Photo Credit: Jamie Kilgore
SUSAN MACK in Nobody Else But Me
Susan Mack is a delight on stage. And, possessing an incredible, impeccable voice with sultry, jazz overtones, and a respect of the lyric, she is a beautiful, class act who made it easy to just sit back and let her entertain me, and entertain me, she did! I also love that she sings most of the versus of her songs! And, speaking of songs…
Mack has great taste in music. The songs were all very familiar standards, “My Shining Hour” (Harold Arlen & Johnny Mercer), “Where or When” (Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart), “The Best is Yet to Come” (Cy Coleman & Carolyn Leigh), “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was” (Richard Rogers & Oscar Hammerstein II), Nobody Else But Me (Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammerstein II) just to name a few. She did a few funnier tunes as well. And, while she did deliver on the funny, there is a little more work to be done on timing with the more comical repertoire.
A favorite moment, for me, was her rendition of “The Ladies Who Lunch” (Stephen Sondheim). To Mack’s credit, she had a really unique and honest “take” on this tune that I found completely compelling. Using this song, and the patter beforehand, to reveal to us that when she moved to the suburbs from New York she found herself, initially judging the women she was meeting. And, when she came to the realization that “she was becoming one of them”, well, game over! Patter and song were fused into one experience, and she delivered one of the best renditions of this song I have ever heard.
Mack seems very comfortable when swinging. Sometimes, when a singer is on the jazzy side, there is more focus on phrasing and styling versus a deeper lyric connection which has become a more “Cabaret” concept. Most interestingly, she seemed to have complete lyric connection when she was swinging but, while beautifully sung, she was in-and-out of a deeper connection on the ballads. It should be noted that this was her first solo show. So, this may come in time, as she becomes more comfortable on stage, “exposing” more truth.
The show is called, “Nobody Else But Me” and I got her “thread” about coming back to music and finding herself again as a singer, after 35 years of not singing. But, this show was definitely a product of her collaboration with Director, The legendary Marilyn Maye. In an interview with Mack about the process of this show coming together, I was told that she brought all the songs and show concept to the table (with the exception of one tune) and that all the arrangements were done by Marilyn. This proved to be an example of a perfect pairing of mentor and talent! Not many singers could deliver Marilyn’s arrangements with the style and ease that Mack did. So, there was somebody else but her, and that somebody seemed to bring out the best in Mack’s vocals and styling!
Her band was stellar too! The always fantastic Steve Doyle on bass and equally wonderful Daniel Glass on percussion, were joined by a new Music Director to the cabaret scene, Takaaki Otomo on piano! These 3 gentlemen all helped Mack realize her best potential, and honored Maye’s wonderful arrangements.
Small pointers for future would include to stay focused on her breath before she takes the stage. Some nerves were evident at the top of the show, and I could see her mentally and physically “placing” her notes in a few of the arrangements in the first 2 numbers. And, while I liked her patter, it was true to what was coming up in the next tune, she may want to stay away from writing what we call a “bump” into the song. A “Bump” is something too specific or literal, that doesn’t always allow the audience to go where they might go in the tune. Instead, she should continue to be as organic at the end of the patter (as she was during the patter). These are, however, minor quibbles about an extraordinary talent.
I look forward to attending future shows of Susan Mack, and watching this lovely lady bloom into the star I can already see she can become! She sings with such joy in her voice and she has such joy being on stage. It’s where she belongs. So, welcome back Susan! You are truly Nobody Else but YOU!