Sunday, February 07, 2010
For The Love Of Broadway: Betty Buckley at Feinstein's
By now you've heard the drill: Betty Buckley's new cabaret show (at Feinstein's for a month-long stay) eschews her usual forays into jazz and pop and consists almost exclusively of songs from the Broadway catalog. Except for the encore of "Memory" from Cats (complete with extended arm and finger) Buckley steers clear of the Broadway songs that she has been previously associated with. That's a gutsy move that yields some real treasures, such as her beautifully delicate take on "Lazy Afternoon" from The Golden Apple and a world-wise read on "Hey There" from The Pajama Game. While the set showcases Buckley's interpretive skills as a singing actress, the pace of the evening would benefit from one or two more well-placed uptempo numbers. (Note however that the set seems to have been built for some variation - reports from Tuesday indicate numbers from Nine but they weren't among the 20 or so songs in the set when I attended on Wednesday.) One of the nice surprises about the song selection is that Buckley hasn't confined herself to only American Songbook standards; she's dug deeper for material that is newer ("Fine Fine Line" from Avenue Q), special ("When I Belt", written for the set) or decidedly more cult-ish than universally known ("I Never Know When To Say When" from Goldilocks). Backed by her accomplished trio (headed by Kenny Werner) Buckley deserves bonus intimacy points for working the space so well: rather than fixing herself front and center she makes sure to connect to the entire room. (And in a delightful bit she plucks an audience member to serenade on stage with "You've Got Possibilities" from It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman. You may think of Buckley as a Broadway diva, but in a bit like this one she's down-to-earth endearing.