Review: Sally Mayes Knows How To Tell A Story in NOW & THEN: THE STORIES at Green Room 42

The Tony Award-nominated actress and cabaret singer thrilled the audience with her storytelling prowess!

By: May. 21, 2024
Review: Sally Mayes Knows How To Tell A Story in NOW & THEN: THE STORIES at Green Room 42
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This reviewer first met Sally Mayes at the now (sadly) defunct International Cabaret Conference at Yale in 2012. She was captivating then and is even more so now! Tony Award-nominated Mayes has been performing a retrospective series at The Green Room 42 since December 2023, entitled Now & Then. The mission? To sing every song she’s ever sung!

On Thursday, May 16, this reviewer attended the next installment in the series, Now & Then: The Stories, and was blown away by Mayes’ storytelling prowess. Though the show started half an hour late due to technical difficulties related to the Livestream component, Mayes took it in stride and entered the room to thunderous applause from the packed audience!

Supported by a stellar group of musicians and back-up vocalists – the exemplary Tedd Firth on piano, Michael O’Brien on bass, Jessica Wright on violin and vocals, and Carolyn Montgomery on vocals – Mayes opened the show with a piece of Shakespearean proportions, “Hamlet” by Frank Loesser. From that moment on, everyone in the room knew they were in for an incredible night!

Mayes is, hands down, one of the BEST storytellers around. Every line is delivered with such specificity, you know exactly what she’s thinking and feeling at every turn. Watching her on stage is quite simply a masterclass for cabaret singers everywhere! The Livingston, Texas native shared that she has returned to her alma mater, the University of Houston, to teach, and one can only think just how lucky those students are to work with one of cabaret’s best.

Highlights included Julie Gold’s “Southbound Train”, which incited a collective “mmm” of approval from the crowd; Sally Mayes’ own song “Whiskey Lullaby,” co-written with Ethan Fein about her father, whom she referred to fondly as “Daddy,” (family photographs lit up the screen stage right, which added an extra layer of feels for the audience); and John Bucchino’s “Painting My Kitchen,” whereby she joked about loving New Yorkers because we all go to therapy (her comic timing is impeccable!).

Another Mayes/Fein number, “Somebody Sent Me An Angel,” which she devoted to her husband Bob Renino, brought tears to this reviewer's eye; Christine Lavin’s immensely clever “Shopping Cart of Love” (Lavin was in the front row and smiled the whole way through) whereby Mayes showcased an immense range of voices and characters, had the audience in stitches, as did the tongue-in-cheek “One More Minute” by Al Yankovic; and the list goes on!

If you haven’t seen Sally Mayes perform, then you simply MUST get thee to The Green Room 42 on Thursday, June 20 for NOW & THEN: The Great Big Huge Broadway. This reviewer can assure you that you won’t be disappointed!

Tickets to see Sally Mayes on June 20th at The Green Room 42 are available here.

Header photo by Stephen Mosher (from Sally Mayes’ December 2nd performance)


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