Sally Mayes: Great Big Huge Broadway

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Sally Mayes

Great Big Huge Broadway

The Green Room 42, NYC, June 20, 2024

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Sally Mayes

Sally Mayes came bursting onto the stage of The Green Room 42 filled with a fabulous life force. She combined her considerable vocal talents with her powerful acting abilities and thrilled the audience with her interpretations of a variety of selections chosen from her impressive songbook of songs from Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as films and classic standards. Each song was beautifully crafted into a dramatic or comic event. She was given grand support by music director Tedd Firth, who dazzled on the piano; David Finck on bass; and Jessica Wright on violin, who also shared back-up vocals with Carolyn Montgomery.

Mayes’ chosen material ranged from the sheer silliness of “Digga Digga Doo”/“Doin’ the New Low Down” (Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields) to the beautifully acted character study “Choke It Down” (Tommy Newman). She brought a sultry, laid-back charm to “Thanks a Lot, But No Thanks” (Jule Styne/Betty Comden & Adolph Green) and impressive jazz skills to a fascinating song full of character, “Jazz Is a Special Taste” (Mark Winkler). She even brought great wit and passion to a medley the non-pc insanity of “Call Me Savage” (Styne/Comden & Green) and “Prehistoric Man” (Roger Edens/Comden & Green).

Cabaret shows that lack a specific theme to tie all the numbers together can be the most difficult to put over. They often seemed diffused and have an off-kilter rhythm. In this case, the evening was held together by the star’s strong personality and point of view, along with her strong connection with the audience. She also revealed a definite talent as a lyricist, having partnered with Alex Rybeck on “Like a Child,” a tremendously moving song  about children who become caretakers for their parents. She also confessed that one of the roles she always wanted to play but never had a chance to (she can’t dance) was Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity, and she filled a medley of “Something Better Than This” and “Where Am I Going?” (both Cy Coleman & Dorothy Fields) with vulnerability and yearning. She offered many more gems during the evening, and her vague promise to return was heartily supported by the audience’s reaction.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."

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