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CD REVIEW: Melissa Errico: What About Today? – Live at 54 Below

Reviewer: Holly Spanner

Recorded at the popular New York cabaret and restaurant venue 54 Below, What About Today is a mix of Broadway classics, film tracks and more contemporary songs as well as one of Melissa Errico’s own compositions.

A slightly breathless start to the album, maybe through excitement and audience banter, it opens with What About Today by David Shire, but it’s by the third track The April Fools from the motion picture of the same name, that Errico really hits her stride. Possibly best known for her leading lady roles on and off Broadway, one of her earliest was back in 1993 was that of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, and fans will relish the opportunity to have a recording of the fiery and forceful Show Me. In contrast is the beautiful Gentle Child, which Errico wrote for her first daughter Victoria, a soft and sensitive lullaby.

There are three tracks from composer Stephen Sondheim, including Getting Married Today from the musical Company, previously described as “one of Sondheim’s toughest songs” but Errico captures the crazed humour of a bride having a mental breakdown on her wedding day, perfectly. This is balanced by the reflective yet stirring, No More from Into the Woods (cut from the movie version), and the flirtatious Small World from Gypsy.

There are two songs by Stephen Schwartz, who Errico calls “The King of Broadway”; the comedic and lyrically witty It’s An Art from the little known 1978 musical Working and Meadowlark from The Bakers Wife.

This is Errico’s fifth album, and it features a diverse range of material, including 11 previously unrecorded tracks, however, this recording doesn’t do her justice. A large amount of dialogue is also included, which frustratingly interrupts the flow of the album somewhat. This isn’t to say that the narrative isn’t interesting, and to the producers’ credit, is tracked giving the listener the option to skip on repeat listening, but with 15 songs out of 27 tracks, gives a sense as to the quantity. While audience banter may be good in the live show, it doesn’t translate as well to the recording and as a result, the album feels busy, and a difficult listen, despite Errico’s phenomenal vocals.

That said, there is also a sense of fun that comes across with this recording, and it undoubtedly captures the cabaret atmosphere on the evening. Throughout the album, Errico herself is scintillating and her impressive range is evident, with a welcome infusion of soft jazz at times.

Available from Broadway Records | Image: Jim Da Silva

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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