Having heard and favorably reviewed Sue Mathys’s concert two years ago at the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, I was eager to catch up with her again in the different setting of Holiday Cabaret Nights presented by Urban Stages. Her theme: “Sue Mathys: Two Worlds, One Voice.” Once again hearing her way with an eclectic group of theater songs, whether from Broadway or Brecht, was a rewarding experience. Mathys has a powerful voice, an actress’s ability to mine the most out of a lyric and an appealing, relaxed stage presence. With John Bell at the piano and as her musical director, she adhered quite closely to her concert style, but one could easily envision her holding an audience in any one of New York’s elite nightclubs.
Singing “Some People” from “Gypsy” is a challenge, but Mathys can rise to the occasion. If there were an afterlife, Ethel Merman could probably hear her from wherever. Mathys really lets go with inner passion and a mighty voice. One can say the same for her delving into the difficult, key numbers from “Sunset Boulevard,” in which she has starred abroad. She is moving singing “As If We Never Said Good-bye,” and when she follows with “With One Look,” she not only releases a cauldron of emotion, but she gets that demonic Norma Desmond expression of a woman whose mind is on a wild flight of memory turned into madness.
The artist is comfortable singing in German and French. From the Weill-Brecht “Threepenny Opera” she slips into German to deliver a strong version of “Seeräuberjenny.” She also has a great affinity for Edith Piaf, evidenced by her own interpretation of Piaf-associated songs “Non, je ne regrette rien,” “Hymne a l’amour,” “Mon Dieu” and "L’Accordéoniste.”
Mathys surveys assorted Broadway shows. She has fun with “As We Stumble Along” from “The Drowsy Chaperone.” She gets tender with “Not While I’m Around” from “Sweeney Todd,” flamboyantly ironic with “Could I Leave You?” from “Follies,” sassy with “So What” from “Cabaret” and romantic with “I Got Lost in his Arms” from “Annie Get Your Gun.” We don’t get to hear much these days from Kander and Ebb’s “The Visit,” which makes Mathys’s singing of “Love and Love Alone” especially welcome.
I came away again with appreciation of Mathys as an outstanding artist in full command of her voice and her chosen material. Onward and upward. Reviewed at Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street. Phone: 212-421-1380