By Myra Chanin
Madelaine Warren graduated from the Boston University School of Fine Arts, having majored in voice. A trained soprano and an aspiring opera singer, she soon relocated to New York and performed with a variety of classical music troupes — opera companies, summer stock, community theaters — which led to her singing leading roles in Showboat, The King and I, the Music Man, The Sound of Music, until romance intervened. She fell in love with a tenor, Arthur Warren, and took a detour when she and he formed a singing team, The Warrens, hoping to get summer work in the Catskills. And they did.
The Warrens were a hit with the shows they created, “Nelson and Jeanette, A Love Story,” “A Leonard Bernstein Celebration,” and “From Pop to Op,” which led to them working for other hotel circuits, Cunard, Royal Viking and the Holland America cruise lines, and eventually in corporate events for major corporations. How major? IBM, Aetna, Microsoft, GE. Do they still work together? I can’t say, but Arthur was the cute guy standing outside of Don’t Tell Mama before Madelaine appeared on stage, welcoming everyone who passed him, including those who didn’t have the foggiest notion who he was. . . like me.
In addition, Madelaine kept busy as part of a trio, herself, a piano and cello, presenting concerts at schools, churches and corporate functions and now she’s added working in cabaret.
Her most recent production, directed by Barry Kleinbort, which she’s brought to Don’t Tell Mama during the last three months of 2018, is entitled, “Mad for Romance.” In her comments about the songs she will be singing, Madelaine admits she truly is mad for romance in all of its variations, which are demonstrated in her 18-song program.
Madelaine is a slender, trim redhead in a beaded form fitting cocktail dress who sings in a booming, commanding soprano. Her voice not only fills the smaller showroom at Don’t Tell Mama, her fans also packed the room. She appeals to good looking, well-dressed people of all ages, from seniors to rising young executives.
Her song selection is diverse and unique. The tunes date back to a time frame between the 1920’s and 1970’s and include melodies by the greats including Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Barry Manilow, George Gershwin, Burton Lane and Hoagy Carmichael, and lyrics by equally great poets like Dorothy Fields, Alan Jay Lerner, Mitchell Parish, the Bergmans, Comden and Green, Hoagy Carmichael, Sondheim & Porter (again) and Johnny Mercer, Johnny Mercer, Johnny Mercer. Who can ever get enough of him?
With Christopher Denny on piano and Bob Renino on bass, she opened with one of my favorites, “Out of the World,” a 1945 ballad from a Paramount Picture of the same name, with a misty, ethereal minor key melody by Harold Arlen and clever, intricate, inner rhyming Johnny Mercer lyrics, followed by “Day In, Day Out” a Sinatra favorite with Johnny Mercer lyrics which repeat instead of rhyme as in “The same old pounding in my heart whenever I think of you, and darling I think of you, day in and day out.” From the 1960’s comes “So Many Stars,” with its romantic boss nova beat tamed by Alan and Marilyn Bergman before she switches to a 1918 World War I novelty, “How You Gonna Keep Them Down on the Farm?” and “Laugh, Clown, Laugh” from an MGM silent film, the last two with lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young, which date back to the beginning of ASCAP. An unfamiliar novelty number by early Porter is followed by “Toothbrush Time” an art song by Pulitzer Prize Winning William Bolcom, named Composer of the Year in 2007 by Musical America.
The concluding portion of her program juxtaposed Bernstein’s “Lonely Town” with Sondheim’s “Another Hundred People,” before wandering through Carmichael’s “Stardust,” Burton Lane’s “On a Clear Day” and ending with what is probably the most romantic song ever written, “The Way You Look Tonight.”
The audience went wild. They absolutely loved her and almost forced her to find a third encore. Because the audience contained an equal number of young and old, their reaction wasn’t ignited by nostalgia. Her romance was obviously theirs as well. They were very moved by her performance.
That said, a few things about Warren’s show bothered me. She has a very powerful voice, and I found that the microphone made her singing sound shrill. Many of the songs were similar, similarly paced and she sang them in the same way from the top of her range. I would have liked to hear some of the bluesy ballads powered by and drawn from the contralto register of her vocal range.
As for her husband Arthur, she spoke about him during the show, which influenced one audience member to shout out that he would love to meet her husband!
Guess who could that have been?