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BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

Annie is 45 and Andrea is at 54.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below Do you remember the first time you heard the cast album to ANNIE? Or maybe the first time you heard the score to the musical was in an actual theater with an orchestra playing that amazing overture. And, ever since, whenever you hear that horn blaring those five notes that go with the words "The Sun'll Come Out" - do you get a thrill inside of you? This writer does. All it takes is those five notes to that overture and something magical happens inside... and maybe it's because of the memories that that music, that score, that show hold for me, or maybe it's because, with those five notes, there is the promise of something good to come for the next hour. That is the power that Annie has over those who love the special musical that has continually captured the hearts of new audiences through repeated Broadway revivals, regular regional theater productions, and three movies.

Well, Annie is forty-five this year and the birthday party over at 54 Below is one that everyone is certain to enjoy.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below Aptly named Andrea McArdle & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY, the hour-long show that the iconic singing actress is presenting is an extremely satisfying evening of cabaret. First of all, any evening spent watching and listening to Andrea McArdle sing is going to be satisfying; hers is one of the most easily recognizable and universally loved singing voices of the modern world. She has lived her entire life using that voice to thrill people and make them happy, so, no matter what the subject of the program being presented by Ms. McArdle, there is something good being promised to the audiences. This isn't just any concert, though. This is an hour of listening to Andrea McArdle share the stories about that time in her life and that of her friends that took that journey with her, including her guests for the evening, Shelley Bruce and Donna Graham (both looking fantastic and sounding amazing). Indeed, one of the most valuable aspects of the Annieversary concert is the relationship between these three women who met early in their lives and who have stayed so closely bonded to one another that they remain like sisters, to this day.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

The sharing of memories and music from the era of Annie is two different goldmines for the Annieversary audience, the first one being a glimpse into the history of Broadway legend, and the history of New York City at a fabulous, dirty, gritty time, and the second being a chance to get to know Andrea McArdle. Speaking personally, the Annieversay show is this reporter's favorite Andrea McArdle club act to date. I've seen Andrea in her solo shows and I've seen her with Donna McKechnie, and while the singing is always a pleasure, I have felt a strong wish, a burning desire, to have more of Andrea McArdle come out in her concerts. For some time, while watching an Andrea McArdle show, I have been struck by how funny she is. Each time, over the years, that something spontaneous has led Andrea McArdle away from the scripted path, there has been a glimmer of wicked wit and impish charm - but the second that moment of spontaneity has ended and McArdle is back on path, the gleefully funny Andrea seems to go back to someplace reserved for close friends like Frank Conway and Bobby McGuire (both of whom could be heard laughing, last night, at what one can only assume is insider information). Well, with this new concert, Andrea McArdle spends so much delicious, glorious, sensational time reminiscing about the days of Goodspeed, Mike Douglas, and Studio 54 that there is no chance of anything less than all of Andrea coming out.

And the sun, the one that she promised would come out, finally did.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below Andrea McArdle is, indeed, a very funny woman. And listening to her stories last night did good the hearts of this writer and the three people sharing his table. The stories McArdle tells about the creation of Annie are rich with detail, colorful imagery, irreverent respect for the experience and the people who shared that experience, incredible humor, and overwhelming affection. Watching Andrea McArdle become emotional while sharing these stories and songs made all of us emotional, too, because it tells us that forty-five years later it still matters to her. Annie wasn't some jumping-off place for her, some springboard to her career to get her started, only to be abandoned and forgotten later. Andrea respects that which made her, she understands her role in the history of the American Musical Theater, she cherishes the memories and the people - and that is more than patently clear when she invites Misses Graham and Bruce to the stage for some sisterly fun and visible affection.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below Now, at this point, readers may notice that there has been no mention of the musical material from the evening. And there won't be, either, because Andrea's show is not made up, exclusively, of songs from Annie, although there is plenty of the Strouse & Charnin score to keep the fans happy. Andrea sings songs from the play but she also sings songs that are indelibly informed by the experience, and it would be untoward to spoil the surprises for audiences who will attend the subsequent performances of the program. However, this review cannot be written without mentioning one moment of hilarity and humanity that happened during one song, and that is when the three OG Annie stars performed "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" while trying to remember the choreography (which McArdle never did in the show) and stay in their heels (which Graham did not). It was show business magic and camaraderie of the first order, as was what happened after the raucously festive musical number.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

In a viscerally teary-eyed moment, Andrea and Donna joined forces to welcome to the stage Graham's daughter, Bridgette Graham, who is an accomplished singer of the pop-diva ilk, and after turning the microphone and the stage over to the young woman, the three BFFs stood upstage and clung to one another while the mind-blowing belter hit one out of the park with a popular radio hit by one of the biggest pop stars of all time (again, no spoilers: get a ticket to find out). Hearing Bridgette Graham live was a new thrill for everyone in the basement, and watching her three strong female role models support her from the shadows was show business sister solidarity at its very best.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below As for McArdle and her vocals - they are unchanged. The voice is as strong and as beautiful and as uniquely identifiable as it has ever been. And more. There are sweet (and sweetly surprising) nuances in Andrea's vocal performance that can only come with the life experience of a woman (of a person) who has lived, especially in a mash-up of songs she performed on the chat circuit of the seventies, and a Billy Joel song that Andrea McArdle has, now, become this writer's favorite performer of. It is a voice worth hearing and worth continuing to seek out and listen to, whatever the show in which it is being showcased. But take it from this (modest) mini-expert on Broadway and cabaret aficionado, this is the Andrea McArdle show you want to be able to say you saw. Hopefully, it might have a life moving forward because there are audiences everywhere who love Annie and who love Andrea that will want to see it.

Happy Birthday, Annie. You are loved. And that means you, Andrea McArdle.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

Andrea McArdle & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY will play Feinstein's through May 7th at 7 pm. For information and tickets visit the 54 Below website HERE.

Andrea McArdle & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY will be live-streamed during the May 7th performance. Find information and tickets HERE.

Andrea McArdle has a Facebook page HERE.

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below
BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below BWW Review: ANDREA MCARDLE & FRIENDS CELEBRATE THE 45TH ANNIEVERSARY Is Cause For Celebration At Feinstein's/54 Below

Photos by Stephen Mosher


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From This Author - Stephen Mosher