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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Stage > Stand-Up > Music > One Woman Show > Bea Arthur - Just Between Friends (CD)

Bea Arthur on Broadway Just Between Friends (CD)


Sound: B- Performance: B



Bea Arthur has had an incredible stage career, but she is best known for her TV series Maude and The Golden Girls. Though not as visible as she used to be, she has not disappeared entirely. Besides the occasional rare TV appearance, it turns out that she hatched a hilarious one-woman show where she takes her vast career and experience, and manages to keep finding the right timing, tales, and memories to share with the audience. That show is Just Between Friends.


Bea also sings, and if your only encounters with her singing voice are limited to those variety show storylines on Maude, some songs on Golden Girls, some award shows and the bizarre feature film version of Mame (1974) will actually get a kick out of her here. She sings with knowing wit, creating ironic distance in the carefully chosen repertoire, with Billy Goldenberg on piano.


She acknowledges her TV years, tells great stories about Angela Lansbury, Lotte Lenya, Tallulah Bankhead, and other stars, plus some not always politically correct tales. The program runs about the length of the CD, but could have went on longer, because Arthur is that great and entertaining. Here is a lady who calls it as she sees it, and never holds back or pulls any punches about anything. This is more fun than you might expect.


The PCM CD 2.0 Stereo sound is not bad, but much of this is spoken word, and all of it is live. This is not too closely miked, but not so distant. The result is a good, but not sonically spectacular presentation that is just fine for the material present. A big plus is that the audience sounds good, is never overbearing, and never drowns out the performance. This is very balanced and naturalistic.


The one-(wo)man act is little seen or heard outside of the stage, but maybe optical media could finally find gold in this. In this respect, Just Between Friends could be the impetus for this. Bea Arthur was a born talker, and it is impossible to listen to this show without enjoying it.



- Nicholas Sheffo


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