I recently had the chance to chat with Christine Andreas, who continues her lengthy stint at New York’s Cafe Carlyle. What follows is the brief Q & A with the former star of Broadway’s The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Q This is your first run at the Carlyle. Have you seen other performers play that room? . . . Are you excited about your upcoming engagement there?
Christine Andreas I have seen Bobby [Short], Eartha [Kitt] and Barbara [Cook] all work in the room. It is an exquisite room -- you feel all it's history. Am I excited? Whaddayathink!!?
Q Tell me about the upcoming show. Is there a theme? What kind of material will you be performing?
Andreas There is always a theme, but in the quirky way that I work, I'm never sure what it is til' I'm finished putting it together. It's my usual eclectic mix of show tunes, standards, pop and original songs. We're dubbing this ‘The Matrimonial Set’ in that there are ‘some things old, some things new, some things borrowed and some things blue.’
Q How do you go about putting together a cabaret act? Do people suggest material or do you choose all the songs?
Andreas I'm sure like every other singer I have an ear out all the time for music I want to sing; therefore, sources are everywhere. Ultimately, the show chooses itself. Usually, I concentrate on the event, the venue, my audience, and I pick the first song. I always bounce my feelings off Marty Silvestri, my partner and a wonderful showman. Between the two of us, the whole thing comes together. In this case, Lee Musiker is musical directing the show, so the three of us worked swiftly and magically stringing it together.
Q You'll be performing ten shows a week at the Carlyle. Do you find cabaret work more or less demanding than doing a Broadway show? What are some of the differences between the two?
Andreas I'm not sure I’d call the Carlyle ‘cabaret.’ It's more like a nightclub. I don't slot the artists who have worked there as cabaret singers, do you? It has that New York nightlife electricity about it that has become so rare. Have you seen Peter Minton in Bemelman's Bar -- doesn't get more N.Y. sophisticated than that!
Time-wise, this kind of work is much easier, no matinees, dear! I have my days free to see my kids, and I need that. The fact that I'm the only one singing and the character I'm playing is Christine Andreas makes certain demands of me. It demands an awareness of the room and what is going on with the people in it. The relaxation and concentration that that requires to continue my appointed tasks with the music, but allow the crowd to influence the set, challenge me still, but I'm enjoying the challenge, and it makes me more musical and obviously more present. Guess you could say I'm taking away the famous ‘fourth wall,’ so the actor in me has just got to get used to that. I also have consummate musicians behind me -- really beautiful players -- first and foremost Lee Musiker musical directing and on keyboard, Lou Marini (‘Blue Lou’ of ‘Blues Brothers’ fame) on reeds, Ray Marchica on drums and percussion (Rosie O'Donnell's drummer) and Dick Sarpola on bass. Having so much music being created behind me also pulls at my musical sensibilities in a whole new way. I'm loving it!
Q How do you protect your voice while you're doing that much singing a week? Do you still study voice?
Andreas I try not to talk too much! Ha!, ha!, I said try! Yes, I still study voice once or twice a week when I'm working like this. I have a wonderful teacher named Juliana Janes Yaffe. She's a great spirit and teacher, and she's keepin' the instrument nicely tuned!
Q You were last on Broadway in The Scarlet Pimpernel, which had three incarnations. What was that experience like?
Andreas Pimpernel was fun -- very demanding, but nice people. Marty is a composer, you know, and Bill Haber, the producer of Pimpernel, is producing Marty's new show next year, along with Kathleen Raitt. It's called Storyville, and tho' I am, of course, completely prejudiced, it's beautiful.
QDo you have any new recordings coming out?
Andreas I recorded my last show at the Algonquin earlier this year (March), so, yes, a live album is forthcoming, but it's been a busy summer, and we're not quite finished.
Q What would you like to see happen for Christine Andreas in the year to come?
Andreas I wouldn't mind having another year like this one with wonderful, unexpected musical demands being made upon me -- singing with symphonies, concert work here and around the world, more recordings, sure, a brand new Broadway musical, and perhaps another stint at the Carlyle!
**Andreas performs Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:45 PM and 10:45 PM at the famed hot spot, and there is a $60 cover charge but no minimum. Reservations may be made by calling (212) 744-1600.
A POP OPERA DIVA?
I must admit I am not an opera lover; for some reason that style of singing usually leaves me a bit cold. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to appreciate those grand voices more, but still, I’m much more excited and moved by a good ol’ Broadway belter. A few weeks ago, though, I received a copy of a new CD by a young Italian singer, Filippa Giordano. Like Sarah Brightman, Giordano is trying to bring a more modern sound to classic works in the hope of broadening the audiences for this music. In fact, composer Francesco Satori -- who wrote Brightman’s hit “Time to Say Goodbye” -- wrote a special Callas tribute for Filippa, “Maria by the Sea.” But even more so than Brightman, Giordano uses a pop sound when she sings the great Italian arias. She possesses a wonderful voice, and she uses it with great technique, applying it to a wide style of music. Her first solo CD, which is simply titled Filippa Giordano, is part of Andrea Boccelli’s Sugar Records and has become an instant hit in many countries, including her homeland, Italy.
