Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

The legendary writers of revues have some new tricks up their sleeves on the subject of older citizens.

There is nary a person working in or devoted to musical theater born before 1980 that isn't a fan of Maltby and Shire. If you were lucky enough to be born a couple of decades before that, you were lucky enough to get the enjoy the whole Maltby and Shire experience in real-time, when their first musical revue STARTING HERE, STARTING NOW became the musical theater universe, supplying singers of the day (particularly a Lady named Barbra) with the compositions that would go on their albums, into their acts, onto the radio, and into their audition books. From that first revue in 1976 to 1989 when CLOSER THAN EVER had the same momentous effect on the lives and careers of musical actors, Maltby and Shire have been like an oracle, a prolific font of material, a bible of storytelling giving artists songs that didn't just provide tales to tell but gave them their own stories to tell, by way of material that seemed custom-written, right from our very own lives.

And then the revues stopped.

Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire have still been at work, since Closer Than Ever, writing book musicals, directing plays, and doing all the other things that people do, like building families and living their lives. So no more revues. No more story songs. No more Maltby and Shire musical therapy.

Until now.

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

On November 21st, a throng of excited patrons flooded the basement at 54 Below to see a show that was simply titled MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3. It's all there in the title. And once the show was announced on the 54 Below calendar, tickets flew out of the internet as interested parties clambored for a seat to what could, well, be the beginning of something special, something important, and something for which we have all wished, hoped, even prayed, ever since Closer Than Ever.

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

At the beginning of Revue #3, Richard Maltby Jr. explained three things - that David Shire was at home, under the weather, that two cast members were out and he would be assuming their roles (in a 2022 swing into gender-neutrality), and that this was the very, the utmost, the deepest place of The Beginning - that he and Mr. Shire are testing out these songs to see if there is something there to build into a new revue. Since Starting Here, Starting Now is about the beginning of life, he posited, and since Closer Than Ever is about second chances, he reminded, then Revue # 3 would, more or less, be "The Nursing Home Revue." Whatever the specific final destination for Revue #3, this evening was a genuinely valuable and exciting one for the audience, an audience so filled with celebrities from Broadway and the nightclub industry that to name them all would leave little room for a review of the night.

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Though it isn't really right to write a review of the night. It was workshop, a tryout, a concert to test new material. It can't be reviewed, it isn't right to review it, it isn't fair to review it. Except that a review of Revue #3 would and could only be positive. The Maltby and Shire magic is still there, indeed, it might be more magical than ever because it will give material to that forgotten demographic: people over fifty. Let's not be coy about it, we live in an ageist society (and work in an ageist industry) where it's news that Andie MacDowall let her hair grow out gray and where people say you look good for your age. There are vibrant, vital actors whose opportunities dry up because it is perceived that they are past their sell-by date, but there are also vibrant, vital audiences that want to see and hear stories about themselves. And that is where Maltby, Shire, and Revue #3 come in. The material is marvelous, and the performances on November 21st couldn't have been better because they were in just the right hands. Who else but Karen Ziemba could tell, so perfectly, the story of a woman who misses the days when she used to go disco dancing? Does that resonate with anyone reading this? Because Karen and "All I Want To Do Is Go Dancing" pretty much sums up life for me, my husband and our friend Marci. And Kerry Butler's "Little Susan Lawrence" would resonate with many people who have reached the stage where there is a powerful tidal wave of memories that spring forth from mementos, photo albums, and other reminders of our youth.

