Broadway star Julia Murney opened at the
strikingly beautiful nightclub 54 Below September 10
in a captivating, witty and electric evening.
From her rendition of Kansas' "Dust in the
Wind" to Lady Gaga's "You and I" to the
Bernstein/Sondheim classic "Maria" from their
musical "West Side Story," Murney has the audience
cheering wildly with a spontaneous standing ovation
after her rendition of Bobbie Gentry's
"Fancy'' which fairly explodes as if it were fresh
out of Nashville honky-tonk saloon.
Murney, who last appeared on Broadway as
Elphaba in "Wicked" after doing a national tour, is
particularly effective singing some of the more
tranquil emotionally-charged numbers. And I
personally wanted more of these.
Nonetheless, Murney has one of the most
glorious voices on the Broadway stage today no
matter what the songs or tempo. And her quirky
sense of humor shines through her saltier selections
with a style and sincerity transcending even
some more mundane lyrics.
Music director Tom Kitt, who composed the
music for the musicals "High Fidelity" and "Next to
Normal" (for which he shared the 2010 Pulitzer Prize
for Drama with Brian Yorkey), keeps the
music flawlessly moving without ever overshadowing
Murney. Randy Landau on bass, Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf
on cello, Damien Bassman on drums, Yuiko Kamakari on
violin, Michael Aarons on guitar and last but not
least Scott Coulter -- a cabaret star in his own
right -- unite to make the evening a singular
Murney's show has the jubilant feeling of
the best of that "fabulous invalid," the theater.
She and music director Tom Kitt have fashioned a
valentine to the worlds of cabaret and theater. I
wanted more songs like "Maria" and "Autumn Leaves."
But Murney's glorious voice and unquenchable
enthusiasm for songs of every stripe make the New
York cabaret scene seem pretty wonderful indeed at
54 Below, 354 West
54th Street. Cover charge $20 to $30 depending on
seating. $25 - $30 food and beverage minimum.