"Far and away the season's best cabaret show, it is everything the genre can be but almost never is."
- "Tom...In His Words" the songs of Tom Waits - Stephen Holden, The New York Times
"At 27, singer Marissa Mulder has a vocal timbre reminiscent of Blossom Dearie (rather than avoid the comparison, she sings two Blossom perennials, "They Say It's Spring" and "My Attorney, Bernie") and a look like an actress who might play the young Bernadette Peters in a TV biopic. But she has a style and a show that's all her own. For her sophomore production (the first was an impressive Jimmy Van Heusen songbook), she achieves the remarkable feat of bringing to life the illusions of youth from the perspective of one who has yet to experience disillusion. Her interpretation of "Both Sides Now" is all the more powerful because it becomes clear through inference that she has, of yet, only lived through one side. Ms. Mulder also expertly funny on "Lorelei" (hysterical because she is more girl-next-door than sexpot) and accompanist Bill Zeffiro's "My Kind of Guy." These make "Illusions" a remarkably moving celebration of the idealized youth and innocence that once belonged to all of us—if only in our dreams."
- Will Friedwald, The Wall Street Journal
"The engagingly sunny Cabaret Singer Marissa Mulder has a voice with a bounce and a twinkle that recall that much missed pop-jazz pixie Blossom Dearie. Her ingenuousness is real."
- Stephen Holden, The New York Times
"Considering the very high level of artistry, intelligence, and poise she displays in this new show (Illusions) it's hard to believe that only two years have passed since I first saw her perform. She made her debut in 2010—a young singer brimming with promise and radiating innocence and an easy, unaffected charm. Since then I've seen her often, each time her performance more assured and her interpretations richer than the time before—and withal, she's never lost her immense likeability or her youthful spirit, the sense that all things are possible. And now this show!"
- Roy Sander, Bistro Awards
"She's pure enchantment. Her strong suit is perhaps natural bubbly charm and ebullience, and her disarming unpretentiousness has now been partnered with a solid stage-owning confidence. The MetroStar Winner is a winner all the way."
- Rob Lester, NiteLifeExchange.com
"When, after a rousing ovation, she encored with "Rainbow Connection," Kermit's song from The Muppet Movie, it was clear that Marissa Mulder was no singing frog, but a new cabaret princess . . . and that is not an illusion."
- Stephen Hanks, TimesSquareChronicles.com
"Marissa Mulder possesses an extraordinary vocal instrument and a talent for phrasing which made you think you were hearing standards for the first time... Superb!"
VOTED TOP TEN OF 2011 BY TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLES
- Joe Regan Jr., TimesSquareChronicles.com
And the winner is...
The Metrostar Challenge (cabaret’s version of "American Idol") just wrapped up its fourth season on August 29th. Although there have been so many bright lights from its first three seasons, this year’s Top Five was perhaps the best yet as a group. All were consistently solid and deserve mention: Stacey Todd Holt, Fran Leonardis, Marissa Mulder, Maria Ottavia, and Stacie Perlman.
And the winner is... Marissa Mulder. The red-headed stunner was able to project innocence and a wide-open heart, both of which almost made you overlook her sophisticated musical chops. On the final night, she brought glorious wonder to an imaginative arrangement of "Come Fly With Me" and sincere and glowing expression to "But Beautiful." Her prize will be an all-expenses-paid five-night booking at the club early next year.
"I am so surprised and so excited," Marissa told me soon after the finale. "The Metropolitan Room is the greatest room in the city and to be asked to do a show is a dream come true."
I asked her what she had learned most from the often-grueling grind of the eight-week contest. "It’s about never giving up and having faith in yourself and in your choices and making every moment count," she said. "I tried not to compare myself to others and just do what I do and I feel I finally broke through something and let people see more of the real me."
Mulder grew up in Syracuse, right around the corner from her grandparents, who introduced her to the music of Frank Sinatra, Billy Eckstine, Ella Fitzgerald and others. "My Grampa always told me I was an old soul," Marissa said. "The music spoke to me and the lyrics and the beauty of those songs never fade away."
Last year’s winner, T. Oliver Reid-who also made a sensational guest appearance on the final night-ended up playing the Cabaret Convention in the fall, earned a rave from the New York Times, had two runs of his show, is working on his first recording, and this month plays the famed Gardenia in Hollywood.
So for Marissa Mulder, there is nowhere to go but up. I wish her well.
Kevin Scott Hall
EDGE Contributer - September 5th, 2011