Betty Buckley: Broadway by Request is a splendid showcase for the extraordinary vocal talents of the justly celebrated 63-year-old actress Broadway diva from Big Spring, TX. Buckley won a 1983 Tony Award® for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her poignant portrayal of the bedraggled and bewildered Grizabella, the former Glamour Cat now in the final days of the ninth of her nine lives, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s British blockbuster mega-musical Cats. Last Saturday night, at The Carolina Theatre, when she reprised her heart-wrenching version of “Memory” — toward the end of Broadway by Request — it was a get-out-your-handkerchiefs moment, because Buckley smoothly slipped back into Grizabella’s tattered skin and gave the audience a glimpse of her show-stopping performance of what has since become one of her most requested songs.
Beginning the evening with a riveting reprise of “As If We Never Said Goodbye” from Sunset Boulevard, Betty Buckley gave Triangle theatergoers a glimpse of her Norma Desmond. Then she sang “He Plays the Violin,” which she first sang in her Broadway debut as Martha Jefferson in 1776.
She next gave “There’s a Fine, Fine Line” from Avenue Q the Betty Buckley treatment, and followed it with “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” from Pal Joey and the Peggy Lee hit “Hey, There (You with the Stars in Your Eyes” from The Pajama Game, the title tune from the short-lived musical It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman, “We Kissed in a Shadow” and “I Have Dreamed” from The King and I, “The Meadowlark Song” from The Baker’s Wife, Paul Simon’s “Train in the Distance,” “It Might as Well Be Spring” from the 1945 motion picture State Fair, and “No One Is Alone” from Into the Woods.
Buckley concluded the request portion of the evening with “Memory,” which all by itself would have sparked a standing ovation. Her two encores, sublimely soulful versions of Mary-Chapin Carpenter’s country chart-topper “Come On Come On” and “Send in the Clowns” from A Little Night Music, were simply wonderful and an exquisite end to a remarkable performance that was enhanced by the sensitive and stylish accompaniment of Christian Jacob on piano and Tony Marino on bass. Jacob really knows how to tickle those ivories, and Marino plucks bass strings with the best of them. All in all, Betty Buckley: Broadway by Request was a very special concert with a Broadway diva who really knows how to extract the finest gems from the show-tune songbook and shape and polish them until they sparkle, simply sparkle like the finest diamonds in Harry Winston’s windows.
SECOND OPINION: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of the Nov. 18th Triangle Theater Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2010/11/in-broadway-by-request-tony-award®-winner-betty-buckley-shares-songs-and-stories-from-her-illustrious-career/.
Betty Buckley: http://www.bettybuckley.com/ (official website), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betty_Buckley (Wikipedia), http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=33550 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000990/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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