- CHARITY BENEFIT
Written by Susan Hasho
I think alchemy is what Betty Buckley is about.
She may have been nervous or right out afraid. Somewhere toward the end of her show she said, “You need to redefine fear as a concept, but I can’t.” This is a new show for her and Tuesday night was the first performance of it. I mention all this to say that from the first moment she appeared, if there was fear it only served to give her energy. Betty Buckley was all about alchemy. She transformed second-lead Broadway show songs into show stoppers, redefined long-familiar show tunes into dazzling surprise, and drew the audience together with a big tribute to the supporting actress. She referred to the supporting actress as one who gets enough to mesmerize and then “has off till the curtain call, and walks away with all the praise.”
Second banana songs such as When You’re Good to Mama from Chicago, I Can’t Say No from Oklahoma and My Heart Belongs to Daddy from Cole Porter’s Leave It to Me were at the beginning. And then the medley constructed by Eric Stern and Eric Kornfeld But Play the Other Woman blew the lid off the building. It was a compendium of show stopping moments with the lyrics reinvented to hilarious effect; and Betty Buckley glided through tongue-twisting lyrics and vocal acrobatics with apparent ease and joy.
Her band is knockout. Arranged and accompanied on piano by Christian Jacob and joined by Tony Marino on bass, Todd Isler on drums and Vic Juris on guitar, she was supported brilliantly by taught, exciting arrangements and execution. The song Another Hundred People from Sondheim’s Company was performed almost at double speed with the band providing a rumbling, exciting underpinning that expressed New York City’s unique energy and anxiety.
She brought up a lovely surprise–Adam Berry star of Ghost Hunters to sing two duets with her, Barcelona from Company and A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing from Promises, Promises.
Ms. Buckley went from the duets into full expression of her heart. Beginning with the song Another Suitcase in Another Hall from Evita, then I Know Things Now from Into the Woods and Something Wonderful from The King and I, she moved through each with a voice that was somehow closer to the bone and a simplicity that was breathtaking.
She ended with The Miller’s Son from A Little Night Music. And here it was especially brought home that there is nothing more exciting than Betty Buckley, tempo at full speed, lyrics at a clever clip and the emotional journey rich and full, performing a song.
She is a rare gift to any audience lucky enough to be with her. GO!
Betty Buckley – October 2-27, 2012 www.feinsteinsattheregency.com
Photos: Stephen Sorokoff