RETROCRUSH INTERVIEWS THE STAROF THE FRONT,
THE HAND, AND THE QUEEN OF CABARET
The beautiful and talented Andrea Marcovicci has
starred with Woody Allen in The Front, and in Oliver Stone's first
movie The Hand with Michael Caine. She's also appeared in numerous
other classic movie and television roles.
For the last 20 years she's used her incredible vocal
talents to become the Queen of Cabaret singing in cities all over the
world. Recently, she spoke with us in this exclusive retroCRUSH
Your mother Helen Stewart was a model and torch
singer. Did she inspire you to get into the entertainment business?
the extent that someone singing around the house constantly inspires
one. I canít say she encouraged me because it wasnít something that
she continued to do. When she married my father she gave up the
business. Although, my father was a brilliant dancer for instance.
My father was a doctor.
He had studied medicine in Vienna. He was born in 1885. My mother was
his third wife. It was an amazing childhood. My father was quite
elderly already for a dad. That made him very romantic and
fascinating to me. He was a ballroom dancer of such genius that he
did exhibition dancing at my ballroom dancing class in New York City.
He was amazing. He danced with my mother who was 33 years younger
She had been a singer.
She gave up her singing in order to raise my brother and I, but she
continued to sing brilliantly around the house and take me to
rehearsals. She never gave up singing completely. She sang at this
country club we belonged to and whenever there was a party. She was
always singing, usually miserably sad songs which were fun to say the
least. I grew up with this music.
Always, my father
played the piano, classical piano. My mom was singing. They would
introduce me to the Billie Holiday songs or Ella Fitzgerald or Judy
Garland a great deal. My mom was crazy about Judy Garland, then Fred
Astaire movies. I really grew up in this black and white childhood. I
didnít have a normal upbringing by any means.
You did a movie called, Smile Jenny youíre dead
with Jodie Foster and David Janssen. What are your memories of
Well, Jodie and I were
never in the same scene, but I remember her in looping. I remember
her clearly because I had only done, at that time it was only my
second movie of the week. She was a pro and actually coached me. She
was 9 years old and she was already a pro.
Thatís pretty impressive.
She was 9 or 10. We
were on the same looping day and she actually gave me little lessons
in how to do a successful looping job. If youíre on a soap opera
everythingís live. You never have to go back in and do any retakes in
looping, when you go back and do your voice again. I never had to do
that. She was such an old pro at it. We had some outdoor scenes.
Although I wasnít in the scene with her I was there on the same day.
She did her looping and then she coached me. She stayed over and did
some extra with me. She was a doll and she was a baby. When I think
about it I remember her very, very clearly that day. We had never
been on the same set on the same days. We didnít have sequences
I remember David
Janssen very well because I had a big crush on him. Before I worked
with him he had been the star of The Fugitive. When I got on
set I just couldnít wait. Iíd loved him since I was a child. We had
in the script a kiss that I had been looking forward to. I didnít
realize they had cut the kiss out of the script because there had
been script pages that had been changed. I didnít get that change. I
got right on set and laid this huge kiss on him right away. I just
couldnít wait to kiss him. The producer came over and said, "No,
thatís been changed. Youíre not kissing goodbye." Then David
whispered to the producer, "No, no she is, thatís fine. Itís fine.
Weíre going to do the kiss goodbye." Heíd changed his mind. I was 25
years old and I was so in love with him.
He was wonderful in
that. I remember visiting him on the set when he was making that
movie. It wasnít very long after. It was shortly before he died
actually. I remember him in that movie. He was great. He was a
wonderful actor and man. I adored him.
You also did quite a few guest starring roles in TV
shows in the 1970ís and 80ís.
I did every single one
that was available. I was known for it. I was the go to girl for the
wounded bird kind of role. They just went to me for everything, every
kind of girl that was going to be chased, or damaged in some fashion
either crazy or very vulnerable. I did Kojak, Mannix, Baretta,
and Medical Center. I did Magnum, Trapper John, Hill Street
Blues. I did them all. That was my claim to fame. You couldnít
turn on a television set in the 1970ís and 80ís without seeing me. It
was great. I loved it. I had my own series too. I did Berrengers,
which was my own television series for awhile. I did a couple of
feature films around that time too.
The one movie I really remember you doing was The
Hand with Michael Caine.
Michael Caine for
heavenís sakes thatís not too shabby. It was very good and you know
who directed that movie? Oliver Stone.
Do you remember filming that very much?
I do. Itís not easy to
work with a rubber hand. Itís a very difficult bit of business. Itís
very hard when youíre struggling to rip a hand off you. Youíre
actually holding it onto you with one hand and ripping it off with
the other. Itís really hard, but of course the scenes that I loved
where the more psychological scenes with Michael Caine because heís
the dreamboat of all dreamboats. To be around Michael Caine is to be
around the greatest raconteur in the world. He was so heavenly. I
mean his history in the business and his gentlemanliness. I was the
In reviewing it again I was impressed by both of your
Thank you. Definitely,
and the supporting cast, it has great people. Iíve never shown that
to my daughter because I think it would freak her out. Someday when
sheís a little older Iíll show her some of these spooky things that I
was in. Of course sheíd laugh to beat the band at
The Stuffwith Michael Moriarty. Thatís one of the cult
classics that goes right up there with Attack of the Killer
Tomatoes. Itís one of the worst movies ever made. Itís funny.
Itís a great claim to fame and people who are into
those movies really remember things like that.
Oh yeah. Iím right up
there with one of those B movie queens. Itís fine with me. I do have
of course one major claim to fame, which is The Front. Now,
thatís a classic. That goes to film festivals all the time as one of
the great movies ever made. Iím so proud of that. Thatís a great
movie and an important movie. Every now and then Iíll go and Iíll
speak on that movie at film festivals and such.
clip from The Front with
I recently saw Spacehunter: Adventures in the
Forbidden Zone in 3D on the big screen. Molly Ringwald is such a
spicy character in that.
Isnít she something?
She was such a teenager. What I remember clearly is the dear Molly at
that age dying her hair all the time. She was just a child and she
wanted to be a child. She didnít really understand that every time
she dyed her hair weíd all have to wait for her to dye it the right
color again so we could go back to work. She was just a kid.
That was filmed in LA?
It was filmed in Moeb,
Utah. That was in nowheresville Utah. It was really a faraway
location. Not only that, we had to film it twice.
Because of the 3D?
No. Really complicated
bit of business, first of all filming in 3D is hell. The cameras are
these massive boxes and itís so complicated I canít begin to tell
you. Then the director was fired and we got a new director. We had to
do every single thing we had already done. We had to do it all over
again. I remember getting a bump payment of such a sum for me in
those days. Itís not a huge sum for anybody nowadays, but for me it
was enough money that I could go and buy a diamond ring for my
mother. Itís the dearest memory I have of any job Iíve ever done
because Iíd never been able to buy anything like that for my mom. I
remember that about that movie that I could buy something so
magnificent for my mother because they had to pay me twice.
A lot of people remember that as a fun, 3D movie too.
Itís whacky isnít it?
It has some real interesting actors that have gone on to do some
amazing things. We had Ernie Hudson. You see Ernie Hudson all the
time now and Michael Ironside the scary guy. He was way scary and
some fascinating art direction and the costume designs. She was over
the top brilliant.
I wish theyíd do more 3D movies.
I bet its better by
now. Iím sure itís much better by now. This was 1980 something. These
were big boxes and the two cameras have to be meeting on such perfect
axis that every camera setup takes twice as long as a normal one. We
were waiting in the hot desert. We were all covered with this
elaborate makeup, all this special makeup for 3D too. Gosh, it was a
Iíve read they need extra lighting too.
Extra lighting for 3D
and hot, hot, hot, it was whacky. I loved all my experiences in
You didnít make a distinct switch to singing?
No, it happened by
accident. When I started singing again it was only to express myself.
I never dreamed I was going to have this career. Now of course not
only am I singing and recording, but I also teach. I do these master
classes in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Are there certain students that should go into
There are people that I
donít think are going to necessarily end up with financially
rewarding careers. I also have students where I say, "Stay where
youíre at, but bring cabaret to life in your home town." In other
words Iím not always so quick to say to a student, "Come to
Dannyís, come to Donít Tell
Mamaís, come into Manhattan." Sometimes what I want to do is
instill in that student stay where you are in the town youíre in and
help cabaret live where you are.
You may not be ready
for New York, but youíre perfect for where you are. Not everyone has
to come to New York you know. Not everybody needs to be in the glut
of Manhattan. Sometimes they need to be exactly where they are. They
travel to Steamboat Springs Colorado to the Perry-Mansfield School
and they study with me. Sometimes they go right back where they are
and make cabaret happen where theyíre at. Thereís nothing wrong with
There are only a few places that do cabaret in the
Well, cabaret is very
thriving in most cities. You just have to seek it out. Thereís
cabaret Pittsburgh, thereís cabaret in Philadelphia, thereís lots of
cabaret in Chicago, great cabaret in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Iím not saying thereís a hell of a lot in Texas. Thereís not enough
in Florida. Iím opening up a brand new cabaret series in Miami next
week. I take what I do. I take it all over the country and I inspire
and teach. That is such a new part of my life right now.
You inspire other people to bring this wonderful art
to other cities.
And I have protťgťs. I
have a 30 year old protťgť, a 20 year old protťgť, and a 16 year old
protťgť. Theyíre doing very well too.
It doesnít matter then you can be at any age to do
Absolutely, I mean my
16 year old girl is doing really well. Imagine, and she doesnít think
this is fuddy duddy music and would rather do Hip Hop. Sheís really,
really into this and so is my 20 year old. Sheís at Juilliard
studying right now. Some of her friends want to go on American Idol
and she wants to do what Iím doing. My 30 year old is
Fiona Appleís sister and she wants to do what I do. This is an
art form that will never die, never. I donít care if how many times
people try to kill it. I donít care how many times that you read in
the paper that cabaret is dead it is not. It never dies because
intimate entertainment is necessary for the soul.
They talk about it being one of the only arts that
breaks the 4th wall and comes out to the audience.
does and we need it. This is a cold world weíre living in. Weíre all
living in our computer screens. Itís too cold. Then you go out for
entertainment and the singers are singing over your heads, the sound
systems are blaring, and no one is looking in your eyes. No oneís
asking anything of you.
Cabaret is one of your most favorites then?
Absolutely, I love it
and I need it. I also feel itís important to keep the songs alive
because these are written by our poets, our great genius poets. When
you go to college and you study Robert Frost and you study Emily
Dickinson that keeps happening all the time. Kids leave school
saying, "Yes, I studied poetry." Kids are leaving school and theyíre
not studying Larry Hart, theyíre not studying Cole Porter, well those
are our poets too. We have to study those poets. We have to study
Gershwin and we have to study Irving Berlin. Itís not just corny. We
gotta do it. As far as Iím concerned it should be mandatory.
It seems like the schools are doing just the
opposite. Thereís definitely a place for the arts too.
It has to be there.
Itís part of the history of our art and how this music happened.
Also, when you study the history of the American popular song you
also study something very important which is how the races got
together in this country. When you study how the Jewish musicians met
up with African American rhythms you study how the black musicians
met up with the Irving Berlins of the world and they created Jazz. It
is a very healing story and thatís very important too ethnically
speaking. This is the meeting of the European forces and the African
American. This is important stuff. This brings everybody together.
There wouldnít be Hip
Hop and Jazz and all of this stuff if it hadnít been for the European
Jew. You know what I mean. All the things we think of as being so
different are not. We all got together right around the time of
Scott Joplin. We all made it together. When you think of
Skinheads and you think of Hip Hop artists and you think of people
being different then each other. Theyíre not. All this music came
together a long time ago.
do a lot of research for your shows.
Oh my gosh. I really
do. I really do.
Even your show on World War II songs?
That was researched for
two years. The Fred Astaire songs where researched a year. The
Hildegarde has taken a year. I go on Ebay and I collect
clippings. I go right on and I get the old Life magazines. I get old
advertisements and I put it into scrapbooks and I bring it out for
people to look at. I get every book ever written and I underline them
like a good Catholic girl should. I really have fun.
I thought it was interesting that you even had a
Thatís my most recent
show and Iím going to be doing it every spring from now on at the
After 20 years of repertoire, the only thing thatís wrong with what I
do is that every fall I have a new show and therefore my audience
never gets to hear anything again. The request show was a way of me
giving back to the audience for their loyalty. Giving back a show of
their choice and they get to request all the old repertoire. I didnít
have to memorize 200 new songs, what I did was have to re-memorize
200 of the old songs that I already knew. It was really quite an
effort as you can imagine to get back to.
