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San Francisco by Richard Connema

Andrea Marcovicci Returns to San Francisco

Also see Richard's reviews of Shirley Valentine, Restoration Comedy and King Lear

The elegant and charming Andrea Marcovicci has returned to the Empire Plush Room with a sampler of the songs she has sung over a 20-year period in this cabaret showcase which is located in the York Hotel. The show is called As Time Goes By ... Celebrating 20 years at the Plush Room. During her 90-minute performance, backed by Shelly Markham on piano and bass and guitar player Dan Fabricant, she sings twenty-two songs ranging from classics by Stephen Sondheim and Jerome Kern to selections by little known composers like Joseph Myrow and Christine Lavin.

Critics have called Andrea the "Queen of Cabaret" and she has been doing one person shows in small rooms throughout the country for many years. I first saw her years ago when she sang at the Algonquin's Oak Room in New York where she mesmerized the patrons with her special singing style. The artist recently suffered severe vocal problems from undiagnosed reflux induced asthma. She said in an interview with Gerald Nachman of the San Francisco Chronicle that there are certain songs she can't sing and she can't do certain things the way she used to.

When Ms. Marcovicci enters the small stage, she looks ravishing in a Spanish red gown with black lace. She could almost use that svelte dress playing Carmen. She captivates the audience with an eclectic series of songs ranging from the romantic to the comic. She opens the show with Marshall Barer and Hugh Martin's nostalgic "On Such A Night as This," in which celebrities of the past are named in lines such as, "when Robert Taylor coughed and Garbo went to die," referring to the film Camille. She follows this with James Taylor's plaintive "Secret O' Life."

Ms. Marcovicci interprets each song lyric in an idiosyncratic, fervent speech-sing that enchants the audience. She is especially excellent when singing middle register songs such as Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach's "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" and Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns." The artist does five Kern melodies, including the rarely heard Kern/Hammerstein song, "The Folks Who Live On the Hill" from an RKO film called High, Wide and Handsome.

The chanteuse puts most of her songs in groups of two to four, and she segues into each song effortlessly. She is sophisticated yet romantic when singing songs from the heart. She labels herself a "chatty chanteuse" and does a lot of talking to the patrons. She breaks the fourth to talk about her life, the birth of her daughter and the history of the Plush Room. She even cues the audience to sing with her in Helen Deutsch/Branislau Kaper's "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo" from the film Lili.

The elegant singer is crowd pleasing with the Lennon/McCartney set of "Here, There and Everywhere" and "When I'm Sixty-Four." She sings a jovial arrangement of Carolyn Leigh/Elmer Bernstein's "Shakespeare Lied" from the Broadway musical How Now, Dow Jones. There is no doubt about it, she has an enticing voice and a masterly balance between pathos and stylish wit.

Andrea Marcovicci will be at the Empire Plush Room, Hotel York, 940 Sutter St. San Francisco, through July 30th. For tickets, call 866-468-3399 or visit www.empireplushroom.com.

Coming up next is the return of Mort Sahl with Mort Sahl's America August 3rd through August 6th, followed by Russ Lorenson's tribute to Tony Bennett August 8th and 9th, and Julia Migenes' Cabaret My Way August 11th through August 20th.


Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema



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