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BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below

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A one-off cabaret performance. A debut solo show. Thank goodness Maria-Christina Oliveras finally arrived.

BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below

There are those who say the waiting is the best part. For the guests of Feinstein's/54 Below on Friday night, the waiting has not been the best part - the show was - and one suspects that Maria-Christina Oliveras felt the same way, too. The wait, though, was completely worth it when Maria-Christina finally, finally, finally made it up onto a cabaret stage for her first-ever solo show.

For Ms. Oliveras, the act of storytelling is quite a natural state. An actress who gravitates toward the experimental, MCO is equally at home in theater both musical and non, though her experience with small venues has always been in group concerts and cabaret shows. After her presentation on Friday night, it would not be a far stretch of the imagination to find Maria-Christina on stage at The Moth, in an audiobook recording booth, or just holding court at a friend's party - musical entertainment does not have a hammerlock on Oliveras; she was marked from birth to be in front of an audience and it showed in every moment of THE GLORY OF LOVE.

For her first time out of the gate, Ms. Oliveras picked an easy enough theme - love... or is it an easy theme? Goodness knows love is a most complicated emotion, particularly when an artist has an hour to discuss all the different types of love there are in the world. Maria-Christina managed to touch on the love between her and her parents, the love she has for her work in the arts, the love between her and her friends, the love of her hometown, and, yes, even that dreadful, horrible, awful, terrible love we all crave, we sometimes get, and we sometimes lose, romantic love... all in the time span of one hour. It was impressive, to say the least, and a ball of fun, to say the most.

BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below Like any good storyteller, Maria-Christina knows how to make an entrance, how to own the room, how to work the crowd, and in this nightclub act worthy of bookings in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, she showed off those skills to such an extent that you might find yourself wondering if you heard wrong, if this is really her debut solo act. It is, and the reason Oliveras is so good at her job is that she has done her due diligence: she chose the story she wanted to tell, she wrote a script, she memorized the script, she threw out the script. A true professional, MCO worked with the band until everyone was completely ready, and what Ms. Oliveras presented on the stage is theater that requires repeated rehearsal and immaculate timing. The art of layering dialogue into the body of a song, of telling tales while the band continues playing, then hitting your storytelling mark just in time to launch into the next verse can be next to impossible, especially if you don't know your script. In her show crafted around this storytelling device, Maria-Christina didn't miss one cue pick-up. The ball of fire in head-to-toe gold was inside of every moment for most of the night - and you really don't know how difficult it is to act while singing until you see somebody really doing it. It's something we, as everyday humans, might be prone to take for granted - and when Maria-Christina is before you singing India Arie's "I Am Ready For Love" or Pink's "What About Us" it is impossible to not become aware that you are seeing something special happening in real-time.

BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below To give THE GLORY OF LOVE the maximum desired effect, Ms. Oliveras enlisted a band that a 54 Below press release tells was made up of David Blasher, Yuka Tadano, Rose Avila, and Musical Director/Pianist Andrea Grody, and, together, these magician musicians surrounded Maria-Christina with all the support she needed, whether the order of the day was some deftly re-arranged Millie Dilmount, some authentic Tina Turner, or Peggy Sarlin's hi-ho-larious "I Regret Everything." It's difficult and it's expensive to fill a stage with so many musicians, but Oliveras made the right choice when she went this route because it elevated the musical storytelling to great heights, especially during her duets with guests Alyse Alan Louis and Orville Mendoza, both close friends whose presence in the show informed Ms. Oliveras' talk about the love that friends share.

BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below Since this was Maria-Christina's first time out in solo-show waters, one might offer that guest artists, once their segment is complete, should return to their tables for the rest of the night, in order to be supportive audience members. A generous woman and host, Ms. Oliveras had both singers back to the stage for her last number, a sing-along with the audience that gave away that all-important moment: the finale. After delivering such a complete performance filled with nuance and fervor, it would have been such a satisfying and sweet experience to get to see this exciting new cabaret star take that final moment, and the roar of applause, in her own light, in her own time - something that would, forever, belong only to her and the audience who witnessed it. One suspects, though, that Maria-Christina's generous heart leads all of the decisions she makes - it was certainly present in each moment of THE GLORY OF LOVE and it will be present when she books her next appearance with the show, which, hopefully, will be very soon. After all the time it took to get home (and on the cabaret stage, she is definitely home) why wouldn't Maria-Christina Oliveras want to stick around a while?

Maria-Christina Oliveras has a website HERE and Instagram HERE

Find great shows to see at the 54 Below website HERE.

BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: Maria-Christina Oliveras is Glorious in GLORY OF LOVE at Feinstein's/54 Below Photos by Stephen Mosher


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