Marissa Mulder and Bill Zeffiro: Unconventional

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Marissa Mulder and Bill Zeffiro


Metropolitan Room, NYC, October 15, 2015

Reviewed by Joel Benjamin for Cabaret Scenes

Marissa-Mulder-Bill-Zeffiro-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212On the surface, Marissa Mulder and Bill Zeffiro are a mismatched pair, an odd couple—that is until they spin out a show like Unconventional at the Metropolitan Room. The young cutie pie with the piles of red curls and a delightfully girlish voice paired with the older, balding guy with the terrific saloon voice and sensational pianistic skills?

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They played off each other with mocking humor and touching mutual admiration. When it came time to sing, any doubts of a mismatch dissipated.  Even the ultimate competitive duet, “Anything You Can Do” (Berlin) came across as practically genteel because, unfortunately, they clearly like each other and couldn’t feign the snide attitude!

It’s clear that both have learned from each other, too.

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“Two of a Kind” (Darin/Mercer) was their declaration of interdependence.

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Mulder’s solos ranged from a lovely “The Way You Look Tonight” (Kern/Fields) to the up-tempo, finger-snapping tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen, “Come Fly with Me” (words by Cahn), and on to an odd pairing of “Moon River” (Mancini/Mercer) and “It’s Only a Paper Moon” (Arlen/Harburg), which didn’t quite mesh.

Zeffiro’s solos included a tribute to Sinatra, “You and Me (We Wanted It All)” (Allen/Bayer Sager), his own funny tribute to failed romance, “Lower Your Expectations” and, from the pair’s upcoming Woody Allen-themed show, “Agita” (Forte), which need a bit more oomph.

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The highlight of the show was a Manhattan Gershwin medley (again, with reference to Woody Allen) in which Zeffiro incredibly interpolated bits and pieces of “Rhapsody in Blue” between “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “Do, Do, Do,” “’S Wonderful” and “Embraceable You.”   Mulder, Zeffiro and the Gershwin brothers rarely sounded better.

Joel Benjamin

A native New Yorker, Joel was always fascinated by musical theater. Luckily, he was able to be a part of seven Broadway musicals before the age of 14, quitting to pursue a pre-med degree, which led no where except back to performing in the guise of directing a touring ballet troupe. Always interested in writing, he wrote a short play in high school that was actually performed, leading to a hiatus of nearly 40 years before he returned to writing as a reviewer. Writing for Cabaret Scenes has kept him in touch with world filled with brilliance.