DIVA TALK: A Dozen Must-Have Female Vocal Recordings

By Andrew Gans
19 Jul 2013

Cover art

Laurie Beechman
"Listen to My Heart"

The theatre and cabaret worlds lost one of its most talented performers in March 1998 when Laurie Beechman died from ovarian cancer. Beechman is probably best remembered for her work in two of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, where she performed the role of the Narrator and received a Tony nomination for her work; and Cats, where she succeeded Betty Buckley in the role of Grizabella, the faded Glamour Cat. Beechman possessed a voice that seemed to originate from deep in her soul, evoking both the joys and pains of life. She had one of the strongest belt voices around, but she could also create delicate, softer moments that moved listeners just as profoundly, and both of those sounds are preserved to terrific effect in her debut solo recording, "Listen to My Heart," which was originally released in 1990 and later rereleased by DRG Records. Beechman's Broadway belt is in full force in her wonderful renditions of "I Dreamed a Dream," "Memory," "Anyone Who Had a Heart," "Believe It or Not," Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger's "Here Is the Heart" and David Friedman's title tune, and her quietly restrained versions of "Look to the Rainbow," "Since You've Asked" and "What I Was Dreaming Of" are equally as powerful. I'm especially fond of her versions of Alan Menken and Dean Pitchford's "Sailing On," and Noel Coward's "Sail Away," which melts into a gorgeous reading of Tom Waits' "Shiver Me Timbers."