By MIKE CHAIKEN
Once upon a time, there was a musical act that made the rounds called 4 Girls 4.
The act included four stars at the time— Rosemary Clooney, Rose Marie, Helen O’Connell, and Margaret Whiting. They would take to the stages of America, sing and tell stories.
In time, 4 Girls 4 was retired from the stage.
But in recent years, the concept was revived with a new set of Broadway stars. And this new ensemble is coming to the Bushnell on Dec. 1 with “4 Girls 4: A Christmas Together.”
The new 4 Girls 4 feature some household names of musical theater.
There is the original “Annie,” Andrea McArdle, who also has been in “Starlight Express” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
There is Maureen McGovern, who has had numerous Grammy nominations, received a Drama Desk nomination for “Little Women the Musical,” and had a gold record with the song, “The Morning After,” the theme song from “The Poseidon Adventure.”
There is Donna McKechnie, a Tony winner for “A Chorus Line,” and appeared in the classic musicals “Company,” and “State Fair.”
Finally, there is Faith Prince, a Tony winner for “Guys and Dolls,” who also has been in “Bells are Ringing,” Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva,” and performed in the role of Miss Hannigan in “Annie” on Broadway.
The current 4 Girls 4, like its predecessors, has brought its star power to stages for a while now. But when the foursome comes to Hartford, this will be the first tour they have done with a Christmas theme, explained Andrea in a phone interview from her home.
The holiday theme is one that Andrea finds particularly appealing. “I love Christmas music,” said Andrea, whose recording career includes her own holiday album, “Andrea McArdle’s Family Christmas.” Andrea said, “(Christmas music has) evolved so much… It’s just exploded.”
At the time of the interview, Andrea said the show was still taking shape. The four performers had not met with each other to determine what songs they intended to sing. And each performer had not met with their individual music directors to winnow their own particular song selection down.
But Andrea said she has plenty of Christmas songs in her repertoire.
With so many Christmas songs out there, Andrea was asked if she had any particular favorites. She said, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,’ which was sung by Judy Garland in the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis,” is a particular favorite.
Asked how she became part of the new version of 4 Girls 4, Andrea said she and the other three were approached by Broadway legend Tommy Tune.
It was a concept that made sense to the four because there already had crossed career paths over the years, said Andrea. And the four of them also shared the same manager. Andrea also liked the concept because she was in awe of the talent that was going to be gathered on stage. “We love each other’s talent.”
Donna was “totally inspiring” in “A Chorus Line,” said Andrea. And Faith is “so unique… she’s truly a comedienne. Even before she opens her mouth, she brings a smile to my face,” said Andrea.
When each performer takes the stage for 4 Girls 4, the other three often can be found in the wings just watching. “We get along great,” said Andrea.
As for the structure of the show, Andrea explained, the four take the stage together to perform the song, “Together (Wherever We Go).” Then each will takes their own 25 minute turn on stage, singing, and telling stories, said Andrea. (Andrea said she is hoping that the show will evolve to provide more ensemble time for the four performers).
Andrea said Faith often tells the story about how she met her husband in summer stock theater. Donna will talk about how she arrived in New York City with three dollars to her name and just a suitcase. And Andrea said she speaks about the wild ride she had as a child actor thrust into stardom as the lead in “Annie.”
The idea is to pull together their “best of the best” musical repertoire, which isn’t always each to manage in a mere 25 minutes, said Andrea.
But Andrea said she always tries to fit in one of her fans’ favorites… “I Dreamed a Dream,” from the musical “Les Miserables.”
“4 Girls 4: A Christmas Together,” an evening of song, dance, and laughter under the musical direction of John McDaniel will play The Bushnell’s Belding Theater, 166 Capitol Ave., Hartford on Monday, Dec. 1. It is presented by producers Matthew Lombardo and Rick Murray.
Tickets from range from $55 to $95. For tickets, go to Bushnell.org or call (860) 987-5900.