I recently had the chance to chat with the young artist, who told me a bit about her past and her hopes for the future. It was, perhaps, predestined that she would become a singer, as her entire family is composed of musicians. “My grandfather was a storyteller, a Sicilian cantore,” Giordano remembers. “He used to compose a lot of Neopolitan and Sicilian songs and poems. My aunt is a classical pianist, and my father and my mother are both opera singers. My mother is a mezzo soprano and my father is a baritone. And my brother is a cello player, so everyone in the family has something to do with music. I started with ballet -- I wanted to become a dancer, but then immediately, very soon after, I realized I wanted to sing.” Interestingly, however, Giordano didn’t wish to sing in an operatic style. “When I turned 13,” she admits, “I discovered the pop world, and I decided to sing in that way. I asked my mother to teach me how to sing in that style because I didn’t want to become a soprano. I didn’t like the traditional way of singing of opera singers. I wanted to use a natural voice, a pop voice, very similar to the songs I fell in love with.”
Giordano would like to straddle both the pop and opera worlds, making the music of her homeland more accessible to those who are not opera fans. “My aim,” she continues “is to let this music become known to the youngest generation because they think this music is difficult, but this was the pop music of the past.” Giordano is truly passionate about these classic opera songs. There’s a certain glint in her eye when she discusses these works: “This music is immortal,” she implores. “It lived for so many centuries. It’s music that will never die. It’s great music that we can perform forever. It’s so important for me [since] I’m Italian. It’s the only music, the only authentic music, that I can sing. It’s the kind of music that is really so touching and moving. It’s universal. It’s true, and it’s romantic, and it’s full of drama.”
Giordano -- whose self-titled CD is now available in the U.S. -- is interested in pursuing work in a host of arenas: on the concert stage, TV, film and even musical theatre. It will be interesting to follow the career of this talented woman and see where she makes her mark. A final word from the striking young singer: “My goal is to let this music survive into the next century. It needs to still be contemporary. There’s a need not to lose this music . . . Writers like Bellini, Puccini or Verdi -- they wrote such marvelous melodies. We need still to think about this music today.”
THE STEPHEN SONDHEIM ALBUM
Bruce Kimmel’s first recording for the new Fynsworth Alley label is a winner, a big one in fact. Titled “The Stephen Sondheim Album,” the 15 track recording boasts an impressive array of Broadway performers singing both oft-heard and lesser-known works by the award-winning composer of Follies, Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park with George, Passion and several other Broadway favorites. The disc opens with Brent Barrett’s powerful vocals on a song added to the London production of Follies, “Make the Most of Your Music.” Jane Krakowski, of “Ally McBeal” fame, offers a gentle version of the title tune from one of Sondheim’s least-successful shows, Anyone Can Whistle, and then Liz Callaway sings a rapid-fire “Everybody Says Don’t” in her usual creamy tones. Other highlights include the belty vocals of Alice Ripley, who delivers perhaps the most exciting “Another Hundred People” available; Lea DeLaria’s understated “Broadway Baby” (it’s a nice change to hear Ms. DeLaria not scream a lyric); Brian d’Arcy James’s forceful “Giants in the Sky”; Ruthie Henshall’s gorgeous head tones on a moving version of “Children Will Listen”; Dame Edna’s riotous “Losing My Mind” (wait till you hear the Dame’s final note!); and my favorite-of-the moment Sondheim tune, “With So Little To Be Sure Of” -- paired with a cut Follies song, “Who Could Be Blue?” -- sung by my favorite male singer, Norm Lewis (why doesn’t this guy have a solo album?). There’s also fine work from Dorothy Loudon (“I’m Still Here”), Christiane Noll (a medley of “You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow” and “Not a Day Goes By”) and most everyone else on this must-have disc . . . By the way, “The Stephen Sondheim Album” will not be available in stores until February 2001, but you can order the recording via the Fynsworth Alley website (www.fynsworthalley.com) beginning October 3. Those who order the CD on-line will have the added bonus of a track by Side Show co-star Emily Skinner, who sings “I Must Be Dreaming,” a song from a show Sondheim penned in college, All That Glitters. (P.S. There’s a somewhat bizarre hidden track, too, so keep your CD playing after it appears to have ended!)
