Anything Can Happen in the Theater: The Songs of Maury Yeston - New York City Article

Anything Can Happen in the Theater:
The Songs of Maury Yeston


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Anything Can Happen in the Theater: The Songs of Maury Yeston

Oct 21, 2017
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“Anything Can Happen in the Theater:
The Songs of Maury Yeston”
featuring: Robert Cuccioli, Alex Getlin, Justin Keyes, Michael Maliakel & Jill Paice
The Triad (Stage 72)
158 West 72nd Street, 212-279-4200
Concluding Saturday (October 21)

You might have thought that the songs of Maury Yeston would be difficult to “decontextualize,” ie, to take them out of the shows and scenarios that they were written for, and place into them in a revue. The quality of the music was never the issue, as anyone who has walked out of Nine humming “Guido’s Song,” “Unusual Way,” or “Call From the Vatican” will attest. Anything Can Happen in the Theater is a fast moving, well-constructed sequence of approximately 20 songs that starts with an upbeat opener (“Shimmy Like They Do In Paree/I Want To Go To Hollywood,” the latter from Grand Hotel and chirped with admirable vigor and appropriate terpsichore by Jill Paice) and flows purposefully from sad love song (“Danglin’”) to happy love song (“I Had a Dream About You”) to a comically erotic double entendre song, allegedly about food preparation (“Salt N’ Pepper”). When we hear the famous songs from Nine or Grand Hotel, we can’t help but think of those shows, but that hardly defeats the purpose - they’re worth hearing even bereft of libretto. Mr. Yeston’s songs were written to enhance specific storylines, but the bulk of them refuse to follow any of the standard songwriting formulas. There’s like the warmly paternal “New Words” while “Nowhere to Go But Up”would seems to be a spiritually-rousing cheer-up song at the same time that it’s parodying every spiritually-rousing cheer-up song that you’ve ever heard. “I Don’t Want to Rock n’ Roll” is just the opposite: it purports to attack 1950s rock cliches, but actually (and rather perversely) leaves you wanting to hear more 16th note triplets and doo-woppy harmonies. The show is ending its run shortly, but deserves to be heard and seen. (PS: Hey! If they bring it back, how about throwing in “The Night Was Alive” from Titanic?)

For more info and tickets, please 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)

SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)