by Kathryn Kitt
Captivating the stage in a form-fitting black gown, backed by a band of piano, bass and drums, Marieann Meringolo brought her show Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: The Songs of Alan & Marilyn Bergman to Feinsteins/54Below’s warm and intimate stage. Upon reading the background of this husband and wife lyricist team, I discovered that they had collaborated with many composers and artists such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and especially Barbra Streisand – who has recorded 64 of their songs! Plus the fact that Alan & Marilyn Bergman are still married 58 years later truly conveyed a personal connection in their lyrics.
The repertoire of the Bergman’s lyrics is one gem after another. Ms. Meringolo’s set highlighted a great many of these songs, either by singing them beginning to end or combining them, singing lovely medleys. Most of the songs were collaborations with the composer Michel Legrand, but Marvin Hamlish, Billy Goldberg, Lew Spence and Johnny Mandel were represented as well. In between each song, Ms. Meringolo would give a backstory of how the song and situation came about, but she kept it brief, letting the songs speak for themselves.
I knew most of the songs in the set, but it never occurred to me how truly moving the lyrics were. Songs like “It Might Be You” from the movie Tootsie and “The Way We Were” from the movie of the same name. These songs exhibit lyrics of such yearning and passion, such sophistication and I truly never paid much attention. It certainly was helped by Ms. Meringolo’s warm mezzo tone – spot on in pitch. Her delivery of these songs demonstrated complete understanding of the lyrics and effortless phrasing.
She also performed up-tempo numbers like “Nice n’ Easy” with the same ease, but she truly was at home with the ballads. It was not overkill because her deliveries were so emotional. I felt like I took a step back in time to another era. Every time she launched into another song medley like “How Do You Keep the Music Playing/Summer Me, Winter Me,” the room stood still.
Directed by Will Nunziata, with Doyle Newmyer as the Musical Director/Pianist, Boots Maleson on Bass and Sipho Kunene on drums, the whole show was executed effortlessly, complete with audience interaction; a treat when Ms. Meringolo came into the house and interacted with various audience members. The whole evening was nicely low key, allowing for the music and lyrics to shine as the stars of the show.
All in all, Ms. Meringolo paid tribute to a legendary team of lyricists with an enjoyable choice of their finest work, lovingly sung and executed. She is performing this show one more time Oct. 7 at 7 pm, so try and grab a ticket!
254 W 54th St, New York, NY 10019
Phone: (646) 476-3551