IN OTHER NEWS Singer/actress Sally Mayes, of She Loves Me fame, will bring her latest cabaret act, Decade, to the FireBird Cafe on Wednesday, Oct. 4. She will play Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 9 PM and Friday and Saturday evenings at 11 PM through Saturday, Oct. 21. The FireBird is located at 363 West 46th Street, and reservations may be made by calling (212) 586-0244. There is a $30 music charge and a $15 food/drink minimum . . . The Goodbye Girl’s Carol Woods will perform a solo show at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Room on Monday, Nov. 27 at 8 PM. The two-act evening is being directed by Jack Wrangler and will feature a full band; call (212) 247 7800 for tickets, which range from $30 to $40 . . . Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh, whose career spans the entire range of performance mediums, currently stars as the legendary Tallulah Bankhead in Tallulah Hallelujah! at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre on W. 42nd Street.
U.S. Concert Schedule:
Sept. 29 in Philadelphia, PA at the Mann Center
Sept. 30 in Washington, DC at the Patriot Center
Oct. 2 in Norfolk, VA at the Scope Arena
Oct. 4 in Miami, FL at the AA Arena /Nat. Car Rental Arena
Oct. 5 in Tampa, FL at the Ice Palace
Oct. 6 in Atlanta, GA at the Civic Center
Oct. 8 in New Orleans, LA at the Saenger Theatre
Oct. 9 in Dallas, TX at the Reunion Arena/Starplex Amph.
Oct. 10 in Houston, TX at the Aerial Theatre
Oct. 13 in Columbus, OH at the Nationwide Arena
Oct. 14 in Detroit, MI at the Palace
Oct. 15 in Cleveland, OH at the CSU Convocation Centre
Oct. 17 in St. Paul, MN at the Minn. Wild Arena
Oct. 20 in Las Vegas, NV at the MGM Grand
Oct. 21 in Santa Barbara, CA at the Santa Barbara Bowl
Oct. 22 in San Diego, CA at the SDSU Open Air Theatre
Oct. 24 in Los Angeles, CA at the Universal Amphitheatre
Oct. 26 in Sacramento, CA at the Arco Arena
Oct. 27 in San Jose, CA at the San Jose Arena
Oct. 29 in Portland, OR at the Rose Garden
Oct. 31 in Seattle, WA at the Paramount/Key Arena
Nov. 5 in Spokane, WA at the Arena
Nov. 7 in Salt Lake City, UT at the Delta Center
Nov. 8 in Denver, CO at the Magness Arena
Nov. 11 in Chicago, IL at the Arie Crown
Nov. 13 in St. Louis, MO
Nov. 14 in Grand Rapids, MI at the Van Andel Arena
Nov. 15 in Milwaukee, WI at the Riverside Theatre
Several new concert dates have been added to BB’s always-growing schedule:
Oct. 6 & 7 Scottsdale Center for the Arts Theatre in Scottsdale, AZ
Oct. 28 Univ. of Texas Cowan Fine & Perf. Arts Center in Tyler, TX
Nov. 10 & 11 University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT
Jan. 5, 2001 Koger Center for the Arts (Univ. of SC) in Columbia, SC
Jan. 6 Georgia Institute of Technology Center for the Arts in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 19-28 Florida Condo Tour in Florida
March 3 at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
May 12 at the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
June 17 at the Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA BARBARA COOK
Cook’s concert itinerary follows:
Sept. 28 - Oct. 1 at the Orange County Perf. Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA
Oct. 20 & 21 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC
Oct. 24 through Nov. 25 at Feinstein’s at the Regency in New York, NY
Nov. 1 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY (“The Songs of Alan Jay Lerner” with June LeBell, Peter Howard and others)
Dec. 5 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ
Jan. 12, 2001 at Alice Tully Hall in New York, NY (“The Music of Arthur Schwartz” with Maureen McGovern, John Pizzarelli and more)
Feb. 2 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Feb. 23 and 24 with Michael Feinstein at the Cerritos Center for the Perf. Arts in Cerritos, CA
Eder in concert:
Oct. 29 at Symphony Hall in Boston, Ma. (617) 266-1492
Nov. 3 at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA (215) 572-7650
Nov. 17 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ; call (732) 246-SHOW
Nov. 18 at the State Theatre in Easton, PA; call (610) 252-3132
Nov. 19 at the Strand-Capitol Theatre in York, Penn.
