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Melissa Errico & James Pearson Band at Crazy Coqs

An eclectic mix of songs performed by Melissa Errico in The Life and Loves of a Broadway Baby are given the jazz treatment, thanks to a small band led by pianist James Pearson, artistic director at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. The band’s skill is evident but shines even brighter when Errico interrupts herself to point out there was some improvisation in the preceding number. Readers who have a keen interest in live jazz music will, I suppose, find that unsurprising, with improvisation being a key part of the genre.

Melissa Errico - Photo credit Danny Kaan.
Melissa Errico – Photo credit Danny Kaan.

It was interesting to hear some musical theatre standards – tunes like ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?’ from My Fair Lady and ‘My Favourite Things’ from The Sound of Music – jazzed up, as it were. Some of Stephen Sondheim’s songs are beautifully melodic anyway, though the ones Errico went for in this concert were of the slower variety, sped up. A mischievous part of me wanted to hear an up-tempo jazz accompaniment to something like ‘Another Hundred People’ from Company, especially after the beat to ‘Not While I’m Around’ from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street had to be slowed a little on the night.

Some songs in the evening’s selection, like Rodgers and Hart’s ‘Lady Is A Tramp’, more naturally lend themselves to being performed by a jazz band, though there wasn’t anything that sounded out of place here – this was a group of musicians who know their stuff. Errico’s guest, Isabelle Georges, who had come to London from Paris on the Eurostar, had performed with her in a production of the Michel Legrand musical Amour, for which Errico received a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. As Errico pointed out, the musical was originally called Le Passe-Muraille, which literally translates as ‘The Passer-Through-Walls’, but Legrand had noted he couldn’t possibly have a musical of that title on Broadway, and with American knowledge of French being what it is, he plumped for a word they might know. (There is a little more to it than that: there is a love affair the central character has with a married woman, so it wasn’t exactly incorrect to call it Amour.)

One need not have any prior knowledge of Errico’s life and times – it was, looking back, quite remarkable how so much was explained, without sounding rushed, in a one-act concert. We learned about her father, a retired surgeon and concert pianist, and her great-grandparents who emigrated to the United States from Italy. Her husband, Patrick McEnroe (John McEnroe’s youngest brother, no less) is in London, commentating at the Wimbledon Championships for American networks, and their three children are away at summer camp. It never felt, however, that she ever talked too much – on the contrary, it was more or less the perfect balance between songs and spoken word.

Errico describes the Crazy Coqs venue as a ‘bird cage’ – whatever that means. Anyway, the sound was excellent, and every lyric could be clearly heard, even if my own command of French is practically non-existent (a couple of Legrand’s songs were performed in their original language). It was a warm and engaging performance, a lively set from a seasoned pro, confident and assured, and above all, Errico was demonstrably having the time of her life on stage.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

Tony Award-nominated Broadway star and recording artist, Melissa Errico, returns again to Crazy Coqs for the fifth time, in a brand new concert featuring show-stopping standards from The Great American Songbook and greatest hits by her long-term collaborators, the late and much-missed music theatre legends, Stephen Sondheim and Michel Legrand. Cheekily subtitled “The Mis-Education of Melissa Errico,”she sings the great songs that were her musical, romantic, intellectual, and erotic education. Using the inimitable storyteller style, that has made her a favorite among New York Times readers, Melissa spins personal tales of life on (& off) stage. Songs by Rodgers & Hart, Jule Styne, Harry Warren, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Joni Mitchell & James Taylor.

Read our interview with Melissa Errico

https://melissaerrico.com/

Related News & Reviews Past & Present

  1. Interview with Melissa Errico ahead of her return to Crazy Coqs
  2. The Seth Concert Series Featuring Melissa Errico – Review
  3. Melissa Errico – Out Of The Dark: The Film Noir Project
  4. Audra McDonald, Lea Salonga, and Melissa Errico join The Seth Concert Series
  5. Linda Lavin: Love Notes at Crazy Coqs, London

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