By Melissa Griegel . . .
Andrea McArdle (Annie, Les Misérables, Jerry’s Girls, Beauty and the Beast) looked angelic in her flowing white dress as she sang for the patrons of Feinstein’s/54 Below on December 28th and 29th.
Best known for originating the role of Annie on Broadway in 1977 and becoming the youngest Tony Award Nominee, McArdle went on to perform the title role in London’s West End and starred in numerous Broadway shows and touring companies. She has also performed in Carnegie Hall, Las Vegas showrooms, the MET Opera House, and The White House.
With Steve Margolis on piano, McArdle kept us all in the Christmas spirit with such classic holiday tunes as “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”, “Christmas Time Is Here”, “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. She also delighted the audience with longtime favorites such as “Put on a Happy Face”, “The Way We Were”, and “Through the Eyes of Love (Theme from Ice Castles)”.
“I woke up today in NY!” McArdle exclaimed. “I will always be a New Yorker, but four years ago, I moved back to Philly, where I was born and raised. When I was a kid, I knew that I was born to be on Broadway and although New York City was only 90 miles away, it seemed a world away.” She started her acting career as a young child and by 14 was starring on Broadway. She sang Kander and Ebb’s “New York, New York”, made famous by Frank Sinatra, and “N.Y.C.” from Annie in homage to her beloved city.
She told behind-the-scenes stories from her acting days, such as the time she got to be in the Macy’s Day Parade atop a giant apple while she was playing Annie. They couldn’t get the boom there to take her down in a timely fashion and she ended up waiting an additional three and a half hours in the cold, catching pneumonia in the process. One positive outcome was that she got to meet John Lennon for 45 minutes when he stopped by her room after visiting his son.
In the movie Rainbow, McArdle played the role of a young Judy Garland and sang some songs in her honor including “Zing Went the Strings of My Heart”, “Lose That Long Face”, and “The Trolley Song”. A fun, light-hearted moment came when she sang the theme to “Welcome Back, Kotter”. McArdle played the role of Arnold Horshack’s little sister on the show.
Billy Joel has always been a favorite of McArdle’s, particularly for the storytelling nature of his songs. She also related to his songs about the New York area that had become her home. She chose to sing one of Joel’s lesser-known songs “You’re My Home” from the singer-songwriter that “really floated (her) boat” when she was growing up. McArdle also paid tribute to “The God—Sondheim.” Prior to singing Sondheim’s “Not a Day Goes By”, she lamented, “There will never be another like him. He was unique. He will be so missed. Sondheim left us with the most incredible amount of music, and some of the most important music.”
Starting off with Christmas songs, McArdle ended the evening with “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve.” To the delight of the audience, she wowed us with a double encore, first singing “Tomorrow” and then coming back and regaling us with “Maybe.” Her “Maybe” was a beautiful reminder of her start, and also a confirmation that she still has her vocal chops and sang a deeper, more adult version of the well-known song.
Photos by Melissa Griegel Photography