Broadway based soprano Christine Andreas has a career that has spanned over three decades. Noted for her roles in Broadway revival productions of My Fair Lady, Oklahoma and On Your Toes, Andreas has also given concerts to great acclaim at the White House, London, and Paris, as well as at New York’s famed Café Carlyle and the Algonquin’s Oak Room. Other Broadway credits included work in Peter Allen’s ill-fated Legs Diamond as well as creating the role of Marguerite St Just in The Scarlet Pimpernel.
As her recordings freely attest, Andreas changes with ease from the intimacy of cabaret to the ability to fill a 2,000-seat theatre. For her, the joy of cabaret (and it is in this more intimate field that she will perform during the Cabaret Festival) is “that you don’t have to sing the same songs in the same way that everybody else does.” On the phone from New York, Christine explains that in cabaret, you need to find your own voice. “I love to hear performers like Lena Horne, Sinatra and Tony Bennett all doing the same song and having it sound completely different.
I move back and forth between the worlds of musical theatre and cabaret. I wish to have the intimacy of cabaret; but because I come from Broadway – even if I’m performing in a small room – I want the audience to have the sense of a voice that can fill a large theatre. I don’t want to blast people with sheer volume [laughs], but it adds another dimension to know that you’re listening to a voice that can do that. There’s obviously an enormous songbook to choose from. And as the show has to be kept down to about eighty minutes of music.”
Andreas explains that the show being brought to Adelaide doesn’t consist solely of her “lady friends”. She explains that it’s much more eclectic than that. A good proportion of the show is devoted to them and then I’ll probably do some that I love to sing (citing more intelligent pop writers Billy Joel, Leonard Cohen and Jimmy Webb as examples). But in terms of my ‘ladies’, I was asked by the Café Carlyle to have a theme for a show. It’s not the way I like to organize them but I said, “OK, fine.” I remember dancing in the kitchen to these recordings by all these very different women from a very young age – (Gertrude Lawrence, Helen Morgan, Julie Andrews, Babbs – both Cook and Streisand). [As well as merely hearing the ubiquitous recordings at home, her mother, a fine singer herself, sang them all the time.]
“I loved all of these singers and as they had always been a part of my life, I never had to learn them; they were always there. I didn’t necessarily understand everything they were doing but in their voices, I could hear a level of commitment and a certain kind of beauty. I just knew from a very early age that they were singing and feeling with all of their heart and soul. That’s what got my loving of it all started, so let’s make a show around those amazing influences. And of course Gertrude Lawrence doesn’t sound like Streisand who doesn’t sound or sing like Barbara Cook. So this allowed great range for a show…. And the other part is like an evening with me so I wanted to make it personal as well, choosing songs that resonate personally. Andreas takes time to muse on the wish that in her years in cabaret and Broadway, she has gathered integrity and identification with this often diverse and complex material and that this is apparent within Here’s to the Ladies.