Broadway couple Andy Karl and Orfeh played the Appel Room in Lincoln Center’s American Songbook
by Linda Amiel Burns
Powerhouse performers, Andy Karl and Orfeh have been married for 15 years and both have many Broadway credits. Surprisingly, this is the first time that they have performed together in a cabaret concert, and it was certainly a smashingly good show on February 20, 2016 in the romantic Appel Room in Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. The two met when cast in Saturday Night Fever and eloped six months later. Their chemistry in Legally Blonde was apparent as she played the role of Paulette, a down on her luck manicurist, and garnered Drama Desk, an Outer Critics Circle and Tony Award nominations. Andy starred opposite her as her UPS man, Kyle, and the two got rave reviews. Andy received critical acclaim and a Tony nomination as Rocky Balboa in the Broadway musical Rocky and later showed off his comedic skills opposite Kristin Chenoweth in the recent Broadway revival of On The Twentieth Century.
Andy and Orfeh kicked off the evening with a terrific medley of two Ashford and Simpson songs, “You’re All I Need to Get By” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” throwing in the McFadden, Cohen & Whitehead “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.” Well, there was no stopping these two dynamic performers for the rest of the evening. Although their taste in music is very different—as he favors musical theater and she is more of a rocker and loves R & B—they have found common ground. This was demonstrated in a cute bit that they did about being in a car driving down to Philly in which each kept fighting over the radio, changing the channel, and singing the songs they loved.
Backed by a great band with their music director and arranger Steven Jamail on piano, Micah Burgess on guitar, Colin Dean on bass, Jeremy Yaddow on Percussion, Britt Bonney on keyboards and vocals, and Arielle Murphy and Tim Kodres on vocals. Charles Randolph-Wright directed the show and kept it moving and interesting. The patter between Andy and Orfeh felt spontaneous as they joked with the comfort that only long standing couples can have. Andy sang the show stopping “Fight From The Heart” from Rocky (Ahrens & Flaherty) that brought back his outstanding performance in that show. Orfeh starred as Janis Joplin in Love, Janis and wowed the audience singing “Piece of My Heart” (Berns & Ragovoy) with intensity. She was also in The Great American Trailer Park Musical and sang “More Like a Nail” while Andy added to this medley with “If I Can Dream” that he sang in the Elvis Tribute Show, Hunka, Hunka Burning Love.
Andy & Orfeh’s voices and styles blended on the duets which included “Elaborate Lives” from Aida (Elton John & Tim Rice) and George Michael’s rocking “Freedom ’90.” The closing was very strong as the crowd rose to their feet when they sang “We Belong” by Dan Navorro & Eric Lowen. The show had a nice mix of musical theater and pop songs; and it played to the strengths of these two remarkable talents who not only sing beautifully, but are able to communicate with their audience, act out their songs, and put the material across in their own unique way. It is hoped that this first outing will be the beginning of more concerts and shows together, sort of a modern day Steve & Edie, as well as other great musical duos of the past.
For information on upcoming American Songbook events visit: www.AmericanSongbook.org. For tickets call 212 721-6500.