Marilyn Maye celebrated her 91st birthday with 8 packed to the rafters cabaret shows at Feinstein’s/54 Below. In her fabulous brand of humor she tilted the show “Marilyn Maye: I Wish I Were 90 Again!”
Marilyn has performed 9 times at Feinstein’s/54 Below, 76 times on NBC’s The Tonight Show when it was hosted by Johnny Carson, teaches master classes, tours, performs regularly throughout the US and surprisingly I have never seen or reviewed one of her shows.
From the moment Marilyn opened her mouth with “It’s Today” from Mame, “You’re Gonna Hear From Me” from Inside Daisy Clover and “Getting To Know You” from the The King and I, I knew I was in the presence of a master. Marilyn Maye has more energy than 18 year olds. Her phrasing and stylings is impeccable. Her vocals ravishingly, emotionally connected and her arrangements bar none. I was enthralled.
I have always loved the song “Celebration” from Celebration, the show Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones did after The Fantastick’s but in Ms. Maye’s capable hands this esoteric song became hip, exciting and thrilling. I so want this arrangement.
A lot of Ms. Maye’s show brought on the resounding theme of love, with a fabulous mash-up of “What The World Needs Now”/ “Let There Be Love”/ “It’s Love”. This was followed by a poignant mash – up of“ I’m Glad There Is You” and “You And Me Against The World” and the Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner tune “Too Late Now.” Later on we got “Glory Of Love” by Billy Hill and Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love.”
In the song “Golden Rainbow” from Golden Rainbow she forgot the lyric, but she is so keyed into the music, who cared. Plus she’s 91 and belts these lyrics out with such power and ease. She doesn’t just belt, she does vocal gymnastics and scores a 100.
In the Carole Bayer Sager and Melissa Manchester classic “Come In From The Rain,” something interesting happened, she had a scratchy voice not that it really mattered but I watched as she found other placements in her voice to rectify the sound. It was brilliant, to know your voice so well to be able to do that.
“Everytime” by Hugh Martin, Ralph Blane a wonderful mash-up of “Spring Is Here”/ “When Sunny Gets Blue”/ “Little Girl Blue” and “Bluesette” showed a effortless jazz style that tells the story through lyric.
Helen Reddy’s “I Am A Woman” and Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here” from Follies showed Ms. Maye’s outrageous humor and again attention to lyric. I loved the story of Sondheim dishing her. I truly wished I ha seen Ms. Maye in Follies especially as Sally.
On piano was her musical director Tedd Firth who also did some of the arrangements especially the Spring melody. On Bass was the amazing Tom Hubbard and on Drums Eric Halvorson.
I can not believe it has taken me until now to experience how phenomenal Ms. Maye is. I have since watched everything I can and have become a fan extraordinaire. For any singer who wants to communicate, bar none this is the singer you need to follow, listen to, absorb and take a master class from. She is a truly one of a kind.