Cabaret Review by Stephen Hanks
Even her biggest fans among the opening night crowd were likely befuddled, slightly bothered, and even a tad bewildered when they heard that Christine Andreas' first cabaret show at 54 Below was called Bemused, and not exactly sure what that meant. But they would ultimately end up being thoroughly bewitched by a wonderfully engaging show by this totally entertaining pro. While most current or former Broadway stars who are staging shows at 54 Below are performing what amounts to mini-concerts, the lady who first became a Broadway audience favorite as Eliza Doolittle in the 20th anniversary production of My Fair Lady (and is two-time Tony Award nominee) knows her way around cabaret and developed a charmingly creative conceit for this run (continuing on Jan. 29, Feb. 1, 2 at 8:30 pm and Jan. 30, 31 at 7 pm), which included songs from Broadway, pop, the Great American Songbook, and even Edith Piaf.
Entering in a tight, floor-length red evening gown, the still-ravishing brunette opened jazzy and upbeat with Harold Arlen's "Get Happy" (lyrics Ted Koehler), one of the many songs associated with Judy Garland. Then the audience discovered her intention behind the show title. Andreas' definition of "bemused" (which actually means to be bewildered or confused by a thought or question) separates the syllables as if it had been a compound word and for Andreas it becomes "Be Mused," as in someone who has been so influenced by someone else that he or she becomes the focus and inspiration for that person's creative work. "It's the spark that ignites when the right singer and songwriter collide," she adds. What's difficult to determine in some of the famous musical collaborations she highlights in this show is who exactly was the muser and who was the musee. What's not difficult to determine is that when it comes to being a muse, Christine Andreas must know whereof she speaks. During her many years as a performer, this stunning songbird has no doubt been a muse, either in reality or fantasy, for many men--and likely a fair amount of women.
It's something Christine probably has in common with Astrud Gilberto, who was apparently a muse for three great musicians, her husband Joao, jazz legend Stan Getz, and especially Antonio Carlos Jobim. Astrud was the voice behind Jobim's classic 1964 international hit "The Girl From Ipanema," recorded with Getz and Joao, and Astrud became Jobim's go-to singer. Andreas was bossa nova sultry on a medley of "Ipanama," and Jobim's "Desafinado" and "Wave," which the great Brazilian composer recorded with Frank Sinatra, a connection which became a mutual muse admiration society during the 1960s and '70s. Andreas seamlessly transitioned into the prolific connection between Sinatra and songwriters Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen, who wrote countless hits for "Ol' Blue Eyes." She was absolutely lovely on "All My Tomorrows," before making her case for being a retroactive member of The Rat Pack with "Come Fly With Me," "The Tender Trap" and "Come Blow Your Horn."
If you didn't know that Andreas was another great singer who was clearly influenced by Barbra Streisand, you'd figure it out listening to her beautifully envelop the audience with her luscious soprano on the Michel Legrand's wistful "The Summer Knows" (the theme from the film Summer of '42), whose lyricists Marilyn and Alan Bergman have been almost synonymous with Streisand during her career. Christine's Musical Director Don Rebic dazzled here with a lush piano arrangement that was supported by Dick Sarpola's romantic bass. (Please click on page 2 below to continue.)