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Each cast member of Revue #3 was wonderfully matched to their material, and that's a beautiful thing, but with or without the M&S songs, it was just a privilege to be in a room to see the likes of Chip Zien and Daniel Jenkins, whose gifts for storytelling remain as strong as ever, as do their iconic Broadway voices. Mr. Zien exhibited the magnificent wistfulness for which he is famous on "Once You Fall In Love" and Mr. Jenkins was beyond hilarious performing a blistering comedy number titled "Smart People" that employed a delicious device in the lyrics, one that had the audience howling. The ladies Butler and Ziemba were joined by keyboardist Annie Pasqua on another number of hilarity, a spoof on a famous Joni Mitchell composition, "Both Ends Now" and Mr. Maltby (in one of his "stand-by" performances) was an absolute joy doing a number that many will want to perform named "Kensington Kenny." Musical Director Deniz Cordell even got in on the action (from the piano) with a song about "Bach" and the legendary Penny Fuller performed her first-ever Maltby and Shire, stopping the show cold with "One Day" - the unquestionable triumph of a perfect evening. This is the kind of show that we all depend upon 54 Below for, and the kind of treat that we, as New Yorkers, must remember to take advantage of, but not take for granted.

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

A new Maltby and Shire revue is what many of us have been waiting for, in all that Maltby and Shire style and uniqueness. These two genii of the American Musical Theater have an artistic voice that is, entirely, all their own, and they have been using that voice to feed and nurture the performing artists of the industry for decades, thank goodness.

And the story goes on.

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

Photos by Stephen Mosher; Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way

Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way Review: MALTBY AND SHIRE: REVUE # 3 at 54 Below Is Heaven On The Way



Gunhild Carling, Ben Markley Big Band, and More to Play Birdland This Month Photo
Birdland Jazz Club and Birdland Theater have announced their jazz programming running February 7 through February 19. Performers appearing at Birdland Jazz Club include Gunhild Carling, Ben Markley Big Band Feat. Ari Hoenig, Catherine Russell and Sam Blakeslee Large Group. 

Margot Sergents THE EDITH PIAF EXPERIENCE To Play Birdland This Month Photo
Parisian-born chanteuse and jazz instrumentalist Margot Sergent will return to Birdland Theater with The Edith Piaf Experience on February 16 at 8:30 pm.

TURN THE BEAT AROUND Turns Back Time At 54 Below Photo
If retro is your thing, or if you’re just curious about this night of dancefloor madness that really does recall Studio 54’s 70s & 80s magic, you can’t go wrong with this offering from the king of all discos.

Lorna Luft, PIPPIN 50th Anniversary Concert, and More to Play 54 Below Next Week Photo
Next week, 54 BELOW, Broadway's Supper Club & Private Event Destination, presents some of the brightest stars from Broadway, cabaret, jazz, and beyond. A recipient of the 2022 Tony Awards Honor for Excellence in the Theatre, 54 Below celebrates Broadway musicals and writers of the past and present, promoting an ongoing engagement with their work. 


From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Cra... (read more about this author)


Review: John Burns Makes 'Em Laugh at Don't Tell Mama With SOCK IT TO ME!Review: John Burns Makes 'Em Laugh at Don't Tell Mama With SOCK IT TO ME!
February 3, 2023

All the world loves a clown named John Burns who sings the Sixties.

10 Videos To Kick Off Black History Month10 Videos To Kick Off Black History Month
February 1, 2023

Today begins Black History Month and there is work to be done... but it's fun work.

Amanda McBroom and Ann Hampton Callaway Will Play DIVALICIOUS For Three Nights at 54 BelowAmanda McBroom and Ann Hampton Callaway Will Play DIVALICIOUS For Three Nights at 54 Below
February 1, 2023

What happens when two award-winning singer-songwriters get together to put on a show? You get DIVALICIOUS, that's what.

Tim Connell Will Encore ...AND SO IT GOES... at Pangea on February 17thTim Connell Will Encore ...AND SO IT GOES... at Pangea on February 17th
January 31, 2023

Esteemed and oft-praised musical cabaret storyteller Tim Connell produced three shows last year. His final show of 2022 will now be a show for 2023.

Photos: Chris Ruetten Documents January 24th THE LINEUP WITH SUSIE MOSHERPhotos: Chris Ruetten Documents January 24th THE LINEUP WITH SUSIE MOSHER
January 30, 2023

It's another photo flash of Susie Mosher's weekly variety show, this time by Chris Ruetten.