Sunday, December 31, 2006

Andrea Marcovicci in a Tribute to the Incomparable Hildegarde

There could be no better singer to pay homage to The Incomparable Hildegarde than Andrea Marcovicci. Ms. Marcovicci is probably the best-known cabaret artist in New York today, and is the undisputed queen of the Algonquin’s legendary Oak Room (2006 is the 20th anniversary of her first performance there). Likewise, Hildegarde was a legend in her own time, setting fashion trends and counting kings among her most devoted fans. She continued performing until she was 89, and died just short of her 100th birthday only last year. I’m Feeling Like A Million, La Marcovicci’s loving tribute to her creative predecessor, has all the class of a royal ceremony, and is a delightfully charming look back into the birth of modern cabaret.

As much a symposium as a concert, Ms. Marcovicci’s concert is an education for those who know little about Hildegarde, and a lovely stroll down memory lane for those who fondly remember the glamorous “First Lady of Supper Clubs.” There are many songs that Hildegarde made popular, including Cole Porter’s “Wundebar” (performed by Hildegarde before Kiss Me, Kate reached Broadway), “12th Street Rag,” and her standard “Darling, Je Vois Aime Beaucoup,” written by her manager Anna Sosenko. But it is Ms. Marcovicci’s narration that makes the concert so much more involving and exciting than a mere hour of songs could be. In between numbers, Ms. Marcovicci tells the fascinating story of Hildegarde’s extraordinary life and career, from rural farmgirl to legendary chanteuse who had kings at her feet. The songs become punctuation for each story, capturing the essence of the legend’s style and charisma while commenting nicely on each step in her career.

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