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Arts and Theater 1
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Black Tie International:
Julia Murney Sings at 54 Below


Julia Murney Sings at 54 Below

By Ward Morehouse III


Julia Murney

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 sensation.
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.
54 Below, 354 West 54th Street. Cover charge $20 to $30 depending on seating. $25 - $30 food and beverage minimum.
joyce brooks

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