Marieann Meringolo Sings Songs of Love and Loss
by Steve Desroches
Top Image: Photo: Devon Cass
When Marieann Meringolo’s parents were married, Johnny Mathis’ 1959 megahit “Misty” was their wedding song. Mathis’ music, and of course that song, often filled the Meringolo’s Long Island home along with the music of many others, like Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand. Music, it seemed, was always part of everyday life for her as a girl and she’d sing along to most every album her parents played. Come third grade her music teacher wrote a small note on her report card that stated young Meringolo had very real talent and that she should be encouraged to explore music. When she reached high school and won a talent show at only 14, her parents realized, too, that this wasn’t just a passing interest, and they tried in every way to support her education and pursuit of the arts.
Testament to her talents and the commitment to honing her craft, Meringolo had musical tastes that were unorthodox for a teenager at the time. She didn’t rebel against the music of her parent’s generation; she embraced it. She remembers hearing Streisand at a very young age and realizing years later that’s when she “fell in love with the magic of music.” Soon thereafter she was singing along to “The Way We Were” and “Evergreen” in the mirror, holding a hairbrush as an imaginary microphone. When she grew older she moved to New York City, a city whose heartbeat she could feel all the way out in the suburbs. She always knew she’d live there. As she began to perform in cabarets, piano bars, and other venues, she’d revisit the music of her youth that was in turn the music of her parents’ youth. And it would be the work of Mathis that helped put her on the map in Manhattan’s competitive cabaret scene. She created a show titled Wonderful, Wonderful: The Music of Johnny Mathisand received rave reviews. It’s when things shifted for her and she was taken seriously by the music establishment in New York. The show meant so much to Meringolo, both because of the importance of the song “Misty” to her family, and also now because it’s what catapulted her to a whole new level as an interpreter of American song. That’s why when she heard Mathis was going to perform in New York she just had to go see him.
“I was watching Regis and Kathie Lee and they were talking about how Johnny Mathis was going to play Carnegie Hall,” says Meringolo from her New York City home. “I got a ticket as soon as I could. And I don’t know what it was, but I just was convinced that I was going to meet him that night. I was certain. So after the show I went around to the stage door and told the person there I was on the list to go backstage. He said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t see you name here.’ And I said back, ‘Oh really? I’m sure it is. Regis told me I’d be on the list. See, I have this Johnny Mathis show over at Don’t Tell Mama…’ and right then this woman comes up and goes, ‘Oh, your Marieann Meringolo. Oh my God, we were going to go see your show, but our schedule changed.’ It was Johnny Mathis’ manager. She told me to follow her and then there I was drinking champagne with Johnny Mathis in his dressing room.”
It’s that grace and grit, along with her smooth and sophisticated vocals, that have propelled Meringolo to where she is today as one of New York’s most celebrated cabaret singers with Time Out New York saying “If k.d. lang’s DNA were to get whipped together with Barbra Streisand’s in a genetics lab specializing in divas, the result might well be Marieann Meringolo.” And in fact when Meringolo sang as a nominee at the 1991 GLAMA Outmusic Awards, she noticed that she received a standing ovation from k.d. lang herself. It’s those kinds of moments that sparkle throughout her career.
Meringolo first performed in Provincetown in 2019 and returned this past summer with her show Between Yesterday and Tomorrow: The Songs of Alan and Marilyn Bergman. And now she’s coming back to the Crown and Anchor to present Shades of Lovefor a special one night only Women’s Week engagement. She worked on the show with her musical director Doyle Newmyer throughout the pandemic, fine-tuning songs and applying her own unique take on the works of artists like Joni Mitchell, Stephen Schwartz, Janis Ian, Billy Joel, Marsha Malamet, Neil Sedaka, Christina Perri, and more. Shades of Love explores the highs and lows, the triumphs and the heartbreaks of love and life, something she thought a lot about those long months of stages going dark and the world seemingly shut down. And as theaters and cabarets begin to open up, Meringolo sighs with enthusiasm at the thought of performing in Provincetown again.
“I adore Provincetown,” says Meringolo. “It’s one of my favorite places. It’s got that New York energy in a way. It’s hard to describe the feeling. It’s one of those places that just makes me smile whenever I’m there. It’s a fascinating place. The people are educated, interested in art. It’s campy. It’s fun. It’s an energy you feel as soon as you arrive and you miss it when you leave.”
Marieann Meringolo presents Shades of Love at the Crown and Anchor, 247 Commercial St., Friday, October 15 at 5 p.m. Tickets ($25) are available at the box office and online at onlyatthecrown.com. For more information call 508.487.1430.