Andrea Axelrod: Centenary

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Andrea Axelrod


Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, May 24, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Andrea Axelrod

Andrea Axelrod came up with a clever and unusual theme for her new cabaret show: six major artists who would celebrate their 100th birthdays this year: Pearl Bailey, Robert Preston, Leonard Bernstein, Alan Jay Lerner, Jerome Robbins, and Rita Hayworth. And the singer brought great charm and wit to an excellent collection of songs connected to these noteworthies.

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Axelrod has a beautiful operatic soprano matched with perfect enunciation.

At times, her style clashed with the material—some of her ballads, such as “I’m Old Fashioned” and “Too Late Now” are sung with great musicality, but very little exploration of the words. She did much better with “Loving You” and an intriguing little-known song, “Secret Places” (Alan Jay Lerner/Michel Legrand).

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On the other hand, her attempts to “get down” with “Put the Blame on Mame” and “Tired” (both by Allan Roberts/Doris Fisher) demand a looser style than she can deliver comfortably. The biggest misfire is a pairing of “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” with Ravel’s La Valse, which simply clash rather than expand each other. Surprisingly, she scored big with “Why Can’t the English?” which requires very little voice and quite a bit of comic timing—even her accent helps to land the number with great joy.

The lack of the theatricality of the evening was reinforced by Axelrod’s choice of a stark black outfit and a prim hairstyle that caused an annoying lock of hair to keep failing across her forehead.

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There is unquestionably a sense of humor and fun lying below the surface of the performer; she just needs to tap into it further and celebrate it more.

The singer was supported by music director John M.

Cook and bassist Tom Hubbard, each adding his sparkle to the show. Andrea Axelrod has much to offer; hopefully she can tailor her intriguing concept to material more suited to her style.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."