By Sandi Durell
The powerful and marvelous Marilyn Maye is back at her favorite haunt, Feinstein’s/54 Below, for a run through October 26 with her old friend (she knows him since he was 18) . . . the incomparable Billy Stritch on piano, along with Tom Hubbard on bass and Mark McLean on drums.
It’s a storm let loose that stuns. Time stops and the audience is swept away, mouths agape, faces filled with awe and wonder as Ms. Maye mesmerizes. Blame It On My Youth (Oscar Levant, Edward Heyman) turns into a parody (written by MM) . . . blame it on my Mom, achieving the expected results of much laughter. After all, this young powerhouse is only . . . 91. In fact, the evening was aglow with parodies penned by Ms. Maye.
Marilyn (who loves to hear her name from her long-time admirers and virginal converts as they shout it out) electrifies for an entire 80 + minutes on that stage. She’s commanding and when she says “sway” you obey as she sings “Getting to Know You” (The King and I – Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers).
Medleys took in the season – “Autumn in New York”/”Falling Leaves”/and, my personal favorite “When October Goes” (Vernon Duke/Brian Crain/Barry Manilow, Johnny Mercer) with a soft, sensual “Early Autumn” sung by Billy Stritch.
Every song is a story, filled with emotional impact – – – “Lazy Afternoon/Bye Bye Country Boy” (The Golden Apple – John La Touche, Jerome Moross/Blossom Dearie, Jack Segal) to “The Rainbow Connection” (The Muppet Movie – Paul Williams/ Kenneth L. Ascher) and especially how she’s loving Ray Charles as she bops through “Halleluyah, I Love Him So.”
An overview from the best of Broadway and The Great American Songbook that is always fresh, reimagined and presented as if you were hearing them for the very first time.
Yes, this girl is still kicking, literally – “It’s Today” (Mame – Jerry Herman) and those kicks are getting higher and higher every time.
Whether you’re a connoisseur of great artists or a newbie, you must see Marvelous Marilyn Maye at www.54Below.com where she will reign through Oct. 26 at 7 pm.
Photos: Kevin Alvey
Marilyn Maye – Blame It On My Youth! -Feinstein’s/54 Below, 254 West 54 Street (Cellar), NYC 646 476-3551