AT LIBBY'S CABARET
A High Wattage Tribute to Broadway
By Kathy Janich, The Atlanta Journal
The verdict: She's back: How lucky can you get?
Calling cabaret artist Christine Andreas a soprano is like saying the sky is blue. It may be, and she may be, but they're rarely the same shade or texture twice. Sometimes they shimmer. Sometimes they darken. But each, in its heavenly way, is magical, mercurial and wondrous.
Andreas, a New York singer who frequents the swanky Cafe Carlyle and Algonquin, has played clubs around the world. This week and next, she's back with us, at Libby's: A Cabaret, with two different shows. Each packs enough wattage to knock you back in your seat, then put you on your feet hooting for an encore.
The center of this week's 75-minute show --- it continues tonight and Saturday --- is a songbook of Broadway's first ladies, a tribute to the likes of Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Julie Andrews and Gertrude Lawrence that Andreas recently debuted at the Carlyle.
It begins with a well-tuned wail, as the 40ish ingenue, yes, ingenue, draped in a black ensemble that finishes in cigarette pants and heels, belts the title tune from the 1963 musical "She Loves Me," a Barbara Cook vehicle about pen pals who love each other but don't know it.
She wrings every giddy laugh from the number, in which the singer realizes, finally, that Cupid has paid a call.
When Andreas visits Italy or France ("Storybook"), we're happy to pack our bags and go along. When, in homage to Andrews, she enthuses "I Could Have Danced All Night," we're there to be her partner. When she hops atop the grand piano and out-Martins Martin on "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," we know that "V" stands for "vamp," not "victory," and that "saucy" is a cooking term that works just as well outside the kitchen.
Andreas is sophisticated and earthy, with a conspiratorial twinkle in her green eyes whether she's using her amazing instrument to trumpet or coo or do, in short, everything the human voice can do.
What separates her from other singers, though, is that she acts as well as she vocalizes. We believe that she's Peter Pan in a snippet from "Flying." We recognize a Lawrence-ish panache in her take on Cole Porter's "The Physician." And we beam with big dreams as she steps to the edge of the stage and enthusiastically confesses that she's "A Cockeyed Optimist."
Andreas turns romantic about midway through her show, huskiness invading her voice as she coaxes us, starry-eyed, through the Irving Berlin love song "They Say It's Wonderful."
As Andreas sings it, love is indeed wonderful. And so is she.