Andrea Marcovicci at Steppenwolf

Last night with suttonhoo (which could well be its own title): Steppenwolf Traffic presents An Evening with Andrea Marcovicci I'll Be Seeing You ... Love Songs of World War II—on the African set of The Unmentionables no less, which added a whole separate layer of oddness to the event. A curious night at any rate, particularly dodgy at the start, not so much cabaret as a night at the Flamingo with Wayne Newton, featuring much self-conscious finger pointing, hamming, uncomfortable jokes, and forced stage patter. Not what I expected from the advertised "Queen of Cabaret"—craft that looked too much like craft—but then I'm suspicious of cabaret under most circumstances (too much intimacy, of course, being my greatest discomfort in life).

But I must confess she won me over in the end, through some weird trickery of will, artfulness, confidence, skill, and luck: I really am a sucker for World War II nostalgia (Mrs. Miniver, anyone? The Best Years of Our Lives? From Here to Eternity?), and also for bald sentiment and sad love songs. It wasn't her voice so much that did it—it just isn't the type of voice I'm wild about, where the head is so disconnected from the chest—but genuine, old-fashioned theatricality: her way of presenting a song, telling the story, and making you listen.

Next up: Elaine at Ravinia (or, as Elaine as Judy would say, "Uhh-laaaane" at Ravinia). I would bet she'll have something to say about "Martinis at the Martin," wouldn't you?