Expect the Unexpected by Sandi Durell. . .

Here I am in Hudson, NY on a rainy July 1, 2021 evening to see the Queen of Cabaret – Marvelous Marilyn Maye – at the historic Hudson Hall Opera House where she is scheduled to perform two evenings to sold out audiences. It was a smooth journey from NYC’s Old Post Office Moynihan Station on Amtrak. The beautiful setting at the Opera House was nightclub style with tables carefully set up throughout the space.

Ms. Maye has brought along her favorite musicians from NYC – – the exceptional Tedd Firth musical director on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass and Mark McLean on drums (doesn’t get any better than this!). Lights up and away we go – “It’s Today.” Smooth . . . flowing into favorites “Old Friend” / “I Love Being Here With You.” Comfortable, meaningful lyrics, the story always front and center. It’s a party – yes, it is – peppered with parodied lyrics – a Marilyn Maye specialty. As always, her generosity is evident as she highlights her musicians with solo interludes.

Her own special favorite songwriter, Jerry Herman, takes center stage with her as she regales his memory and her career playing the role of Dolly Levi in the iconic “Hello, Dolly!” throughout the country. Joyful, brilliant music and lyrics come alive in “Elegance”/“Ribbons Down My Back” (with a new Latin twist arrangement) and show-stopper “Before the Parade Passes By.”

The song that is notably a gathering place of togetherness “What The World Needs Now Is Love” was an emotional reminder to all.

Marilyn Maye is one of the few performers who can be on a stage in front of a large audience yet create an intimacy that is magical. She’s singing just for you making you feel special. 

Her Smile Medley is always a sensation . . . this time opening to a solo military drum beat “Pack Up Your Troubles in an Old Kit Bag” (and Smile, Smile, Smile)” as the pace changes segueing into Charlie Chaplin’s tear provoking “Smile” onto happier, upbeat tunes . . . “Put On a Happy Face” (with a tag scat ending). 

A time out to introduce a local guest whom she’s been working with, John Philip, Esq., a song and dance man replete with special material.

Returning to the stage with favorite Johnny Mercer tunes, the flow from “Day In, Day Out”/“Too Marvelous for Words” / “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” continues the love fest between Ms. Maye and the can’t-get- enough-of-her audience . . . and then the unexpected! A Blackout . . . a power surge . . . no lights, no sound! Did someone pull the plug?

Did that stop the ultimate professional. . . NO! With Tedd at the piano, Marilyn emerged from the stage down into the audience, as people turned on their cell phone lights providing a spotlight so that she continued singing (sans microphone) . . . “Something’s Gotta Give” sings Ms. Maye -(we laugh), the applause and standing ovation deafening.

Unflappable trooper that she is, always there to please, the extraordinary Marilyn Maye continued her show, flowing from table to table, lightly touching a shoulder, patting a head (especially the bald ones) singing “The Secret of Life” and “Here’s to Life” . . . the ultimate ending to a highlight evening (and I’ve seen many), with an overwhelmingly appreciative audience as thunderous applause, hoots and shouts of joy broke out. How lucky can we get!

Tedd Firth and Marilyn Maye

Video/Photos: Magda Katz