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Broadway Star Andrea McArdle Shines in Streamed Holiday Concert at Kean

Andrea McArdle performs a streamed concert from Kean's Enlow Recital Hall

Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, will perform a holiday concert of hope and joy streamed from Kean’s intimate Enlow Recital Hall, making her first concert appearance since the start of the pandemic.

The show was recorded onstage at Kean, and will be streamed for five performances, from Thursday, December 17 through Sunday, December 20. McArdle performs seasonal favorites such as White Christmas and It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Broadway standards and her inspirational signature song, Tomorrow.

“I enjoy singing Tomorrow right now because people really need it,” said McArdle, who since March has been at home in Pennsylvania with her family. Her schedule of more than 30 concerts this year was postponed due to the pandemic. 

The woman who is one of Broadway’s most recognizable stars said she looks forward to delivering the song’s message of resilience.

“Talk about a song of hope and inspiration. In every sense, that song says ‘keep your chin up, it’ll be better,’” she said, adding that she performs Tomorrow in every concert — and can remember the first time she sang it onstage.

The former child star was picked from the chorus of Annie to take the lead role in 1977, then made history as the youngest Tony Award nominee for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. She is now an internationally known vocalist, actress and performer. 

“So many songs I’m singing feel really special right now,” McArdle said. “It feels like the biggest Christmas treat for me, to get back to the stage. I still love to sing every time I sing.” 

During her career, McArdle has worked with legendary performers from Carol Channing to Frank Sinatra. She rode atop the Big Apple float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and appeared in an episode of the ’70s TV sitcom, Welcome Back Kotter, as character Arnold Horshack’s little sister. She starred on Broadway in Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast and other shows. 

McArdle shares anecdotes from her career during her performance.

“I tell stories between songs. All of the songs have something that speaks to me,” she said. 

McArdle said Enlow is the perfect venue for the show, which she described as an intimate performance with her at the microphone and her musical director, Steve Marzullo, at the baby grand piano.

Recording at Enlow instead of in a studio or in front of a green screen will give it more warmth, she said. What is new for her is not having an audience.

“This is going to be different because I don’t have people or applause to play off of,” she said. “But it will be great. It will be a very professional production.”

The show is not her first at Kean. McArdle appeared at Wilkins Theatre in a holiday-themed show she created about 15 years ago.

McArdle said the pandemic-imposed hiatus is the longest she has gone without performing since she was 9 years old and began acting in commercials and a TV soap opera.

She said her hope for the coming year is that people “see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“What we’re doing with this show, even more than any other time, is so heartfelt, and we’re so happy to be doing it,” McArdle said.

“We forget that the gift of music or live performance is an escape and fills this void in our system. Listening to a streaming concert, you feel connected,” she added.

Performances will be streamed Thursday, December 17 at 7 p.m.; Friday, December 18 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, December 19 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday, December 20 at 3 p.m. All performance times are Eastern Standard Time. Tickets for the streamed concert are $30. Tickets for Kean University alumni, faculty and staff are $20. Student tickets are $10. Tickets can be purchased online at www.keanstage.com.