It took months not only
to get back all of the old songs I had done for 20 years, but to do
the arrangements again, then to do the books because my accompanist
had to be able to read. I had to put all of those books together.
There were six books on the piano that he had to be able to grab the
moment a song was requested. It was really dicey and great fun.
you fabulous to figure that out? Oh yeah, heís going to open a bar
soon. I think the French 75 which is the one made with Champagne was
my favorite. The Pegu is a beauty. Itís a wonderful drink.
It made me want to try it. I saw the color on the
Oh gorgeous. Heís a
real genius when it comes to this stuff. Heís such a genius.
Itís amazing when you think about where these recipes
come from. That they could be lost and someone could unearth them and
make them perfect for you.
The good old Manhattan,
I love a Manhattan. That goes with Christmas somehow, with Christmas
and Christmas music.
My album which is so sweet and gentle.
I was listening to some of it.
Itís so gentle isnít
it? Itís so sweet. I wanted it to be gentle. That was number one on
my agenda. I didnít want it to be clangy or too forced. Forced gaiety
is what I was avoiding. I donít like it when people force Christmas
on you. I want it to be gentle.
selling that directly through your website?
Right, available now.
Operators are standing by.
I hope so. I am
probably. No, I donít have to mail it out myself. My assistant in New
York is doing it. I sell it on site because I like to be there to
sign for everybody. I like to sign the CDís myself.
Do you believe in
Yes, I do. I know I
probably shouldnít say such things. I donít want to scare my
daughter. I definitely believe in the supernatural. Iíve had too many
experiences that are a little odd. Of knowing when the phone will
ring or having dreams that come true or just a sense that thereís
something. My father who died in 1968, Iíve had experiences where
things will happen on the day he died many years later or just a
sense that heís around me. Iíve never actually seen a ghost per se.
Although I did think I saw my father once. I did. I thought I saw him
once. I really like to think that there are ghosts and all kinds of
spooky, nifty things.
A lot of people talk
of your beauty and great legs.
Thank you. I stay
slender by doing what I do. Iím not very hungry anymore and I donít
drink. You give up alcohol at some point. You really do need to. I
dance a lot. I move a lot. I run after my kid which is fun. Iím
certainly determined to be able to move my face which leaves Botox
out of the picture. I have this joke now which I use in one of my
shows, that Iím the last holdout. I want to be the last actress who
can still move her face and that would be me.
going to put out a casting call for the girl who can move her face.
That will have to be me. Theyíre going to need one eventually. If
these girls keep doing this theyíre not going to be able to express
themselves. Someone is going to have to express herself and that will
be me. They canít move theyíre brow. How can you make expression if
you cannot move your brow? You canít frown, you canít look sad, you
canít look happy or surprised without your brow. What are they doing?
Is there a role youíre dying to do?
There are many things I
want to do. Iíd definitely like to do Pal Joey with Hugh
Jackman. Iíd love to play his Vera. Iíd like to put that out into the
stratosphere. I know every other woman in the world is going to want
to play that part, but I would. Iíd be great. I donít know who his
Vera is going to be, but Iím sure heís got a list. Maybe itíll be
Meryl Streep or somebody who knows.
Iíd certainly adore to
do it. Iíd very much like to go on Law and Order on a steady
basis. I would like to be one of those great lawyers like Judith
Light does. Sheís always one of those recurring lawyers. Iíd like to
do Dear World. Jerry Hermanís Dear World. Iíd like to
revive that for myself. I wouldnít mind having a television series of
my own. Iíd really like to do something like Helen Mirren did over in
think you can be very sexy in your late 50ís. I think thereís nothing
wrong with going after a real sensuality in your late 50ís. Iím so
sick to death of everybody gets farmed out. I am slender and sexy in
my late 50ís. Nobody ever gets a chance to do that. Most of the women
actresses Iíve grown up with have gone into the matron parts. I have
not found my way back into television because people say, "Well,
youíre so glamorous and pretty still. We canít cast you as the mother
Itís almost as if I had
gained a lot. If I had been bigger and looked more like a mother I
might have been working. If Dynasty were still on I could have
done sort of a Joan Collins thing. I think some detectives like in
the Helen Mirren tradition were very hot in her late 40ís. Something
like that would be heaven, I would love to do. The other thing Iíd
like to do and put out into the world is to own a nightclub. Iíd like
to own an LA based nightclub. Wouldnít that be fun?