The New York Times
By Stephen Holden
To the Divas Who Put the D in Divine
When Christine Andreas sings, you're in the presence of a true believer in the impossible dreams most of us have put aside or at least modified as we've grown up.
Ms. Andreas may be over 40, but she still projects the blushing radiance of an ingénue. And in her new show, "Here's to the Ladies: A Songbook of Broadway's First Ladies," her princess-in-waiting aura is enhanced by the role of adoring acolyte to the legendary divas of yesteryear.
The show, which runs through April 7 at at the Cafe (35 East 76th Street, Manhattan), is a well-chosen songbook of numbers associated with Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Gertrude Lawrence, Barbara Cook, Julie Andrews, Helen Morgan, Angela Lansbury and Barbra Streisand, each of whom is introduced with her own star-struck personal anecdote. Ms. Cook, who's still going strong, is praised for showing that "ingénues don't have to be wimps," while Merman is celebrated for not being "as soft and as pink as a nursery."
The role of acolyte suits Ms. Andreas especially well, since she made her name on Broadway stepping into Ms. Andrews's shoes as Eliza Doolittle in a revival of "My Fair Lady," and because her voice, with its sweet, hummingbird vibrato, still conveys the bursting eagerness of someone yearning to please.
Accompanied on piano by Lee Musiker (whose gorgeous jazzy improvisations stretch her singing in a pop-jazz direction) and on bass by Dick Sarpola, Ms. Andreas lightly glosses the styles of several of the legends being honored. "Some People" from "Gypsy," for instance, is inflected with an emphatic Mermanesque nasality, while "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is tinged with a Martin-like playfulness.
Although Ms. Andreas can be witty and playful, it is on the ballads (especially "They Say It's Wonderful" and "Bill") in which she delicately kills with the sheer beauty of her voice. It's almost enough to turn one back into a true believer.