Marilyn Maye Says It With Broadway Music, and How

PlayBlog   Marilyn Maye Says It With Broadway Music, and How
 
Marilyn Maye was such a showstopper at the recent New York Pops Sondheim birthday concert at Carnegie Hall that we could not resist catching her intimate new show, Her Kind of Broadway, at the Metropolitan Room on Dec. 5. At 82, the actress and singer, never on Broadway but known for her many appearances on the "Tonight Show" before the age of Jay Leno, proved herself a wild force of nature that should be experienced by anybody who cares about American popular song.


At Carnegie Hall, with her pianist-conductor Tedd Firth on hand, Maye wowed the crowd with Sondheim's "I'm Still Here," the anthem of showbiz survival. She brought down the house and was called back for a second bow at the famed venue. At Manhattan's Metropolitan Room, with Firth again at piano (and Tom Hubbard on bass and Ray Marchica on drums), "I'm Still Here" was still here, but it was almost incidental to the rest of the cavalcade of show music offered. Arranged in a variety of colors — flirtatious jazz waltzes, swinging uptempos to rueful ballads — the program felt ambitious and lived-in at once. Pitch-perfect on this first of a three-consecutive-night engagement, the husky-voice Maye achieved her high notes and acted the hell out of "Losing My Mind," "Ribbons Down My Back" and a mashup of "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and "I'm Through With Love."

For swinging fun, "Elegance," "Put On a Happy Face" and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" were embraced by the audience in the nearly 90-minute show. This is old-school cabaret performing: less talk, more singing, infinite warmth, a relationship with the crowd and a desire to both respect and reinvent songs that we all know (presumably, all the arrangements are by Tedd Firth). Almond-eyed Maye performed Sunday for an already converted crowd of her worshippers. If you are under 40 and you have never heard (or heard of) Marilyn Maye — and if you care about show music and American pop — Her Kind of Broadway will be your kind of Broadway.

For the record, the songwriters represented in this return of a show seen at the Metropolitan Room in October include Adams & Strouse, Jerry Herman, Kander & Ebb, Lerner & Loewe, Kern & DeSylva, Bacharach & David, Walter Marks, Frank Loesser, Kahn & Melneck & Livingston, Rodgers & Hart, Arlen & Mercer and even "Inside the Actors Studio" host/lyricist James Lipton (whose "Sherry," a hit for Maye, is heard briefly). And Elmer Bernstein and Carolyn Leigh's standout "Step to the Rear" from How Now Dow Jones? gets an airing, as did its Lincoln Mercury jingle version which was lucrative for Maye back in the day. (View the old commercial, with vocals by Maye, by Googling "Step to the Rear Lincoln Mercury commercial.")

Her Kind of Broadway continues 7 PM Dec. 6-7 at the Metropolitan Room on West 22nd Street. Visit metropolitanroom.com.

Today’s Most Popular News: