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BWW Reviews: Carole J. Bufford Passionately Pours Her Heart and Mind into 'Body & Soul' at the Metropolitan Room

BWW-Reviews-Carole-J-Bufford-Passionately-Pours-Her-Heart-and-Mind-into-Body-Soul-at-the-Metropolitan-Room-20130121

As Bufford wended her way through the set, turning from silly to sassy to sultry to soulful on a dime, and taking a rapt audience along with her, my cerebral search engine was trying to determine if a comparison could be made between this engaging singer and celebrated performers of the past. I thought about how another Carol--Burnett--and her BFF Julie Andrews (who Bufford has impersonated in revues) would stage those delightfully entertaining TV specials and the mini-epiphany struck. Carol J. Bufford is a musical comedy hybrid of Carol Burnett (without the extreme wackiness) and Julie Andrews (with more of a vocal edge). She's even got the Andrews Thoroughly Modern Millie bobbed hair.

Bufford maintained the passionate pace in second half of the set, as she continued with a mix of songs filled with humor and pathos. She made "Say That We're Sweethearts Again," a song about being poisoned, disfigured and brutalized, sound like a cheery ode to not giving up on a relationship. As she sang the opening lines of the classic Johnny Mercer song "I wanna be around to pick up the pieces when somebody breaks your heart," a glass fell to the Met Room floor and Bufford chuckled and quipped "That was some timing" without missing a beat. She was at her Randy Newman best on the quirky "Suzanne," about a guy's obsession with a woman he only knows by a number found in a telephone booth (remember those days, guys?), and offered up the achingly tender "A Cottage for Sale" with Garland-like poignancy.

All of that would be more than enough to stamp Body & Soul as an early favorite for a 2013 "Cabaret Show of the Year" Award (hey, it's never too early to drop hints), but there was one bring-the-house-down moment left and it was on Arthur Hamilton's classic "Cry Me A River." Bufford's soaring, heartaching, but not overly dramatic rendition combined fragile vulnerability with resilient strength. If that wasn't enough to make the seduction complete, Bufford's encore was a stirring take on Edith Piaf's classic "Non, Je New Regrette Rien," and like Kevin Costner did to a Piaf-loving Susan Sarandon in the film Bull Durham, I wanted to storm the stage and start painting Bufford's toenails.

I guess for now I'll just have to settle for bowing at her feet.

Carole J. Bufford continues her run of Body & Soul at the Metropolitan Room on Jan. 23 (9:30pm), Feb. 6 and 13 (7pm), Feb. 20 (9:30pm), and Feb. 27 (7pm). The Metropolitan Room is at 34 West 22nd Street. For reservations call: 212-206-0440.

Photos by Russ Weatherford

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Stephen Hanks During more than 30 years as a magazine editor/writer, website writer, and book author for a variety of national magazines and websites, Stephen Hanks has written about sports, health and nutrition, parenting, politics, the media, and most recently, musical theater, and cabaret. While by day, Stephen is the Advertising Sales Director for Habitat Magazine (a publication covering life in New York Metro area co-ops and condos), by night he writes reviews and columns about New York City cabaret for BroadwayWorld.com. Stephen also writes feature stories about cabaret for Cabaret Scenes Magazine and CabaretScenes.org. He is also the Board President of Manhattan Musical Theatre Lab, which workshops new musicals in New York City, and he is the founder, producer and director of the Broadway Musical Fantasy Camp, which is a workshop for amateur performers that rehearses and presents staged readings of classic Broadway Musicals. In 2011, Stephen was an Associate Producer for the Off-Broadway show THE FARTISTE. Stephen most recently staged his debut solo cabaret show, "Beyond American Pie: The Don McLean Songbook" at the Metropolitan Room in New York. Please contact Stephen with your comments and questions at: stephenhanks41@gmail.com


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