Andrea McArdle & Donna McKechnie: Celebrate Sondheim & Hamlisch

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Andrea McArdle & Donna McKechnie

Celebrate Sondheim & Hamlisch

Feinstein’s/54Below, NYC, January 1, 2019

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg for Cabaret Scenes

Donna McKechnie (L) &
Andrea McArdle
Photo: Maryann Lopinto

Is there a better way to kick off a new year than in the company of two glamorous musical theater stars paying tribute to two legendary theater songwriters? Andrea McArdle and Donna McKechnie, working together and separately, paid respect to theater roles they had played in the past, that they might play in the future, and that they would never get to play. What fun it all was!

McArdle showed off the sass and belt that made her a star by delivering “Broadway Baby” with great humor; she later proved her maturity and surprising emotional depth with a chilling “Could I Leave You?” McKechnie revisited her triumphs with a still powerful “The Music and the Mirror” and “You Could Drive a Person Crazy,” on the latter amusingly taking on all parts of the original trio. Much to the audience’s pleasure, she danced briefly several times, going as far as the limited stage space allowed. The ladies also got to perform songs from A Chorus Line that they hadn’t had a chance to: “At the Ballet” for McKechnie, although ironically part of the lyrics were derived from her own life; and “Nothing” for McArdle, who brightly complained that no one would cast her as a Puerto Rican dancer.

Their several duets, wisely spread out through the show, emphasized their separate personalities as well as their joint similarities, including a penchant for sly humor expressed in a gender-switched “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” and the pop silliness of “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows.” Their affection for each other and mutual admiration was evident throughout.

Under the excellent direction of Marcia Milgrom Dodge and the musical direction of Steve Marzullo, with support from bassist Mary Ann McSweeney and drummer Ray Marchica, McArdle and McKechnie shimmered as only Broadway stars can while delivering material they love.

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."