Kiki Ebsen: To Dad with Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen

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Kiki Ebsen

To Dad with Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen

The E-Spot Lounge, Studio City, CA, April 10, 2016

Reviewed by Mary Bogue for Cabaret Scenes

Kiki-Ebson-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212An exceptional cabaret experience, Kiki Ebsen magnificently showcased the private and public life of her father, Buddy Ebsen, who graced the silver screen, danced his way into our hearts and became the loving presence in our homes via television.

Kiki took the stage against a screen on which was projected her father’s life, and went right to work at the piano with “Missing You” (Buddy Ebsen/Zeke Manners). It was tender, plaintive and adoring, captivating the audience with the moving images, and her honest connection to the lyrics.

“Easy to Love” (Cole Porter) was exceptional as she moved from piano to in front of the screen while images of Buddy with Eleanor Powell danced across her statuesque form, as life on the lot of The Beverly Hillbillies played behind her. Kiki revealed the heartbreaking story of her dad first being cast as The Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, but losing it to Ray Bolger. Then Ebsen was cast as The Tin Man, but he was hospitalized from the effects of being painted with aluminum, and relinquished the role. Kiki was hip, tender and jazzy with the iconic “If I Only Had a Brain” (Yip Harburg/Harold Arlen).

Breaking up the set, Kiki was hysterical singing “Angelica,” written by her dad and Paul Mason Howard based on their children’s book of the same name.

(She also read from the book.) Then, she killed with “Moon River” (Johnny Mercer/Henry Mancini), singing against imagery of Buddy from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Concluding the brilliant must-see show with “Over the Rainbow” (Harburg/Arlen), she looked upward said, “Here’s to you, Dad,” evoking tears with her tribute of love and gratitude. Scoring high were musicians Perry La Marca pianist and musical director, and George Shelby on woodwinds, and others. Discover her CD, Scarecrow Sessions and, if you have a brain, run to her Father’s Day show at Catalina’s in Los Angeles.

Mary Bogue

Born to upstate New York parents Nelson Binner and Gladys Witt, Mary Bogue was the fourth of five children. Her love of acting was apparent early in her life, when she acted out imagined scenes in the second story hallway of their home on Division Street. Moving to California in 1959 only fueled the fire and soon she tried out and got the part in Beauty and the Beast, a children's production at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The bug followed her into junior and high school productions, but when she struck out on her own in the early 70s, she found it wasn't as easy as sitting at the world famous Schwab's on Sunset. Her first audition stopped her dead in her tracks for years when the "casting director" expected nudity. It was only in 1990 that she returned to her first love, albeit slowly as she was a caregiver to 16 foster daughters. Only when she was cast in Antonio Bandera's directorial debut, Crazy in Alabama (1999)(which she was cut from) did she pursue this dream.