Betty Buckley: "For the Love of Broadway!" at Feinstein's at Loew's Regency, February 2, 2010
Kicking off a month-long run at Feinstein's, Miss Buckley is back to singing a more familiar book from the Broadway canon. Apparently, she has steered into a very significant jazz mode over the last few years. Based on her performance last week, she hasn't left that path. While the titles are all from contemporary and classic musicals of this century and the last, her style is still jazz, through and through.
The opening mix of Rodgers and Hart is her first statement to that effect. Supported by three pieces, piano, bass and percussion/woodwinds, the ballads come through a bit better, though the percussion choices during the King & I sequence of "I Have Dreamed" and "We Kiss in a Shadow" were distracting at best.
Her take on "There's A Fine, Fine Line" from Avenue Q pointed up for me that not every song has the depth or ability to "age" based on the performer. She seemed to be reaching for a level of gravitas that just isn't there in the lyrics. A new song, "When I Belt" brings home her true feelings about the dissatisfaction many of her fans have expressed over her move away from theatre to jazz.. Then, she segues into "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" from Pal Joey and one wonders what kind of a Vera we have missed.
Other highlights were the songs "Simple" and "Be On Your Own" from Nine, neither of which made it into Rob Marshall's film (sadly). She closed with "Home" bringing a bit of insight to the final showstopper from The Wiz.
"For the Love of Broadway" runs Tuesdays through Saturdays until February 27 at Feinstein's at Loew's Regency, 540 Park Ave.