Like a rare precious gem is the performer who possesses every qualification of a diva save the diva-ness. Betty Buckley has a voice to match the angels in its glory*, a resume to beat the band and the warmth and palatable sense of fun of a favorite (glamorous) friend. She is packing the (soon to be shuttered) house at Feinstein’s for the month of October in what’s become an annual highlight of the season.
This year Ms. Buckley is moving on from the Ah Men (of 2011), to The Other Woman:The Vixens of Broadway. Now the only thing better than the men’s songs in musical theatre are those of the second, supporting or featured actress. The supporting female roles are meaty and often far more interesting than the leads. What better catalogue to sink one’s teeth! While known for big Broadway roles and work on the screen; Ms. Buckley conveys a soul of a jazz artist. The artist is in perfect voice and it is one that moves seamlessly between thoughtful, quiet interpretation and raising the roof power.
Ms. Buckley selects several of her favorites and puts her own personal, and often delicate, spin on each. When You’re Good To Mama is sung to several audience members while tousling hairs. Her playful interpretation is enchanting and often missing in other’s performances of this song. A dynamo of a pastiche (words by Eric Kornfeld, musical adaptation by Eric Stern) paints a portrait of the supporting female lead to the melody of Gotta Have A Gimmick (Gypsy), Memory (Cats) and Little Girls (Annie). It is wonderfully funny and clever and a keeper. Other highlights include; I Can’t Say No (Oklahoma), The Miller’s Son (A Little Night Music), I Know Things Now (Into The Woods) and Another Suitcase In Another Hall (Evita). Ms. Buckley’s band (with the musical director/arranger Christian Jacob on piano) is fluid and jazzy and a perfect balance for the singer’s artistry. For two songs, Ms. Buckley is joined on stage by silky voiced and utterly charming Adam Berry. The evening ended with Corner of the Sky (Pippin) a song with a soaring melody and a sensible philosophy. A night with Betty Buckley guarantees that one’s life will be something more than long.
*Meadowlark (1989) – Stephen Schwartz