“Send In The Clowns”: Who’s Best?

This weekend, as “A Little Night Music” re-opens on Broadway, with Bernadette Peters singing “Send In The Clowns,” Dame Judi Dench will be warbling the same number at an 80th-birthday celebration for Stephen Sondheim at the Proms in London. I was lucky enough to see Dench in “A Little Night Music” in the mid-90s. I can’t say that her interpretation is one of my favorites: it’s a little too “acted.” On the other hand, I prefer it to versions by, oh, Barbra Streisand, Grace Jones, Shirley Bassey, Zarah Leander and the Tiger Lillies. My favorite version, sonically speaking, is by Sarah Vaughan, which of course would have been a disaster in the play itself. The version that is the most gloriously over the top: Donna Summer’s.

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