Andrea McArdle didn’t, when the 1978 movie Rainbow was released, look or sound like Judy Garland, and she still doesn’t. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is neither here nor there, except she played the role of Garland in the film and so one might reasonably expect the casting director to have considered someone who broadly resembles the person they are playing, especially someone as well-known as Garland. It is not, of course, McArdle’s fault, and neither are the negative experiences she faced when making the movie.
Her powers of recall are razor-sharp – either that or she has an unusual gift of embellishment – which is entirely believable: she also spoke about having a photographic memory, which doubtlessly has its advantages for an actor who needs to learn dialogue. Despite her extensive credits on both stage and screen in a career spanning fifty years, it is the one she found herself doing at the age of thirteen that she remains best known for. During the pre-Broadway run of Annie, the producers decided to give her the title role in place of Kristen Vigard, as the latter’s interpretation of the role was considered too saccharine for a toughened orphan – as McArdle put it, they had (originally) “cast an Oliver [Twist] when what they needed was an Artful Dodger”.
As she has been in show business since childhood, there isn’t scope in McArdle’s anecdotes for tales outside the entertainment industry. Most of the songs in this online concert were from previous generations – such as ‘Wherever He Ain’t’ from Mack and Mabel and ‘The Trolley Song’, probably in the Rainbow repertoire but my own reference point is the 1944 film Meet Me in St Louis. The stories of onstage mishaps were particularly amusing, such as the large amount of M&Ms she had on her person during one performance that spilled out and went ‘everywhere’.
Of course, she ended with ‘Tomorrow’ from Annie, but the words took on a very different meaning thanks to the pandemic that the show’s writers could never have envisaged. There is some hope for the future, even if we are not (at the time of writing) in a position to say for certain when theatres (on either side of the Atlantic) will be back without the looming threat of further lockdowns on the horizon. Perhaps one or two more contemporary songs wouldn’t have gone amiss – the newest song in the selection appeared to be ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Misérables, which first appeared on Broadway in March 1987. Otherwise, this was a pleasant trip down memory lane.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Andrea McArdle (performing May 2) rocketed to stardom as Broadway’s Annie, for which she was the youngest performer ever nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, winning both the Theatre World and Outer Critics’ Circle Awards for her performance. On Broadway, she originated the roles of Ashley in Starlight Express and Margy in State Fair and was seen as Belle in Beauty and the Beast and as Fantine in Les Miserables. On tour, she
starred in Jerry’s Girls, The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. Off-Broadway, Andrea has appeared in the satirical Newsical; she has played the title role in regional productions of Mame and Hello Dolly. Andrea has performed in concerts halls from Carnegie Hall to the best showrooms in Las Vegas to the MET Opera House as well as The White House. On PBS she has appeared in Andrea McArdle on Broadway and The Leading Ladies of Broadway.
Mark Cortale Presents
THE SETH CONCERT SERIES / May – June 2021
ANDREA McARDLE with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, May 2nd Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
CHRISTINE PEDI with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, May 9th Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
LAURA BENANTI & LINDA BENANTI with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, May 16th Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
CHUCK COOPER & LILLI COOPER with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, May 23rd Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
GEORGE SALAZAR with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, May 30th Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
ALEX NEWELL with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, June 6th Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
MATTHEW MORRISON with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, June 13th Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
JENN COLELLA with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, June 20th Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
LESLIE UGGAMS with SETH RUDETSKY
Sunday, June 27th Live at 3PM EST and Rebroadcast at 8PM EST
All tickets available at thesethconcertseries.com