The captivating Andrea Marcovicci has returned to The Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room for her first-ever spring show there. Befitting the season, Double Old Fashioned is a light, playful, romantic affair that is filled with some of the most glorious music of the 20th century. As always, Marcovicci can be counted upon to choose wonderful material; if, this time out, not all of the material suits her voice, every bit of it suits her personality. And when you get right down to it, Marcovicci understands that cabaret is fundamentally the art of selling oneself. She artfully structures music, lyrics, and patter to present a luminous personality with which an audience can (and does) fall in love.
In a show devoted to the memory of New York's elegant café society, a world she lovingly evokes with stories of her parents, Marcovicci sings such songs as "Moonlight Cocktail" (Gannon/Roberts) and "This is My Night to Dream" (Burke/Monaco). The only downside to a show on this subject comes with its many songs in swing time. This is not our heroine's forte; perhaps that why relies a little too heavily on sing-a-longs. When she's swinging, her notes occasionally swing a little too far from the correct pitch. Marcovicci's voice is better suited to story songs or character-oriented ballads that rely on her gift for interpreting lyrics. She has wisely included a number of tunes that Mabel Mercer performed during her heyday, tunes that are well suited to Marcovicci both vocally and lyrically. Her musical director and pianist, Shelly Markham is also remarkably well suited to her singing style; he supports her with lovely arrangements that also unobtrusively camouflage the flaws in her voice.
At one point in the show, Marcovicci cleverly explains why so many love songs invoke the moon: She notes that, while there are only five words that rhyme with "love," there must be hundreds that rhyme with "moon." As always, her patter sparkles. It's intelligent, usually funny, and delivered with ineffable charm. This breezy show offers the wit of songs like "A Lady Needs a Change" (Fields/Schwartz), but Marcovicci also makes sure to give her fans at least a small dose of the busted-romance material that has always been her bread and butter. In this regard, "Talk of the Town" (Symes/Neiburg/ Livingston) is a welcome addition to her repertoire. And there is nothing more romantically moody than her rendition of "I Wonder What Became of Me" (Arlen/Mercer).
Andrea Marcovicci is one of the very few cabaret performers who can consistently sell out long runs at top dollar prices, and it isn't because she has a beautiful voice--it's because she puts on a beautiful show. Double Old Fashioned is no exception. Unlike anyone else who has ever played the Oak Room, this lady performs for the entire audience. We've often sat at a distance from other entertainers in that difficult cabaret space, and many of them have been unable to connect to patrons past ringside. Marcovicci makes you feel as if she's singing to you, no matter where you're sitting. She'll be at the Oak Room through June 30th; her late shows on Fridays and Saturday nights are a reprise of an earlier, acclaimed act called Ten Cents a Dance.