By LARRY MYERS****Before I arrived at the très chic, packed Iridium for the worshipers of the talent who should be playing Funny Girl on Broadway, I phoned an octogenarian friend to play YouTube excerpts of MarieannMeringolo. Taken immediately by the magnetic voice, my friend proceeded to order all her CDs. I must offer a disclosure. I am not a fan of Marieann; I am a fanatic. Three articles later — two valentines and an interview–I rest my case. Marieann is on the brink of major stardom and I’d like to be the one who gave her the shove. But only if she kissed me first!
Unfortunately, my friend — who actually knows the Bergmans through his friendship with the late Cy Coleman — was unable to attend. So, I’m glad there will be a CD, as the concert was recorded that Sunday night (August 13) so he will be able to experience what I did. I am a fan who went in a snowstorm to get her Christmas album, In the Spirit, at the (R.I.P.) Barnes & Noble across from Lincoln Center.
From her entrance in a slinky skin tight black sequined gown, Marieann conveys a warmth and sincerity. She loves the audience and sings for them; she doesn’t perform to see how much they worship her. (Must I insinuate or just boldly allude to the Divine Miss M’s !? Oops. Just did.)
Celebrating the five decades-married lyricists, the Bergmans — Marilyn and Alan, Meringolo is splendid with “The Way We Were” (music: Marvin Hamlisch). Her “When Do You Start?” (music: Johnny Mandel) is a triumph. She offers an immediacy to “Nice ‘n’ Easy” (music: Lew Spence) as if it were written yesterday. Her “Windmills of Your Mind” (music: Michel Legrand) is always a triumph. [She previously did a show devoted to his melodies.] I would equate this rendition with the power of Linda Eder when she belts her anthem from Man of La Mancha.
Her “It Might Be You” (music: Dave Grusin) and “That Face” (Spence/ Alan Bergman) are equally delightful. The Bergmans have written lyrics introduced by the major talents of our time. The same-sex version of”50 Per Cent” (from the musical Ballroom, music by Billy Goldenberg)was seminal. (I was lucky enough to see Ballroom and Platinum on the same day when anyone could actually afford theatre tickets.)
And I hope that the Bergmans, who have had their lyrics sung first by so many great stars, will one day write something that will be introduced by this woman who, besides Marilyn Maye and Wesla Whitfield, is my favorite singer.
Marieann Meringolo was directed by Will Nunziata, with her longtime trio: musical director/ pianist/ arranger Doyle Newmyer, bassist Boots Maleson and drummer Sipho Kunene.