by: Paulanne Simmons
Julia Murney has considerable theater credits on- and off-Broadway, including shows such as Wicked and Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, but it’s her solo cabaret shows that give fans a real look at the person behind the actress. This November, Murney returned to Feinstein’s/54 Below for her first solo show since 2012.
Singing a repertoire of songs from Broadway and beyond, and backed by Will van Dyke and the Whisky 51, Murney had many wishing she’d squeeze more cabaret into her busy schedule. From the ironic “Stop Wondering” to the iconic “New York New York,” Murney showed off her expressive range and unique interpretive skills.
She also proved to be funny, charming and a great storyteller. A native New Yorker, her take on the holiday season or riding the subway had many in the audience laughing and nodding ruefully.
Murney claimed the theme of her show is “songs I like to sing.” If this is so, it appears her taste runs toward the poignant. In “Vincent,” Don McLean’s tribute to Van Gogh, Stephen Schwartz’s “Meadowlark” and Tom Waits’ “Rainbow Sleeves,” Murney combines meticulous technique with vibrant emotion that washes over the house like a warm ocean wave.
At the beginning of her performance, Murney told the audience to think of the show (which began at 7 and ended at about 8) as a kind of appetizer for the rest of the evening. “Consider me your little egg roll,” she said.
If this was an appetizer, most of us are ready for the full meal.
Julia Murney’s show runs through Nov. 21 at Feinstein’s/54 Below, 254 West 54 Street, www.Feinstein’s/54below.com.