By Marilyn Lester
Remember the connect-the-dots games you played as a kid? Wasn’t it fun to see what image was eventually revealed? Just as much fun was following the trail of links between singer-actress Maureen Taylor and librettist-lyricist Michael Colby. Cosmic Connections—The Lyrics Of Michael Colby, which unveiled all in due course, was born several years ago on cabaret turf, where the pair met and hit it off. Taylor’s journey, though, began in the opera world. Eventually she successfully crossed over into musical theater and into cabaret. Her set list of mostly Colby works craftily illuminated her life’s path—she’d come to realize that Colby’s smart lyrics were in so many ways the stories of her life. Taylor so proved what she found kindred and attractive in Colby’s lyrics: the telling of stories that touch the heart and mind with wit, charm, emotive force and humor.
Michael Colby, author of the memoir “The Algonquin Kid: Adventures Growing Up in New York’s Legendary Hotel,” has written a variety of singular musicals such as Charlotte Sweet (with Gerald Jay Markoe), Tales of Tinseltown (with Paul Katz), Mrs. McThing (with Jack Urbont), Slay it With Music (with Paul Katz) and the Broadway bound Dangerous (with John Introcaso). It was from this last work that she opened with the apropos, ”More Than Meets the Eye.” This number, and those that followed, well-showcased the full range of her powerful, mellifluous, flexible voice. Moving on to her youth and somewhat madcap opera days, dramatic adventures and romanic relationships, her journey found expression in numbers such as “All I Need” and “Takin’ on the Town” (both written with Ned Ginsburg). Threading through the show and weaving a dot-connecting spell, was the revelation of Taylor’s spiritual and metaphysical pursuits. No wonder she was drawn to Mrs. McThing, a certified, spell-casting witch! From this show she offered a sweet and compelling “How Do You Make Magic?”
A holiday section of the program had Taylor romping through festivities, from “Daughter of Valentine’s Day” and “Funny Bunny Song” (both written with Gerald Jay Markoe) and “Christmas Ev’ry Day” (written with Joseph Thalken). Eventually, Taylor found her true love and new paths in marriage and career. It just so happened that Colby also found his true love later than sooner in life and wrote about it in “Better Late Than Never” (written with Jack Urbont), which Taylor sang with delight and conviction. Representing the few non-Colby works were numbers with meaningful lyrics in Noël Coward’s “Champagne,” Carolyn Leigh’s (with Cy Coleman) “It Amazes Me” and Lorenz Hart’s (with Richard Rodgers) “A Twinkle in Your Eye.” By the last note of her closer, Colby’s “I Just Know” (written with Sheldon Levin), it was mission accomplished. Dots were connected, with a clear picture of both storytellers revealed through those mystical and cosmic connections.
Maureen Taylor: Cosmic Connections—The Lyrics Of Michael Colby plays again at Don’t Tell Mama on Friday, December 27 and Saturday, December 28, both at 7 PM and Sunday, December 29 at 2 PM.
For tickets and further information, visit www.donttellmamanyc.com or call 212-757-0788 (after 4:00pm).