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March 16, 2011

Concert recap: ‘La Cage’ Tony winner Douglas Hodge at Café Carlyle

by Jesse North

douglas hodge la cage aux folles tony award cafe carlyle cabaret concert debut kelsey grammerDouglas Hodge can’t get enough of New York. And why shouldn’t he? Last April, the Brit made his Broadway debut as Albin in La Cage aux Folles and ran away with a Tony for the role two months later. Last month, Hodge played his final performance in the show, and after a short return to the UK, he’s back in New York and making his cabaret debut at Café Carlyle. In his opening performance Tuesday night, Hodge burned his way through 17 songs in an hour of blues, folk, and musical theater.

Hodge’s English accent melted away during his opening number of Frank Sinatra’s “The Best Is Yet To Come,” sounding surprisingly like Ol’ Blue Eyes. He excellently merged the Sinatra standard with “The Best of Times” from La Cage, the two songs sounding as if they were meant to be together. Hodge then jubilantly welcomed the audience and introduced his band saying, “Tonight, we’re going to play as we’ve never played before… together.”

(Check out Douglas Hodge’s post-concert interview with Stage Rush)

Before beginning his next song, Hodge spoke about his last gig—La Cage—and returning home for a short vacation. “I just returned from England, where some people still remember me as a man,” Hodge quipped. He then took to the piano and sang Stevie Wonder’s “All In Love Is Fair” with great soul.

Introducing his next number, Hodge told about the apartment that he lived in for a year while he was performing in La Cage. He described it as a luxury apartment on 58th St. between 8th and 9th Avenues, where every gadget and mechanism in the place was operated by remote control. Hodge said that after most performances, he’d return home and play the piano that was in the apartment. He discovered that in the piano bench was the sheet music to the complete songbook of Judy Garland. Hodge said, “If you played a woman for a year, as I did—you’ll find all roads lead to Garland.” He then played the piano to Garland’s “What Now, My Love,” elegantly singing the French lyrics.

Next came a trio of songs from a musical Hodge wrote called Meantime, which centers on three separate love stories against the backdrop of an airport. The first, “Power Cut,” Hodge said was about losing his father, who died the night before he won the Olivier Award for La Cage in 2009. “I Can’t Wait” followed—a gorgeous ballad sung with bluesy soul—rounded out by “Ask Me Again.”

Hodge tackled some American greats, like Johnny Cash with “A Boy Named Sue” and Bob Dylan with “Who Killed Davey Moore.” For a Brit, Hodge pulled off an admirable Cash rendition, echoing his baritone twang. With Dylan’s “Davey Moore,” Hodge excellently nailed the song’s rapid lyrics.

Closing out the show, Hodge sang his signature number from La Cage, “I Am What I Am” and “I Didn’t Mean It,” his own composition. Hodge is appearing at Café Carlyle through March 26.

Set list:
“The Best Is Yet To Come” by Frank Sinatra
“The Best of Times” from La Cage aux Folles
“All In Love Is Fair” by Stevie Wonder
“What Now, My Love” by Judy Garland
“Out There” from Barnum
“Power Cut” from Meantime
“I Can’t Wait” from Meantime
“Ask Me Again” from Meantime
“A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash
“Left, Right” by Douglas Hodge
“Your Mother and I” by Loudon Wainwright III
“Dinner at Eight” by Rufus Wainwright
“Boring” by Douglas Hodge
“Who Killed Davey Moore” by Bob Dylan
“Kissin U” by Douglas Hodge
“I Am What I Am” from La Cage aux Folles
“I Didn’t Mean It” by Douglas Hodge

Café Carlyle
35 East 76th St.

Do you plan on checking out Douglas Hodge at Café Carlyle, Rushers? What do you think of his song selections? Did you know he had such a sense of humor? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and tune into Stage Rush TV this week for an interview with Hodge!

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