Cabaret class is in session over the holiday season with Andrea Marcovicci at the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel (Nov. 16-Dec. 30), as the renowned singer presents “Blue Champagne: The History of the Torch Song.” As followers of Marcovicci know, she is adept at dispensing information about musical history and those who made it between her numbers, so one always comes away with interesting tidbits as well as an impression of Marcovicci as one who can hold a supper club audience with her effervescence.
The champagne may supposed to be blue, and Marcovicci pours into a glass a facsimile, but her approach to torch songs is more in keeping with her high-spirited style of performing. She does not get into low-down funks with her carefully chosen material. Even with a number like “Mean to Me,” there is kind of a semi-jolly approach to the music and lyrics that makes the song more pleasing than heartbreaking.
The cabaret star of long experience (24th year at the Algonquin) tells us about such singers as Helen Morgan, Ruth Etting and Libby Holman, whom she recalls as icons of their time and reminds us of their work and their lives. Where a movie is involved, she fills us in on details, always with an amused take on the past.
Her accompaniment by her musical director and pianist Shelly Markham and Jared Egan on bass is at just the right volume to enhance rather than overwhelm her singing. Marcovicci is also fond of roaming the room to achieve greater intimacy. With “Someone to Watch Over Me” she almost danced around the place. She also adores being playful, as with the way she interpreted “My Husband’s First Wife.”
Marcovicci’s ranges far in her selections, with choices such as “Just Like a Man,” “La Vie en Rose,” "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” “Don’t Ever Leave Me,” “Body and Soul” and many more in her generous program, clocked at an hour and twenty minutes on the night I caught her performance.
Her main gift continues to be her ability to provide warmth and fun, thanks to her skill at acting out lyrics with élan and clarity. Marcovicci continues to have that welcome quality of personality, and that goes a long way toward pleasing a crowd. At the Oak Room, Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street. Phone: 212-419-9331 or 212-840-6800.