Marilyn Maye
(© Matthew Peake)
Marilyn Maye
(© Matthew Peake)
What do you get the 80-year-old who has everything? As Stephen Sondheim and Jerry Herman -- who officially became an octogenarian on July 10 -- can attest, nothing says "Happy Birthday" like a great musical tribute. And in Marilyn Maye's exuberant new show, The Best of Times Is Now!, now at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, Herman has received a doozy of a gift.

The seemingly ageless, big-voiced Maye (an octogenarian herself) possesses an upbeat personality that's ideally suited to Herman's often optimistic pairing of melody and lyric, starting with an openhearted medley of "Big Time" and "Open a New Window," and traveling through toe-tappers such as "You I Like," "Mame," and "The Best of Times."

Having performed numerous times in the title role of "Hello, Dolly" -- and having recorded a CD of the entire score -- Maye shines on a variety of selections from the landmark musical, bringing a joie de vivre to "Elegance," a flash of sass to "So, Long, Dearie," and a wealth of feeling to "Ribbons Down My Back," "It Only Takes A Moment," and "Before the Parade Passes By."

Indeed, Maye's ability to pierce the dramatic heart of a song may not be instantly apparent, but it comes to the fore time and again, most notably in a beatifully conceived and executed medley of "And I Was Beautiful" and "If He Walked Into My Life." She also brings great depth to "I Don't Want to Know," and "He Won't Send Me Roses."

Unlike many cabaret artists, Maye really does treat the space like her living room -- greeting friends, even including them in the act. And, as she'd be the first to admit, she sometimes flubs a lyric or loses her place in the act -- but always with the greatest of good humor. No matter -- spending an evening with Marilyn Maye is the very definition of the best of times.