Love is Good: Christine Andreas and Martin Silvestri continues at The Pheasantry, London, until 21 February.
Star rating: 5 stars *****
It’s almost 40 years since Christine Andreas played Eliza Doolittle in the 1976 revival of My Fair Lady on Broadway but the beauty of voice and face remains totally intact and this Love is Good collaboration with her composer-arranger-pianist husband Martin Silvestri of 24 years delights from start to finish.
Their very-much-ongoing relationship, which started at the White House when she and Silvestri teamed up to entertain George Bush Snr, sparked this intimate 85-minute trawl through some of the world’s finest love songs, peppered with anecdotes and charming recollections of their lives and work.
The rapport, not too lovey-dovey but exhibiting a genuine ease at performing together, lights up the Pheasantry stage in what is becoming one of the King’s Road cabaret room’s annual highlights.
A “dyed-in-the-wool Broadway baby”, Andreas has a list of musical theatre credits anyone would be proud of, not least Tony nominations for Oklahoma! 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 with The Light in the Piazza in 2006-7 and her latest Broadway spin came as Jacqueline in La Cage Aux Follies when it transferred from London in 2010 with Douglas Hodge.
It was with the waltz-time ‘Storybook’ (Frank Wildhorn/Nan Knighton) from a Broadway role Andreas created in 1997, Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel, that she thrillingly opened this show.
The title song ‘Love is Good’ and the even better ‘Is This the Way It Feels?’ from The Countess of Storyville, a musical about New Orleans awaiting a Broadway home, were Silvestri compositions that stood up superbly against the more famous ones that surrounded them. His piano work was masterly throughout.
The couple’s duets on the droll ‘I Remember It Well’ from Gigi, with Silvestri doing his best Maurice Chevalier fractured-English impression, and ‘Rhode Island (Is Famous For You)’, from the 1948 Howard Dietz-Arthur Schwartz revue Inside USA, revealed the timing that can only be achieved through painstaking preparation.
This is a beautifully-crafted evening that all young wannabes should rush to see while they still can. They will learn that there is no need to push the top notes for the sake of a good belt and that cabaret polish is much, much more than just getting up on a stage and singing a few standards.
A bright, shiny soprano with a fair old belt and husky when needed, Andreas is a classic interpeter of the Great American Songbook, and even well-worn material such as ‘On a Clear Day’, ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ and ‘He Loves Me’ (from She Loves Me, the revival of which, at the Landor, is well worth visiting) seems fresh in her always-intelligent interpretations.
Her dip into the world of classic pop with the Bacharach/David compositions ‘Alfie’ and ‘What the World Needs Now’ is another success, and the moving Amanda McBroom’s ‘Errol Flynn’, about the composer’s love for her bit-part actor father, always brings a tear to the eye, especially when sung so sympathetically.
The pair are off to Paris this weekend and their love affair with that city of romance shines through in ‘La Vie En Rose’, ‘I Love Paris’ and ‘Hymne A L’Amour’.
A gorgeous, sophisticated and hypnotic evening in the company of two of New York’s finest.
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