The second song in Betty Buckleys concert The Other Woman: The Vixens of Broadway, which she performed Thursday night at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (it repeats Saturday), is one of best-known songs in the musical canon that pertains to her thesis -- that the second female lead in any musical has more fun, not to mention the show-stealing song. Its I Cain't Say No, from Oklahoma!, which she first sang when she played the character Ado Annie at age 18 at Casa Mañana.
All these years later, she still has a ball with it, playing up the not-so-coy flirtatiousness. And if Ado Annie has heard stories about how girls are put upon by men, Buckley knows how to convey that idea through exquisite interpretation with her selection of show tunes.
From Another Suitcase in Another Hall ( Evita) to Unusual Way ( Nine), she captures the sadness, the longing, the harsh realizations of love, requited or not, like few singers can.
Joined by accompanist Christian Jacob, who did the stunning arrangements of these songs, Vixens is the follow-up to her excellent concert Ah, Men: The Boys of Broadway! (performed in Fort Worth in 2012 after premiering a year earlier in New York). In that one, she made songs meant for men her own. Here, the experience of having actually sung a few of these songs lends even more depth.
That even goes for when she's having fun, with such songs as When Youre Good to Mama ( Chicago), I Got Rhythm ( Girl Crazy) or My Heart Belongs to Daddy (Cole Porters Leave It To Me), during which she adds humor with a simple growl on the second syllable in the word belong.
Like in Ah, Men, she reframes a song with new lyrics -- in this case You Gotta Get a Gimmick from Gypsy. Its called Play the Other Woman, and makes hilarious references to I Dreamed a Dream ( Les Miserables) with the lyric I sang one song and that is all, which also applies to her Tony-winning performance of an especially memorable song in Cats.
Along the way, the audience is treated to amusing stories, such as the time she played Meg in a Texas Christian University production of Brigadoon, and remembers how she sang the song "My Mother's Wedding Day" at one critical performance.
We also get a treat in that she sings four songs from the Jerry Herman musical Dear World, in which she starred in London this winter (the hometown engagement marks her American debut of performing these songs). If theres any justice, the gorgeous song I Dont Want to Know will become a part of concert repertoires all over.
As should The Gentleman is a Dope, from the Rodgers and Hammerstein flop Allegro. Although, after hearing Buckley sing it, maybe it's best not to hear anyone else try.