Seeing Andrea Marcovicci’s tribute to Johnny Mercer at the Oak Room of the Algonquin, there was so much to appreciate about the show on so many levels. I found the experience dizzying as well as intoxicating.
First of all, there is Marcovicci as researcher and communicator. For the show, not only has she done her usual meticulous research on the subject of Johnny Mercer, she communicates it in a way that makes her audience feel terrifically smarter at the end of the evening. Moreover, she shares the insights she has gleaned while working on the material in a way that provides a greater depth of understanding about Mercer’s work.
On another level, it’s fascinating to see the way Marcovicci structures an evening to provide her audience with an emotionally fulfilling experience. See her luring the audience at the beginning with familiar, charm material. Then watch her define the evening, and then provide a series of emotional arcs, working toward a crescendo at the end. Note the way she slips in less-familiar material. Similarly, it was fascinating to see how she skillfully re-purposed material from her Astaire and Marcovicci Sings Movies shows as chunks in this show.
And then, there is Marcovicci the musical interpreter. She always has a strong point of view about her material, is totally on top of the story she is telling, and completely commits to the dramatic moment.
An example of the way this all came together came after Marcovicci’s discussion of Johnny Mercer’s courtship of his wife Ginger. After discussing the fact that Ginger was New York-based while Johnny was developing a Hollywood career, she then launched into a his-and-her version of P.S. I Love You and I Thought About You. Wowie.
(Oh, and, of course, visually she is a cabaret dream.)
And all of this is supported by the superb musicianship of her music director Shelly Markham. Not only does Markham provide arrangements that superbly support Marcovicci’s choices and interpretations, as a pianist he is magnificently in sync with Marcovicci. Jared Egan’s bass added a special dimension to the evening. And as a special Christmas Eve treat, at the encore Helen Marcovicci made a special guest appearance, singing the Mercer Come Rain or Come Shine and joining her daughter for It Was a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.
- Something’s Gotta Give
- Spring, Spring, Spring
- I’m Old Fashioned / You Were Never Lovelier
- Out of Breath …
- You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby / Too Marvelous for Words
- P.S. I Love You / I Thought About You
- That Old Black Magic
- Accentuate the Positive
- My Sugar is So Refined
- Autumn Leaves
- Whistling Away the Dark
- Moon River / Charade
- One for My Baby… / I Wanna Be Around / Goody, Goody
- Come Rain or Come Shine (Helen Marcovicci)
- It Was a Lovely Way to Spend an Evening (Andrea & Helen Marcovicci)