A sentimental journey from one war to another


By Jerry Tallmer

In 1987 a gorgeous and gorgeously talented young actress/singer named Andrea Marcovicci made her New York cabaret debut in the Hotel Algonquin’s historic Oak Room. “A voice of apricots and almonds,” said my review — noting also that here was a voice, repertoire, and running commentary of high intelligence. “The thinking man’s singer,” I wrote; then thoughtfully inserted “(and woman’s).”

A small section of that evening was a medley of popular songs of the years of World War II — her parents’ war, the war that had taken place before Ms. Marcovicci was born, “the Good War,” as she is not the first or the last to say today. Andrea’s best friend growing up was a girl named Nancy Kronkite, and Nancy Kronkite’s mom and dad were in the Oak Room audience that night.

It was after the last encore that Walter Kronkite had a word for Ms. Marcovicci. You should do a whole show, he told her, on the songs of World War II. You’ll make every man in the house cry.

Well, Ms. Marcovicci did put together a World War II assemblage — it took two years of research, trial and error, etc. — and did do it at the Algonquin and elsewhere.

Now that show — or basically that show, expanded, added to, subtracted from, changed, developed — is coming to this city’s Town Hall as “I’ll Be Seeing You — Love Songs of World War II,” for one killer performance only, this Friday, February 23, at 8 p.m., at Town Hall.

The lineup, at this writing, in part includes “As Time Goes By” (“naturally,” says Ms. Marcovicci), “Sentimental Journey” (“naturally”), “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “We’ll Meet Again,” “Say It Over and Over Again,” “Heart and Soul,” “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You,” “London Pride,” “J’Attendrais,” “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” and — “as the closer, of course,” says the singer — “There’ll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover.”

Composers and lyricists are Frank Loesser, Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn. Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Jimny McHugh, Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, Noel Coward, and dozens of others.

It will be the first time Andrea Marcovicci has soloed at Town Hall since her “What Is Love?” of 1989 — “my very first concert experience anywhere.” Backing her this time is a 12-piece chamber orchestra conducted by her music director Shelly Markham, with Tex Arnold at the piano.

“So this is a very big show,” she says, part dryly, part gleefully from her home these days in California. “And as you might imagine,” she says, “Helen Stuart will make a surprise appearance.” Tiny pause. “Would be more of a surprise if she didn’t.” Helen Stuart is the stunning onetime model and café singer who is also the mother of Andrea Marcovicci, the mother-in-law of vintagecocktails.com impresario Daniel Reichert, the grandmother of singer and dancer Alice Marcovicci Reichert, age 11.