Nicholas Fonseca
March 08, 2002 AT 05:00 AM EST

Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends

type
Stage
Current Status
In Season
performer
Bea Arthur

We gave it a B

Beloved TV stalwart Arthur is one of those rare performers who can make an entire room erupt in laughter with nothing more than a withering glance, and she puts the famed facial expression to good use in Friends, her first appearance on Broadway in more than 30 years. Accompanied by browbeaten pianist Billy Goldenberg, the once-and-forever Golden Girl strolls on stage barefoot to lead a jovial, somewhat bawdy chatfest — a Jerome Robbins anecdote here, a Mae West memory there — and spread a good helping of musical standards all around. (The evening’s highlight: her vigorous rendition of Cole Porter’s ”I Happen to Like New York.”) Arthur lacks the exhaustive razzle-dazzle of fellow vet Stritch — who’s playing to packed houses only seven blocks away — but compensates quite nicely with this gracious, laid-back return.

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