Written by Edie Stokes
October 13, 2012
I’m in a holiday mood after seeing “It’s Us Again” starring Sue Matsuki and Edd Clark at the cozy venue of Don’t Tell Mama on a warm Sunday afternoon. From the moment Sue appeared wearing a bright red gown with no-slacker Edd in a dark suit with a rhinestone pin, I felt relaxed knowing I was about to enjoy some wonderful professional showmanship.
Their show, “It’s Us Again!, is a tribute to Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. Just as Steve and Eydie were often looked at as one, they also had separate musical identities. The duo of Sue and Edd blended well musically, exemplifying the melodious, familiar sounds of the original duo.
They began with a spirited rendition of “This Could Be the Start of Something Big!” by Steve Allen, an upbeat opener to a fast-moving show. Their next duet, “I’ve Heard That Song Before,” by Sammy Cahn/Jules Styne, was interspersed with patter between the two, reminiscent of the kind of humor exchanged between Steve and Eydie. I would have enjoyed hearing more between the two of them.
Edd’s rich tenor did full justice to a 1940’s hit, “I Hear a Rhapsody,” by George Fragos/Jack Baker/Dick Gasparre, He sang this piece without embellishment, letting the melody speak for itself. Versatile Sue sang an upbeat comedic number, “The Gentleman Is a Dope,” in her trademark mellow voice, while her musicians supported her with a catchy, rhythmic rendition.
Sue and Edd then broke into a spirited version of an old favorite, “I’ve Got a Gal in Kalamazoo,” by Mack Gordon/Harry Warren from the 1942 film, “Orchestra Wives,” that had the audience rocking in their seats. Edd and Sue seemed relaxed and at ease with the audience while telling interesting stories about Steve and Eydie, adding to the audience enjoyment.
Edd then sang a moving arrangement of ”A Room Without Windows” by Ervin Drake, in which he displayed his versatility. Sue lent a wonderful treatment to “Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” She sang it beautifully at a slow pace, with stylish sensitivity to the lyrics. A wonderful bass solo by Marco Panascia added to the effectiveness of the piece.
Sue & Edd then went on a “Sentimental Journey” through many of Steve & Eydie’s enjoyable hits, “Blame It on the Bossa Nova,” “Go Away Little Girl,” “But Beautiful,” “Bewitched,” and many others.
The duo diverged stylistically from their other renditions. Sue’s “Gypsy in My Soul” had a syncopated beat with many variations, while Edd created a new persona with his rhythmic version of “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” by Bill Withers/Grover Washington.
There were great band solos and good harmonic arrangements by the band in the classic, “Bei Mir Bist du Shon” by Jacob Jacobs/Sholom Secunda. Musical Director on piano, John DiPinto—on bass, Marco Panascia—on drums, Perry Cavari.
One of the many highlights was Sue’s soulful, “If He Walked into My Life” by Jerry Herman. She sang the piece emotionally with dramatic impact The audience was quite moved. The lighting by Jason Ellis added to the effectiveness of the piece.
“Through the Years,” by Steve Dorff/Marty Panzer, sung by both, was a poignant, touching piece, adding a soulful touch to a wonderful show. They closed with the charming “Side by Side” by Gus Kahn/Harry M. Woods, adding a little choreography, which I felt could be expanded, for a fun ending to a very entertaining program.
Sue and Edd kept true to their counterparts, establishing separate voices and then blending them in their duets. The show lasted a long time, but it seemed like a minute—bringing back many wonderful memories. Aah, the good old days!
For those who missed this show, you can see this talented duo in their “Annual Christmas Show” at “Don’t Tell Mama” on December 2d and 14th at 7 PM.
Forget your worries, c’mon get happy!