There's still time to catch Andrea Marcovicci during her current run at The Oak Room in not one, but two different shows. The most enchanting of cabaret performers is offering a program titled Kurt Weill in America in the prime-time dinner slot every night and another one titled Our Songs, featuring music from 1965 to 1985, for her Friday and Saturday late shows. (Click here for schedule and information.)
The two programs could not be more different in style and content, but Marcovicci is so emotionally encompassing as a personality and as a singer that both feel right when she performs them. Each has the Marcovicci touch of witty and wise patter. The difference is that, while the singer's own personality warms up the Weill material, it's her intelligence that shines in Our Songs as she brings fresh lyric punctuation to pop. In both cases, you will oftentimes feel as if you're hearing familiar numbers for the very first time. And, in Our Songs, you will be awestruck as Shelly Markham's inventive arrangements and Marcovicci's incisive readings of lyrics cause you to realize that many of these songs are better and richer than you ever thought they were. Somehow, Marcovicci turns bubble gum into caviar.
The woman always does her homework. Her Weill show is full of fascinating tidbits of information that manage to entertain, inform, and set up each song along the way. Marcovicci focuses on Weill's American career for reasons she explains in the course of the evening, and it works; the audience gets a real sense of this driven man and comes to understand the way he musically expresses his passions. Marcovicci expresses her own passions as well, through Weill's compositions--and that's the beauty of the evening. Singing songs from such shows as One Touch of Venus, Love Life, and Lady in the Dark, she demonstrates the humor as well as the far-better-known dark side of this musical genius.
Finally, though, the show is less about Weill than it is about Marcovicci's special brand of romantic brio. The composer's work suits her, but people aren't flocking to see the show because she's singing Weill; they're coming because they love Marcovicci. One of the reasons why is encapsulated in her rendition of "I'm A Stranger Here Myself." By the time Marcovicci is done singing this song, making eye contact with every member of the audience, no one feels like a stranger in the Oak Room--even if it is the most difficult cabaret space in New York.
Our Songs was Marcovicci's early dinner show a year ago at the Oak Room. If you missed it then, don't miss it again. Offering songs by the likes of Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, and Lennon/McCartney, the singer takes a personal approach that is at once endearing and revealing. These are the tunes with which Marcovicci grew up, and the stories she tells about discovering them allow us, in turn, to discover the girl within the woman. She also does us the favor of displaying the brilliance of songs we simply took for granted. One example: The pretty little Lennon/McCartney tune "Here, There, and Everywhere," as arranged by Shelly Markham and interpreted by Marcovicci, suddenly emerges as a masterfully crafted song. If you didn't know better, you'd think Jerome Kern had written it.