Album Reviews: Betty Buckley – Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar / Judy Kuhn – Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar Rodgers, Rodgers & Guettel /Leading Ladies

This trio of album revies covers Betty Buckley – Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar, Judy Kuhn – Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar Rodgers, Rodgers & Guettel, and Leading Ladies

“I’ll give you truth and a future that’s twenty times better than any Hollywood plot”

I’ve only been blessed to see Betty Buckley onstage once and I wish it had been in another show than Dear World but hey, you can’t win them all. For now, I have to make do with records such as Stars and the Moon: Live at the Donmar and it is quite the effective alternative. A boldly theatrical programme, with a focus on new musical theatre writing and jazz-inflected arrangements, means it is a constantly intriguing collection and something so interesting for such an established performer as Buckley to deliver. The accompaniment to ‘Send in the Clowns’ is a thing of wonder, as this version of Adam Guettel’s ‘Migratory V’.

Adapted from the 2015 Lincoln Center American Songbook concert, Judy Kuhn Sings Richard Rodgers, Mary Rodgers, and Adam Guettel, Rodgers, Rodgers & Guettel is just superb. From the opening track as she blends Oklahoma! and Floyd Collins, you know you’re in for a deeply considered and meaningfully performed treat. The multi-generational songbook available from just this one family is quite astounding and in the hands of Kuhn’s gorgeously supple soprano it is mesmerising stuff. The classics are good but it is the excitement of Guettel’s ‘Dividing Day’ from The Light in the Piazza and Floyd Collins’ ‘Daybreak’ that really gets me going.

Leading Ladies is an album that sees Anita Harris, Maria Kesselman, Bonnie Langford and Claire Moore singing a pleasingly wide selection of hits from the shows and whilst it might not win any prizes for innovation, it does its job very well. Moore’s interpretation of ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ begins with more restraint than you might expect to great effect, and Harris’ ‘The Perfect Year’ is delicately pretty. But the irrepressible Langford is the draw here, as she rifles inimitably through the likes of ‘Broadway Baby’ and ‘Tell Me It’s Not True’. 

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