“It’s the Carlyle!” Andrea Marcovicci exclaimed, with her arms extended triumphantly and a broad smile on her face indicating opening-night joy at performing a new show in her new home (October 2-October 27, 2012) “And on a bill with Woody Allen,” she added, referring to Allen’s Monday night sessions with the Eddy Davis New Orleans Jazz Band .Marcovicci’s musicians include her musical director Shelly Markham at the piano, Jered Egan on bass and Jack Cavari on guitar.
For more than 25 years Marcovicci’s New York home base was the Oak Room in the Algonquin Hotel, but that venue has closed, much to the chagrin of Manhattan cabaret lovers. Now it is clear that Marcovicci is delightfully a good fit with the elegant Café Carlyle. She might have been here all along.
The theme of her new show “Smile” fit the occasion, illustrating the brightness of her performance with emphasis on looking at the rosy side of life. The cabaret star looked great in a tight-fitting glittery gown, kidded about her age, 63 (one number was the Lennon-McCartney “When I’m Sixty-Four”), and sailed through a repertoire with the smoothness and sense of fun that once again demonstrated why she remains such a wonderful entertainer.
Marcovicci has a winsome personality and is an accomplished actress, which makes each song an adventure that connects directly with an audience. Numbers are not merely sung; they are enacted. Her voice may not be what it was when she started, but no matter. It remains pleasant enough to service the deeply-felt way in which she puts over a song, and always there is the demeanor that brings a sense of fun and naturalness to her work, which makes her such an appealing and intelligent performer. On this occasion she came out strumming a ukulele.
She quickly established the optimistic mood the title implied, singing “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” “Slap That Bass,” “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” “Are You Havin’ Any Fun?” and “Ain’t We Got Fun.”
Marcovicci expressed her admiration for the late Hildegarde, and paid tribute by singing “Umbrella Man,” one from Hildegarde’s repertoire. High spirits resumed with such selections as “Isn’t This a Lovely Day?”, “Pick Yourself Up,” the amusing “Zing a Little Zong” and the crazy “Mairzy Doats.”
Marcovicci is fond of giving her audience little asides. One noticed a very large teapot perched on the piano. Eventually she explained that she bought it on line not realizing its size, “as big as my head.” The technique helps make her performance living-room friendly, and she is well-informed for comments about movie and performing history.
One section was more pensive than the rest of the program, a mellowness attached to “If I Had You,” “It Had To Be You,” and “It All Depends on You.” She traced “Look at Those Eyes” to when her daughter was born, and speaking of her daughter, amusingly described how nice she is to her so that there will never be a nasty book called “Andrea Dearest.”
There was hilarity in her rendition of “Shakespeare Lied,” the clever song by Elmer Bernstein and Carolyn Leigh. But soon she was back to her theme, with “You Make Me Feel So Young,” and the aforementioned “When I’m Sixty-Four.” Fittingly, she concluded with a sensitive rendition of the tender “Smile,” by the sentimental Charlie Chaplin, with John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons. Not surprisingly, Marcovicci has a new recording called “Smile,” copies of which are available at the Carlyle. Urging people to buy one, she said “This dress cost a bomb.”
The Café Carlyle set-up is such that it doesn’t make for Marcovicci strolling among the guests as she did in the oblong Oak Room at the Algonquin. That’s much to the good. She can gain that intimacy from the platform. All in all, it is clear that Marcovicci and the Café Carlyle in the Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street, are perfectly suited to one another. Long may she reign there. Review posted October 3, 2012.