Annually attending her November Algonquin appearances, I interviewed Andrea Marcovicci in 2011. She was the kind of delightful conversationalist one might imagine from the shows she puts together. Where, you might wonder, does the overflow of romance come from? Herein, some excerpts from the piece as preface to her latest offering:
“I grew up attached to this glorious past represented by an elderly father who danced like nobody’s business and a glamorous mother who sang like nobody’s business. I was moody. I wrote poems, kept journals.” Andrea’s father was old school; elegant, graceful, dapper, dignified, stern, and musical—a wonderful classical pianist. These qualities were not taught, but expected of the children. Her mother, Helen Stuart, was refined, graceful, stylish, feminine, and musical. She gave up a burgeoning singing career to marry the handsome, imposing physician who didn’t want her on the road.
Despite being raised by a fellow thespian, Andrea feels much of what she learned from her mother came “through osmosis…The honesty of expression is directly from her” as, I suspect is enunciation.(Helen Marcovicci selectively made guest appearances with her daughter at The Algonquin. She was a wonderful vocalist.) Also “…enthusiasm, interest in strangers, curiosity.” The Marcovicci women stop to investigate. No rose is left unsmelled. “And my courage comes from my mother.”
“My first desire, my real true desire, was to be a movie star. I was raised with Million Dollar Movie—the same classic film seven times a week. My brother and I would just SOAK that up. Fred Astaire and Greta Garbo are my two heroes. Absolutely.” Her parents, however, had their sights set “higher.” They wanted their only daughter to marry well, to be a socialite, to be–secure. She never wanted a husband.
Most young women would’ve found themselves attracted to older men. Not Andrea. “I wish I had. I might be this independently wealthy person now.” Shades of Dorothy Parker. Instead, despite her convictions, she fell in love at first sight with a man fourteen years her junior. Though now divorced, the artist revels in her 25 year old daughter.
A varied career featured singing jingles, acting in commercials, Shakespeare in the Park, theater, soap opera, television, film and 35 years of Cabaret, many as a linchpin performer at The Algonquin’s famed Oak Room, the artist today notes, “I’ve been the luckiest person in this field ever.”
For Just Kern, Andrea sits in an 1800s chair beside a 1900s table on which there’s a 1700s music stand. “And I come from the 1940s. Don’t start counting, I’m 72.” “I’m Old Fashioned” (Kern/Johnny Mercer) introduces an evening of old soul romanticism.
The next three songs are a medley from Rita Hayworth films Cover Girl and You Were Never Lovelier – “Long Ago and Far Away” and “A Sure Thing” (Kern/Ira Gershwin), “Dearly Beloved” (Kern/Johnny Mercer) “2 Genes, 1 Fred, all Rita.” “Remember the dresses she wore like little buildings? She could go off right and the dress would stay in the center. She could go off left…” she demonstrates. I can think of few better to give a course on writing a show. She is and always has been informed, witty, literary, personable, and original.
Next we hear the song most requested by fans, “The Folks That Live On The Hill” (Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II) from a film called High, Wide and Handsome with Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne. “So I gather that Scott was handsome, the hill must’ve been wide, and Dunne was high when she sang the song on it.” Then, “All the Things You Are” (Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II) from a show called Very Warm for May. “The song was banned in Boston for the risqué lyric: And someday I’ll know that moment divine/When all the things you are, are mine. Isn’t it a shame we can’t be risqué anymore? What’s the use of double entendre if everything’s entendred?”
“You Never Knew About Me” (Kern/PG Woodehouse) is a boy/girl duet from 1917’s Princess Theater Miss Seventeen. Andrea sings both parts. She closes with an especially poignant “Just the Way You Look Tonight” (Kern/ Dorothy Fields) as if looking out at her audience. “And yes, it’s ok to sing along wherever you are.”
Every lyric, every sentiment is as it might be spoken, natural and credible. This is, one cannot forget, an actress.
“Remember the American popular song. Don’t forget it.” Amen.
All quotes are Andrea Marcovicci
The show is on YouTube.