They come by plane, train, and automobile, many of them from places like Houston, Atlanta, and all across southern Florida, and, of course, from the New York area. They are actor-singer Andrea McArdle’s fans—“I call them my ‘repeat offenders’,” she says—and they know what they like.
And McArdle, who became the youngest person up till then to be nominated for a Tony Award in 1977 for her performance in the title role of the original Annie, plans to give it to them. She brings her cabaret show, An Evening With Andrea McArdle ,to Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York City 7 PM October 10–14.
“This is a demanding, demanding program,” McArdle told Playbill, “There are about 12 or 13 eleven o’clock numbers in it. We do ‘A Lot of Living To Do,’ we do a beautiful ‘Where Is Love?,’ we do a full-blown ‘As Long as He Needs Me.’ We do throwbacks to Melissa Manchester, Karen Carpenter, Billy Joel. A lot of these are my fans’ favorites from over the years. But the way I approach them now is as a more mature woman.”
McArdle’s Broadway career has also included playing Ashley the Smoking Car in Starlight Express; Margy Frake in the stage adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s State Fair; a replacement Fantine in Les Misérables, and a replacement Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. But the former child star turns 54 on November 5, and she said she is reveling in the new chances it gives her.
”We do ‘It Might As Well Be Spring’ [from State Fair]. It’s a little bit of a different version in a different key, so it has richer lows,” she says. “And I'm have a ball diving into some of the more mature Sondheim, like ‘Could I Leave You?’”
She says the reason her Repeat Offenders follow her and, in many cases, have become her friends, is because “they really like the stories and the rich history. My stories are from a time when there was no social media, nothing to be paraded in front of everybody. So they’re very special.”
And the Repeat Offenders have nothing to fear about the music: McArdle also plans to incorporate music from Annie, though perhaps not in a way they expect. “We do a beautiful version [of the Annie lullabye ‘Maybe’] that was inspired by Harry Connick, because ‘Maybe’ is one of his favorite songs. He made a beautiful recording of it for his four daughters, so it was major in his house. We were flying to L.A. once and he asked me, ‘Don’t get insulted, but I want to know why, for the life of me, when you are putting this baby to sleep, why were you singing at the top of your lungs?’ And I said, ‘It’s a simple answer: We had no microphones. Annie was the last show with no mics; we had three foot mics and that was it!’”
McArdle says her songs are not chosen at random, but are designed “to mesh with something that hit me hard and influenced me in my early formative years. For instance, I dedicate ‘Little Girls’ [from Annie] to one of my favorite co-stars, Dorothy Loudon. It was from her and Liberace and Carol Channing that I learned the most in my 45 years in show business.”
McArdle is currently planning a new concert show with Donna McKechnie, called McArdle and McKechnie Sing Sondheim and Hamlisch., which is scheduled to debut March 10, 2018, at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, followed by dates across the U.S.
McArdle says she has one regret at the moment: She has no scheduled appearances in actual musicals. "This is the longest I’ve gone without," she says, adding that she’d love to be considered as a replacement Dolly Gallagher Levi in the current Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!. A Philadelphia native, McArdle has starred in the title roles of Hello, Dolly! at Philadelphia's Media Theatre and Mame at both the Media and Bucks County Playhouse. For the record, she also appeared in a production of Annie that cast her as Annie’s nemesis, Miss Hannigan, at the North Carolina Theatre.
But, she says, “They’re probably going to make me wait another ten years” before considering her for those roles in New York, partly owing to her youthful appearance, and partly because many people still think of her as the plucky, lovable orphan. She sighed. “That’s the curse—the Annie Curse.”
Tickets for An Evening With Andrea McArdle cost $40 to $85, plus a $25 food/drink minimum, and can be ordered by clicking here. Feinstein’s/54 Below is located at 254 54th Street in Manhattan.
Donna McKechnie has been a special guest performer on Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas cruises. Cabins are available for Broadway on the Danube River with Michael Feinstein for November 3–13, 2017, also featuring Rachel Bay Jones, Julia Murney, Christopher Fitzgerald, Marc Kudisch, Christopher Sieber, Brandon Uranowitz, and Seth Rudetsky.
Tickets are also now on sale for Playbill’s Broadway on the High Seas July 2018 cruise to Iceland, accompanied by Judy Kuhn, Christine Ebersole, Rob McClure, Jarrod Spector, Carmen Cusack, and Sierra Boggess. Visit PlaybillTravel.com for booking and information.