’s Kitchen, of course!

What else should we know about you?
I am an award-winning actor and singer who has been pursuing a career and working in theatre, film, and cabaret. This past fall, I released my debut album, THE MARIO 101!, a celebration of the Mario Lanza songbook. It is available for purchase and streaming on all major platforms. It is also very important to know that I love this city with my entire being. NYC is a such a huge part of my identity and sensibilities. I never in a million years would have thought the day would come where I would leave this city, but love does funny things and opens your eyes to opportunities and possibilities you may never had imagined. I am heading out to LA to relocate with my boyfriend after two years long-distance. I am so excited for this new chapter, and it also means the end of an era for me. This city has provided me with so much growth and discovery and regardless of where I am, New York will always be in my heart.

I am having a farewell show on June 23 at 7pm at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. The show is called BEAUTIFUL GIRLS: A Tribute to Sondheim’s Divas. I am so excited to be kicking off pride weekend with this flamboyantly fabulous show… and I will even break out the fishnets and heels for it!

Sean Patrick’s Hell’s Kitchen Places

West Bank Cafe — 407 W42nd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
The West Bank Café is the perfect pre-theatre dinner choice. It’s equidistance to the best of Broadway, off-Broadway, and cabaret. They are famous for their risotto balls, but my favorite thing on the menu is their chicken Caesar salad (unless the pork chop is on the specials). Best Aperol Spritz in the city. They have a ridiculous happy hour at the bar and a great staff all around. I will always have a special place in my heart for the West Bank Café because Steve and Janet, the owners, went out of their way to bring cabaret back IN PERSON to New York during the pandemic. As soon as restaurants were allowed to reopen with outdoor dining, they brought their piano from the downstairs cabaret venue, The Laurie Beechman Theatre, rolled it up to the window and provided live entertainment for their customers. They not only provided gigs for all of us out-of-work entertainers, but they fed us too! I was honored to be a part of their talent roster…and because of them providing us with these opportunities, my friends Michael Garin & Mardie Millit and I became eligible and even won MAC Awards for our appearances there during the pandemic.

Steve Olsen at West Bank Cafe.
Sean Patrick has a special place in his heart for West Bank Cafe owner Steve Olsen. Photo: Kris Connor

The Laurie Beechman Theatre — 407 W42nd Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Just downstairs from the West Bank Café is the Laurie Beechman Theatre, where I had my favorite New York Moment seeing Joan Rivers. The venue is named after the late Broadway icon Laurie Beechman and has been home to countless performers, comedy, cabaret and even burlesque shows. Notably, Jinkx Monsoon performed her record-breaking hit off-broadway show, THE VAUDEVILLIANS, there as well as drag stars Jackie Cox and Paige Turner. Being connected to the West Bank Café has its perks, such as having the best cabaret menu you can find — including…you guessed it: RISOTTO BALLS. Again, I opt for the chicken Caesar salad, unless the pork chop is on the menu. I can’t even count how many shows I have seen or performed there, but I can say I have laughed and cried and applauded more in this venue than any other in the city. I performed my first leading role in NYC here as Bobby in COMPANY and I will be performing my last show in New York City here at the Beechman on June 23 at 7pm (shameless plug!)

‘Ritas — 756 9th Avenue (bw W50/51st)
They have the perfect margarita for any weather and, as a nacho connoisseur and master chef, my favorite nachos not made by me! Why you ask? Well, I am happy to tell! First, let’s start with the margarita…it’s basically a smoothie, so that means it’s good for you, right? They use a silver tequila made 100% from agave, which is plant based if you are following my logic here. They also use agave to make their simple syrup and fresh squeezed lime juice. There is no sour mix, no tequila out of a plastic bottle, which is great for the environment and YOU! You can probably tell I am a little passionate about this subject. Next the nachos, every component fresh and delicious. The chips are fried in house which add the perfect flavor component and providing the perfect level of sturdiness to support their mind-blowing black beans, perfectly melted Monterey Jack, salsa roja, pickled jalapeños and carrots, and your choice of toppings. I alternate between the steak (that marinade is perfection) or the roasted Brussels sprouts…if I am feeling fancy, I will do both. I’m from California and part Mexican and endorse this message. ‘Ritas originally opened up as an overflow bar for Hell’s Kitchen Mexican Restaurant next store, but unfortunately only ‘Ritas survived lockdown [so far]. Thankfully, they serve the same margaritas and nachos. 

Sean Patrick Murtagh at Green Room 42.
Sean performing at The Green Room 42. Photo supplied.

