Josephine Sanges: Come Rain or Come Shine

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Josephine Sanges

Come Rain or Come Shine

Laurie Beechman Theatre, NYC, April 8, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Josephine Sanges
Photo: Bill Westmoreland

Some evenings, from the first phrase sung, the audience can relax and know they are in the presence of a star in complete command of her art. Such a night occurred when Josephine Sanges offered up a collection of songs by Harold Arlen.

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The carefully crafted program includes both very famous songs and obscure ones, sometimes blended together, sometimes presented with a unique sound. Backing up Sanges is her music director, arranger and sometimes duetist, John M. Cook, Steve Smyth of the dirty jazz trumpet – an essential element when paying tribute to Arlen – and the always reliable Tom Hubbard on bass. Jeff Harnar has shaped the show with his director’s magic touch.

Sanges has an incredibly flexible instrument, capable of caressing the sensuous melody and lyrics of “Come Rain or Come Shine” (lyricist: Johnny Mercer), scat her way through “Ding, Dong! The Witch Is Dead” (E.Y. Harburg) in a way that evokes Ella Fitzgerald, and go very simple and direct in “Over the Rainbow.

” Sanges is a jazz singer with a rare instinct for interpreting lyrics at the same time.

Cook has come up with some fresh and fun arrangements, such as a run through of “I’ve Got the World on a String” (Ted Koehler) based on Arlen’s deep friendship with another composer where Sanges sings the song straightforward as the pianist roams through the George Gershwin catalogue. Several medleys form small one-act plays, such as the mix of “Ill Wind”, “Stormy Weather,” and “When the Sun Comes Out”.

There is simply not a false note in this salute to Arlen by a remarkable artist. It will be exciting to see what Sanges and her team come up with next.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Josephine Sanges

    Thank you for this generous review! Our next show is at the Laurie Beechman on May 23rd at 7:00 pm.

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