Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Cabaret Evening with Betty Buckley

Three words: Oh... the... pain.

I was expecting an evening filled with fun and exciting music sung by a talented singer. As the lights went down to start the show, a quick perusal of the hall saw a lot of empty seats. This is never a good sign. My first thought was, "what do they know that I don't know?" The answer soon became all too clear.

Ms. Buckley came out on stage, with a four-piece combo of saxophone, bass, drums, and piano--her personal backup band--along with a subset of the symphony. In reading the program notes, she obviously has quite the acting resume, including a Tony award for her starring role in the musical Cats. This should have been the recipe for an outstanding musical evening. Unfortunately, like tossing a clove of garlic into the chocolate-chip cookie dough, there was a disastrous error.

As Ms. Buckley explained in her brief comments between tunes, she was asked to program a "cabaret" evening of music, and as part of her interpretation included an array of sultry or lounge-style songs. In principle this was reasonable, unfortunately it was all to obvious that this is neither her forte, nor what the audience was hoping to hear. After the first 30 minutes, I began too compulsively check my watch. After 45, and a rendition of "Cry Me A River" that one could barely recognize as such, the agony was setting in. Judging by the lackluster applause from the rest of the audience, I doubt I was alone. Wrapping up the first act, she threw the audience a bone and sang a few show tunes from Sunset Boulevard and My Fair Lady, with full accompaniment of the symphony. A level of applause unheard to that point led us into the intermission.

The performance really shined at the close of the first act, but the mere thought of having to sit through another hour of pain was too much. I made my way to the exit, and in the elevator down to the parking garage was joined by several others who had the same reaction I did. A steady stream of cars cascaded from the parking garage.

It was a disappointing evening. I was looking so forward to a great show, but unfortunately, I guess you can't win them all.

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