by Tulis McCall
Marilyn Maye just gets better and better – how is that possible? She has shifted from fabulous into s-u-b-l-i-m-e. With her new show, I Wish I Were 90 Again! now at Feinsteins 54/Below she is positively glowing. Seriously, it does get a bit tiresome to plumb the depths of my vocabulary over and over again looking for words along the lines of marvelous, fabulous et al. Maye is one of those performers that is beyond words.
Perhaps there is something about being 90 years of age and doing exactly what she loves to do that makes her take flight. Perhaps. Her 91st birthday is April 10 – and that would be a great reason for you not to miss this astonishing woman. With this show she has selected the perfect trio: Tedd Firth on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass and Eric Halvorson on drums. Her choice of music is heavy on the positive side as if she has assigned herself the task of getting the world back on its axis in the face of all the troubles that greet us daily.
She enters the room as she always does with that surprised look on her face. “Oh you are here!” she seems to say. “What a surprise!” It’s Today (from Mame) is her opening missive. “…live, love, laugh at it all – live life all the way…” I am still here and so are you so what can be wrong? She makes it clear that we are the loves of her life at this juncture. Getting To Know You (from The King and I) is delivered with drop dead seriousness – and a cheat sheet because she only learned the lyrics on Sunday for an awards ceremony. No matter – you would swear she is singing only to you.
“It’s nice to reach an age where you are independent, ” she tells us. She sings of love, of course, but with a raw tenderness that reflects her journey and the choices she made in her life. None of which she would change as they all lead to this moment. She sings of Celebration; partnership – I’m Glad There Is You; heartbreak – Too Late Now; and longevity – I’m Still Here. She struts her woman magic – I Am A Woman. Finally she circles about through all of life’s chapters and slowly returns to the source of her joy – love. I Can’t Give You Anything But Love reminds us that the store of this commodity is infinite; As she closes she gets the entire audience of cynical New Yorkers to slide in as back up with Glory Of Love.
Marilyn Maye is glad to be alive and she makes you feel the same way – whether you want to or not. My waiter said, “She makes me feel so good that I want to work harder at everything.” Yeah. Maye has 20 years on me. Watching her perform makes me want to get up early and be ready to meet the sun. Or, as Valerie Jarrett’s grandmother used to tell her, “Put yourself in the path of lightning.” Yes indeed.
Do yourself a huge favor and get thee thither. Please, please, please.
Through April 13th at Feinsteins/54 Below