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Andrea Marcovicci

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A baby boomer who came of age listening to Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins with one ear and musical-theater luminaries Barbara Cook and Mary Martin with the other, Andrea Marcovicci long ago established herself as the finest American cabaret singer of her generation. Since her last appearance here, at the 2003 Chicago Cabaret Convention, she's also taken on the roles of producer and record exec. Her label, Andreasong, just debuted with How's Your Romance?, Marcovicci's new CD of Cole Porter tunes. Porter was also the focus of her convention concert, So in Love, but over the past year Marcovicci and her accompanist and musical director, Shelly Markham, have rethought the set--dropping some numbers, adding others, and foregrounding the gay songwriter's profound and complex relationship with his wife, Linda, whose perspective Marcovicci (also a veteran actor) adopts in her witty between-song patter. Marcovicci's once bell-like voice has grown lower and breathier, but like Rosemary Clooney, Julie Wilson, and her idol Fred Astaire she's become a master of alternating singing and speaking to give each phrase an intimate conversationality. The approach is well suited to Porter, whose clever rhymes and mischievous double entendres overlay a deep well of longing and desire. No recording can capture Marcovicci's elegant, gracious, genuinely warm stage presence, but How's Your Romance? is a fine first release for Andreasong, for which Marcovicci hopes to attract a roster of emerging artists and a full-time executive staff. "Then I can be Joan Crawford at Pepsi," she quips. Friday, April 30, 8 PM, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie; 847-673-6300.

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