by Adam Cohen
There’s a moment in every performance where the audience is in awe. Thursday evening at Feinstein’s/54 Below it came from an off the cuff remark from singer Andrea McArdle. She’s a grandmother. But she and fellow State Fair on Broadway star, Donna McKechnie hold court singing separately and together in a fitting, fun tribute to Stephen Sondheim and Marvin Hamlisch.
Ms. McArdle, won hearts worldwide in the 1977 musical Annie, where she originated the title role. She starred in the Broadway production of Jerry’s Girls, Starlight Express, State Fair, Les Miserables and Beauty and the Beast.
Ms. McKechnie won the 1976 Tony for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance as Cassie in A Chorus Line and appeared in Broadway productions including Company, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, On The Town, and in Papermill Playhouse’s Half Time.
The ladies open the show with Sondheim’s “Old Friends” from the Broadway musical Merrily We Roll Along. During the evening each took turns in the spotlight and showed what seasoned performers they are. They dueted on A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum’s “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” substituting boy for girl. McKechnie shined in her delivery of “Could I Leave You” from Follies and McArdle holds her own as she sang “Nothing “ from A Chorus Line.
They sing the soundtrack to their lives while celebrating the composers with richly delivered turns. McKechnie does all the parts of Company’s “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” and delivers a plaintive “Send in the Clowns.” Embracing their history is a wise move. And it allows them to crack wise throughout the evening – especially McArdle who comments on her 1970s variety turns with Liberace and her Dorothy Hamill haircut. McKechnie gets in a few knocks at divorce and arthritis…with only one bothering her. She gets in a few signature dance moves from A Chorus Line.
The evening is light and splendid with fine turns on classic songs from charming personalities, wonderful harmonies, and misty water colored memories. Catch their act through January 5th. Tickets and more information at 54below.com