Christine Andreas: be-Mused

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Christine Andreas


Venetian Room, San Francisco, CA, April 2, 2017

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Christine Andreas
Photo: Stacy Sullivan

Bay Area Cabaret continues to capture the finest in cabaret with its presentation of the sublime, two-time Tony nominee Christine Andreas. Back in 2013, I lauded Andreas’ elegant and dramatic interpretations, calling out her ability to enhance songs that married the great song stylists with the right composers. I thought it was one of the best shows of that season and feel the same with this revival. Here the smart concept, presenting “that musical spark that ignites when just the right singer and just the right songwriter collide” is pure gold in the hands of one of cabaret’s finest of performers.

It’s difficult to call out highlights in a show so consistently way above any bar, but I must. Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg wrote “Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe” for the 1943 film version of Cabin in the Sky performed by the incomparable Ethel Waters. Andreas lovingly recreates the magic moment when a thankful lover counts her blessings. Sinatra and the writing team of Jimmy Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn are represented by the lovely optimistic ballad “All My Tomorrows,” Andreas’ clear, emotive vocals delivering the lyrical intent with a mastery few possess.

Michel Legrand and Marilyn and Alan Bergman’s “The Summer Knows,” a breathy, overdone hit for Barbra Streisand, is refined and distilled to a brilliant gem in Andreas’ hands. Jimmy Webb’s haunting “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress,” based on the Robert Heinlein novel of the same name, and associated with Glen Campbell, is stunning, with excellent accompaniment by Kenny Ascher on piano and Sasha Jacobsen on bass. Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach and Hal David make an appearance with “Alfie,” Andreas asking us to carefully listen to the poetry of David’s lyric.

Rodgers & Hart had yet another smash hit with 1940’s “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” from Pal Joey. As Vera Simpson, Vivienne Segal introduced the song which went onto to become a Great American Songbook standard. Andreas is a pleasure as the middle-aged woman delighted with her younger suitor. Edith Piaf and Marguerite Monnot appear with an all-French rousing rendition of “Milord” (lyrics by Georges Moustaki). Andreas bites into the tale of a lower-class prostitute infatuated with an upper-class British traveler with passion and desire.

Making her Venetian Room debut with Bay Area Cabaret, Andreas paid homage to the greats that have graced the stage. After her performance, the audience let her know she can be added to the lofty list. Christine Andreas possesses one of the finest, pure sopranos, but it’s her timbre, phrasing and emotional range that leave the pack far behind.

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.