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There Is Nothing Like a Dame Judi Dench

November 5th, 2012

"Cabaret" London 1968. Image via Google.

If I say Liza and Judy, something tells me you don’t think Dench. (Sing it, “It’s Judi with an i not Judy with a y…”)

But Ms. Minnelli and Dame Dench share a very direct connection. Judi Dench starred in the original 1968 West End production of Cabaret as Sally Bowles, the role that won Liza an Oscar in the film version. And now you can take a listen to that London recording when Masterworks Broadway releases the cast album November 13.

Oscar-winning Dame Judi Dench, she of the serious theatrical bent and period piece corsets, singing music theater?  It almost seems impossible until you look into her career and see how freely she steps across genre boarders. Plus, we may at times take her too seriously, but one senses in her interviews and some of her performances that she never does.

Want some proof, here are some great moments from the Dame’s career belting it out in tuners, including the title song from the newly released Cabaret CD…

The tone is unmistakeable, if much younger. Judi may not have Streisand pipes but she has a completely appropriate smoky-voiced quality…and a balls to the walls messiness that calls to mind Natasha Richardson’s more recently acclaimed performance as Sally. Now if only there was video of Dench hoofing it up and showing off her legs…


I asked for hoofing. And here she is going fully fluttery ingenue singing and skipping through “16 Going on 17” from an R & H Gala. Lord, I love this woman and her sense of fearless abandon. Has someone cast her in a comedy that truly allows her to let loose like this?


She’s so stylish and often the funny heart of the film version of Nine, here singing “Folies Bergere”.


And we can’t leave out her Olivier-winning, some say definitive performance as Desiree in A Little Night Music. She talks about the play but gives her performance of “Send in the Clowns” at 1:30. Heartbreaking.


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