BWW Review: Christine Andreas Takes Her Audience to Heaven With AND SO IT GOES at 54 Below
Looking at Christine Andreas on stage at 54 Below could cause one to wonder if she had ever played the titular role in the musical One Touch of Venus. With the drape of her black gown exposing one perfect, tantalizing shoulder and her patrician beauty highlighted by a calliope of colored lights as the dulcet tones of her expressive voice fill the air, it is quite possible to discover yourself bewitched, bothered and bewildered by this seeming goddess. The petite Tony award nominee may be compact of stature but she is every bit of a titan when it comes to the artistry that has been her calling since, first, she burst onto the scene in 1975. Her unmistakable voice unchanged by the passage of time, Christine Andreas is still telling stories, and they are the most captivating and satiating stories one could hope to find in a 75-minute cabaret setting; indeed, Ms. Andreas' show AND SO IT GOES... is so personal and personally created that it ranks as one of the most erudite, sophisticated and yet down to earth shows this writer has, yet, seen.
The full title of Ms. Andreas' new club act is AND SO IT GOES... LIFE & LOVE, LOST & FOUND and inside of the arc of the show, Christine Andreas covers all varieties of love by sharing the stories of the loves of her life, alongside songs that perfectly illustrate those relationships and experiences. There is not one tale she tells, nor one tune she croons, to which listeners will be unable to relate, and not just because we have all felt this way for a parent, experienced that loss of a love, reveled in so deep a devotion or suffered so painful an ending, but because Christine Andreas is more than an entertainer, she is a philosopher, and her daily meditations on life and the world we live in have been scrupulously documented in the writings that have become this personally informed musical journey. Andreas speaks openly (and often bemusedly) about the state of the world and how she and her husband (musical director and arranger extraordinaire, Martin Silvestri) help her to grapple with the distress (delightful is the tale of how he edits the news she will read), but her frankness in her storytelling is not limited to so broad a scope as current events. Touching and heartwarming are the memories she shares of her flawed father (whom she endearingly still calls "my daddy"), her son who was born with some hurdles ("this is not a sad story!") and her husband, who occasionally appears to be blushing behind the piano when her open admissions lean toward the intimately sassy. Ms. Andreas seems intent and content to hold nothing back from her audience, and why should she, since she spent last evening looking into the faces of the crowd and talking to them as though they were her coffee klatch. The order of the day is love, friendship and healing between friends, with Christine Andreas acting as diagnostician, nurse, and physician, and everyone leaves the club feeling better.
Her obvious skills as a writer aside (and let it be said that Christine's script for this show is a major reason to see And So It Goes - it's not just about the music) the journey offered through the curation of musical selections is an intricate and eloquent one, using the Broadway tunes one would expect, and naturally drawing from the Great American Songbook, but also tapping into some pop music that suits, perfectly, the storytelling style of this troubadour in a gown. Anyone expecting to hear, solely, the lofty, lilting soprano sounds of the Christine Andreas of My Fair Lady, Oklahoma! and On Your Toes will be surprised at the velvety, dreamy lower register displayed on numbers like the "My Romance/Falling In Love With Love" medley, and the audaciously appropriate accent work on a couple of Irish-themed tunes is downright uplifting and alluring. It would appear that Christine Andreas sat down with Martin Silvestri and planned out this evening as though creating a roadmap through the most appealing vistas in the world because the effect of the entire ebb and flow of And So It Goes is like a walk in the Alps, with rarified air and majestic sights and sounds at the ready, wherever one looks.
Creating a special effect in the show is an inventively cheeky "To Keep My Love Alive" that keeps the audience atwitter with glee, and a duet with special guest Marco Romano (he has to be seen and heard to be believed) on the famous "The Prayer" that could make even the most cynical heart melt with optimism, and, for this writer, there is pure witchcraft in the incredibly personal reverie one witnesses when Christine Andreas sings "Song of Bernadette" and the titular "And So It Goes" -- as though she goes to a private conversation with the song, and we, her willingly captive audience, are the lucky few who she allows to see that oh so personal relationship. The puckish and pensive Ms. Andreas is a gift to anyone who has experienced these different kinds of love of which she speaks, loves that live in and around us every single day, including and especially the love of great storytelling and great music, which is all part of the treasure being unearthed by that goddess divine Christine Andreas.
Find Marco Romano online at his website
Christine Andreas and Marco Romano
Photos by Stephen Mosher