Christine Andreas: Piaf: No Regrets

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Christine Andreas

Piaf: No Regrets

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, November 8, 2018

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Christine Andreas
Photo: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

When a cabaret artist decides to pay tribute to a famous singer, many dangers lie ahead. Will the performer attempt to imitate the voice and style of the celebrity or be true to herself? Will the music take precedence or will the personality of the tributee?

Are the facts of the star’s life more important than the public image?

Christine Andreas, in her tribute to Edith Piaf, manages to blend all these elements together, sliding easily between English and French lyrics, between observing the “Little Sparrow” and embodying her and, on occasion, taking on other personalities as well. She separates the facts of the Parisian chanteuse’s life from the “fake news” she spread about herself. To put it simply, the show is a triumph!

Andreas is equally skilled as an actress and as a vocalist.

So, with the dramatic material that Piaf specialized in she can merge her two talents to great effect. For instance, with “Ne me quitte pas” (Jacques Brel; English lyrics Rod McKuen), the final whispered lyric, “Please don’t go away,” becomes devastating. On the other hand, the joy of “The Poor People of Paris” (Marguerite Monnot & René Rouzand; English lyrics Jack Lawrence) is heightened to glowing levels. “Autumn Leaves” (Joseph Kosma & Jacques Prevett; English lyrics Johnny Mercer) is filled with delicate longing, while the inevitable “La Vie en rose” (Edith Piaf /Louiguy/ Marguerite Monnot) is so passionately offered that it earned a standing ovation in the middle of the show.

Throughout the show, the beautiful diva was supported and partnered by her husband Martin Silvestri, who played both piano and accordion. One of their delightful duets was the song “L’accordioniste” (Michel Emer), and he also offered some bouncing vocals on the slightly clunky English lyrics of the previously mentioned “Poor People of Paris.”

The program, tied in with the release of Andreas’ similarly titled CD from PS Classics, was a sheer delight. She quotes Piaf about finding joy in “vibrating to the music.” In this case, the audience was vibrating to the magic on stage.

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."