Oscar Wilde once observed that the soul could be soothed by means of the senses, and the senses by means of the soul. He would probably approve of Maxine Linehan’s show, 'Beautiful Songs,' which is subtitled “An Evening of Music for the Soul and the Senses.”
The Cork-born cabaret and theatrical singer brings her show to the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street, New York, on Wednesday, February 4, Friday the 6th and Friday the 20th.
The hour-long show will explore the elements that elevate a song from merely pretty to beautiful. The set list will include a wide variety of material, ranging from Broadway to folk and pop.
Linehan took a few minutes out from rehearsals to answer five burning questions . . .
You came to New York as a practicing attorney, but opted for a career in the arts. How big a leap was that?
Well, it wasn't really planned that way, it was more a turn of events. I was a young actor in Ireland, but theater is not considered a steady career back home, and that's very accurate, this business is anything but steady!
So I went to law school and was very fortunate to work for a company that had plans to open a New York office. The office sadly only lasted a few years and I was supposed to relocate, but by then I had fallen in love with New York City and knew I couldn't leave. It was the perfect time to get back to what I loved the most – performing.
Your debut album, 'What Would Petula Do?' is an homage to the sixties British icon, and your first single was a Lesley Gore cover. What appeals to you about that musical era?
I grew up listening to the music of the sixties, and lots of other genres too. My parents loved music and my mother was a very big fan of Petula. The music of the sixties has so many great, catchy melodies. I'm a big fan of that.
Petula had such a varied career in theater and movies too, so the album is a wonderful exploration of all her work. As for “You Don't Own Me,” it's just a fantastic song and still so relevant today.
As a singer, which is your favorite reality show: 'The Voice' or 'American Idol'? In your opinion, which judge gives the soundest advice?
I like them both. I can't say I watch them religiously, but they're very entertaining! It's not a real indication of how the music business works, but they've given us many great stars. I just watched the new panel of judges on 'American Idol' and Harry Connick Jr. is just fabulous.
I will say the best judge for me has always been Simon Cowell. I know that a lot of people found him to be too harsh, but this is a harsh business. I rarely disagreed with his opinions.
What would your friends / family be surprised to know about you?
That's an interesting question and to be honest, I don't think I could surprise my friends and family with anything! I'm a really open person and wear my heart on my sleeve; some might say I share way too much! For people who don't know me all that well, they may be surprised to know I get very, very nervous before a performance!
If you could spend an afternoon with a person from any time in history, who would it be and what would you do?
No contest: Charlotte Brontë. I played her in a solo off-Broadway play in 2012 and I submersed myself in her life. The Brontës were such an incredibly fascinating family, all of them, but Charlotte was an early feminist, a strong, brilliant woman who would not conform to what society expected of her. Because of that strength, she gave us one of the most timeless love stories in Jane Eyre.
Tickets to her upcoming show are $20 and are available online from www.metropolitanroom.com or by calling 212-206-0440.