Betty Buckley is feeling a bit naughty with The Other Woman: The Vixens of Broadway, her new show at Feinstein's at Loews Regency. She's also feeling wounded, exultant, giddy, and melancholy, to sample a few other emotions that this song interpreter extraordinaire channels in this exceptional concert.
Buckley takes pains to explain the phrase "the other woman" is not just someone who's having an affair with a married man. The term also refers to the comedic second lead in the show, or simply the woman who is not the star, and it's these characters, Buckley believes, that get some of the best material in shows.
And as she offers up a bevy of classics by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, and the Gershwins, audiences are apt to agree, particularly in the clever, nuanced arrangements that Christian Jacob provides for her.
Take, for example, "The Gentleman Is a Dope" (a little-known gem from Rodgers and Hammerstein's Allegro), which carries an ominous tone thanks to the throbbing, 1950s beat jazz sound that Jacobs provides. And once Buckley has infused the song with bitterness and irony, tinged with a genuine warmth of romance, the song is simply sterling.
For "Something Wonderful" (from 'The King and I), Jacobs' arrangements, which sound a bit like cocktail music, allow Buckley's straightforward and keenly clearsighted interpretation to sound as if it's being delivered by a lonely suburbanite wife, rather than the spouse of the King of Siam.
Elsewhere, one can delight in Buckley's rapidfire, perfectly phrased delivery of "Another Hundred People," to a sizzling take on "Whatever Lola Wants," to a haunting, devastating rendition of "Unusual Way," accompanied with rueful Continental flair by guitarist Vic Juris.
Buckley also offers up one tour-de-force medley, which hysterically takes audiences on a whirlwind tour of other dames in the musical theater canon and Buckley's own career by seamlessly encompassing everything from "You've Gotta Get a Gimmick" (from Gypsy) to "Memory" (from Cats) to "Little Girls" (from Annie).
At the show's opening night, Buckley was joined by the silver-throated Adam Berry for two numbers, Sondheim's "Barcelona" (a second tune from Stephen Sondheim's Company) and Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "A Fact Can Be a Beautiful Thing" (from Promises, Promises), both of which took on a mischievously sardonic tone, thanks to just one of the personal anecdotes she shares in this must-see show.