Andreas Pays Tribute to Broadway
By Charles Isherwood
Going, going, gone. The Broadway musical as we once knew it may be more or less extinct, but those who grew up under the spell of the species continue to keep its legacy alive wherever and whenever they can.
Christine Andreas is a case in point. In her new show at the Cafe Carlyle, this bountifully talented singer surveys the songs that once made women like her household names, paying loving tribute to icons of the Broadway stage by keeping the magic of their music alive.
She opens the show with a song that seems an odd stretch for her bright lyric soprano, "Some People" from Gypsy. Merman she isn't, but Andreas' careful, almost dainty handling of Stephen Sondheim's lyrics was an amiable change from the all-stops-out treatment the song generally receives. And its tale of a woman whose attraction to showbiz will not be denied served as a nice epigraph for the semi-autobiographical nature of the show.
As she ran through a set of well-known songs associated with femme stage stars, Andreas shared anecdotes of her own path to Broadway, recalling more than once a childhood spent wearing out original cast albums on the record player.
Mary Martin was an early favorite, and Andreas' smoked-glass voice added a layer of sultriness to a jazz-inflected performance of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." Two tunes associated with Gertrude Lawrence were expertly rendered: "My Ship," sung in a torchy period style that made great use of Andreas' fine-tuned vibrato, and Cole Porter's "The Physician," sung with a veneer of innocence and just a hint of a wink.
Other highlights included were a pair of songs from My Fair Lady sung with an energy and flair that's hardly surprising, as Andreas played the role of Eliza Doolittle to acclaim on Broadway some years back. Show Boat's "Bill" may have been the evening's most exquisite moment, sung with a matter-of-fact ardency. Also entirely lovely was Andreas' bifurcated rendition of Irving Berlin's "Moonshine Lullaby," the first half softly crooned, the second polished and brassy.
Her Encore was Frank Wildhorn's "Storybook," a cabaret favorite to which Andreas has a special claim, as she introduced it on Broadway. For the record, hers is the liveliest and loveliest version these ears have heard. The song held its own among the evening's repertoire, a tribute to Andreas' gifts.