Marilyn Maye: “Marilyn by Request” at the Metropolitan Room (Thursday January 9, 2014)

January 20, 2014 | Cabaret | Tags:
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Cabaret legend Marilyn Maye extends the celebration of the New Year with seven glorious performances at the Metropolitan Room in Manhattan. Joined by Billy Stritch (piano), Tom Hubbard (bass), and Warren Odze (drums), Ms. Maye dazzles her fans for ninety remarkable minutes with her unique blend of song stylist, lyricist, and shaman.

Marilyn Maye lets the audience know “how much she loves them” in her rendition of the re-imagined and comedic “I Love Being Here with You” (Peggy Lee/Bill Schluger) and “I Want to Be Happy” from “Tea for Two” (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar). Before launching into the “By Request” portion of the evening, Ms. Maye engages the audience with her comfortable humanness as she glides through “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face” from “My Fair Lady” (Frederick Loewe/Alan Jay Lerner), “Golden Rainbow” (Walter Marks) with remarkable phrasing, the pop song “Make Your Own Kind of Music” (Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil), and a jazzy-operatic “Here’s to Life” (Phyllis Molinary/Artie Butler.

The “By Request” includes a veritable fusillade of hits from the Great American Songbook. Perhaps most memorable of these are the a cappella “Look to the Rainbow” (Burton Lane/E. Y. Harburg), “Make Me Rainbows” (Alan Bergman/Marilyn Bergman), “Ribbons Down My Back” with ethereal embellishments (Jerry Herman), “He Won’t Send Roses” from Jerry Herman’s “Mack and Mable,” “When the World Was Young (Johnny Mercer) and the tribute to New York medley.

Maye’s rich tones and scat-laced phrasing mine meaning from every lyric of every song she delivers. She leaves no note unexplored and her treatment of a song often becomes operatic: her songs are arias to be reined in to absolute perfection.

During the entire January 4, 2014 performance, drummer Warren Odze, despite asking for a more audible piano monitor, played too loudly and made it difficult for the orchestra to achieve a proper balance. At one point, Ms. Maye walked over and silenced the cymbals with a pinch of the fingers on her left hand.

Eighty-five going on twenty-five, Marilyn Maye lives in the moment and invites her listeners to “be here, be now” with her. Maye’s love with the present moment contributes to her electrifying ability to approach each lyric and each note with a freshness that engages the audience and leaves them wanting more. Marilyn Maye closes the performance on January 4 with Jerry Herman’s “The Best of Times Is Now.” No truer words have been written or spoken or sung. Being there, being now with Marilyn Maye is a gift of grace and wonder.