Marilyn Maye, at the age of 91, still sings beautifully, entertains comically between songs and can kick her leg waist high. The queen of cabaret singers, Maye completed her 63rd consecutive annual gig in the Iowa Great Lakes Region last week.
The Lauridsen Performing Arts Theatre at the Pearson Lakes Art Center rocked for two sold out shows. The woman is amazing to watch and hear. Her voice is still strong. She retained her great sense of humor and exhibited her obvious love for the Lakes Area as the show progressed.
Maye had a great group of musicians backing her. Ted Firth travels with Maye from New York City as her accompanist. He is remarkable and keeps her sharp when memory may clog up on a lyric or two. At 91, she has the right to forget something.
Our favorite upright bass player Andy Hall from Lincoln, Nebraska has been with Marilyn on her Okoboji shows for 40 years. They did a duet with his bass and her voice that was a real crowd pleaser.
Rod Freeman from Kansas City played guitar for her. The drummer was by far the youngest on stage and was very good. His name is Paul Ringenbach and he lives in Las Vegas.
Maye got us going with "It's A Most Unusual Day" and the fun began. The audience sang out loud alleluias during "Come On, Get Happy!"
"I keep singing because I can't cook," Maye told us before going into a neat rendition of "Can't Keep My Eyes Off Of You." As a top-rated cabaret singer, she knows how to sing to her audience. She makes every person feel like she is singing directly to him or her. Maye has the technical crew keep the lights in the theatre on low rather than completely dark so she can see her audience.
Maye treated us to a medley of love songs, lively rendition of "Getting To Know You" and a sincere "What the World Needs Now Is Love."
Several years ago, after she was named the Dean of Music at the University of Okoboji, Maye wrote a song with about four verses to it. It was really cute and written in a rhyme format. The song drew loud cheers from the audience. She also sang a ditty called "I Made It To Estherville" about a gig in the middle of winter many, many years ago. It was delightful.
We all sang along enthusiastically to "That's the Glory of Love." After a well-deserved standing ovation she treated us to one more song, "Time for Making Merry." Maye sang to us for nearly two hours with no intermission. She was amazing, fun and fabulous.
Marilyn Maye is not letting 91 years slow her down. She told us she will be back again next summer to do an entire evening of Johnny Mercer songs and we can hardly wait.