Regional Reviews: San Francisco
Maude Maggart Captivates Audience at Empire Plush Room
New cabaret sensation Maude Maggart, 2005 recipient of the Time Out New York Award for Special Achievement in Cabaret and the MAC Award for Best Female Debut, recently appeared at the prestigious Empire Plush room in the Hotel York. The 30-year-old cabaret artist proves that cabaret is not dead. She is an up and coming singer who is familiar with show business, since her grandmother was in the Ziegfeld Follies and her grandfather was a reed man for Harry James and later became the solo singer after Frank Sinatra and Dick Haymes left the orchestra. Her father, Brandon Maggart, appeared in Broadway musicals, including the original production of Applause.
Maude Maggart has a voice that is reminiscent of those singers in the '30s when young starlets would perform in Warner Brothers and Paramount film noir movies. She has a crystal voice that is liquid and easy, and she uses her voice at different ,levels going from low to soprano register. She cast a hypnotic spell over the audience, starting with a soft and mellow rendition of Mitchell Parish and Peter DeRose's "Deep Purple." Maude segued into Lew Brown, Sam H. Stept and Charles Tobias's "Come Love," followed by one of my favorites, the old Bix Beiderbecke song "I Can't Get Started" written by Vernon Duke and Ira Gershwin. She finished the set with Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach's "Let's Begin."
Maude explained why her show is called "Come Love." She talks about the romance between her late grandfather and her now 95-year-old grandmother. The couple fell in love working together in the Johnny Hemp band and then went to join the Harry James orchestra, traveling by train with Harry James, Helen Forrest and Betty Grable to many cities in this country.
Maude sang mostly classic love songs, including J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie's "You Go to My Head" and a song that is rarely heard - Harry Warren and Al Dubin's "Coffee in the Morning, Kisses in the Night." Her soulful rendition of "Skylark" (Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer) was stunning as she sang it at the right side of the stage among deep, dark red drapes in what looked like a scene from one of the film noir movies. With her melodic voice, Maude sang songs from '30s composers such as Jule Styne, Jimmy Van Heusen, Ray Noble, Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington, including one of my favorite songs of all time, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "My Funny Valentine." She phrased it with so much soul that it brought tears to my eyes.
The singer recalled the great Helen Forrest, who was the forerunner of big band singers, and sang a medley of that artist's greatest hits that included Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn's "I've Heard that Song Before," Harry Warren and Mack Gordon's "I Had the Craziest Dream," and Jimmy Van Heusen and Eddie DeLange's "Deep in a Dream." The lyrics to the latter selection are sublime. Near the end of the 90-minute program Maude sang a little known song by Kurt Weill and Ann Ronell called "The River is So Blue," in a moving rendition.
Maude Maggart is a stunning beauty, both physically and vocally, and she looked svelte in her simple black gown. She was backed by her wonderful music arranger pianist, Lanny Meyers, and David Depalma as her reed man (his sax solo on "You Go to My Head" was breathtaking).
Maude Maggart played the Empire Plush Room through March 12th. The room is located in the historic York Hotel, 940 Sutter Street, San Francisco. Kate Clinton comes to the room on March 16 through March 19th. To order tickets please call 866-468-3399 or visit www.EmpirePlushRoom.com.