Christine Andreas: "Bemused"
By: Joel Benjamin
Christine Andreas has one of the richest voices in musical theater. She used it to bemuse her audience in “Bemused” at the elegant 54 Below. Her program was an entertaining essay on how artists often enchant—or bemuse—each other producing wonderful art and, in the process, becoming “musical soul mates.” Her very full program of examples of how these astonishing partnerships resulted in brilliance also displayed her voice in all its glory.
Harold Arlen’s devotion to Judy Garland resulted in one of her signature tunes, ”Get Happy,” written with Ted Koehler, so it was reasonable that Andreas used this song as a perky opener. She sang “Ipanema” and “Desafinado” after telling of Astrud Gilberto’s accidental alliance with Antonio Carlos Jobim giving it a richness it rarely receives. Richard Harris and Glenn Campbell’s affiliation with Jimmy Webb resulted in several hits, most notably “Didn’t We” and “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress” here given the classy Christine Andreas treatment.
Of course, she had to bring up the Burt Bacharach/Hal David/Dionne Warwick phenomenon which brought each the success that eluded each of them before. “Alfie” and “What the World Needs Now” sounded like art songs. Similarly, Frank Sinatra and Jimmy Van Heusen had a “bad boy” relationship that resulted in such iconic pop songs as “Come Fly With Me,” “The Tender Trap” and “Come Blow Your Horn,” allowing Andreas to swing a bit. (A nitpick here: perhaps, she might have moved about the stage a bit more as an extension of her voice.)
She was particularly witty and warm in two Rodgers and Hart songs, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” that luscious anthem to mature sexuality, and “To Keep My Love Alive,” a witty ditty about killing off husbands one after another. She found the richness in each.
Best came when Andreas described the interactions between Edith Piaf and songwriter Marguerite Monnot. Andreas soared in the three song medley made up of “I Love Paris,” “Milord” and “La Vie en Rose.” Somehow these songs fit the many levels of her voice and through them she not only illustrated her theme, but transcended it.
Don Rebic’s arrangements, played by him on the piano and Dick Sarpola on bass, weren’t always witty enough, but the two musicians supported Andreas with great skill and devotion.
Christine Andreas: “Bemused”
54 Below, 254 West 54th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue, in Manhattan
Tickets: 646-476-3551 or http://www.54Below.com
More Information: http://www.christineandreas.com
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