CHRISTINE ANDREAS – A Conversation with Beautiful Broadway and Cabaret Star

David Burnham joins Christine Andreas
at the Empire Ballroom – Sunday, November 16th

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

BAY AREA CABARET, now in its fifth season, will kick-off on Sunday, November 16th at 7:00 pm with popular Broadway veteran Christine Andreas celebrating the great women of musical theatre at the historic Empire Ballroom of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. Although the 7:00 show has sold out – a 4:00 pm matinee has been added. Two-time Tony nominee Christine Andreas, best known to San Francisco audiences for her highly acclaimed performance in LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, is renowned as one of America’s finest cabaret performers. From New York’s Algonquin, Café Carlyle and Carnegie Hall, Ms. Andreas will perform the San Francisco debut of “Here’s To The Ladies” – her salute to six great women of the theatre: Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Barbara Cook, Angela Lansbury, Gertrude Lawrence and Barbra Streisand, Joining her to open this season is her co-star from “Piazza”, David Burnham. Click here to order tickets on-line: CHRISTINE ANDREAS.

It was my privilege to share some time with the beautiful Ms. Andreas. After seeing her as “Margaret Johnson” in LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA, I ran to the Internet to order her CDs. Her voice is simply beautiful, the range strong and secure. Christine Andreas delivers solid musicianship, warm and passionate phrasing, with pure and uncluttered story-telling.

Mr & Mrs Smith

CHRISTINE: The albums were produced by my husband – who’s going to be accompanying me. He’s a producer, a director, and composer. The show is actually what I put together for the Carlyle in New York. I had performed there once and then they asked if I would do something thematic – which is always annoying to me. My favorite kind of show is an eclectic kind of set. It harks back to watching the great variety shows when I was growing up. Everybody sang what they wanted to and you got a great sense of the artist – like Carol Burnett, Dean Martin, Andy Williams. But, I had to come up with a theme. What came to me was doing a tribute to the great ladies of the Theatre I literally grew up listening to. Like so many other people in theatre, growing up dancing and singing in the kitchen. When I got that thought the whole thing just came to me.

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CHRISTINE ANDREAS. Photo, Fran Collin

I’ll tell you a funny story – it came to the point where I started to hear things. When it came to Opening Night at the Carlyle, about five minutes before stepping on stage – I’m in my raincoat, I go to the closet to get my dress and it’s not there! It just wasn’t there. I realized it had been sent out for repairs and I forgot to get it back the night before. When it’s a brand new show, there are so many little details in putting something like that together – I just forgot. Now it’s three minutes before I have to go on and there’s no dress. So, instead of panicking, I just burst out laughing and I actually hear the voice of Ethel Merman saying, “Honey! If they came to see a dress they shoulda stayed home!” Swear to God. I heard that voice and just cracked up. I’m in my slip, I pulled out a needle and thread – you know, the raincoat has that big open vent in the back – I sewed it up, put on my gold heels, my gold jewelry, and suddenly I’m sitting astride the piano. And I’m channeling my girls – Mary Martin, Gertrude Lawrence, Helen Morgan, Barbara Cook, Angela Lansbury, Barbra Streisand, and of course Julie Andrews.

SEÁN: Your recording of “Bill” (Show Boat) is truly beautiful. You have that kind of sound we expect and hope to hear when the camera is zooming-in on those final close-ups.

CHRISTINE: The iris pin is so far down when you get to that number. It’s a wonderful kind of song – you don’t have to do anything because it’s so beautifully crafted. This Sunday I’m doing the set from HERE’S TO THE LADIES, so I’ll be channeling all those girls again.

SEÁN: You toured in LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA for 55 weeks playing the role of “Margaret”; enduring all that air-conditioning from plane to plane, hotel to hotel. What do you do to keep your voice in shape? How do you know you’re ready to do a performance?

CHRISTINE: First of all, you have to accept that this is the Reality. It’s what it’s going to be. If you spend your time being defensive about the physical difficulties of a tour you will make yourself crazy. You learn to accept the variables. I’ve always been that way. I’ve never been a hypochondriac about my voice. I’ve always trusted that when I need it – it will be there. Only once or twice has that not happened and I understood why afterwards. It’s pretty much always there – otherwise, I’d be a basket case worrying about it. You have to know certain signs, how to anticipate a problem. I keep myself hydrated, I do yoga, I keep my body opened up. What was hard in “Piazza” were those damn 3 ½-inch / 4-inch heels! That was the most difficult issue for that show – just dealing with those shoes.

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CHRISTINE ANDREAS – as Margaret (Light In The Piazza, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I saw Patti LuPone in “Gypsy” and she’s walking around in scuffies. And I’m thinking, “Oh, I understand!” They make an announcement before the show that there’s something wrong with her foot, that she’s not wearing her shoes – and I’m thinking, “I’ll bet those shoes just hurt.” What I’m saying is that the voice and the throat correspond with your expression and your self-expression. Any kind of emotion just goes right there. If you choose to fill yourself with nervousness about your ability to make sound you will always find a problem. You’ll be coughing, sputtering, having too much mucous, too much phlegm – you can find a million things if you’re going to be worried about it. I was raised in a house full of my mom singing. She sang all the time. I was raised around somebody who spontaneously and joyfully sang. That made a deep impression on me. That’s why I sing. Because I love it. If there’s stuff you’ve got to deal with, then you’ve got to deal with it. You signed the contract!

Your body is this instrument and I’m like this big bass fiddle, I guess. Your voice just resonates within that. I’ve always taken decent care of my body because it is what creates the breath and the support – as unfettered as possible. I always felt my body would never lie to me – like when it comes to any kind of therapy. I believe that every experience I have ever had is in my body somewhere. I have always felt that my body was my friend and would not let me down – as long as I gave it my service, my consideration. I’ve been around for a long time and not too much the worse for wear. Now that I’m more self-aware I have a bit more humor about it. My ego is less involved and it’s more about doing what I do well. And if it’s not going so well, then why? I get my Self out of the way.

S: What’s on your Calendar after San Francisco?

CHRISTINE: I’m working on a new show involving a little media – which will be fun. I’m collecting songs, remembering songs and – without being indulgent – making it a little bit auto-biographical. I’m reaching out to Music and reaching-in to the music that’s inside of me – to the songs that insist on being sung. It’s fun!

SEÁN: I think I would much rather have “An Evening of Christine Andreas” than sit around waiting for your next entrance in some musical.

CHRISTINE: Really?! Well, that’s sweet. You can make up your mind after you see me.

Come see her this Sunday afternoon at 4:00. Click here to order tickets on-line: CHRISTINE ANDREAS at the Empire Ballroom

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CDs by CHRISTINE ANDREAS

Add these beautiful recordings by Christine Andreas to your musical library. Click on the title to order on-line:
CD – HERE’S TO THE LADIES. Christine Andreas pays tribute to her favorite ladies of Broadway. Selections include The Music That Makes Me Dance, I Could Have Danced All Night, They Say It’s Wonderful.
CD – LOVE IS GOOD. First solo album by Christine Andreas. Selections include Fly Me to the Moon, Love Don’t Need a Reason, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
CD – THE CARLYLE SET. Christine Andreas performs favorite songs from Broadway and Jazz including Show Me, What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life, At the Ballet, Autumn in New York, What if We Went to Italy, and more.

Visit Seán on YouTube:
Lorena Feijóo – A Look at “Giselle” with Seán Martinfield
SAMSON & DELILAH – Meet Seán Martinfield
CA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES – A Preview Look with Seán Martinfield

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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN MARTINFIELD

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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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