By Byrne Harrison
I have a confession to make.
I've been a fan of Betty Buckley for years. "Eight is Enough"? Loved her. "Carrie"? Great. "Oz"? Terrific. "The Happening"? Best thing in the movie.
So you're saying, that's not really much of a confession.
Well, here it is. I'd never really heard her sing. I missed her Broadway shows, and I don't have any of the cast albums. I've never made it to one of her cabarets. So Betty Buckley the actress? Love her. Betty Buckley the Broadway diva? Can't really say.
That's why I was excited to see her new cabaret act For the Love of Broadway! at Feinstein's at Loews Regency. In this show, the title of which was chosen by a fan submission contest on Twitter, Ms. Buckley responds to fan requests that she perform more Broadway material and a little less jazz.
What she comes up with is a wonderful mix of classic and modern Broadway, from Rodgers & Hammerstein to Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx of Avenue Q. And she nails these songs. She brings her amazing intensity to pieces like Jacques Brel and Rod McKuen's "If You Go Away" and "Come to Me, Bend to Me/This Nearly Was Mine," combining the Lerner & Loewe and Rodgers & Hammerstein classics. But she's equally at ease showing her puckish side with "You've Got Possibilities" from Charles Strouse and Lee Adams' It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman (which involved audience participation), and with the marvelously amusing "When I Belt," written by John McDaniel and Eric Kornfeld specifically for this show.
As expected, Ms. Buckley is a brilliant and nuanced singer. What amazes me most, however, is just how well she connects with her audience. While I know it wasn't the case, I felt as if she were singing the entire show directly to me. I imagine most of the audience felt the same way. It's not just because Feinstein's is an intimate space; Ms. Buckley is just that aware of the house.
The next generation of cabaret performers should get tickets immediately; it will be like a master class on performance. Everyone else should go just because it's a great evening with a very talented performer, featuring songs you know and love.
For the Love of Broadway
Performed by Betty Buckley
Music director/arranger: Kenny Werner
Musicians: Tony Marino (bass), Billy Drewes (reeds and percussion)
Feinstein's at Loews Regency
540 Park Avenue
Tuesdays through Thursdays - 8:30PM
Fridays and Saturdays - 8 PM and 10:30 PM
Through February 27th