~by Larry Myers
If you are in the mood to witness a very pretty girl sing, belt and purr ultra-romantic songs, rush to get seats for Friday’s final performance by statuesque chanteuse Marieann Meringolo at Feinstein’s/54 Below October 7, 7:00 pm. She appears in a slinky black gown with a plunging neckline. She plunges herself into a good old fashioned hyper-vulnerable vocal meditation on the lyrics of Academy Award-winning Alan & Marilyn Bergman.
The long-married couple has written for Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Michael Jackson and Johnny Mathis. Barbra Streisand has recorded 64 songs with the Bergmans’ words. In some instances Ms. Meringolo’s renditions surpass the great Barbra’s. This is due to the fact one can precisely hear every lyric. Streisand’s technique sometimes overwhelms the words. Here we are taken on an extreme emotional journey as the words are crisply pronounced and intoned. The elegant velvety sound of Meringolo places her in a league with the aforementioned greats.
In Between yesterday and Tomorrow: The Songs of Marilyn & Alan Bergman, Meringolo brings joy, confidence, power and an informed consciousness to these songs. Previewing “The Way We Were” (music by Marvin Hamlisch), Marieann coasts through a melodic “Nice ‘n’ Easy” (music: Lew Spence), a soulful “What Are You Doing The Rest of Your Life?” and a plaintive “I Was Born in Love with You” which, like “Love Makes the Changes,” she makes brand new. Her “The Windmills of Your Mind” offers a miniseries-worth of feelings. (These last four titles all have music by Michel Legrand.)
A daring turn transforms “Fifty Percent” (music: Billy Goldenberg) from Broadway’s Ballroom, into a lesbian anthem. “The Bergmans have been married fifty-some years,” Marieann claims, “but I’m not
Throughout the evening Marieann offers informed, authentic interpretations of the emotional songs. One might look forward to an evening of Connie Francis or even Piaf from this polished pro. Her gusto is reminiscent of k.d. lang and Vikki Carr. She has a voice that can purr, glide, be jazzy and is always poignant.
DIRECTOR: Will Nunziata. MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Doyle Newmyer (Piano) joined by Boots Maleson (Bass), Sipho Kunene (Drums).
Editor’s note: While October 7 at 7 pm is the final performance in the run of this repertoire, Marieann Meringolo returns to the venue for her holiday-themed show on November 26.
See www.54below.com for the venue’s full calendar, reservations, etc. The location is 254 West 54 Street in Manhattan.
Artist website: www.marieannmeringolo.com