As of 2004, 76-year-old Barbara Cook was 30 years into her second career as a nightclub and concert performer. Her first career, as a musical comedy performer, had run for the preceding 26 years, dating back to her arrival in New York in 1948 at age 20. Barbara Cook's Broadway!, which ran during the spring of 2004 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center, was in some ways a musical autobiography for the performer, who described her career to the audience, touching upon many of the shows in which she had appeared and singing songs from them, notably "Till There Was You" from The Music Man (she was in the original production), "Mister Snow" from Carousel (she was in several revivals), "In Buddy's Eyes" from Follies (she was in a concert version), and four songs from She Loves Me (she was in the original production). But Cook did not restrict her song choices to shows she did on-stage. Rather, she surveyed the Broadway musicals of the 1940s, '50s, '60s, and '70s for songs that traced her journey, reflected on her maturity, or were just songs she liked and hadn't done before. Age was the subject of such selections as "It's Not Where You Start" (from Seesaw), "Among My Yesterdays" (from The Happy Time), and "Wait Till We're Sixty-Five" (from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever). There was a middle section devoted to love songs, often of an unusual nature, such as "(It's) A Perfect Relationship" from Bells Are Ringing and "The Gentleman Is a Dope" from Allegro, leading up to the She Loves Me medley. And Cook closed the show with an increasingly dark section, including a medley of Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do?" and what she appropriately called perhaps Jerry Herman's best song, "Time Heals Everything." By the time she got to "The Party's Over" from Bells Are Ringing, the set had taken an unflinching look at death. But as usual, Cook's stage remarks were amusing and entertaining, so the show was never maudlin. And, as usual, even in her eighth decade, she was a wonderful singer, retaining much of her vocal quality along with a veteran's sense of interpretation and presentation. Barbara Cook's Broadway! had a valedictory quality, suggesting it was the singer's concluding look at her career and the music of her era. If so, it was a fitting capper to that career, as accomplished as any of her previous efforts.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann