Michael Marano: Now and Then

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Michael Marano

Now and Then

The Duplex, NYC, October 21, 2018

Reviewed by Chris Struck for Cabaret Scenes

Michael Marano

Michael Marano’s shows are characterized by his choice of co-stars as much as they are colored by his own voice and presence. While he dropped the stories behind his songs for this particular performance, he maintained a connection to them that spoke of a deeper sentiment underlying the lyrics. While we might have wished for more of the tale behind the heartfelt renderings of “As Long as She Will Stay” (Bobby Gosh) and “Pennies from Heaven” (Johnny Burke/Arthur Johnston), he communicated the sentimental aspect well through his voice and demeanor. Pianist/musical director John Fischer’s work shined.

On no song was this pairing of Marano and Fischer better accomplished than the medley of “I Know Where I’m Going” (Judy Collins) and “Moon River” (Johnny Mercer/Henry Mancini). Marano’s collaboration with guest singer Kelli Rabke also landed well in the medley of “Two Sleepy People” (Hoagy Carmichael/Frank Loesser) and “Hit the Road to Dreamland” (Mercer/Harold Arlen), which told a story as old as New York of falling in love and losing sleep.

While perhaps there could have been more to Marano’s show than just song after song, his attention to detail was exemplary, and a number of songs included the words “now and then,” matching the show’s title. The aforementioned aspects exemplified the best of collaborations where co-performances can blend well, but lacking context, songs like “Slap That Bass” (George and Ira Gershwhin) seemed out of place. Also sharing the stage was Jerry DeVore on bass (who slapped the bass well on that song), but even as a jazz standard among standards, it seemed to be only an opportunity to give DeVore a moment in the limelight.
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Ultimately, Marano’s collaborators helped him communicate effectively where words wouldn’t do the story justice.
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Chris Struck

Chris Struck's debut novel, Kennig and Gold, is due to be officially published in June 2019. He's written reviews for Cabaret Scenes since August of 2017. For more information about the writer, see StruckChris.com