By ALAN SMASON
Melissa Errico continues to take her concert tour to the people as the star of Passion and Amour, fresh off a recent “Playbill” cruise, brought her Sondheim show to a London cabaret for several nights before crossing the pond and landing in the Big Easy for a special night where she was joined briefly on stage by Broadway veteran Bryan Batt.
With “Sondheim and More,” singer Ms. Errico takes her audience on an emotional and laughter-filled ride through her own star-studded career as she pays homage to Mr. Sondheim and other noted musical collaborators like Lerner and Loewe, Michel Legrand and Jerry Herman.
Her easy and accessible manner makes the moments between songs delightful too as audiences, who might be unfamiliar with her stature as a Broadway star, can matter-of-factly listen to her many, often humorous memories of working with the upper echelon of composers, lyricists and fellow performers for the past two decades.
Through her personal recollections, Ms. Errico makes us appreciate her self-confessed admiration of Julie Andrews (“Waltz for Julie”), an impromptu songwriting session with Mr. Legrand (“Other People’s Stories”) and a “lost song” cut for brevity’s sake from “My Fair Lady” during out-of-town tryouts.
Throughout the evening, her rich and vibrant soprano soars as John McDaniel, an award-winning producer and performer himself, accompanies her in perfect balance on piano.
But it is Mr. Sondheim, whose “shadow” looms large in this show. From her frenetic performance of “Getting Married Today” (Company) to her hauntingly beautiful rendition of “No More” from Into the Woods, Ms. Errico caresses Sondheim’s music in the way a mother swaddles a child. In the end, the audience is moved, but not ready to “Move On.”
While she includes many Sondheim classics, Ms. Errico also pays homage to several jewels from his less-than-successful Broadway endeavors (“Everybody Says Don’t” from Anyone Can Whistle and the title track from Do I Hear a Waltz?), which led off the New Orleans show.
With tongue in cheek, she introduced Mr. Batt following a performance of “Where Is My Prince?” from the still un-produced Jerry Herman show Miss Spectacular. Performing on his birthday, Mr. Batt joined her in two duets (“Somewhere” from West Side Story and “That Old Devil Moon” from Finian’s Rainbow) before a final solo number, the humorous double entendre-smacked “Way Ahead of My Time (a.k.a. The Caveman’s Song).”
Ms. Errico will continue her tour later this summer at the Ravinia Festival and during the fall on Long Island.