Mary Bogue & Claude Hall: Soul Shadows

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Mary Bogue & Claude Hall

Soul Shadows

Upstairs at Vitello’s, Studio City, CA, March 9, 2018

Reviewed by Elliot Zwiebach for Cabaret Scenes

(L-R) Mary Bogue & Claude Hall

Mary Bogue and Claude Hall are clearly soul sisters — two talented performers who share similar passions, each with a power and majesty all her own that combine on stage for a dynamic one-two punch. In their second time performing together, the two were totally in sync, teasing each other and clearly reveling in each other’s company and talents in a shared love-fest.

They were backed by a stellar group of musicians, including Karen Hernandez on piano, Nolan Shaheed on trumpet, Dori Amarilio on guitar, Michael Saucier on bass, and Mark San Filippo on drums.

In her solo sets, Bogue was the voice of experience in tender, poignant renditions of “Mood Indigo” and “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?” (Barry and Robin Gibb), plus a languid take on Nellie Lutcher’s “Kinda Blue and Low.” She also resorted to broad and brassy with a spicy, sassy “’Sneakin’ Around” (Robert Lee Castleman).

Bogue shared her wish-list for a better world with a moving “Sack Full of Dreams” (Gary McFarland/Louis Savary) and paid tribute to a previous generation of singers who she said “stood on the precipice of darkness” with “Soul Shadows,” using the music of Joe Sample, but replacing Will Jennings’ lyrics with her own words that saluted singers who have made an emotional impact on her—including Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, and Sippie Wallace, among others,—who left “the sound of their vocals in the air,”  Bogue noted. She also gave a strong shout-out to the man in her life, who was sitting in the audience, with a “sun” medley — a softly sorrowful “Ain’t No Sunshine”  (Bill Withers); a warm “Here Comes the Sun” (George Harrison); and a rousing “You Are My Sunshine” (Jimmie Davis/Charles Mitchell), with the audience spontaneously joining in.

During her segments, Hall delivered a series of lovely story songs in her sensuous, throaty style: a sultry, expressive “Suzanne” (Leonard Cohen); an intimate “Grandma’s Hands” (Bill Withers); and an emotional “My Mother Had a Brother” (George Michael). She explored various aspects of love in another series of songs: reflecting the full heat of summer — and love — in a sultry, languid “August Afternoon,” a song whose lyric she wrote with Michael Farrell, about the ultimate breakup of a relationship; a swinging, albeit sensuous, version of Irving Berlin’s “This Year’s Kisses”; and a swaying, dynamic “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” (Antonio Carlos Jobim, with English lyrics by Gene Lees). Hall was also mesmerizing in an alluring take on Nina Simone’s “Four Women.”

Bogue and Hall opened the show with a delightful duet on “Romance in the Dark” (Lil Green) and closed with a salute to the audience with a warm, sincere “The Shadow of Your Smile” (Johnny Mandel/Paul Francis Webster).

Elliot Zwiebach

Elliot Zwiebach loves the music of The Great American Songbook and classic Broadway, with a special affinity for Rodgers and Hammerstein. He's been a professional writer for 45 years and a cabaret reviewer for five. Based in Los Angeles, Zwiebach has been exposed to some of the most talented performers in cabaret—the famous and the not-so-famous—and enjoys it all. Reviewing cabaret has even pushed him into doing some singing of his own — a very fun and liberating experience that gives him a connection with the performers he reviews.