Andrea Axelrod: My City

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Andrea Axelrod

My City

Don’t Tell Mama, NYC, December 3, 2023

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Andrea Axelrod

Andrea Axelrod returned to Don’t Tell Mama to celebrate her favorite city, New York, with a warm and funny review, My City. The wide range in songs that paid tribute to the Big Apple included works by Cole Porter, Charles Strouse, Jule Styne, William Bolcom, Kurt Weill, and Richard Rodgers and Larry Hart. Each number focused on a different aspect of her beloved city, which made for a truly satisfying evening. When she had a witty lyric, as in “Manhattan” and “Anything Can Happen In New York” (both had additional lyrics by Axelrod and music director John M. Cook), she was in expert territory. But then, she is a funny lady, with echoes of Kaye Ballard and Nancy Walker—heady company indeed. Like them, she can turn on a dime, as she did to deliver a deeply felt and moving “Lonely House.”

Cook not only provided additional lyrics, but he also contributed fine musical support at the piano as well as strong vocal back-up. The two performers displayed a real show-biz-team vibe throughout the show. There was certainly some of that old razzle dazzle in the belted “The Joint Is Really Jumpin’ Down in Carnegie Hall” and in the swinging “Sunday in New York.” But they also delivered such emotionally laden material as Marc Blitzstein’s rarely heard “Stay Here in My Arms” and the joyous “What More Do I Need?”

One of the highlights of the evening was a tribute to the Roxy Music Hall (the predecessor of Radio City) and its extravagant intermission shows. In a whirlwind of personalities, accents, and genres, Axelrod sang “At the Roxy Music Hall” (Rodgers & Hart); as well as the New York country/western song “Way Out West on West End Avenue”; the lush, operetta-ish “Transatlantic Lullaby”; and the hot, swinging “Old Man Harlem.” This was smart theater, perfectly suited to the performer’s talent. Hopefully, her extravagance, voice, and humor will be well-displayed again soon.

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."