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Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence

With performances like this, the Broadway leading man can't help being the leading man of everyone's choice.

Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence

Mauricio Martinez burst through the entrance of the theater at 54 Below, all five-foot-eleven-inches of him, immaculately attired in a chic tailored suit, looking like the long-lost Latinx member of The Rat Pack, about to start his Las Vegas show for hordes of screaming fans. Debonair like Dean, with Frank's phrasing, and the showmanship of Sammy, Mr. Martinez would have done the legendary entertainers proud, for up on the stage, singing, dancing, and telling tales informed by a life lived to the fullest, is the natural habitat for this unquestionable leading man. Whether playing a character on screen or on Broadway or playing himself in concert halls and cabarets, this is a man with so much talent that it would be a travesty to not have all of it always put to good use. Unfathomably charismatic, undeniably likable, and mind-blowingingly gifted, Mr. Martinez spent seventy minutes running through a setlist of songs chosen specifically to make himself and his audience happy, even if some of them should happen to be ballads, even if some of those ballads should happen to be sad. This was still a night of celebration and of happiness because, even when singing a sad song, joy is what Mauricio Martinez inspires.

Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence

Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Among his many attributes, Mr. Martinez is incredibly adept at fitting into any musical style, as was demonstrated when he ran the gamut from disco in a medley of "I'm So Excited" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" to rock in an intense performance of "The Story" with side trips to Streisand, Tina and Elton alternating between show tunes. In spite of the variety chosen for the night's lineup, no musical performance was inauthentic. Possessing of one of the most listenable voices around, Mauricio manages to place every composition he sings in the pocket - but it's the Mauricio pocket, where everything is pretty, and everything is personal. Not bound by the original recordings, Martinez sings every number as he feels it, often leaving enough of what we already know of the song, to make it comfortable, and changing enough of the song to make it exciting - sometimes even taking on tunes so easily identified with their originator that to sing it might be considered risky. How many times have we all heard the opening strains of "The Way We Were" and groaned while thinking, "Why do people sing this song when Barbra did it best?" Well, surprise, Mauricio Martinez found his own "The Way We Were" and it was fantastico; he even made a joke out of singing one line from another famous Streisand song nobody should sing... and in that one sentence, he proved that not only should he sing it, but we want to hear him sing it.

Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence

Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence And on the subject of jokes... Mauricio Martinez is a naturally funny man whose wit and charm shines through at all times, but he has been working with director Robbie Rozelle, who has guided Mauricio with a script that sets the laughs up in Mauricio's speech pattern, in his cadence, in his natural rhythm, so that the beats of the show serve Martinez at every turn, in a purely organic way. It's an elegant partnership, as is the one Mr. M. has with his Musical Director, Brian Nash, who has provided exceptional arrangements that show off both Mauricio's musical gifts and his acting talent. With their shockingly simple "Impossible Dream" the colleagues created an acting opportunity that (like most of the ballads from the performance) make you wonder where Martinez goes when he is in the song - he's so emotional, yet, like his voice, always in complete control, and also like his voice, everything seems absolutely effortless. Mauricio Martinez is the complete entertainment package.

Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence

Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence A man for whom relationships are vitally important, Mauricio made sure that BACK ON 54TH STREET was family-informed by inviting his friends Michael Longoria and Claudia Mulet to join him onstage for some really satisfying duet action, and he paid tribute to his friend, the late Doreen Montalvo, with a "What a Wonderful World" arranged by his spiritual brother and frequent colleague, Jaime Lozano. Listening to him speak of everyone's beloved Doreen, observing the strength and honesty with which he discusses his rites of passage, witnessing the rapport between him and his guests, it is more than easy to see that this is a man who leads not only with his heart, but with respect for his fellow humans and artists. To wit: when Mr. Martinez reached the moment that comes in every show, the time when the audience gets to meet the band, he executed his task better than any performer this writer has ever seen, waiting until the room was quiet and people were paying attention before saying something nice about the musician and then precisely pronouncing their name so that all could hear and note it - it was a deceptively significant moment in the show, informing all of his true character - because the musical artists up there with him are special and they earned the right to have their names spoken out loud, and heard. And whether what is being heard coming out of the mouth of Mauricio Martinez is a name, a joke, a vulnerable moment of truth, or a performance of "All I Ask" that Adele would probably swoon over, this is for certain: it will come from a place of love and it will be of the highest quality.

That is certainly what everyone at 54 Below experienced last night, and, hopefully, more will with utmost expediency.

The Back on 54th Street Band was Eleanor Norton, Jerome Jennings, Michael Blanco, Craig Magnano, and Musical Director Brian Nash on piano.

Mauricio Martinez BACK ON 54TH STREET was a one-off (for now #bighint) but look for more great shows at 54 Below at their website HERE

Visit Mauricio Martinez on Instagram HERE and Twitter HERE

Visit the Claudia Mulet website HERE

Visit the Michael Longoria Twitter page HERE

(Editor's note: a camera malfunction lost us all the photos from the show except for the final ten minutes. I apologize to Misters Martinez and Longoria, Ms. Mulet, and all the musicians whose faces would have been in this article for the lack of photographic representation of the entire evening. --SM)

Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence Review: With BACK ON 54TH STREET Mauricio Martinez Envelopes Feinstein's/54 Below With Excellence

Photos by Stephen Mosher


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher