Originally published on CastAlbums.org.
One of the joys of spending an hour of so with a Broadway star in a cabaret setting is the ability to really get a sense of who they outside of the parts they play. Melissa Errico‘s new album, What About Today? Live at 54 Below, gives you the sense that Errico is all over the place. Capturing a cabaret act conceived and directed byRichard Jay-Alexander, the disc opens with a track called “Why are actors so nuts?” and that very well could be the title of the album.
The good news is that Errico’s brand of nuts has produced a diverse and often thrilling set of songs that might not otherwise find their way onto the same album, from the art-pop ofMichel Legrand (“The Summer Knows”) and Burt Bacharach (“April Fools”) to musical theater classics like “How Are Things in Glocca Morra?” (Finian’s Rainbow) and “Small World” (Gypsy) to more contemporary fare like “The Heart is Slow to Learn” (Dracula) and even a dip into disco (“Last Dance”). Her voice is as beautiful as ever, equally at home lending warmth to the soprano numbers and character to her belt. The three-piece band under the direction of Tedd Firth provide a strong backbone for the evening, and producer Michael J. Moritz Jr. preserves the intimacy of the 54 Below experience — just add your own cocktail.
As for the bad news? Well, patter isn’t Errico’s strong point, and there’s a lot of it on this album. She doesn’t always trust her material, leading to oddities like half-a-rendition of “It’s An Art” from Working, like she hadn’t convinced herself as to whether the number was in her act or not.
Still, the album’s delights far outweigh the questionable moments (and for those, we have the “skip” button). Errico’s “No More” (from Into the Woods) prove the she’s as good with a lyric as she is with a melody, and her long-time fans will thrill to finally have a recording of her feisty “Show Me” from My Fair Lady (which Errico starred in on Broadway in 1993).