Christine Andreas

Christine Andreas

Beach Cafe, NYC, June 29, 2019

Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors for Cabaret Scenes

Christine Andreas
Photo: Stacy Sullivan

Christine Andreas once commented, “I open my mouth and pretty sounds come out.” But no, that’s not quite enough. When Andreas sings, she releases a thrilling charge, an irresistible vibrato with a silvery edge. On the opening number, Burton Lane and Alan Jay Lerner’s “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever,” the melody soared with precision. Following that was a pensive delivery of “All My Tomorrows” (Sammy Cahn/Jimmy Van Heusen), hopeful with rainbows and dreams for the future.

This show at the intimate Beach Cafe had no theme, except for a tasteful itinerary and a soulful delivery. She was accompanied by the creative Martin Silvestri—composer/arranger/music director/husband—on piano and accordion, the latter adding a Euro-flavor to Andreas’ Edith Piaf songs. Surprisingly, Andreas does not speak French, but her deliveries rang true with precise enunciation and insight. She has obviously studied Piaf and adopted her physical expressiveness, here singing Michel Emer’s “L’Acccordéoniste” and “Sous le ciel de Paris” (Hubert Giraud/Jean Drejac).

Without a theme, this beguiling show featured songs that spoke to Andreas, allowing her to communicate their intent with honesty. She is drawn to songs that convey moods, such as her outstanding “Here’s That Rainy Day,” after which she reminded us about Johnny Carson’s melancholy final Tonight Show, when Bette Midler performed the song. “Rainy Day,” with Jimmy Van Heusen’s challenging melody line and quick key changes, seemed written for Andreas’ vocals just as her acting talent evoked lyricist Johnny Burke’s subtle reflections on a lost love. Andreas intuitively understands the complexities of life and loss. Listening to her, we also understood, and hearing her sing Amanda McBroom’s nostalgic “Erroll Flynn” could not help but hit the heart.

On this evening of Pride Month, Andreas spoke of her admiration for the talent of Peter Allen.

“Love Don’t Need a Reason,” by Allen, Michael Callen and Marsha Malamet, became an anthem about AIDS, but the lyrics are universal. Consider “love is all we have for now/What we don’t have is time.” Following was “Harry’s Dreams” by Silvestri and Joel Higgins from their musical, The Fields of Ambrosia, described as dark and satirical. It opened at New Jersey’s George Street Playhouse and then moving to the Andwych Theatre in London’s West End, starring Higgins and Andreas. Included here was “Continental Sunday.”

A lovely combination of “Some Enchanted Evening” and “Younger Than Springtime” (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein II) was a delightful interweaving between Andreas and Silvestri. She closed the show with the optimistic words for a troublesome time of “What a Wonderful World” (Bob Thiele/George David Weiss) and “If I Ruled the World” (Leslie Bricusse and Cyril Ornadel), and wrapped up, wryly, with Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes.”

Captivating was Jerry Herman’s “The Best of Times” from La Cage aux Folles, a fitting encore for an extraordinary vocalist, both emotional and theatrical.

Elizabeth Ahlfors

Born and raised in New York, Elizabeth graduated from NYU with a degree in Journalism. She has lived in various cities and countries and now is back in NYC. She has written magazine articles and published three books: A Housewife’s Guide to Women’s Liberation, Twelve American Women, and Heroines of ’76 (for children). A great love was always music and theater—in the audience, not performing. A Philadelphia correspondent for and InTheatre Magazine, she has reviewed theater and cabaret for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia City News. She writes for Cabaret Scenes and other cabaret/theater sites. She is a judge for Nightlife Awards and a voting member of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle.