Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

Thirty-six Johnny Mercer songs in one show? Nothin' to it: Marilyn Maye is on the job.

By: Oct. 14, 2022
Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer
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On the opening night of her new show, the 54 Below announcement rang through the air "Please welcome Marvelous Marilyn Maye," just as it always does. But it's time for a change: it would be more appropriate to call her Miraculous Marilyn Maye because that is exactly what she is. Each time that one attends a Marilyn Maye show, there is a more than reasonable expectation that they will see the absolutely best in live entertainment - it's been that way since Marilyn began her illustrious career and it will never change. In simplest parlance, she is simply the greatest.

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

That said, there was a slight vagueness to the event page on the 54 Below website for this new act, and reading the description of this latest Marilyn Maye show outlines that which everyone already knows - that Marilyn Maye is a consummate artist with years of experience behind her (she is never coy about the longevity of her career, often naming her age in her show titles). So imagine the unsurpassable surprise of sitting in the room at 54 Below and hearing Marilyn Maye say that she and Musical Director Supreme, Tedd Firth, have put together a night made up of thirty-six Johnny Mercer songs. Had we, the opening night audience, died and gone to heaven? Dead, no; Heaven, yes.

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

This new Marilyn Maye club act is special. Let's be honest, they are all special, so that makes this one doubly so. We are talking about eighty minutes of musical entertainment perfection. With Marilyn and Tedd's arrangements of these thirty-six songs (there are several medleys), her unbelievably (still) powerful voice, and lyric interpretation that is beyond compare, that opening night audience ran the gamut of emotions without ever leaving their seats. There was gasping. There was cheering. There were sniffle-infused tears, stifled sighs, and laughter, lots and lots of laughter. Marilyn Maye is whip smart and crackle funny, and although the dominant reason to go to one of her shows is her musical artistry, her time spent talking to her audience acts as a nice serving of icing and sprinkles, to make sure that the experience is sweeter and more memorable than it, otherwise, would have been.

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

Like a nightclub singer in an old MGM movie musical starring the likes of Robert Taylor and Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Maye charges about the stage, making sure to give a little bit of herself to every single person sitting in the theater, be they front and center, off to the sides, or even back behind the band. Nobody works a room better than Maye, and it is absolute recognition of the respect she pays her patrons: she wants everyone to experience a piece of the action - and there is plenty of it. This new program features some of Mercer's most famous songs, mostly deftly orchestrated into a "Revenge Medley" an "Autumn Medley" a "Saloon Medley" an "Angels Medley" and a few others, including one appropriately titled "Johnny Mercer Medley." Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of Mercer's work should be running through the rolodex of their mind right now, asking themselves which Mercer songs would fit, perfectly, into those medleys mentioned... but don't. Just stop it right now. Instead, get a reservation to the show HERE and go see it because surprises galore lay in wait, and enjoy the experience of sitting in Broadway's Living Room and sighing or crying out or smiling when it dawns on you that the next song is your favorite, which happens several times. These are all your old friends, from the gorgeous "Dream" to the outstanding "That Old Black Magic" - and even though this writer is trying hard to not name names, so that future audiences can have a musical Easter Egg hunt in real time, it is worth remarking that Marilyn's performances of "When The World Was Young" and "Blues In The Night" are, alone, worth going to the performance. And there is one little song by Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael that, honestly, felt like the first time it was ever being sung, like you had never heard it before. Remarkable.

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

At this point in all our lives, there really is no point in reviewing a Marilyn Maye concert. It almost always should read something like this: "The new Marilyn Maye cabaret is the best thing you've ever seen, and she is the greatest there has ever been." But even though the consistency of the quality of Marilyn Maye's shows is indisputable, even though her status as the One And Only of the cabaret and concert industry is not in jeopardy, it is always worth taking the time to tell people that they are valued, it is always worth taking the time to tell other people that they are at risk of missing something. So here is the straightforward review:

Thank you, Marilyn Maye, for making our lives as club-goers so much better than it was before we walked in the room.

And, reader, don't miss this one. The woman or the show: don't miss them. You will be authentically, genuinely, deeply sorry if you do.

The incomparable Marilyn Maye band is Tom Hubbard on bass, Mark McClean on drums, and Musical Director Tedd Firth on piano.

Get tickets to the Marilyn Maye show, running through October 22nd, HERE.

Visit the Marilyn Maye website HERE.

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer
Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer Review: MARILYN MAYE Makes Magic at 54 Below But, This Time, With Mercer

Photos by Stephen Mosher

Visit the Stephen Mosher website HERE.



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