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.]
That Andrea Marcovicci sure is a sly one.
The gifted chanteuse, who is making her Café Carlyle debut (through Oct. 27) after a record-breaking 25 years at the now-closed Algonquin's Oak Room, has titled her new show Smile, and from the moment she glides on stage strumming a ukulele—"Yes, you can laugh," she says—while singing "It's Only a Paper Moon" through renditions of such rarities as "Umbrella Man," "Mairzy Doats" and "Zing a Little Zong," Marcovicci implies the evening will simply be a string of feel-good ditties.
But don't let her fool you. Yes, Marcovicci displays an oversized, cherry-decorated teapot she inadvertently purchased on eBay before launching into a wonderful "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries," and yes, she digs up long-lost lyrics to "Ain't We Got Fun," but this dramatic performer is just getting ready to go in for the kill.
Indeed, just when you least expect it, she knocks you out with a Billy Mann and Alecia Moore gem entitled "Glitter in the Air." An ode to the feelings and insecurities that surface when love blossoms, Marcovicci invests herself so fully into this gorgeous song, about the moment "half past the point of no return," that she nearly stops the heart.
|photo by Matthew Eisman|
Dressed to the nines for her Carlyle bow, Marcovicci was similarly beguiling with her reading of David Ross and Marshall Barer's "Beyond Compare," which wallows in the feelings that accompany true love. And, "Look at Those Eyes," a tune penned for the birth of her now-teenage daughter, was utterly touching. Marcovicci also shines with the comedic "Shakespeare Lied," and her rendition of the evening's title tune did, indeed, bring a "Smile" to the many faces in the sold-out crowd.
It should also be noted that the cabaret favorite is a beautiful fit for the East Side boite. She remains as open-hearted and witty as ever, and it's hard to believe there is a room, theatre or, for that matter, any civilized land out there Marcovicci couldn't completely charm.
[Marcovicci, whose new CD "Smile" is now available, is accompanied by longtime musical director Shelly Markham on piano, Jered Egan on bass and Jack Cavari on guitar. For reservations call (212) 744-1600. For additional information visit thecarlyle.com. The Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle Hotel, 35 E. 76th Street at Madison Avenue.]
Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.