Dec. 6 at the Ordway Center for the Perf. Arts in St. Paul, MN (651) 224 4222
Jan. 12 & 13, 2001 in Charlotte, NC at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; (704) 372-1000
Jan. 20, 2001 with the Boca Pops at Florida Atlantic Univ in Boca Raton, FL; go to: www.bocapops.org
Jan. 21 in Naples, FL at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts; (941) 597 1900
Feb. 1 & 2 in Phoenix, AZ at the Orpheum Theatre
Feb. 3 at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek, CO; (888) 920 2787
Feb. 15-17 in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; (202) 467-4600
Feb. 23 at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, NY; call (516) 334 0800
Feb. 24 at the Community Theatre in Morristown, NJ; (973) 539-8008
March 8 in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd Hall; (727) 791-7400
March 9 in Sarasota, FL at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; www.vanwezel.org
March 10 in Melbourne, FL at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts; (407) 242-2219
May 31-June 3 in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392-4900
Several concert dates have been added to Patti LuPone’s ever-growing schedule. What follows are La LuPone’s confirmed concert appearances as of this week:
Oct. 7 ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda") with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham, Alabama; (205) 458-8401
Nov. 3 ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda") with the Louisville Symphony Orchestra in Louisville, Kentucky (502) 583-4555
April 8 ("Matters Of The Heart") at Duke University’s Page Auditorium in Durham, North Carolina; (919) 684-4444
Jan. 5-7, 2001 at the Morton J. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX (214) 871-4000
What follows is Mason’s up-to-date performance schedule:
Now through Oct. 15 Returns to Arci’s Place, 450 Park Avenue South; NYC; (212) 532-4370
Oct. 10 Karen joins editor Sherry Eaker at book launch party for the Cabaret Artist’s Handbook at Don’t Tell Mama
Oct. 16 Gala Opening of the Cabaret Convention at Town Hall, NYC
Oct. 17 Appearance at ASCAP evening at the Cabaret Convention at Town Hall, NYC
Nov. 1-12 Appearance at The Plush Room in San Francisco’s York Hotel; (415) 885-2800
Nov. 5 Special appearance at MaraLago in Palm Beach, FL
Dec. 6-10 Karen performs her Christmas Show at Davenports in Chicago, IL (773) 278-1830
Dec. 15-17, 22-23 Karen celebrates Christmas with conductor John McDaniel and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, MO
March 17 Appearance at 92nd Street Y with Craig Carnelia in New York, NY
Audra McDonald’s most recent concert listing follows:
Sept. 28-30 with the National Symphony Orchestra
Oct. 7 in Atlanta, GA (venue to be announced)
Oct. 14 in Hershey, PA (venue to be announced)
Oct. 21 in Los Angeles, CA at UCLA’s Royce Hall
Oct. 22 in San Diego, CA (venue to be announced)
Oct. 28 in Fort Worth, TX (venue to be announced)
Now through Oct. 14 at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, NY
Oct. 23 Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation Benefit Concert with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Dec. 8-11 Holiday concert with the Oregon Symphony in Portland, OR
Dec. 12 Holiday concert with the Oregon Symphony in Salem, OR
Former star of Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde, Christiane Noll will be hitting the concert circuit, performing throughout the USA. Noll will join other Broadway names in this concert tour, backed by some of the world’s greatest orchestras. Her complete schedule follows:
Oct. 14 with the Cape Symphony Orchestra at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center in Hyannis, MA (508) 362-1111
Dec. 2 with Doug LaBrecque and Michael Maguire and the New London Symphony in New London, CT
Dec. 7-17 The Magic of Christmas with the Portland Symphony in Portland, ME; (207) 842-0800
The two-time Tony winner will conclude her run in Annie Get Your Gun on September 2, when she will begin a U.S. concert tour:
Oct. 6 at the Einsenhower Hall Theatre in West Point, NY
Oct. 7 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ
Oct. 13 at the OnCenter War Memorial in Syracuse, NY
Jan. 5, 2001 at PAC in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with symphony)
Jan. 11 at the Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee
Jan. 13 at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater
March 29 at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, NY
April 6 at the Bass Perf. Hall in Fort Worth, TX (with symphony)
April 7-8 at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX
April 19 at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto (with symphony)
April 28 at the Pasquerilla PAC in Johnstown, PA
May 11-12 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN (with symphony)
May 18-20 at the Myerson Hall in Dallas, TX (with symphony)
Tony Award winner Lillias White will return to the cabaret stage of Hollywood’s The Cinegrill (7000 Hollywood Boulevard) for four special performances on Saturdays, Sept. 23 and 30 (8 and 10PM shows). Tickets for White’s shows are $20 each with a two-drink and/or food minimum. Call the Cinegrill at (323) 466-7000 for reservations.
SONGBOOK SERIES: BILL FINN
Carolee Carmello, Wanda Houston, Norm Lewis and Stephen DeRosa will perform the works of composer William Finn in Infinite Joy: Songs of William Finn. Part of Joe’s Pub’s Songbook Series, the evenings -- Sept. 25, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9 at 8:30 PM -- will feature “mostly unknown songs written recently and not so recently” by the Tony-winning composer of Falsettos. Finn will also take part in the evening, performing some of his own work. Yadim Fleichtner will serve as musical director and piano accompanist, and tickets may be purchased at the Public Theater box office or by calling (212) 239-6200; all seats are $25.
Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!
By Andrew Gans