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Cabaret Review: Alix Cohen

Christine Andreas and her husband, musical director/composer/arranger Marty Silvestri, have been married 23 years. Love Is Good takes us on a journey through mutual admiration, respect, and affection reflected in the couple’s musical lives. The relationship appears enviable.

“Storybook,” which the artist introduced in Broadway’s The Scarlett Pimpernel, introduces an evening of resonant, upbeat emotion. Listen to me, I have beautiful dreams/I can spin you, dreams to linger within you/Close your eyes and we’ll ride my carousel…One does sometimes close one’s eyes listening to this vocalist, savoring the frisson she evokes. Tony Bennett said “Go deeper” Andreas tells us embodying his philosophy.

Case in point, a slow, lush rendition of “Fly Me to The Moon” soars like a bird on high winds. Imagine that feeling of exhilaration, total engagement without a tense muscle, the semblance of freefall. What’s often interpreted as impersonal pop, here becomes passionate. Andreas, of course, knows exactly what she’s doing. She infectiously revels in the extravagant. Were the vocalist less skilled, had she less awareness of when to pull back, less ferocious technique, performance might be overwrought instead of stunning.

“I Could’ve Danced All Night” (Andreas played Eliza in the 20th anniversary edition of My Fair Lady) and the expansive “He Loves Me” (“She Loves Me”) showcase expertise with perfect punctuating gestures. Vitality and charisma bookend that glorious voice. This is an actress through and through.

Numbers like the unexpected “Something That We Do” (Clint Black/Skip Ewing) Love is certain, love is kind/Love is yours and love is mine/But it isn’t something that we find/It’s something that we do…remind us this is not a one trick pony. The vocal is lower, textured, and seems to come from a different place. “When Marty suggested this, I thought he was out of his mind.” Andreas confides. “I pulled a diva and said I didn’t do twang.” She doesn’t. The song is accessible, authentic. 

“Is This The Way It Feels?” (Martin Silvestri/Joel Higgins) is from The Countess of Storyville (New Orleans), a musical currently in development. “The character has never fully surrendered to love, Silvestri tells us, “when she finally does…” A number that will eventually be covered by simply everyone, the song brims with hope, gratitude, excitement, and trepidation. Andreas makes it both down to earth and heady. The beautiful “Love is Good” (Martin Silvestri/Tony Tanner), sung in both French and English, is about as poetic, yet direct a declaration as is possible- much more difficult to write. Hers is a lustrous, intimate rendition.

Andreas and Silvestri banter with ease and humor. Brief stories pepper the show, some personal, others professional. A duet of “I Remember It Well” is low key and charming, replete with a bit of pretty fair Maurice Chevalier. Though Andreas exerts gravitational pull, don’t take Silvestri’s arrangements for granted. There are wonderful things going on beneath, beside, and between vocals. The musician’s handling of “On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever),” for example, is completely original and quite magical.

Andreas closes with “La Vie En Rose.” I’ve written about this part of her programs repeatedly. Channeling the tensile dynamism of Piaf or sophisticated glee of Mistinguett, the performer sings pristine French with irrepressible authority and pleasure. It’s thrilling.

Christine Andreas: Love Is Good

Martin Silvestri -Musical Director/Piano/Accordion

54Below   254 West 54th St.

November 21 & 22 7pm