Marilyn Maye at Birdland

Marilyn Maye at Birdland (screen shot from Marilyn Maye's Rainbow Collection)
Marilyn Maye at Birdland (screen shot from Marilyn Maye's Rainbow Collection)

Regarding Marilyn Maye at Birdland: Stop reading. Go to the Birdland Website and get tickets for MARILYN MAYE.

There are a few left for Saturday and Sunday shows.  This is a beyond-perfect way to end 2023.  Maye will make you forget the crappy events that everyone else wants you to remember.  Marilyn Maye lives smack dab in the middle of pure joy, and she has the voice and the lung power to smother you with the real deal.

OH, and by the way – bring a Kleenex because you will end up crying at some point.

I should know.  I have been watching this woman for over a decade.  And every time there is a part of me that thinks – “I know THAT song, or THIS song – and it turns out I don’t know it at all because Marilyn Maye is living the sing while you watch.  There is no same-same there.  It is all as new as the newest breath.

As is her wont, she begins this appearance with a Cole Porter Medley and slides through each song without a hitch. She slides out of the gate like a thoroughbred and lifts the room to a dizzying height with this medley that is all about how much Maye loves us.  She gets a kick out of us; she loves looking at us and wants us all. The Medley is all about loving the person she is singing to – and that is us.  She follows it up with “Hey Old Friend” from Sondheim’s “Merrily We Roll Along” – and the present trio appearing on Broadway would do well to catch Maye singing this one.

“I’ve Got The World On A String” pulls us into her vortex where nothing is wrong and all is right with the world.  When you hear her sing it, you can feel her amazement and appreciation for life.    And, of course, for love.

Marilyn Maye and Steve Allen, 1961. Disney Entertainment photo archives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Marilyn Maye and Steve Allen, 1961. Disney Entertainment photo archives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Maye makes you listen because she is singing TO you, not for you.  She is there to give us the story of the song – and even when it is a sad tune (“Guess Who I Saw Today, “Too Late Now,” and “Fifty Percent”) because she digs deep and takes us where we want to go.  Her trio here are musicians she has played with often: Ted Rosenthal – Pianist and Conductor; Tom Hubbard on Bass; and Daniel Glasser – percussion.  They make perfection look easy.

Maye is not a Pollyanna – she has had a lot of disappointments, and she has mentioned more than once that her timing was off.  (Tom Jones was on the ascent when she was in middle age) She has, however, worked steadily for nearly 9 decades.  Not because people were begging her to come sing but because she went out and found the work.  She was “Discovered” by Steve Allen (the original Tonight Show host) and appeared on  Johnny Carson‘s Tonight Show 76 times.

In 2005, she was invited to perform at the New York Cabaret Convention.  While she was an astonishing success, she did not return again until 2006.  This time, Billy Stritch invited her to do a show at the newly opened Metropolitan Room downtown.  Sure, why not?  When she arrived at the venue, a line of people was waiting, and Maye wondered who else was performing.

Nobody else. The word was out, and everyone was there to see Marilyn Maye.  After that, it was all hands on deck.  May decided to invest in performing in New York. It took money, and time, and patience. She was 78 when she made this shift.

Hello?  This is inspiration speaking to you!

Maye is a happy woman.  Genuinely down to the bottom of those cute shoes, she is happy.  This is not Pollyanna happy.  This is “I have a right to be happy, and I am grabbing it.”  She knows about dreaming and hoping, she knows about grand ideas and big wishes.  And she knows about what it means to invest completely.

When it’s over, you don’t really want to leave.  You just want Maye to come back and do the whole thing all over again because, as well as convincing you that she loves you, Marilyn Maye has won your heart lock, stock, and barrel.

GET THEE TO THIS SHOW!  Birdland, 315 W. 44th Street., New York, NY.

Readers may also enjoy our reviews of  Divina: A Fantasy Cabaret with Regina GibsonJenn Colella: Out and Proud,  and Mary Stallings at Smoke.

Marilyn Maye at Birdland


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