by Peter Haas
There was a noticeable surge in weekend traffic on the Upper East Side this past summer, as cabaret fans flocked to the Beach Café –newly re-constituted as a cabaret room — to hear its lineup of top stars. Programmed and hosted by Mark Nadler, the evenings boasted such performers as Karen Akers, Jeff Harnar, T.Oliver Reid, Heather MacRae, Stacey Sullivan, Rex Reed and Mark himself. Closing the season, on the final weekend in September, was Christine Andreas, performing her award-winning show, “Love Is Good.”
Scene: The room darkens. Spotlight up on the piano at the front of the room, where Christine’s accompanist, Martin Silvestri — himself an accomplished composer — settles in at the keys. As the room goes quiet, he begins to play. From the shadows beyond the bar, Christine moves into the light, singing as she enters, immediately casting her special spell with “Storybook” (from The Scarlet Pimpernel), performing it in both English and French.
With her outgoing warmth and her clear, sparkling voice, Christine moved into a program of favorites. Included were Bart Howard’s classic, “Fly Me to the Moon,” Rodgers and Hart’s ”My Heart Stood Still,” Lerner and Loewe’s “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “I Remember It Well,” from, respectively, My Fair Lady, in which Christine has starred on stage, and the film, Gigi. Other numbers – all performed as if Christine were singing to each individual member of the audience — included “Love is Something That We Do,” by Clint Black; Dietz and Schwartz’s light “Rhode Island Is Famous For You”; Sammy Cahn’s “Teach Me Tonight”; Bachrach and David’s “What’s It All About, Alfie?” and, from Christine’s tribute to Edith Piaf, “La Vie En Rose,” sung in French.. Encores: ”When I Look At You,”from The Scarlet Pimpernel, and an added Lerner and Lane piece, “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.”
Following Christine’s finale, the Beach staff surprised Christine with a birthday cake – large enough for patrons to share . Her years? A gentleman reviewer doesn’t tell.
The Beach Café has now shuttered its cabaret shows for a few weeks, to open in late October with performances by Carol Woods and a return in late November by Karen Akers. The room’s spring/summer run of shows will resume in May, according to its dynamic impressario, Mark Nadler.