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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Groovy Music: Andrea Marcovicci at Davenport's in Chicago

Let me state right up front that Andrea Marcovicci has great legs. She also knows how to put together a marvelous cabaret show filled with fascinating stories, a delightful sense of humor and, of course, beautiful music. And through this Sunday (July 18), us Chicagoans are very lucky to have her performing If I Were A Bell - The Songs of Frank Loesser at Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret. It's an evening of fabulous entertainment that I highly recommend everyone run - don't walk - to see.

Marcovicci sure does her research. She knows absolutely everything about Mr. Loesser, who wrote the Broadway musicals, Guys & Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, as well as many familiar tunes like "Heart & Soul" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside". And what this talented lady does so remarkably well in her show is sharing such information with her audience. The entire life story of the composer is given to us in bits and pieces over the course of 90 minutes - but one never feels like it's a boring history lesson. Marcovicci would make a terrific schoolteacher because she's able to perfectly balance educating with entertaining - and it helps to have a hilarious sense of humor that keeps everyone in stitches. She's a very funny gal. I especially enjoyed her catty comments about Anthony Perkins (the Psycho actor starred in Loesser's only flop musical, Greenwillow), actress and figure skater Sonja Henie, and Mel Gibson (who was not responsible for the bruise on her arm). And her personal story about attempting to make her first confession in 40 years at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral sent the room into a fit of giggles.

Dressed in a 1959/60 vintage flowered dress that she found in a thrift shop with a strand of pearls around her neck, Marcovicci looked like a million dollars last night at Davenport's (in which she revealed her attractive legs while sitting atop the piano). My partner said she reminded him of Grace Kelly in the film, High Society, while I got a distinct impression at times of Katharine Hepburn in The Philadephia Story. So I guess if you put those two actresses together - a delightful combination of elegance and mischievousness - you would get Ms. Marcovicci. Accompanied on piano by her wonderful musical director Shelly Markham and on bass by Scott Mason, she sang such Loesser hits as "On a Slow Boat to China", "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" and one of my favorite show tunes, "I Believe In You", from How to Succeed. However, if I had to choose one song as a highlight of the show, I'd probably go with her engaging version of "Hamlet" - about the Shakespearean prince - which Betty Hutton originally sang in the 1949 film, Red, Hot and Blue. This obscure but catchy tune makes me now want to see the movie, which I'm sure would make the teacher within Marcovicci very happy.

Early on in the evening, Marcovicci informed us that we were going to see an "elbow" show, in which one person would elbow another and say, "I didn't know Frank Loesser wrote that song." And she was right. My partner elbowed me and whispered those exact words. And I just smiled and nodded and went back to watching the lovely lady on stage.

Andrea Marcovicci will be peforming If I Were A Bell - The Songs of Frank Loesser tonight through Saturday at 8 pm and on Sunday at 5 pm at Davenport's Piano Bar & Cabaret (1383 N. Milwaukee Ave). For reservations, call (773) 278-1830 or go to The cover charge is $40 with a two-drink minimum. And to learn more about Marcovicci, check out her website,, and you can read my recent Deeper Dish interview with her by clicking here.


queer heaven said...

Having seen the wonderful Ms. Marcovicci in 3 of her Cabaret shows, I know exactly what you mean when you call her a teacher. My favorite show so far was "I'll be seeing you" It is a story of 2 people that fall in love at the start of World War 2 and the love songs of that era. There are few singers that can tell a story and sing great songs and make you feel like you were part of it all.

Deep Dish said...

I agree with you, QH, Ms. Marcovicci is a special kind of singer who really knows how to connect with her audience through both song and storytelling.