Monday, October 6, 2014

Betty Buckley - Madness!

Songs for a New World is a disparate musical revue, unresolved pieces composed and written by Jason Robert Brown for other projects, brought together through an eventual underlying theme: that of its title, the new world. A new world can be anything as abstract as starting a new job, leaving old friends behind, surviving something traumatic, or be as literal as sailing to undiscovered countries.

There is some absolutely moving stuff in Songs, as is some definitive Jason Robert Brown stuff.
("She Cries" is very Last 5 Years, "Steam Train" has a jazz and swing foundation to it, "Sailing Ship" is really Parade, etc.)

The thing I love about "Stars and Moon" is that it's a rare treat to have a song featuring someone older, more mature. Brown, and a lot of people, write music for people in their primes. There's nothing wrong with that, that's what gets us excited to sing musical theatre, be in it, etc.
But it's wonderful to have a reflective song, one full of perspective and some regret.

"Stars and Moon" in summary, is a sung by a woman who had passionate, whirlwind romances when she was younger, but always had the sense that she wanted financial security and more so than that: decadence. She imagined having riches and possessions, and couldn't bring herself to give herself over to these men full of stardust and wanderlust. When she finally gets what she wants, she realizes she doesn't have what she didn't know she wanted. She gets everything, but she'll "never have the moon."

Betty Buckley is a fantastic performer. That's all there is to it.
The arrangement may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I think it's a refreshing twist on the slower, original arrangement. It keeps it moving, it provides a foundation of instability, flightiness. Buckley trails the arrangement, purposely, as she portrays her younger self, with a feeling of getting swept up and overwhelmed.
The momentum of the piece makes her, "My God" all the more poignant and abrupt. It literally knocks the wind out of me with how it comes out of nowhere.
At the middle of it all is the masterful performance of Buckley. She brings maturity and age to the role that escapes younger performers, and she captures a part of it that eludes them.

She makes me laugh and makes my heart break within the same song. And it's fantastic.