Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.
January 3, 2013
After two smashing New Year’s Eve shows at the Metropolitan Room, the amazing younger than springtime Marilyn Maye has begun 2013 with one of her great staple Marilyn By Request shows for a five performance series Thursday, January 3 backed by her frequent collaborators Billy Stritch on piano, Ted Hubbard on bass, and Warren Odze on drums and percussion. There wasn’t an empty seat in the room and most of them were long time fans who were able to shout out answers to lyrics when she led them into some of their requests.
Dressed in a sparkling red pants suit, Maye opened the show by belting out “The Song Is You.” The first part of the show was a series of standards that Maye herself chose and they all rocked, including “Golden Rainbow,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” (with special Maye lyrics), “Old Friends,” and “I Love Being Here With You.”
A special song that Maye wrote herself for one of her RCA albums, “The Happiest Show In Town,” led into a “Happy” medley which included Maye coaxing the entire audience to shout the “Hallelujah” lyric in “Get Happy.”
She went for lyric beauty in her “Rainbow” medley: a stunningly beautiful “Look To the Rainbow,” a different but winsome “Over the Rainbow,” “Make Me A Rainbow” and “The Rainbow Connection.” Her “romance” series of songs included “I’ll Take Romance,” “My Romance,” and she sent the crowd into raptures with “Too Late Now.”
Special requests included, from Maye repertoire, the spell-weaving “Lazy Afternoon” with the sweet and sad “Goodbye Country Boy,” and another very dramatic and heart-breaking “Guess Who I Saw Today.”
Again, her long career was mentioned when she started “Paradise Café” – – that every room, no matter how big or small, was a “paradise café” when she was singing, which led into her signature “Something Cool,” a great musical and dramatic narrative.
Yes, there was a great New York medley, which began with Stritch playing the Kander & Ebb riff but she sang four or five other New York City homage songs, including songs by Bernstein/Comden & Green, Cy Coleman & Dorothy Fields, before hitting that recognizable standard. During this and the other songs, Stritch, Hubbard, and Odze did great jazz improvisations on the breaks. In fact, the whole program was jazz oriented, something I don’t usually associate with Maye’s straight to the gut singing but she went right to the scat and punchy high notes without a pause every time.
Lerner & Loewe were celebrated in the last set: a wonderful “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face” and a zany “On the Street Where You Live” on which her unflagging energy seemed to wear out the audience. However, she saved the best for last, a very moving “Secrets of Life,” then going upbeat with “The Best of Times,” and “It’s Today,” complete with her trademarked high kicks!
Maye has no peer. She stands above every other singer working today and it’s astonishing to see her zest and energy. Get yourself to the Metropolitan Room for the rest of this run. Every night will be different but every night is a master class and a very special treat for the audience. Marilyn By Request repeats all weekend Friday, January 4 through Sunday, January 6, and then again next Wednesday, January 9. All shows are at 7 PM. Reservations are a must. Contact the Metropolitan Room at 212 206-0440 or www.metropolitanroom.com for more information.
Video by Magda Katz