This review of I Could Go On Singing: Susan Hodgdon Sings The Songs Of Judy Garland at Don't Tell Mama was written by Nickolaus Hines and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!
I Could Go On Singing: Susan Hodgdon Sings The Songs Of Judy Garland
Starring Susan Hodgdon
Musical Director: Daryl Kojak
Director by Tanya Moberly
Additional Musical Arrangements by Bill Zeffiro
Don't Tell Mama
343 West 46th Street
New York, New York 10036
Susan Hodgdon entered the cabaret room of Don't Tell Mama, sans microphone, sans inhibition. Hodgdon's voice filled the brick room over the live piano with ease as she brushed past the shoulders of the audience and didn't miss a note of If You Feel Like Singing, Sing. Hodgdon's CD Release Show for "I Could Go On Singing: Susan Hodgdon Sings The Songs Of Judy Garland" on September 24th was a tribute to passionate singing and performing. Something must have clicked amongst Hodgdon, musical director Daryl Kojak, director Tanya Moberly, and Bill Zeffiro, who contributed musical arrangements, because the entirely of Hodgdon's show was a runaway success. No tripping or toe-stubbing here.
Youthful notes define Hodgdon's voice as she has managed to maintain the voice of a young woman through lessons and practice without the addition of crackle and gravel added by life's normal wear and tear. That youth is most evident in Hodgdon's speaking voice, the volume transition of which she successfully manages to control whether or not using a microphone. Hodgdon's high notes are clear and on point and she also well managed the lower end of her range. What often separates a naturally good voice versus a trained voice is enunciation, and Hodgdon makes an unmistakable effort to ensure each word is understood.
Judy Garland and Hodgdon have a connection that artists look for when imitating another's work. In this case, Hodgdon's cousin wrote the lyrics to Over The Rainbow, and Hodgdon used to lock herself in her room as a shy kid and sing Garland songs while her father listened from outside. On Garland's father's deathbed, he asked the nurse to turn up the volume on the radio when a Garland song was broadcast. On Hodgdon's father's deathbed, he asked Hodgdon to record her songs for him and a nurse said he listened to the CD on repeat. That kind of personal story added a deeper and more intimate level onto Hodgdon's performance.
Her narration and easy on the ears speaking voice glided in and out of her songs, telling a story. When it came to Garland's love affairs and dirty laundry, Hodgdon aired it all with the secrecy and the insider feeling of being let into the group of gossip girls in high school. However, despite all the joy of listening to Hodgdon, she is not Garland. Which, for everyone except the extreme die-hard Garland fans who want to hear a live replica, is perfectly alright.
Two different medley arrangements by Bill Zeffiro didn't hit as hard as the full songs if only because Hodgdon's beginning and ending of her songs were so well performed. Particular songs to look out for are Send My Baby Back To Me, I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues, and an original song by songwriter John Meyer called I'd Like To Hate Myself In The Morning. Meyer, who was in the audience, applauded amicably and said he couldn't have imagined it sung any other way. Hodgdon's chemistry with pianist Daryl Kojak helped the show succeed. Their understanding and blending of each of their musical styles for the performance sounded like two friends putting on a show rather than a rehearsed recital.
For Garland lovers and lovers of live performance alike, Hodgdon is a delight to see and hear. If you missed this show, you will have another chance to catch it on Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. at Don't Tell Mama. For reservations, call 212-757-0788 or visit http://www.donttellmamanyc.com/shows?task=view_event&event_id=2437