Cruising from Bayonne, N.J., to Bermuda, singer Christine Andreas sat listening to departure bells in the East Coast port and thinking about her debut engagement at Feinstein's at the Nikko in The City this weekend.
The cruise is a partnership between 54 Below and Celebrity Cruises, bringing artists who appear at the popular new Manhattan, N.Y., nightclub to perform on the high seas.
It's nice work if you can get it, and Andreas likes to really get away. "To leave for two or three weeks on a cruise is one of the best things you can do," she says. "It's called living!"
The 54 Below club is also where the Tony-nominated Broadway star developed "Bemused," the show she brings here right after she docks. It's a word with many meanings and Andreas studied them all.
One definition is "to have feelings of wry or tolerant amusement" which makes Andreas laugh. "That's a good one," she says, "though there's a lot of ego investment in that one."
Instead, she considers bemusement as "an impact with another creative energy that takes you deeper and expands you more fully. Sort of one plus one makes 10."
She finds the musical expression of this concept in unique, iconic parings of singers and songwriters such as Harold Arlen and Judy Garland, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto, or Dionne Warwick paired with Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
"They seriously bemused each other," she says, "which has elements of being confused, engaged in thought and even thunderstruck." She likens it to the blossoming of her relationship with her husband, composer Martin Silvestri.
"When we met and started making music, it was just like some other energy took over," she says. "Suddenly there were ideas for arrangements and songs to write. Our energies just fomented together and created something neither one of us could have anticipated."
Stephen Holden of The New York Times called the show "deliciously tangy" and wrote that Andreas "conveys a high-strung emotionality that is sharpened by her acting skills."
"He was very nice," she says. "You never know. Sometimes you birth something in other places so you can see what you have, but this was birthed in New York and it had a good flow."
That was January, and she's now recording a new CD based on the show, which, she says, has helped her "get it under my fingernails again" so the material is a little tighter and she can be a little looser.
"I'm a little lighter in my old age," she laughs. "I don't take myself so seriously anymore."
IF YOU GOChristine Andreas in 'Bemused'
Where: Feinstein's at the Nikko, 220 Mason St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $30 to $55
Contact: (415) 394-1100, www.feinsteinssf.com