Andrea Marcovicci should record all her albums live. The stunning singing actress, who has been one of the most enjoyable performers on the cabaret scene for the past decade, recently released her latest album, Andrea Marcovicci: Live from London. Her new CD -- on the Cabaret Records label -- spotlights love songs from the theatre and was actually a radio broadcast that was heard over BBC Radio 3 in London in June of 1996.
The live broadcast emanated from Pizza on the Park in Knightsbridge, and it captures why her performances consistently sell out: Marcovicci perfectly blends her songs with witty patter and wisely mixes more familiar tunes ("Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "It Never Entered My Mind") with lesser-known comic gems ("Shakespeare Lied").
Her set of theatre love songs opens with Herman Hupfeld's "As Time Goes By," and then segues into the little-heard, but beautiful "Love Song" by Alan Jay Lerner and Kurt Weill. What is so appealing about Marcovicci's performances is her flawless re-interpretation of songs you have heard over and over again. The chanteuse is also an expert at combining two or more songs into a mini-song cycle that begins innocuously and ends up breaking your heart. Witness her combination of three Rodgers and Hart tunes: "Nobody's Heart," "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Little Girl Blue."
Other highlights of her program include another heartfelt medley of Rodgers and Hart songs ("Where or When," "My Romance" and "I'll Tell the Man on the Street") and a beautiful arrangement of the Gershwins' "Someone to Watch Over Me." Marcovicci also offers a handful of contemporary theatre songs, including William Finn's "What More Can I Say?" and a gender-switched version of Stephen Sondheim's "Finishing the Hat." She finishes her show with an emotionally-charged, belty version of Lerner and Lowe's "There But for You Go I" and returns to the stage with two encores: a lilting "Hello Young Lovers" and a tune not usually heard in the summer months, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Live from London is a treat for both devout Marcovicci fans and for those who are being introduced to this talented lady for the first time.
Michael Feinstein salutes Gershwin on his first-ever jazz-oriented CD, Michael & George -- Feinstein Sings Gershwin, due in stores on Sept. 15 (Concord Records). . . . Idina Menzel, who impressed audiences with her high-voltage performance as Maureen in the original company of Rent, has just released her first solo CD, Still I Can't Be Still (Hollywood Records).
SPOTLIGHT: Frances Ruffelle
This past March, Frances Ruffelle (l.) -- the Tony-winning star of the London and New York productions of Les Miz -- made her New York cabaret debut at the Triad, and her new CD, Frances Ruffelle, includes most of the program heard during her stint at the Upper West Side club. Ruffelle possesses an appealing voice that she uses most effectively on big Broadway ballads, combining both a theatre and pop-flavored style. Much of the recording is quite moving -- especially beautiful is Ruffelle's rendition of Maury Yeston's "Unusual Way," which she builds from a sweet, plaintive reading to a full-voiced wail. Other theatre songs included on this Dress Circle release are Chess's "Where I Want to Be," Nine's "Be On Your Own" and two Stephen Sondheim offerings: "Being Alive" and "The Miller's Son."
By Andrew Gans