Cabaret star Andrea Marcovicci seeks to revive a vanished era

All of which must have led her to ask herself a key question: Why did that more elegant era mostly fade away? Was it simply the inevitable changing of tastes or something more profound?

"TV! TV! Staying home too much," says Marcovicci. "I make a joke (in the show) about the fact that Mabel (Mercer) sang three shows, at 10, 12 and 2" in the morning. "And nowadays people want me to sing at 7. Pretty soon they'll want me to sing at 4!

"Definitely TV was the downfall of the era of the '40s and '50s," adds Marcovicci. "There was a new phenomenon, where entertainment could be brought into your own home. … Kaye Ballard and Carol Burnett and all these young comics started to be seen on TV, and you didn't have to go to these clubs to see them anymore."

And yet audiences still go out to the venues that have endured and those that have sprung up in our era, such as Davenport's, Chicago's leading cabaret. TV screens may be getting bigger and ever more sophisticated, but they don't yet yield quite the goose bumps of a live performer standing a few feet away and singing for all she's worth.

That's why Marcovicci continues to pack intimate rooms across the country, and why this music continues to live.

"What makes our work so special is lyrics that are so clever and witty, as well as being touching," says Marcovicci.

"And I think there's always going to be a longing for that."

And gifted artists yearning to fulfill it.

To read more from Howard Reich, go to chicagotribune.com/reich.

hreich@tribune.com

Twitter @howardreich

Andrea Marcovicci performs "Moonlight Cocktail" at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and Monday; 7 p.m. Sunday; at Davenport's, 1383 N. Milwaukee Ave.; $37-$42 plus two-drink minimum. Shelly Markham, Marcovicci's accompanist, celebrates the release of his recording "Things I've Learned Along the Way" with his own show, which also features Anne and Mark Burnell, at 4 p.m. Sunday at Davenport's; $15 plus two-drink minimum. 773-278-1830 or davenportspianobar.com.

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