Tuesday, August 11, 2009
We'll Love Ya Tomorrow
We saw Andrea (Annie) McArdle at the Metropolitan Room on Sunday night. It was an extremely sparse crowd, and the evening's program and execution made us envy those with the better sense to stay away.
That was rather unkind.
Ms. McArdle wasn't awful, she just wasn't particularly good. She still has the strong, crystalline voice of her Broadway halcyon days, but has not, in the 30-plus years since she rocketed to child stardom, acquired one whit of depth or nuance, which is the life's blood of cabaret - particularly in a room as intimate as the Metropolitan. Her repertoire was fairly hackneyed (a little Sondheim here, a little Karen Carpenter there) and her accompanist, bless his clueless heart, was a 20-something blond gay boi (spelling intentional) who played fairly adequately, but not spectacularly, and was given far more of the spotlight than he deserved.
Junior, the Kid, that is, soloed (vocally) on a painfully earnest, amateurish rendition of "The Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie, and engaged in some truly annoying repartee with the "star." Listen, Princess Fire and Music, we're not a huge Sondheim fans, either, but at this point in your life and career, you have absolutely no legs to stand on when you decide to publicly make snarky comments about Sondheim and his lyrics. Okay? When you're as old and jaded as we are, we'll talk.
Speaking of bad decisions: McArdle's baffling choice to evoke the memory of her critically-reviled turn as Judy Garland in the disastrous TV biopic, Rainbow (1978). She then turned in a karaoke rendition of "Over the Rainbow," and a mirthless "Trolley Song." It almost made us long for Rufus Wainwright.
The whole evening (all 65 minutes of it, though it seemed to last at least 90) reminded us of an evening at a gay piano bar, watching an enthusiastic but irriating show tune queen and his Fag Hag Best Friend, the Most Talented Girl Musical Theater Class, hog the microphone. If you've been to Marie's Crisis or The Townhouse, you've heard pretty much the same thing (right down to the Sondheim, Karen Carpenter, Judy Garland, and so help us, "Beauty and the Beast") - only you probably had more fun, and certainly were able to get drunk for less.
The only genuine moment came at the very end, when McArdle (naturally) wound up her act with "Tomorrow." It's not a great song; it's become a total Star Search cliche; but it's the one lyric that actually seems to mean something to McArdle, and the one number she has some kind of emotional connect with. In those brief 2 1/2 minutes, you respected her as a legitimate Broadway vet.
It's the 62 1/2 other minutes of the act that got her and her Hostess snack friend into trouble.