Andrea Marcovicci, taking up her accustomed winter residency in Manhattan's historic and cozy Oak Room -- her 13th season -- reprises a centennial tribute to composer Kurt Weill, presented earlier this year at Lincoln Center. The stately chanteuse creates a keenly deep emotional bond with her audience, bridging the song to the listener with varied degrees of warmth, wit and wonder. She also boasts supreme grace and elegance, often braced with a sudden dash of outrageous humor.

Andrea Marcovicci, taking up her accustomed winter residency in Manhattan’s historic and cozy Oak Room — her 13th season — reprises a centennial tribute to composer Kurt Weill, presented earlier this year at Lincoln Center. The stately chanteuse creates a keenly deep emotional bond with her audience, bridging the song to the listener with varied degrees of warmth, wit and wonder. She also boasts supreme grace and elegance, often braced with a sudden dash of outrageous humor.

While “admittedly” the singer quipped, “a one woman show of Kurt Weill’s songs is impossible without a sleeping bag,” an unrushed hour of some 20 well chosen selections, both rare and familiar, appeared to define the depth and sheer beauty of the composer’s unique gift of composition. Marcovicci’s brief and often witty historical narrative traces Weill’s Broadway career in the United States after a decade of enormous success in Europe, and his flight to freedom from Nazi Germany. Consequently there were no social messages on hand. Instead the Broadway Weill penned richly sophisticated and melodic songs that were heightened by the words of great American poets — Langston Hughes, Ogden Nash, Alan Jay Lerner and Maxwell Anderson. It is, in Marcovicci’s words, the enduring “warmth and light of Weill” that has survived the last half century since his death — in 1950 at the age of 50 — so eloquently.

A triplet from “One Touch of Venus,” with lyrics by poet-turned-lyricist Nash, included the well known “Speak Low,” but it was “That’s Him,” originally introduced on stage by Mary Martin, which Marcovicci made so utterly entrancing. Opening night aud found the show’s original 1943 co-star Paula Laurence on hand, who pointedly corrected Marcovicci on the show’s setting. “It was an art gallery, not a department store,” Laurence noted, adding “but you’re a better actress than Martin.” It turned out that both were right, as the locale had been altered for the ’48 pic version.

The evening’s decided centerpiece is a group of songs from the 1941 musical “Lady in the Dark,” an elaborate dreamscape that features lyrics by Ira Gershwin, who was writing the words for a Broadway production for the first time since the death of his brother. It is a richly melodic score, graced by the free spirited “One Life to Life,” the haunting “My Ship” and the uninhibited “The Saga of Jenny.” Marcovicci, who is skedded to appear as magazine editor, Liza Elliott — originally etched by Gertrude Lawrence — in a Philly revival of the musical next year, is revving up for the role.

Occasionally the singer’s intonation is slightly off the mark, as was the case of the late Lawrence.

It matters very little. In her closer — the comforting harbor of “Here I’ll Stay” — La Marcovicci envelops her mesmerized listeners and leaves them wanting more.

Andrea Marcovicci -- Kurt Weill in America

Oak Room, Algonquin; 85 capacity;, $50

Production

Presented inhouse. Opened and reviewed Dec. 12, 2000. Closes, Jan. 6, 2001. Musical director, Shelly Markham.
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