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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



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