Andrea Axelrod: After the Bawl (Recovering from Heartache)

Andrea Axelrod

After the Bawl (Recovering from Heartache)

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, June 9, 2019

Reviewed by Randolph B. Eigenbrode for Cabaret Scenes

Andrea Axelrod

There’s little doubt that the subject of falling in love is a songwriters most beloved topic. So, falling out of love (and its aftermath) might naturally follow as its runner-up. This leaves Andrea Axelrod a plethora of material to choose from for this engaging look at the path from suffering to stability after a breakup.

Axelrod, along with MD John M. Cook, chose some top-shelf melodies for this offering. An unexpected pairing of “I Had Myself a True Love” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) with “Now You Know” (Stephen Sondheim) opened the show, followed by a combination of “Sleigh Ride in July” (Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Burke) and “Winter of My Discontent” (Alec Wilder/Ben Ross Barenberg). While the choices were a bit heavy for the first two slots of a cabaret act, the pedigree of this material certainly allows Axelrod the space to dig in right from the jump.

Axelrod has a full voice, a weighted mezzo rich in color. She gets every drop out of her phrasing, long and lush, with a bit of accented bite in her attack. And, as a performer, she has a no-frills authenticity, particularly in “I Love Him, but He Didn’t Love Me” (Cole Porter). Axelrod presents her songs with a simplicity that prevents the material, often brimming with melancholy, from seeming overwrought or maudlin. 

This comes in part from the welcomed choice to limit patter, allowing the pieces to serve as emotional vignettes. And when patter was present, she expertly played in opposition to the subject matter of the songs, employing a nonchalant humor as palate cleanser. This alone sets her apart from her cabaret contemporaries.

In fact, Axelrod proved she can handle comedy with aplomb, particularly in the revenge ode, “I’d Like To…” (John M.

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Cook/Michael Colby). In what is essentially a list-song, she detailed the various ways she’d like to physically (and otherwise) torture her spurned lover. Recalling the dry delivery of Alix Korey and the underplayed charm of Judy Kaye, Axelrod delivered each torment with a building sardonicism that climaxed in bitter delight.

While her performance approach often skews more theatrical than a cabaret give-and-take, Axelrod endears. “Thanks for the Memory” (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin), a late-in-the-show duet with Cook dripped with honest vulnerability. Avoiding even the slightest hint of irony, she allowed the journey of the show to finish with a much-needed hope.

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On the whole, Axelrod delivers quite a strong showing here. While relatively new to the NYC cabaret scene, she’s certainly one to watch.

Randolph B. Eigenbrode

Randolph is the newest addition to the writing staff at Cabaret Scenes. He is a cabaret teacher, previously teaching with legend Erv Raible, and his students have gone on to success in the field with sold-out shows and many awards. He is also a director and that, combined with a knowledge of the art form and techniques that cabaret performing encompasses, makes him love reviewing NYC’s cabaret scene. When not catching the Big Apple’s crazy talent, Randolph loves 1970s variety shows, mall Chinese food, Meryl Streep films and a good cold glass of pinot grigio.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Ira Lee Collings

    Yes, it is a wonderful show! Looking forward to seeing it again in Sept!

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