Maria Friedman Sings Sondheim and Bernstein @ 54 Below - New York City Article

Maria Friedman Sings Sondheim and Bernstein @ 54 Below

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Maria Friedman Sings Sondheim and Bernstein @ 54 Below

Sep 21, 2017

Maria Friedman is one of the rare singer-actresses that has become so universally respected as an interpreter of the great theater songs (both in full scale productions as well as her own one-woman shows) that she’s become one of the very few to “graduate,” as it were, to shaping the interpretations and performances of others, as a director. The works of Stephen Sondheim have long been a career focal point, which has led to her serve as director of the current highly-acclaimed (and hopefully Broadway-bound) production of Merrily We Roll Along. Her new cabaret show intermingles the Sondheim catalog with the equally iconic songs of his one-time collaborator Leonard Bernstein. As you’d expect, it returns repeatedly to that celebrated one-shot collaboration, West Side Story, but also unearths a few rarities along the way, like a Bernstein anti-war song called “So Pretty” and “Take Care of this House,” from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, a 1976 musical about the White House that somehow seems especially relevant today. In what first seems be a nervy move for a Londoner, she begins with an extended collage of Metrocentric songs by both composers, including “What More Do I Need” and the less frequently heard “Me and My Town,” and interprets them with such penetrating insight that you almost feel that she knows more about New York than those of us who live here do. Spoiler alert: her encore finale, “Gee, Officer Krupke” which she sings as a one-woman quartet of Jets (with the aid of multiple chapeaus and a judge’s wig) is a comic tour-de-force.

Maria Friedman Sings Sondheim and Bernstein
Feinstein’s / 54 Below
254 W 54th Street, (646) 476-3551
Through Saturday, September 23

For more information and reservations, click here.

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)