Review: Betty Buckley’s ‘Dark Blue-Eyed Blues’ at Joe’s Pub
By Jeremy Gerard
May 29, 2015
Betty Buckley (1983, Best Actress In A Featured Role In A Musical, for Cats) is at Joe’s Pub in the Public Theater only through this weekend, singing her capacious heart out in a program she’s calling “Dark Blue-Eyed Blues.” I would call it a career-defining show except that it is in fact a career re-defining show. I can’t think of anyone, certainly no other star of Buckley’s magnitude, who’s made a personal mission of recreating herself so regularly, so astutely and with as much passion and joy as she has. Backed by an inspired quartet led by music director and pianist Christian Jacob, she dives into a roster of diverse classics from Duke Ellington (“Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me,” “Sophisticated Lady”) to Cole Porter (“I Get A Kick Out Of You”) to Joni Mitchell “(Both Sides Now”) and Leonard Cohen (“Bird On The Wire”). Along the way, she sings Stephen Sondheim’s survival anthem, “I’m Still Here,” which she recently knocked out of the park in a “Follies” concert at London”s Royal Albert Hall.
It’s a beautifully curated collection full of high points but for me, the most haunting came during the wistfully delicate folk lullaby “All The Pretty Horses.” It lasted only a few seconds but is was a gaze into the distance that becalmed this great singer’s entire visage and that I realized I’d seen before. It was Grizabella’s moonlit look at the close of “Memory.”
Buckley returns to New York in a few weeks to begin rehearsals for a revival of Grey Gardens that will run later this summer in Sag Harbor, on the East End of Long Island. Another re-invention, most assuredly.