Responses to "A Little Weill"

Click on any of the shows for full reviews:
A Little Weill | La Passion de Piaf | Reflecting on Marlene | The Sound of Wings

From ONSTAGE by Maya T. Amis

"Elizabeth Hodes sings with her entire body and soul placing utmost value on the emotional depth and meaning of each song. Opening with the lovely "Lost in the Stars," Hodes shows an understanding of the isolation contained in this fragile fable. When she comes to "Mack the Knife, " and especially "Pirate Jenny, " Hodes sings from the gut, fiercely growling her challenge to the world. This is an exceptionally fine interpretation, with no compromises. Hodes also proves herself adept at lighter fare, as In her version of "'Saga of Jenny, "" which is just plain fun, and her sensual and humorous, 'Touch of Venus, " sung with a wink in her voice. A satisfying show, replete with better and lesser-known songs and studded with interesting pieces of information about Weill."


In a year when we are bound to be inundated by the work of Kurt Weill, this is the show to see. The amazing Elizabeth Hodes, who could probably do anything, has chosen to honor the centennial of the birth of Kurt Weill with this collection of songs, which he wrote with Bertold Brecht in Germany and five different lyricists on this side of the Atlantic.

Scripted and directed exquisitely by Carter Inskeep, it has just enough narration to place the songs in the context of the musicals they're derived from and the context of Weill's life. His success in Germany came to an abrupt halt when he, as a Jew, was forced to flee the Nazis with Lotte Lenya, his Aryan wife, who had become a star singing his songs in Berlin. Lenya was a star here, but not to the extent that she had been in her homeland. She preferred to take a back seat to her husband who's talents transcended not only the language barrier but the different American musical styles of Broadway and Hollywood.

Ms. Hodes is an actress-singer. Her approach is an actress's approach. Nothing is short-changed musically. After all, this is the celebration of the work of a composer who is one of our great 20'h Century melodists. Ms. Hodes' singing voice couldn't be more perfect for these songs but one could imagine her quite successfully speaking any of these lyrics as straight dramatic theater pieces or poetry. I know of no other singer working today who is as strong an interpreter of lyrics.

Two of the lesser but very charming American songs that if we are lucky we will hear more often, were a little medley of "Green- Up Time" and "Nowhere To Go but Up. " These very up numbers were sung in a duet with her pianist, Michael McFrederick. Mr. McFrederick is more than a pianist. He's a musical director and arranger par excellence, and a very important part of the act. Ms. Hodes is fortunate in both her collaborators. Mr. McFrederick's dialogue and witty asides and Hodes' interactions, written by Mr. Inskeep, move the pace along smartly. Michael Barbieri, technical director must have enjoyed lighting the show' He used the opportunity to contribute creatively to the drama.

Now that I've seen Elizabeth Hodes, I guess I can stop moaning about the fact that I never heard Lotte Lenya sing live and live happily ever after.

Dear Elizabeth:

Once again, many many thanks for your splendid performance, here at the Y Senior Center, in "A Kurt Weill Cabaret." The entire program--content, music and movement, and overall showmanship--made for a magical afternoon that enthralled our members even as it challenged them.

I wish I'd kept track of all the enthusiastic comments I heard from the seniors, on not only your wonderful voice (ranging from "lyrical" to "powerful" to "thrilling") but also the intensity of feeling--joy and anguish alike--that you communicated to them so well. Your program is "theater" in the best sense--to be enjoyed for its art at the moment, and to be savored for the memories, emotions, and thoughts that it evokes long after. I guess you could say it was a hit!

As we plan our programming for the coming year, your flier on your varied shows will certainly be at the top of our resource file. I look forward to talking with you again, and booking another terrific program, soon.


Andrea Lucas
Senior Center Director