True devotees of the art of live cabaret would go a thousand miles for a fresh serving of Andrea Marcovicci. Witness Saturday night in The Barns at Wolf Trap, where Ms. Marcovicci had only to take the stage in her sequined jacket and slinky cocktail dress to transport us all a thousand miles away from our world of mad bombers and rain taxes.
The Great American Songbook is the official language of that distant land, and Ms. Marcovicci speaks it like a native. Her hour-long program this time around was centered on songs from the Hollywood Dream Factory, with nods to such high priests as Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Bing Crosby, and many a passing bow to prophets like Jerome Kern, Henry Mancini, and Leo Robin.
Ms. Marcovicci carried on with unflappable elegance, despite what might have been effects from the highest pollen count of the season. Though claiming she had not performed at The Barns since the 1990s, she appeared happy and at home, while her voice seemed especially suited to the exposed carpentry and timber of the setting.
Accompanied by New York pianist Shelly Markham, the singer weaved a personal path through what she termed “movies, music and memories.”
The approach paid off in intimacy as well as in nostalgia, notably in what she called a “mash-up” of little-known verses from the decades-apart songs of “Thanks For the Memory” by Leo Robin and “The Way We Were” by Marilyn and Alan Bergman. Who knew they had so much in common?
Other parallels were artfully established between “The Days of Wine and Roses” and “Call Me Irresponsible,” two Johnny Mercer lyrics dealing with the profound regrets of alcoholics.
The evening’s welcome surprises included a tip of the hat to recent Oscar favorite Randy Newman (“When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2) and to Frank Loesser’s hilarious plot summary of Hamlet, decked out as a big-band swing arrangement for Bette Davis.
Other highlights were found in an astute Astaire medley (“It Only Happens When I Dance With You,” “Cheek to Cheek,” and “I Won’t Dance”), and in a sing-along to “Hi-lili, Hi-lo.” In Ms. Marcovicci’s world, a childhood ditty sung to a hand puppet can reveal an astounding depth of poignance (“I sit at the window and watch the rain … Tomorrow I’ll probably love again.”)
While in town, Ms. Marcovicci and Mr. Markham were slated to teach a master class in the art of cabaret April 21st at the Arts Club of Washington. At The Barns on Saturday night, both showed their credentials were impeccable.
Andrea Marcovicci performed for one-night-only at The Barns of Wolf Trap – 1635 Trap Road, in Vienna, VA. For upcoming Wolf Trap events, please check their website.
Andrea Marcovicci’s website.