The Two of Clubs
In our most recent Two of Clubs column we wrote that Betty Buckley put on one of the best club acts we've ever seen her perform. But stop the presses! Taking the suggestion of Michael Feinstein, who when he last played his own club, turned his weekend late shows into "Request" nights, Buckley did the same, happily circumscribing those requests to her Broadway songbook. Well, folks, isn't that what every Betty Buckley musical theater fan dreams of? This, dear friends, was absolutely the best show Betty Buckley has ever put on in a nightclub. Not only were the songs divine, so was she: playful, funny, full of great stories, she was fully at ease and utterly delightful.
What did she sing? Chances are, she performed just about everything you would have actually requested: both of her best songs from Sunset Boulevard, as well as numbers from The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Song and Dance, Cats (of course) and more. As you might imagine, Feinstein's at the Loews Regency was packed. And it will surely be packed again when she does her request show one last time this coming Saturday night. It ain't cheap, but wow is it worth it!
Maureen McGovern is in town at the Metropolitan Room
Simply put, Maureen McGovern is the Gold Standard in voices. It would seem that the beauty, purity and clarity of her singing is only matched by her exquisite vocal control. Many years ago, she used to come into town and perform and, despite the magnificence of her voice, still get indifferent reviews from us because she just sang notes. Gorgeous notes, but without any feeling behind them. That changed a number of years ago and now, with her new show A Long and Winding Road at the Metropolitan Room that concludes with shows on February 21-23 at 7:30 p.m., she is at the top of her game both musically and personally. Now, not only does she know who she is when she's on stage, so do we. She reveals herself both in her chummy patter and in her songs, virtually all of which are the pop hits upon which many of us - including McGovern -- grew up during the 1960s through the 1980s.
This isn't just a nostalgic journey, it's also a well-constructed act in which the song choices provide a depth and resonance that you might find surprising considering that, at the time they came out, nobody took them seriously. It's instructive, indeed, to hear "Rocky Raccoon" (Paul McCartney) and realize just how clever a song it is, or to hear a less heard ode to Martin Luther King, "Carry it On" (Gil Turner), that was written before the Civil Rights leader was slain.
McGovern is in great voice, and in the full flower of her personality. She is simply fun to be around. She doesn't get to New York that often, so this is an ideal time to see her.
Glimpses of the Moon a musical in a cabaret room
On Monday nights at 8 p.m., the Algonquin Hotel's Oak Room becomes the home of an Off-Broadway musical called Glimpses of the Moon. It's a slight but charming confection that tells a cute (if obvious) tale of New York high society circa the flapper age of the 1920s.
The story turns on two poor but upwardly mobile young folks, a vivacious and pretty young girl and a handsome, intellectual young man, who survive on the charity of the rich. They decide to get married and live off the sale of their wedding presents from their rich friends and use that free time so that each might find a truly rich person that they might marry for real. Okay, so you guessed it: they fall in love.
The story is of little consequence but the very well cast troupe of players, their off-mike performances and the delightful pastiche of 1920s melodies go a long way toward creating a sweet and likeable entertainment. The story, such as it is, is based on a novel by Edith Wharton, with book and lyrics by Tajlei Levis and music by John Mercurio. A lot of additional credit must go to Marc Bruni who directed the show within the strict confines of the Oak Room, while Denis Jones provided the joyful choreography.
In the intimate Oak Room, the acting must be spot, on - and it is. Beth Glover is perfect as a supercilious rich woman, while Darren Kelly, Glenn Peters and Laura Jordan are particularly noteworthy for their excellent character work. The two young lovers, Patti Murin and Michael Minarek, are winsome and memorable. And worth a glimpse.