My friend Tom Toce is a gifted songwriter. He was feeling for a while that his songs weren’t getting the exposure that he wanted, so he put together an evening at the Metropolitan Room (a wonderful cabaret space on West 22nd Street) last year. There were two gals and one guy singing in that show - - Richard and I saw the first show of the run, and were blown away by Jennifer Sheehan. A few of the later performance were done by Marissa Mulder, who took Sheehan’s place.
Mulder is the hot new young thing in the cabaret world - - she won the 2014 MAC Award (the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) for Major Artist. Tom, by the way, won the 2014 MAC Award for his song, “Shalom, Santa”, in the Special Musical Material category.
Tom and Marissa had such a good time working together that he decided to do another show, this time just with her. The title of the show was *Living Standards* - - he chose songs by living composers, songs that are as good as anything in the American songbook. They were back in the Metropolitan Room (which I love every time I go there), the pianist and music director was Nate Buccieri, and the stage lighting in this place is so gorgeous. And the food is good, too!
I’ve pasted in the full set list below, but want to point out a few highlights. They opened the show with “They don’t write ‘em like the used to”, a charming song by Tom and Bill Zeffiro. Set the tone beautifully. I thought it was clever of Tom to program just one song that surely everyone in the room would know - - “Chelsea morning” by Joni Mitchell. Mulder and Buccieri had their own mellow, multi-colored take on this song, it was revelatory. My favorite song in the show was “Apathetic man”, a hilarious song about how nothing makes your heart beat faster than an apathetic man. Mulder had recently done a show of songs by Tom Waits, so they included his song “Martha”, which was heartbreaking. She sang a bittersweet song called “The lies of handsome men”, and told the story that when the songwriter gave the song to Margaret Whiting, Whiting said, “That song is the story of my life.” They ended with a sunny up-tempo song by Tom, “You make me laugh”.
Mulder is a glorious artist. She has a wonderful balance of sincerity and showbiz know-how. I would love to see her again. Buccieri was a wonderful partner, made some delicious arrangements and played with lots of style and expressive range.
They Don’t Write ‘Em Like They Used To (Tom Toce – Bill Zeffiro)
Circle (Annie Gallup)
Chelsea Morning (Joni Mitchell)
It’s Only a First Date (Douglas J. Cohen – Dan Elish)
Apathetic Man (Zina Goldrich - Marcy Heisler)
What You’d Call a Dream (Craig Carnelia)
Old-Fashioned Hat (Anaïs Mitchell)
Martha (Tom Waits)
In a Restaurant by the Sea (John Bucchino)
When Somebody Loved Me/Living Without You (Randy Newman)
Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind (Christine Lavin)
Pretty Funny (Benj Pasek – Justin Paul)
The Lies of Handsome Men (Francesca Blumenthal)
The End of the World (Matt Alber)
Goodnight, New York (Julie Gold)
You Make Me Laugh (Shelly Markham – Tom Toce)