Written by Susan Hasho
Preceded by a natural disaster called Sandy and arriving at 54 Below on Halloween, Melissa Errico had to create a bridge between reality and her cabaret act from the start. She began her show, giving a nod to the disco past of 54 Below, by entering singing I Like the Nightlife in a short sequined black dress and 6-inch heels. She made mention of being evacuated from her neighborhood and being holed up with her children at her mother’s apartment on air mattresses, and not being able to rehearse as much as she’d like. She made jokes about eating food in the order of what would spoil first and how maybe she had luxury problems compared to others. But above all, she gamely sprinkled zany, fabulous humor throughout the whole evening.
She is a soprano, but she is like watching a soprano through a kaleidoscope. She covers all facets. And the choice of material for this show is wide ranging and seems to touch on much of her musical history. She began with Much More from the Fantasticks, and then The Summer Knows with music by Michel Legrand. Legrand is a very important relationship for her; she recorded a CD of his music Legrand Affair. Years in the making, this collaboration forged a close and inspirational relationship for Melissa. She also performed How Do You Keep the Music Playing (Legrand/Alan and Marilyn Bergman) and his tribute to John Kennedy Celui-La.
She highlighted her first professional musical theatre experience with a gorgeous full-out performance of I Saw Him Once and I Dreamed a Dream from the musical Les Miserables. Her experience of being in the Broadway musical Dracula was narrated with great panache—it was very easy to picture the actors gamely soldiering on through smoke and dark holes opening in the stage floor and difficult staging. And…and…none of these original actors are on the cast album. Ha! And so the business goes.
She introduced Moonfall from the Broadway musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood as her opportunity to express the darker side of the soprano—a beautiful haunting performance. Her cocaine-influenced interpretation of Not Getting Married Today from the musical Company (Sondheim) was performed at break-neck speed and totally charming. I especially enjoyed her simple, intimate interpretation of The Boy Next Door (Martin/Blane). The encore When She Loved Me (Randy Newman) from the film Toy Story was so much for and about her three daughters, and full of love for the miracle of her family.
She left the stage singing Donna Summers’ I Love the Nightlife after flinging Halloween candy at us all. Melissa Errico is a polished and very gifted artist, but also such an exuberant, nice person that you just want to stay at her party all night long with musical director. John Oddo.
Thru November 3rd, 8:30 pm. www.54Below.com
*Photo credit: Walter McBride