By Sandi Durell . . .
I had the good fortune of being in Boca Raton, Fl. to see the miraculous talents of Marilyn Maye. She’s booked at The Wick Theatre November 26 thru December 19 in a show featuring Nicolas King, one of New York’s best young jazz greats.
From Ms. Maye’s short opening “Wonderful” medley (“What A Wonderful World/S’Wonderful/On A Wonderful Day”- to name a few of the many songs with wonderful in the title, many then wondered where did Marilyn Maye go until Nicolas King (performing since the age of 4, on Broadway in “Beauty and The Beast” and more) then took the stage to show off some of his fine jazz interpretations, varying tempo changes, including some scat , i.e. Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, “All I Need Is The Girl” (Gypsy) including the four adorable young singer/dancer Angels. A tribute to the late Stephen Sondheim included “I Remember” (TV film Evening Primrose), with lyrics that touch the very soul, the intense lessons of “Children Will Listen” (Into The Woods), a Disney Medley and more completing Act 1.
After intermission, Marilyn Maye took the stage to much applause offering up some of her audience favorites – “Rainbow Medley”, the always exquisite “Golden Rainbow” (from Broadway musical of the same name starring Edye Gorme and Steve Lawrence). If you are familiar with Ms. Maye, you know her talents as one of the great storytellers when she sings, her special intonations that speak volumes and the ease with which she delivers her music. As many have said, it’s a masterclass whenever she’s on stage and she was in rare form (as always at her tender age of 93 – which she doesn’t mind disclosing since she decided it’s OK to play the age card!), revealing some information as to how all her shows of recent years at Feinstein’s/54 Below and Birdland, are titled. She’s now preparing for her 94th Birthday show (April 10, 2022) and run at 54 Below. . . and thinking it should be “94 and There’s More” – unless someone comes up with a better title.
Mischievous, marvelous Marilyn has a catalogue of medleys some of which she included – Smile Medley (“When You’re Smiling”/”Smile”/”Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag (and Smile, Smile, Smile (to a marching drum beat)” and was then joined by the talented eager little Angels in red coats and furry white trimmed red hats. They revealed their endless talents while having fun with Ms. Maye in a “Winter Wonderland” which reminds me to praise Josieu T. Jean who is responsible for the creative projection and motion graphic backdrop designs throughout the evening.
Always inclusive, Marilyn included a Hanukkah song by the late, great Jerry Herman, “Shalom,” in one of her favorite tempos – a jazz waltz.
The poignant close to Marilyn Maye’s segment was James Taylor’s “Secret O’ Life” and Artie Butler’s “Here’s To Life” – reflective songs with lyrics filled with truth.
The big closer included a duet with Nicolas “Peace on Earth/What A Wonderful World/It’s A Small World/The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” joined by the Angels.
The notable band members found Richard Switzer on piano with Jamie Qusley on bass, Frank Derrick on drums and Rod Fleeman on guitar, Rod all the way from Ms. Maye’s hometown Kansas City where they’ve worked together for many years. The Angels are Noa Anker, Bailee Bonick, Eden Gross and London Belle Redell. Direction is by Amy London.
Marilyn Maye proved to be the shining star atop the Christmas Tree and should not be missed if you’re anywhere near The Wick Theatre & Costume Museum run by the indefatigable managing executive and producer Marilynn Wick. Shows thru December 19.
Check the website for more details www.thewick.org
Photos: Magda Katz