Betty Buckley is one of most talented musical theater performers of her time, and Betty Buckley's Broadway traces her stage career from her Broadway debut in 1776 in 1969 to her appearances in London and New York in Sunset Boulevard in 1994-1995. Most of the tracks are culled from her five previous solo albums on Sterling Records, though the tracks from 1776 and The Mystery of Edwin Drood come from the original Broadway cast albums and two Sunset Boulevard tracks, "Surrender" and "New Ways to Dream," come from a U.K.-only studio recording. Buckley has an astringent, flute-like voice that gives dramatic weight to the material. By tracing her career through New York, London, and regional productions of 1776, I'm Putting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road, Cats, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Song and Dance, Carrie, The Threepenny Opera, Gypsy, and Sunset Boulevard, the collection highlights her frequent ability to improve upon the material with which she's been given to work. No wonder she won a Tony Award for Cats -- her performance of "Memory" almost makes that dreary song moving. Similarly, her performances of songs from The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the legendary flop Carrie make you think that maybe those shows were better than you remember them being. And in addition to Cats, her work in Song and Dance and Sunset Boulevard hints that she is arguably one of the best acts that ever happened to Andrew Lloyd Webber. When she can get her teeth into really great songs -- Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, and Marc Blitzstein's "Pirate Jenny" from Threepenny Opera or Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim's "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy -- her performances are triumphs, and not just because the audience at her 1996 Carnegie Hall show (from which these two songs are excerpted) is so enthusiastic. Betty Buckley's Broadway demonstrates that Buckley always made the best of her roles; it also makes you wish she had had better roles written for her by better songwriters.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
feat: Patti Cohenour