Featuring Marilyn Maye in “I Happen to Like New York”
by Sandi Durell
The ever stylish, forever boyish Michael Feinstein (twinkle in his eye) is back at his namesake Feinstein’s/54 Below raising the roof celebrating the town that never sleeps. With so many New York songs at his fingertips, he seems to have chosen the best of the bunch that he and consummate musical director-pianist Tedd Firth have turned into vignettes of musical wonder. Stories and quips flying, MF embarks on tunes from Broadway to pop, rock, blues and boogie woogie with one of a kind arrangements. “Anything Can Happen in New York” (Babes on Broadway) – as songs reflect the glorious past to the present . . . and it does! And, yes, even the old teaser “New York, New York” – I’m ready to scream, it’s like a bad dream, don’t make me sing that song again!
With a salute to Bobby Short, “I’m Confessin’ That I Love You” played the heartstrings of romance as did “The Way We Were” remembering Marvin Hamlisch (7 years departed) and Marilyn/Alan Bergman’s iconic song.
And suddenly it was time for marvelous Marilyn Maye to take the stage to thunderous applause as she presented her incomparable pairings of New York songs that included “I Happen to Like New York/New York State of Mind/(New York is) My Personal Property. . .” followed by a lively and playful duet by these two dynamos, “It’s A Most Unusual Day (feat) from “A Date With Judy” (Adamson/McHugh). The audience went mad with excitement!
The elation continued with MF’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight/One Less Bell To Answer” – smooth, silky and visceral.
Now came the surprise highlight of the night with MF at the piano as the temperature rose considerably on Jimmy Noone’s version of “New Orleans Hop Scop Blues” (written by George W. Thomas, 1916) giving the audience some participatory action to Glide! Slide! Prance! Dance! Hop! Stop!
Old New Orleans is a great big old southern town, Where hospitality you will surely find.
The population there Is very very fair With everything they do, White folks do it too!
They have a dance, Surely it’s somethin’ rare there.
Glide! Slide! Prance! Dance! Hop! Stop! Take it easy, honey!
Hmmm! I can never get tire of dancin’ those Hop Scop Blues;
The larger than life experience of two extraordinary performers together on stage (after all, MM knew MF when he was a wee lad – oh, the stories they could and did tell) resounded to conclude with their version and special lyrics to “I Love A Piano.”
Completing the hot band is Phil Palombi on bass with Ray Marchica on drums and keep an eye out for Tedd Firth’s flying fingers and riffs!
Did I like this show? I LOVED it and so will you. Marvelous Marilyn Maye will guest thru August 13.
Michael Feinstein “I Happen to Like New York” continues thru August 24
Additional guest artists Melissa Manchester (Aug. 15-20), Jackie Evancho (Aug. 21-23) – Feinstein’s/54 Below 254 West 54 Street (Cellar) NYC