BWW Review: Melissa Errico Continues AN EVEN GRANDER AFFAIR With Throngs of Fans at 54 Below
Melissa Errico is a walking work of art. It is appropriate that she once played in the musical One Touch of Venus because, in life, she not only represents a work of art that has come to life, elle est une oeuvre d'art, born of flesh and blood parents, and walking among us. No mere creation magically given to the human race to awe and inspire us, Melissa Errico was simply born to be a masterpiece, the value of which appreciates with each passing year. The overabundance of talent and beauty, d'intelligence et d'inspiration, can be heard on her cds and seen in her film and television performances, but any person unlucky enough to have never seen her perform live doesn't know what they are missing; and this writer would adamantly urge anyone reading this to set up a google alert to be informed when and where Masterpiece Melissa will next set foot onto a stage to entertain.
It isn't only the singing, which is singing par excellence, c'est le paquet entier that Ms. Errico brings to her concerts that entertains. Last night at her Feinstein's/54 Below show AN EVEN GRANDER AFFAIR, Melissa Errico wrapped up nearly 20 songs (actually, it could have been twenty or more, I lost count) as neatly and sweetly as a holiday gift, and gave them to a standing room only crowd; the wrapping and the bow, though, were the jubilant conversation and the rapturous dancing, every bit of this gift sprinkled with a healthy dose of passion. The crowd could not get enough of her, and even though her show ran nearly an hour and forty-five minutes, everyone would have stayed longer to hear more, including this writer qui est notoirement mechant sur les spectacles qui durent plus de 90 minutes. No person watching Melissa Errico perform would be happy watching her walk off the stage for the final time; maybe that is why she is one of the world's most sought after concert performers. She is the possessor of one of the world's most endearing personalities and enduring talents.
A picture of sophistication in sleek, simple, chic black satin, Ms. Errico is almost shockingly at home on the stage - at home in a way that one sees, but not from everyone and not every day of the week. She is womanly in appearance and attitude, but childlike in enthusiasm and excitement, dancing about the stage, whipping her hair around, playing air guitar, flirting with every person she sees comme une coquette and laughing, laughing, laughing. You will never find a person so enviably happy when engaged in the act of singing. Melissa Errico is informed by some mystical well of happiness that erupts when she is up on the stage, in the light, singing, dancing, or sharing any story inside of her that is ready to burst forth. Elle vit dans la musique.
An Even Grander Affair is Melissa Errico's tribute to her friend and mentor, the late and legendary Michel Legrand, with whom she became friends during her run in the Broadway musical AMOUR, but whose work has run through her veins since her childhood. Every artist needs a muse and Melissa was definitely a muse to Michel, who was inspired by her light for over two decades; but every artist needs a mentor and Michel was (is) a mentor to Melissa, who interprets his work in ways no other artist ever has. Think Liza Minnelli and Kander & Ebb, think Bernadette Peters and Stephen Sondheim, think Judy Garland and Harold Arlen. Mais il y a une difference avec Melissa and Michel, c'est peut-etre l'aspect Francais. Ms. Errico is, clearly, a Francophile and her understanding of Monsieur Legrand and the way his nationality informed his artistry is most definitely reflected in both her perception and performance of his music, and any chance she is given to share the result of their collaboration c'est le moment juste pour etre heureux. It is so satisfying to watch a person talk about someone or something they love, and for the entirety of her show, Melissa Errico was like a glass of Veuve Clicquot, effervescent and intoxicating, always beatific and beautiful. Nobody is like Melissa Errico.
Because Ms. Errico's joy is showing when she is on the stage, one should assume that a big part of it is that she shares that stage with les musiciens plus merveilleux du metier. With longtime chums Mark McLean (percussion), David Finck (bass) and Tedd Firth (piano and musical director) beside her, Melissa gives herself permission to feel safe, to relax, and to have fun; but this latest show of hers allowed Melissa to bring into the fold a new friend, one of the greatest guitarists in music, Pete Smith. The noise made by these five artists was among the most sublime ever to be heard, so the embarrassment of riches became vraiment incroyable when Errico welcomed to the proceedings world famous clarinet player Derek Bermel for her final songs, sending the crowd into a euphoric state of exploration emotionnelle.
A fellow writer once said to me "I can tell when you are really enjoying a show because you take a LOT of pictures." At AN EVEN GRANDER AFFAIR I made nearly 500 photos. Clearly bewitched by Ms.Errico's brilliance (but, really, anyone not drawn in by her would have to be dead), I asked my date for the evening, a respected actor, for their thoughts on the show. Before doing so, though, I hit the record button on my phone.
"I've never been so thoroughly, utterly, completely entertained by a cabaret. She had taken the whole journey herself, long before she ever set foot on the stage. She brought the fruits of her journey out to entertain us. Every single moment, she was engaged in entertaining us. The soul searching and everything had already happened, so we didn't have to do it. She just said "we're going to have fun and I'm going to entertain you." And she was fluttering around like a French chanteuse... she has lovely diction and elocution, but she talks as fast as any Long Islander you've ever met. If she had wanted to sing more, I would've ordered a couple of espressos, kicked off my shoes, and stayed all night. She was so marvelous and entertaining, and that VOICE!"
AN EVEN GRANDER AFFAIR has completed its current run of shows.
Melissa Errico can be followed on Instagram @melissa_errico_fairymom Twitter @melissa_errico and Facebook @officialmelissaerrico
Photos by Stephen Mosher