Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

The Ultimate Chanteuse plays the cabaret stage as well as Silvestri plays the accordion.

By: Sep. 16, 2023
Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below
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Christine Andreas can sing anything.  She has spent her life singing for her supper on the musical theater stage and the stages of concert venues, from the small cabaret clubs to the symphony halls, and there is no question at all that she can, in fact, sing anything.  If Christine Andreas were to announce tomorrow that she were doing a show of The Rolling Stones and The Dixie Chicks, it would be unsurprising and it would be unsurpassed, that’s how talented and interesting the Tony Award-nominated singing actress is.  But right now, Christine Andreas is presenting a program that’s a little closer to home.

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Last night at 54 Below, Christine Andreas premiered PARIS TO BROADWAY, a musical cabaret with a focus on two things about which the actress can, most definitely, be declared an expert: The City of Light and The Great White Way.  In her nightclub acts over the years, Christine Andreas often displayed her status as a Francophile, even going so far as to create a smash-hit show centered around the life of the legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf.  With a wealth of wisdom regarding France, the French, Paris, Parisians, and Piaf, Andreas is the perfect performer to bring the topics and the music to the cabaret stage.  It isn’t just her interest in the topics that makes her the right and proper person to carry on Piaf’s torch though: it is her understanding of the art form of cabaret.

The small venue industry has been re-named Cabaret and Concert, in recent years, and even though the definition of cabaret is simply “entertainment performed in a place where food and drink is sold,” cabaret is a set sort of show, with a style all its own, and Christine Andreas is a Mistress of that style.  It has to be theatrical but it has to be accessible.  It has to have a throughline but it doesn’t require a theme.  It has to have intimacy but oversharing is not essential.  It walks a fine line, one that some don’t quite grasp, but that Christine Andreas does.  The lady is an aesthete and an intellectual, able to converse on topics that some might consider lofty, like an iconic European cabarettist from the middle of the last century, yet she is also a woman, a jokester, a person who doesn’t shy away from calling herself an “old fart” while gossiping with a guest star.  Andreas is able to take the topics at hand, bring them into the room in all their foreign language and historical meanings, and make them general conversation with a room full of strangers, and dear friends like Lorna Dallas, Mark Nadler, Kelli Rabke, and fellow Eliza Doolittle, Melissa Errico, all of whom were in the room to cheer Christine on.  No matter how elegant and sophisticated her demeanor on the stage and during the play, Christine Andreas is always relatable, like a Humanities professor able to wrap her metaphysical arms around her entire college classroom.  Because of this duality, Christine Andreas always seems to be in the ether, but with both feet on the ground.

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

After presenting part one of her show, the Parisian part, Christine segues simply and sweetly over to Broadway, with an assist from Backstage Babble creator Charles Kirsch, who joined in the proceedings with a lovely “Dites-Moi” that leans into the French and leads into the Broadway.  After their brief and comedic interaction, Andreas returned to her trajectory and took the audience from “L’Accordeoniste” to “They Say It’s Wonderful” as she shared some insights into her career (with a tune from My Fair Lady) and some tributes to some friends (a stunning arrangement of Bacharach and David compositions), including the late Tony Bennett, who was represented by a gorgeous rendition of (what else?) “I Left My Heart In San Francisco.”  It was a fine transition from one world and one genre to another, but to suggest Christine Andreas could not make an easy transition from anything to anything else is almost insulting, for there really and truly is nobody better at this.  Of course, when an artist has another artist like Martin Silvestri sharing the stage with them, it is difficult to be anything but the best in the business.  

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Martin Silvestri, as most people know, is more than Musical Director to Christine Andreas: he is devoted husband.  And when he is on the stage with her he acts like a devoted Musical Director.   Mr. Silvestri has provided Ms. Andreas with brilliant arrangements to which she can perform - even the moments of simplicity are rendered more sublime by his expert skill at the piano, which is considerable.  Christine relinquishes the stage for each of Martin’s solos but never interrupts his own work or her storytelling by indicating that the audience should applaud those solos, for they are both aware that the story is not over and the applause not required until they have both completed their journey.  It is one of the most elegant (and, strangely, innovative) aspects to this or any other Andreas/Silvestri show.  The story comes first.  Then the applause.  To further the immense enjoyment of the musical artistry and theatrical storytelling, Silvestri is equally proficient with his accordion, which makes two appearances in the act, allowing him to get out from behind the piano and be a (closer) scene partner to The Actress.  It is only closer, though, since the two are active scene partners throughout the play - whether on opposite sides of the stage with a grand piano between them, or mere feet away, they feed off of one another’s energy.  The times when they speak to each other, about each other, and about their work are delicious and funny and flirty - a section about Silvestri’s play THE FIELDS OF AMBROSIA is particularly satisfying.  And there are many moments throughout PARIS TO BROADWAY that are satisfying.

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Take, for example, Christine’s performance of the song “Why Did I Choose You,” which has an economically entertaining expository monologue before Andreas presents one of the evening highlights.  Or consider the juxtaposition of the romantic, dramatic “Autumn Leaves” and the playful, coquettish “Sous Le Ciel” that employs not only Martin’s accordion but his pleasanter-than-that singing voice (also used in the delightful “Continental Sunday” from AMBROSIA).   There are wonderful moments at every turn of the Paris To Broadway journey, and although the twosome are responsible for each of them, it cannot be denied that Christine Andreas is magical.  Aside from the fact of that iconic voice, untouched by the passage of time, there is the matter of Christine’s availability to the composers’ work.  Whether the emotions derive from the lyrics or the melodic line, Christine Andreas feels everything, and all of those feelings are present for all to see.  They are on her face, they are in her posture, they are patently and plainly presented in pristine vocal performances that make a person laugh, then cry, and then laugh through tears.  Nobody is like Christine Andreas, and no show comes close to being this brand of special.  With Christine Andreas, it’s just a question of topic, and, this time, the topic is so close to home that a person can’t help but feel at home.  So take this writer’s advice and, tonight, leave the house and go to 54 Below for the second and final (for now) performance of Paris To Broadway, where Christine Andreas will make you feel at home.

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

For reservations to PARIS TO BROADWAY in person on September 16th at 7 pm visit the 54 Below website HERE.

For a ticket to the live stream tonight, September 16th at 7 pm, visit the 54 Below website HERE.

Christine Andreas has a website HERE and Martin Silvestri is represented online HERE.

THIS is the Charles Kirsch BACKSTAGE BABBLE website.

Photos by Stephen Mosher

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below

Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below Review: Christine Andreas Presents Perfect PARIS TO BROADWAY at 54 Below



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