Bea Arthur on Broadway Just Between Friends Bea Arthur with Billy Goldenberg at the piano. Created by Bea Arthur and Billy Goldenberg in collaboration with Charles Randolph Wright. Production constltants Mark Waldrop and Richard Maltby, Jr. Lighting and sound designed by Matt Berman. Scenic consultant Ray Klausen.
The tourists in the audience know her as Maude Findlay from television's Maude and Dorothy Zbornak from The Golden Girls. The more theatre savvy might recall her in anything from the U.S. premier of Marc Blitztein’s production of Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera to the original productions of Fiddler on the Roof or Mame. She is Bea Arthur, one of America’s best known and beloved pop culture icons, and she has just opened in Bea Arthur on Broadway - Just Between Friends at the Booth Theatre, where it will run a limited engagement through March 24.
It’s impossible to recall a more comfortable and cosy evening at the theatre than Bea Arthur on Broadway. Bea does the whole show barefoot and quickly invites the audience to kick off their shoes also. (In spite of the giggles, several do.) It’s like spending an evening with an old friend; an old friend who has led a wildly entertaining life and who tells wonderfully poignant and funny stories and occasionally breaks out in song.
If the evening at moments seems a bit superficial, that’s because Bea is smart enough to keep things light and breezy. There’s not an ounce of angst on the stage, just enough personal history to keep things interesting and moving along and all those signature zingers which have identified her characters for the last four decades. Like any good hostess, she doesn’t want to surprise you. She wants to make you laugh and let you have a good time.
A big part of the good time is song and Bea breaks out the top notch material - the songs range from “Let's Face the Music and Dance” all the way to “Pirate Jenny” from The Threepenny Opera - with the able help of composer Billy Goldenberg at the piano.
Bea Arthur on Broadway is not great theatre; it won’t challenge you intellectually or emotionally or in any other way. It offers nothing more than a barrel of laughs and the chance to hear Bea Arthur tackle some of the theatre’s best songs in that wonderful, deep and expressive voice of hers. Oh yes, and an evening at the theatre you’ll remember fondly forever.