Marilyn Maye returns to Quality Hill Playhouse for limited engagement

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 26: Marilyn Maye performs during the press preview at 54 Below on February 26, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/FilmMagic)

[/media-credit] NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 26: Marilyn Maye performs during the press preview at 54 Below on February 26, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/FilmMagic)

Celebrated Kansas City songstress Marilyn Maye opened her week long engagement, Wed. Nov. 2 at downtown’s Quality Hill Playhouse with the rousing opening number from “Mame” as she belted out “It’s Today.”

What can I say when a beloved legend returns to local stages to preform to a bevy of fans? She sings, she delivers, she connects to the adoring audience? Well, it’s all true. Marilyn brought the crowd to its feet and then to hers. Thunderous applause celebrated each song performed. And, most of the songs from the Great American Songbook remain classics and still draw applause today. And, as for Marilyn, she could not choose a better selection of songs to showcase her individual style.

Close your eyes and it sounded almost like Broadway’s original Mame, Angela Lansbury, singing to you. Listen a bit more carefully and the distinct sound of Marilyn Maye’s voice came through. As a younger singer, Maye’s voice was light and smooth as silk. Now, with time, the silky smooth voice evolved into a richer, more luxurious velvety tone with more style and depth–but still the distinct sound that Kansas City audiences embraced from her up-and-coming vocals at the Colony Steakhouse.

Maye said Quality Hill Playhouse is her local home venue and that 2016 marks her tenth year performing there. As her set continued, she briefly discussed her career, her marriages, her daughter, told stories, and dropped famous names as she worked her way through the 90 minute set. Her song selection allowed her to use her strong vocals as she performed hit after hit and held the audience in her grasp for the entirety of the show.

Ed McMahon, Tonight Show announcer, brought Maye to the attention of host Johnny Carson and the rest is history, according to Maye. She said she holds the record for the most appearances of a singer on the Tonight Show with 76 performances.

Maye said she logged even more air time on the Mike Douglas Show and challenged the audience to know if they remembered that old afternoon variety show. Maye also said that without variety shows on television, cabaret singers and other performers have no venue to perform for home audiences. That being the case, she tip-toed into performing Broadway shows.

Her first Broadway style show set records at Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre where she first performed “Can-Can” and sang the Cole Porter classics from that show. Maye said she was terrified but Kansas City audiences invited her back for “Hello, Dolly!” the following year where she said she broke all-time attendance records at the giant amphitheater. She said she later found another Jerry Herman character that she embraced, and she performed “Mame” several times.

Her love of “Mame” stands out in her QHP show with three songs from the musical, “It’s Today,” that opened the show. Later she sang “Mame” and later sang “If He Walked into My Life.” Composer Jerry Herman’s “Hello, Dolly!” also made the song list for the QHP cavalcade of musical hits.

“It’s Today,” opened the show on an upbeat note. Also included in the songfest were “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Here’s That Rainy Day,” “That’s Life,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “The Rainbow Connection,” “Look to the Rainbow,” “Stormy Weather,” “Mame,” “Cabaret,” “If He Walked into My Life,” “Step to the Rear,” “Hello, Dolly!”, “Make Someone Happy,” and more.

From one hit song to another, Maye stood center stage and belted out song after song. As the show progressed, more and more of her life story were peppered through the set. She even divulged her years of entertainment and her age (but she said to keep it amongst the attendees), so her request is honored here.

Do not miss your chance to see Marilyn Maye perform. She remains at Quality Hill Playhouse through Nov. 6. According to proprietor J. Kent Barnhart, her shows generally sell out. Opening night, even set against game seven of the World Series saw maybe 10 seats vacant. For ticketing, times and dates, go to the Quality Hill Playhouse website.


Tags:Performing ArtsArts & Entertainment,  Quality Hill Playhouse, Marilyn Maye, Cabaret, Music, Kansas City, Kansas City Theater


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