The Green Room 42 — 570 10th Avenue (bw W41/42nd St)
The Green Room 42 is by far the sexiest cabaret room in New York City. It’s where I made my cabaret debut and even won my first MAC Award… dear lord, who left the window open? All these shameless self-plugs are finding their way into this article! Ok, that’s the last one…maybe. Back to the sex appeal of the room. The design is the perfect marriage of vintage supper club meets contemporary urban flair. Giant round booths line the room upholstered with a graffiti print vinyl, each table comes with a lamp on it to signal you’re ready to order more without taking away your focus from the show. The caliber of talent at the Green Room 42 is astronomically high. It creates space for Broadway icons like Lillias White to newcomers like Sean Patrick Murtagh (ok, seriously last plug) to share/find their voices and showcase their stories. The drinks and food are wonderful, but there is no minimum. I like this small detail a lot because seeing shows can quickly add up and club minimums can make it cost-prohibitive for some. The Green Room 42 has gone out of its way to make being a part of their audience easy on your wallet. They also have a rooftop bar mere steps away from the cabaret room that I highly recommend — great bartenders who make great drinks.

Trimmed — 748 9th Avenue (bw W50/51st St)
Oh look, it’s my first recommendation that doesn’t involve food or drink…or a shameless plug! (Small victories). Johnny is the man! One of the friendliest shop owners in the neighborhood. His chair fills up quickly, so recommend you make an appointment. I usually get my haircuts on a whim, and I whole-heartedly trust whoever’s chair I end up in. But whether you’re in his chair or not, Johnny makes sure everyone gets a greeting. There is not a time I pass by that window that he doesn’t wave or give a “sup” movement with his chin. “Hey man, how’ve you been? You look good. You look like you’re ready for a haircut”. They have recently made a huge effort to increase their social media presence, so give them a follow on instagram @trimmedhk. As a gay man, it’s reassuring to find a place usually associated with toxic masculinity where you can feel comfortable and don’t have to cringe at the conversation. The place welcomes everyone and during the summer they are all ears to hear how your weekend in Fire Island was or how the date went the last time you were in getting your hair cut. Again, this neighborhood is a community and trimmed is THE neighborhood barbershop.

Johnny at Trimmed barber shop.
Johnny from Trimmed — “One of the friendliest shop owners in the neighborhood”. Photo: Trimmed Instagram

Don’t Tell Mama — 343 W46th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
If Hell’s Kitchen is the heartbeat of NYC then Don’t Tell Mama is the heartbeat of NYC Cabaret. The legendary piano bar and cabaret rooms has been making Hell’s Kitchen sing for over 40 years…and when the pandemic closed down the venue, the venue came to the streets and the staff sang from the stoop. Even though it does tend to attract a lot of tourist and B & T folk in the front room, the drinks are amazing. I recommend going to happy hour there if you want a great drink and avoid the late night crowd. If you have people coming in from out of town, TAKE THEM TO MAMA’S! They will love it and the staff sings their faces off. This place will always have a special place in my heart because I have seen so many of my friends shine bright on stage in those back cabaret rooms and have even workshopped many of my shows there. It’s every cabaret singers’ home-base and where a lot of people have gotten back into performing. If you have not seen a cabaret show and you live in the neighborhood, check it out! You never know what amazing talent you may discover.

9th Ave Saloon — 656 9th Avenue (bw W45/46th St)
I’d like to tell you about all the fun times I have had at the saloon…but for some reason my memory is foggy with this place. One of the greatest comeback stories in NYC. Shortly before the pandemic, the saloon went out of business, shattering many hearts. A gay dive bar with a photo booth, a jukebox, and a popcorn machine- only good can come out of this equation. With regulars that have been coming for years, there’s always a familiar face or somebody just dying to strike up a conversation with you. When bars started opening back up again during the pandemic, rumors began to float around that the 9th Ave Saloon would be opening back up…and thankfully those rumors manifested into prayers being answered. Sure, it’s not as run down looking as it used to look but give it time. Most importantly it hasn’t lost its charm or strong pours. A night out in Hell’s Kitchen isn’t a night out if you don’t end up here. So many laughs, gazing at strangers across the bar, Halloweens, Prides, happy hour, after work heart to hearts, deep conversations with someone you will never see again, and other random adventures fill the walls of this bar. A modern-day gay landmark.

9th Avenue Saloon Hell's Kitchen
Sean Patrick could tell many stories about the 9th Avenue Saloon — if only he could remember. Photo via Instagram

You can follow Sean on Instagram @Seanieboysfnyc. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form — You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.

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1 Comment

  1. SO lovely to hear this terrific story from Patrick.. I’m so sorry he’s leaving us. A wonderful person and an amazing singer.. from Heaven!! Truly extraordinarily talented person.
    It was interesting that he mentioned so many excellent venues in Hells Kitchen.
    Good Luck to you Babe! I’m sure L.A. will be the right choice going forward. xoxo

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