International cabaret artist Adrienne Haan has demonstrated her skill with a repertoire that has included songs of the Weimar Republic in Germany and popular French classics. In her latest show at the Triad in New York ( December 7 and 10) she goes very American in her salute to the music and lyrics of Irving Berlin in her program called “White Christmas at the Triad” and flashes her skill in interpreting the hits of America’s most prolific composer.
She has a strong accomplice—Richard Danley, her longtime associate as musical director and pianist. They work ever-so smoothly together, whether Danley is superbly complementing her on the keyboard or on occasion joining in the vocals.
As usual, Haan, a favorite entertainer of mine, lights up the room--it was packed on the opening night when I attended-- with her effervescent personality and ability to connect with her audience, whether by strolling among the spectators or connecting with her crystal clear delivery of lyrics.
Haan ranges over an array of hits by Berlin, interspersed with comments from a script written by Laurence Pierron that recalls his history as the Jewish immigrant from Russia who came to write such iconic songs as “White Christmas” and “God Bless America,” both of which Haan sings with panache.
She opens with a zesty “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from the 1946 Broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun” and proceeds to highlight different sides to Berlin’s accomplishments. For example, he wrote a number stressing America’s welcoming of immigrants, “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor” from the 1949 musical “Miss Liberty.” (Nostalgia in the age of Trump?)
Haan puts zing into Berlin’s 1977 “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” She reflects the contributions Berlin made to Hollywood musicals and Broadway with a medley of “Blue Skies,” “They Say It’s Wonderful,” “Cheek to Cheek” and “I’ve Got the Sun in the Morning.”
In 1926 on the wedding day of Berlin’s marriage to Ellin McKay, he wanted to present her with a musical gift. He gave her “Always,” a beautiful love song that Haan sings emotionally as if she were the giver.
Haan also dipped into songs Berlin wrote with a nod to the military—“This is the Army Mr. Jones” and “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.” Very funny is the odd “I Paid My Income Tax Today.”
Haan’s excavation into the treasure trove provided by Berlin has been produced by Peter Martin. At the Triad, 158 West 72nd Street. Reviewed December 9, 2018.