Review: The Elaine Paige Show
The Musical Theatre Review
April 6th, 2014
By Jeremy Chapman
Christine Andreas performed at The Pheasantry, London.
London is being spoilt for cabaret divas at the moment with Christine Andreas’ residency at The Pheasantry being followed by the incomparable Ann Hampton Callaway at the Crazy Coqs this week.
A “dyed-in-the-wool Broadway baby”, Andreas has a list of musical theatre credits anyone would be proud of, starting with Eliza Doolittle in the 1976 revival of My Fair Lady and earning Tony nominations forOklahoma! and On Your Toes.
More recently – and after putting her career on hold for a while to look after her special needs son – she toured 25 different cities in a year withThe Light in the Piazza in 2006-7 and her latest Broadway spin came as Jacqueline in La Cage Aux Folles when it transferred from London in 2010 with Douglas Hodge.
It was from Cage, with ‘The Best of Times’, that she rounded off her delightful two-hour set in front of a packed Chelsea audience that included Elaine Paige – “I would have introduced her earlier but I wanted you people to be watching ME,” she joked.
Her award-winning composer-husband Martin Silvestri accompanied his beloved beautifully at the Pheasantry piano. Andreas sang Silvestri’s ‘Love is Good’, ‘Cover Me’ and, in particular, a corker of a song called ‘Is This The Way It Feels?’ from The Countess of Storyville, a new musical about New Orleans that Silvestri has written with his long-time collaborator Joel Higgins.
These all stood up well against some of the most famous standards, show tunes and classic pop with which the couple, whose cosy rapport was a total joy in charming duets ‘I Remember It Well’ and ‘Rhode Island’ , royally entertained us.
A bright, shiny soprano with a fair old belt and husky when she needs it, Andreas is a classic interpeter of the Great American Songbook, and her fresh and always intelligent treatments of well-worn material such as ‘On a Clear Day’, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’, ’To Keep My Love Alive’ and ’Teach Me Tonight’ lit up the room.
Her dip into the world of classic pop with the Bacharach/David compositions ‘Alfie’ and ‘What the World Needs Now’ was also a success, as was ‘Storybook’ (from The Scarlet Pimpernel, another Broadway show, this time from 1997, on her imposing CV).
And her regret-filled version of ‘Send in the Clowns’ – “never has a song about love just missing out been more poignantly expressed” – has to make her a strong candidate for Desiree in A Little Night Music in the event of a New York revival.
Andreas is now off to Paris for a short holiday with her doting husband and if the flawless French accent she employed for ‘La Vie En Rose’ is anything to go by, she will have no problem making herself understood.
Apart from Silvestri on piano, the musically savvy Andreas was accompanied by Danny Mullowney on drums and Eric Guy on bass in a very classy evening indeed in which there was something for everybody.
Not every musical theatre star can make the crossover to cabaret successfully. This one most certainly can and it is too long, back in Pizza On the Park days, since we last saw her.