It has been a special pleasure to watch Marissa Mulder’s growth, from her very early cabaret foray to promising work in 2010’s MetroStar talent competition’s early rounds to her “If at first you don’t succeed…” 2011 return, ultimately winning the grand prize: this prime-time Metropolitan Room run. In between, there was her Jimmy Van Heusen show and she’s got a steady Friday gig at Aza on Third Avenue. She’s in great hands at both with Musical Director/arranger Bill Zeffiro, who just won MAC Awards for piano work and an original song. His hilarious number custom-written for Mulder about being a loser magnet is a bright delight highlight. Opening with “Pure Imagination,” she’s pure enchantment, focused on youthful wide-eyed wonder—clinging to that life perspective and wondering where the wonder went. (“Where Is the Wonder?” wonderfully encapsulates that wistfulness.) Digging deeper, she finds the drama and the determination plus denial of “Disneyland” (Hamlisch/Ashman, Smile). Her strong suit is perhaps natural bubbly charm and ebullience, and her disarming unpretentiousness has now been partnered with a solid stage-owning confidence. With John Loerke on bass and Zeffiro on keys (and directed by his teaching partner, singer Karen Oberlin), the MetroStar winner is a winner all the way.
March 8, 2012