Andrea Marcovicci Honors Johnny Mercer With SKYLARK: MARCOVICCI SINGS MERCER, Plays The Oak Room 11/17-12/26
ANDREA MARCOVICCI - the celebrated singer and actress lauded as "the greatest cabaret star of her generation" by The International Herald Tribune and "the epitome of elegance and showbiz savvy" by Variety - will celebrate the 2009 Johnny Mercer Centennial with the New York premiere of her new show "Skylark: Marcovicci Sings Mercer" at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel (59 West 44th Street) from November 17 to December 26. Please call (212) 467-7444 for reservations.
The only Mercer show to be commissioned for the Savannah Music Festival in his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, Andrea's personal homage celebrates the four-time Oscar winner through rarely-heard anecdotes and Andrea's trademark interpretations of Mercer's pensive, often impish, lyrics. "Skylark" includes familiar hits like "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive," "That Old Black Magic," "One for My Baby," "Goody, Goody" and "Moon River." Mercer, whose actual centennial is November 18, shares a birthday with Andrea.
Johnny Mercer - considered a renaissance man of the music world - collaborated with an astonishing array of composers to create some of the most distinguished works of the American Popular Songbook. Along with composers such as Harold Arlen, Hoagy Carmichael, Jerome Kern, Henry Mancini, Jimmy Van Heusen, and Harry Warren, he created memorable hits for Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, among many others. Mercer was also a best-selling recording artist, a chart-topping radio star and the co-founder of Capitol Records, a label indispensable to pop and jazz in the 1940s and 50s.
Marcovicci's research into the Georgia State University Special Collections Mercer archives has uncovered several gems from his vast repertoire, such as "Out Of Breath And Scared To Death Of You," his very first published song, from The Garrick Gaieties of 1930 and "Getting A Man" from the stage musical Saratoga to represent Mercer's Broadway career. She even sings "My Sugar Is So Refined," a charming radio hit for Mercer that he didn't write.
According to Marcovicci, "Johnny Mercer's optimism is his unique contribution to the popular songbook. He captures the unique American naturalness in several ways: sometimes cheeky, other times torchy, some songs have that heartbreaking ‘cry-in-your-beer' quality. The great songwriter and author Alec Wilder called Mercer an ‘outdoor writer,' not like a sophisticated ‘indoor' writer like Larry Hart or Cole Porter. Indeed, his songs speak of bucolic things like trains and whistles and birds. He was capable of the intricate rhyme schemes of Porter, but also the simple truth of Sammy Cahn."
Over months of personal research, Andrea spoke to Mercer's family members and intimate friends including Alan Bergman, the Oscar winning lyricist and Mercer protégé; Ginny Mancini, the widow of Mercer's "Moon River" collaborator Henry Mancini; and Gene Lees, one of Mercer's major biographers. These unique perspectives - along with Andrea's travels through Savannah to find the real "Moon River" as well as his childhood and summer homes - help her paint the most intimate portrait yet of this trailblazer of popular music.
Her latest CD - "As Time Goes By: The Best of Andrea Marcovicci" - features two newly recorded tracks and out of print favorites, including Mercer's own "You Were Never Lovelier." Several other Mercer tracks are available on the Marcovicci recordings "Andrea Sings Astaire" and "I'll Be Seeing You: Love Songs of Word War II." She also serves as Executive Producer for "seems like old times," the touching new CD by her mother, Helen Marcovicci. The recording, which features standards by Cole Porter, Dorothy Fields and Irving Berlin, commemorates Helen's 90th Birthday. Andrea is currently appearing in the Henry Jaglom film Irene in Time, also featuring Victoria Tennant. In addition, her new perfume, AndreaSONG - designed specifically for Andrea - is available for the holiday season.
The Algonquin Hotel will present Andrea Marcovicci in "Skylark: Marcovicci Sings Mercer" from November 17 to December 26. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8:30 PM with additional late shows at 11:00 PM on Friday and Saturday. A $60 cover and $30 minimum is in place from Tuesday through Thursday and for the 11:00 PM weekend shows. The 8:30 PM shows on Friday and Saturday have a $65 cover and a required $60 prix-fixe dinner. Please call (212) 467-7444 for reservations.
Photo credit Jena Tesse Fox