The years advance but Marilyn Maye seems to get younger. On opening night of her new five-night series at the Metropolitan Room (January 3, 4, 5 and 6), Maye delivered a rousing performance that took one’s breath away. Personality, power, voice range, expert lyric interpretations, connection with an audience and yes, youthful exuberance poured from this amazing, durable 84-year-old entertainer. And you know what? She is also sexy.
There was electricity in the jam-packed room. Maye, striking looking in a sequined red outfit, kept turning on her audience, but she also seemed to draw strength from the fan-like response to virtually everything she did. Some songs were by request from the gimmick of asking those who make reservations for suggestions as to what Maye should sing. Through the entire show she had an excellent rapport with her musicians, Billy Stritch on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass and Warren Odze on drums. Early on Stritch sang along with her for “A Most Unusual Day.”
Amazingly, her intense program lasted an hour and a half and Maye seemed as if she could still go on. Her energy level remained that high. Listening to her is such a pleasure, as she makes every song seem like an original. She can tear into “On the Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady” with a swinging beat that breathes new life into it, and put her own stamp on “I’ve Become Accustomed to Her Face.”
I enjoy her contrasts. She can be bouncy with “Day In, Day Out” and follow with a languid “Lazy Afternoon.” She came on with a mix of a hearty “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Old Friend,” interpreted as an intimate address to her audience cementing a relationship, then upped the tempo and sense of fun with “Get Happy.”
Consider the sheer volume of what she does, as evidenced at the opener. To cite a few numbers: “Golden Rainbow,” “Look to the Rainbow,” “Too Late Now," “Country Boy,” “Guess Who I Saw Today,” “Something Cool,” and of course, a medley of songs saluting New York.
Near the conclusion she treated us to a couple of high kicks. I wondered how many much younger people in the audience could do that. At the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Strteet. Phone: 212-206-0440. Reviewed January 4, 2013.