From the moment Tony winner Betty Buckley makes her entrance at Feinstein's at Loews Regency, belting out Chicago's "When You're Good to Mama" while weaving in and out of the packed room, one can tell the evening will be an exciting one.
Like last year's critically acclaimed Ah, Men! The Boys of Broadway, which is thankfully now available on CD, the inimitable Buckley has set her focus on a specific group of musical theatre tunes, those written for the second female lead, the featured actress or, as Buckley's title suggests, The Other Woman: The Vixens of Broadway.
In a dozen or so songs, Buckley provides startlingly strong evidence that these supporting players are often handed some of the show's best tunes: Witness her pulsing "Another Hundred People," a touching, solo version of "Another Suitcase in Another Hall," a humorous "I Know Things Now," a deeply felt "Something Wonderful" and a zesty, belty "The Miller's Son."
Buckley, herself, knows a thing or two about scoring in a supporting role. She won her Tony for her heartbreaking turn as the faded Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, and she even sends up her signature tune, "Memory," in a terrific segment penned by Eric Kornfeld and Eric Stern entitled "But Play The Other Woman." In the extended medley, Buckley also gets the chance to show off her soaring mezzo in comical takes on "I Dreamed a Dream" and "Little Girls."
Highlights also include duets with full-voiced singing actor Adam Berry on the Company charmer "Barcelona" and the little-heard Promises, Promises tune "A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing."
It is, unsurprisingly, Buckley, seated alone on a stool, who provides the evening's high point: a simple, haunting rendition of the gorgeous Nine ballad "Unusual Way" that the singing actress delivers with infinite skill, pouring emotion and voice into the beautiful Maury Yeston lyric.
In the audience the night this diva lover attended was Cats choreographer Gillian Lynne, who will direct Buckley in the forthcoming London revival of Jerry Herman's Dear World, which one can only hope will make the transatlantic leap to Broadway. But for now, don't miss the chance to catch Buckley's extraordinary, spellbinding take on The Other Woman.
[The Cats Tony winner, who continues through Oct. 27, is joined by Christian Jacob on piano, Tony Marino on bass, Vic Juris on guitar and Todd Isler on drums. Feinstein's at Loews Regency is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street. For more information and reservations, call (212) 339-4095 or visit FeinsteinsAtTheRegency.com.]
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