by Steve Nardoni
In a special return engagement at Feinstein’s/54 Below, Kim Maresca showed once again why she’s such an overwhelmingly talented and beloved singer and performer. Wednesday evening, May 3, she bathed her audience in the warm spa water of her tender, intimate singing and cascaded us in heart-stopping renditions of Broadway tunes. Throughout the show she sprinkled comedy, pathos, ambition, and even karaoke over her eager fans. Under the direction of Dan Foster, Maresca showcased her talents while achieving a unique rapport with the audience, supported splendidly by a trio of top-notch musicians: Alex Rybeck (piano and musical direction); Ritt Henn (bass); and Dan Gross (percussion).
Kim performed 14 songs, hand-picked to highlight her singing chops while providing the audience with a clear insight into her wit, soul, ambitions, wants and regrets. Wearing chanteuse black, she started out with “A Girl You Should Know” (from Maltby and Shire’s “Starting Here, Starting Now”) a perfect intro—as she shared she’s ready to have someone know the real her. Then on to a wicked “The Lady is a Tramp” (Rogers and Hart), in which Kim reverses herself, challenging us to know her inner Tramp!
Within the set Kim sangs three songs that she loves to sing at home—alone with her hairbrush for a mic—songs she claims she would never be cast to sing: Jean Valjean singing “Who Am I” (Les Misérables); Judas signing “Heaven on Their Minds” from (Jesus Christ Superstar); and Effie White singing “And I Am Telling You” (Dreamgirls). She’s wrong. She does Jean Valjean’s lateral lisp, Judas’s plaintive arguments and Effie’s wailing to perfection.
Her range is unbelievable: after the introductory set, she changed tack to a sweet, touching rendition of “Where or When” (Rodgers and Hart), an evocative song that brought this me to tears. Particularly cool was the pianist’s counterpoint of “La Vie en Rose” during the song, a foreshadowing of Kim’s discussion of her love for Paris throughout the rest of the show. Her unacknowledged tribute to Donald Trump (“Rich, Famous and Powerful” by David Friedman) confirmed that all that stuff “ . . . doesn’t mean shit,” while her karaoke rendition of “It’s All Coming Back to Me” confirmed the hilarity of poking fun at Céline Dion.
Throughout the show Kim used her musical talents to perfectly transmit what she wanted us to know about her: that she is a multi-talented performer with the feisty demeanor to acknowledge her talents and flaws while insisting that we all pursue our dreams and aspirations. Thanks for the pep-talk singing, Kim!
I regret not seeing Kim Maresca in Ruthless! The Musical, an Off-Broadway complement to the likes of All About Eve, Gypsy and (one of my all time favorite movies) The Bad Seed. The theme of callous, merciless, and cold-blooded ambition is just cool, period. Such ambition in a child is just so appealing when it’s combined with musical theater. Kim will be reprising her role in the London premier next season. I’m not gonna miss it this time.
Kim Maresca performed May 3 at Feinstein’s/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). Presented by Evan Sacks as a benefit for Broadway Dreams. www.54Below.com
Photos: Michael Stever