Issue 631 : November 1-7, 2007

Top live show

Photo: Mark Rupp

Metropolitan Room; Wed 7, Nov 8, 11, 12, 15–19

If cabaret is a haven for singers who are on the rise or sliding downward, it also loves a grand old dame on the comeback trail. That’s why the Metropolitan Room is hosting the third New York engagement this year of Marilyn Maye, a ballsy, sequined belter from Kansas City. During the ’60s Maye recorded seven fine albums for RCA, and began a string of 76 appearances on The Tonight Show. But somehow she missed becoming a household name. And although she never retired, Maye faded from view for years, singing locally and starring in stock theater productions, notably
Hello, Dolly!

Now 79, she remains a bumptious den mother from a bygone lounge tradition, in which you were encouraged to forget your troubles and get pie-eyed. Maye’s lusty foghorn voice, like her spirit, is undimmed. Place her in the sock-’em-out tradition of Eydie Gormé and Broadway’s Karen Morrow: Once she opens her mouth, you’ll sense that nothing can go wrong, and that Mama will show you a good time. Johnny Carson certainly adored her, and she’ll salute him by reviving the songs with which she roused millions of his sleepy late-night viewers. Fear not her planned reprise of her 1978 performance of “I Will Survive”; you'll also get to hear full-tilt readings of such chestnuts as “Too Late Now” and “It Only Takes a Moment.” And don’t be surprised if you leave hoping that Father Time will smile as broadly on you as he has upon Maye.—James Gavin