The Two of Clubs
Betty Buckley Sings the Songs You Want to Hear ...
That could easily have been the title of Betty Buckley's current "All Request" show at Feinstein's. She's singing her own Broadway songbook, and not only does she sound like a million bucks, she's displaying a wonderful dry sense of humor when she introduces each song. Her stories alone are worth the price of admissionyes, even at Feinstein's!
Ms. Buckley is extremely warm and accessible in this show, more so than we can ever recall. And why not? It's a veritable love-in between fans and their star. Her audience is not only getting the songs that made Ms. Buckley a star on Broadway, they're getting them the way they were written. With comic relish, she tells the story of Stephen Sondheim baldly telling her how much he dislikes how she performs his songs. Then, with a beatific smile, all these years later, she finally sings one of them his way. This could very easily be seen as a moment of defeat, but she turns it into something generous that is full of character, humor, and beauty.
With Seth Rudetsky as her musical director, the two seem to feed off each other. Rudetsky gets to work with one of his icons, while she gets to work with someone who fully understands her theatrical appeal and is probably her first and foremost theater fan. The rest of the audience isn't far behind. This is the show that her theater fans have been waiting for. Sure, some of the songs will differ each night through her run that ends Saturday, March 7th, but you can count on hearing the "hits," and you can count on loving Betty Buckley in both story and song in a show you will likely never forget.
Betty Buckley continues at Feinstein's at the Loews Regency through March 7. Visit feinsteinsattheregency.com for more information.
Ute Lemper: In command at the Café Carlyle
Ute Lemper is, perhaps, the most fierce and independent talent in recent years to ever play in a major New York nightclub. These are venues not generally known for cutting edge, challenging work. Her only competitor in the realm of "I'll do my own thing" has been the aforementioned Betty Buckley, but most of Ms. Buckley's club dates were in places like The Bottom Line, The Jazz Standard, and more recently Birdland. The difference between Buckley and Lemper, however, is that Betty has two audiencesboth jazz and a theaterwhile Lemper has but one. And happily for all concerned, they will follow her anywhere! Ms. Lemper is currently knocking them dead at the Café Carlyle with yet another uncompromising, smart, and exciting show.
Her current show, which runs through March 7th, called The Last Tango in Berlin, is a rich history of her musical influences. From a Yiddish medley to her touchstones of Brecht and Weil, on through Piaf and other great artists, she performs her songs with the kind of passion that has, sadly, gone out of most other contemporary music. Beautiful, brimming with personality and style, she puts her songs over with the kind of panache that Cyrano de Bergerac would applaud. Ute Lemper is unique. Better still, she is uniquely talented.
Ute Lemper continues at the Café Carlyle through March 7. For performance schedule and more information, visit www.thecarlyle.com.
The Formidable Institution Known as Jamie deRoy
If there is one reliable commodity in cabaret, it is Jamie deRoy & Friends. This moveable feast of talent, hosted by cabaret's most recognizable personality, Ms. deRoy, is always a hoot-and-a-half. This is, at is has been for years, the closest live performance equivalent of TV's famous Ed Sullivan Show. Each installment features an eclectic mix of talent that ranges, as it did in the show we recently experienced, singers of every stripe (pop, opera, musical comedy), a comedian and even an engaging rant on the state of the Academy Awards by none other than Rex Reed. Mr. Reed's subject matter was right on point, however, because the theme of the show was Oscar music.
Jamie deRoy & Friends took place at the show's current home, The Metropolitan Room. The place was packed to the rafters because, as everyone in cabaret knows, Jamie deRoy always puts on a good show. And she topped herself with her final guest, Oscar winner Stephen Schwartz, who not only told some great stories about his Oscar-winning songs, he also performed a couple of them at the piano. To say the very least, Ms. deRoy scored a coup getting Stephen Schwartz. But then she seems to pull off something special every time she puts on a show. So it's no joking when we say, the winner is ... Jamie deRoy.
Visit www.metropolitanroom.com for more information.