Photo credit: Mark Doyle
Aimée Marcoux had a charmingly intimate idea for her show: besotted with the work of Stephen Sondheim, she began writing him letters at the age of 13, and it is those letters which form the basis of her evening Summer With Sondheim.
She also has a huge, operatic soprano which fills the room with its vibrant sound: well-placed, with secure top notes, and emotive pulse. It is not a voice one usually associates with the brittle, dry syncopations of Mr. Sondheim, at least not with most of the repertoire Ms. Marcoux chose to sing.
Ably supported by her musical director and pianist, Doug Martin, she scored beautifully with a ravishing “One Last Kiss” (Follies, 1971), and a gender-bended “Johanna” (Sweeney Todd, 1979), as well as with her opening number, the non-Sondheim “Much More” (Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, The Fantastics, 1960). But Ms. Marcoux rarely varied her vocal approach to the songs, and some of the more delicate numbers, like “Send In The Clowns” (A Little Night Music, 1973), and the titular “Anyone Can Whistle” (1964), did not hold up to the full-blown operatic treatment she afforded them. It wasn’t until late in the show, when she tackled “Everybody Ought To Have A Maid” (A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, 1962) with a comic verve reminiscent of the late, great Madeline Kahn, she brought the house down with her hilariously fresh interpretation. One wanted more of this Marcoux: relaxed, free-wheeling, and funny, with an alternate use of voice that was very well suited to the repertoire she chose.
There was no director credited; Marcoux may be better served if she were to bring one on for future performances. Fadeouts after every song did not help the pace of the evening, nor did her reading the naively charming letters from cue cards while standing stock still in front of the microphone.
Her final scripted number, “Being Alive” (Company, 1971), was fine, but her encore – another non-Sondheim piece, Puccini’s “O Mid Bambino Caro” (Gianni Schicchi, 1918) – topped everything she performed all evening. Singing with a gusto and energy only hinted at earlier, it was a gorgeous, exciting, and breathtaking moment where she truly was being alive, and it allowed her to end her show on a thrilling, glorious high note.