Andrea Wolff: I Can’t Trace Time

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Andrea Wolff

I Can’t Trace Time

The Green Room 42, NYC, October 7, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Andrea Wolff
Photo: Gen Nishino

The petite powerhouse Andrea Wolff offered a program devoted mostly to covers of rock artists such as David Bowie, Janis Ian, and Stevie Nicks, with some pop songwriters such as Burt Bacharach and Hal David, John Mayer, and Edie Brickell mixed in. Clad in a sparkly jacket and skinny black vinyl jeans, Wolff offered large doses of high-energy performances, literally dancing around the room to “Dancing in the Moonlight” (Sherman Kelly) or coming off the stage to serenade her husband with a touching version of “Up” (John Carney/Gary Clark/Graham Henderson/Carl and Ken Papenfus/Zamo Rittman).

Wolff, who resembles a surprising mix of Gwen Verdon and Shari Lewis (minus Lamp Chop) clearly enjoys connecting with her audience, relating stories about her life that are reflected in some of her song choices.

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One oddity of the show is that, though she discussed her background in musical theater, none of her selections were from Broadway (the closest was her opening number, “Spark of Creation” by Stephen Schwartz, from the never-quite-reached New York City Children of Eden). This was a bit of a disappointment because when her songs give her a chance to act the lyrics, such as the unusual “Yvette, Song of Fraternization” (Duke Special with English lyrics by Tony Kushner), she truly shines.

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Joining Wolff and music director Jude Obermuller was guitarist Sean Harkness, who added his considerable and sensitive talent to such numbers as “Landslide” (Stevie Nicks) and “Wheel” (Edie Brickell).

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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."