September 21, 1999
Folk, Christmas

Album Review

Though defined early on as a folksinger, Judy Collins was tackling theater music in orchestral settings as early as her 1966 In My Life album, and she scored a Top 40 hit in 1977 with Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" from A Little Night Music. So, an album of Broadway standards, most of them arranged by Sondheim orchestrator Jonathan Tunick, seems like a good idea for her. Collins' voice has a timbre similar to that of Broadway star Barbara Cook; they share a certain warmth and sincerity, though Cook's singing has an ingenuousness to it, while Collins' is more ethereal and aloof. Nevertheless, Collins' best moment on Classic Broadway is her version of "Till There Was You," Cook's showcase number from The Music Man. She also fares well on reflective songs like "Younger Than Springtime," "They Say It's Wonderful," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and a remake of "Send in the Clowns" that is as good as ever. But the becalmed, uninvolved nature of her singing is less well suited to songs that require some emotional input -- the stormy, self-deceptive "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," say, or the comically mocking "My Funny Valentine." (One thing Collins never displays is a sense of humor.) Worst of all is Rodgers & Hart's "Bewitched," an expression of female arousal that Collins simply can't handle; it's no wonder that she uses the bowdlerized pop lyrics employed in the 1950s by people like Doris Day, but even Day sounded sexier. As such, Classic Broadway is a mixed bag by a wonderful singer who might have been better advised in some cases to select songs she was better able to interpret.
William Ruhlmann, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Don't Cry for Me Argentina [From Evita]
  2. How Are Things in Glocca Morra? [From Fnian's Rainbow]
  3. My Heart Stood Still [From A Connecticut Yankee]
  4. I've Grown Accustomed to His Face [From My Fair Lady]
  5. Embraceable You [From Girl Crazy]
  6. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered [From Pal Joey]
  7. Till There Was You [From The Music Man]
  8. Younger Than Springtime [From South Pacific]
  9. I Can't Get Started [From Ziegfield Follies of 1936]
  10. They Say It's Wonderful [From Annie Get Your Gun]
  11. My Funny Valentine [From Babes in Arms]
  12. Send in the Clowns [From A Little Night Music]