Broadway’s Betty Buckley on the Brooklyn Way,
with ex pro wrestler in the audience
By B. Crane
Betty Buckley is a theater, film and television actress and singer. On April 9th she appeared at the Walt Whitman Theater. She was runner-up in the Miss Texas contest. She appeared on Broadway in 1776, in Bob Fosse’s Pippin and Cats, where she won a Tony Award and also a Tony in Triumph of Love. In Promises Promises she appeared in London and was a regular on television’s Eight is Enough. More recently she has appeared as a guest star on Law and Order and Monk.
A co-editor of an old, defunct BC paper, The Ken, was there. She would not give her name but said the other co-editor was Borough President Marty Markowitz. Buckley interacted well with the audience on stage and was signing autographs afterwards. She insisted her pianist be in photos with her.
She called an NYU college student up to the stage. She used the student well and respectfully as a prop to sing to. The song was from Superman and said you have possibilities. She invited the audience to applaud a dozen BC stage hands for their efforts. She was accompanied by pianist Seth Rudetsky who has accompanied many Broadway plays. He also played her straight man in sketches.
Fans Lynne Carlson and Karyn Connolly said that what stood out most was her being human and emotions. They had seen her in Song and Dance. They said they came fromAlbany to visit their daughters but also to see the show. Betty Buckley talked of her nervousness auditioning for Neil Simon, Burt Bacharach and Hal David at once for a play. She told of meeting actors Robert Mitchum and Laurence Olivier.
Many of her songs were moving had dramatic pauses and ended in a profound silence. You could hear a pin drop from an attentive audience of 500. When she spoke, she seemed out of breath and forgot many names that her pianist had to help her with. She did method acting and met homeless for a part. She wanted a role in a Broadway play but was told it was taken. She said she loved that part by Jill Claiburgh, and didn’t want to push her out but asked that maybe when she leaves they would consider her. Six months later she ran into the head prop man and he asked her why she didn’t try out for the part. He was shocked that she wasn’t considered. He said I’ll tell them off. A few weeks later the show wrote her asking her to take the part. They said they tried many times to get her but her agent said she was out of the business and living in Texas. She read that to her agent, who admitted he was working for Jill Claiburgh. He became an ex-agent of hers.
Buckley said that when she performs on the East Coast, as opposed to other regions; she doesn’t have to explain the jokes. She was funny and said when she plays the Midwest and the audience doesn’t get a joke you can hear crickets. She made fun of being in Carrie which she called an infamous flop.
Her signature song is Memories from Cats. “I stopped breathing when she did that song,” said fan Liana Morris. Send in the Clowns was her closing number. Both songs got a standing ovation. Comedy agent Barbara Meyer in the audience said she saw her on Broadway. ”She hasn’t missed a note and her voice is fantastic. It was worth the schlep.” She came from Rockland County.
BCBC Board member Mary Ann Cino said “She was fabulous, gracious, charming and a pleasure.” Alumna Julie Rivin said.“ She connected with the audience.” A past pro wrestler, Mario Mancini, from the World Wrestling Entertainment from 1984 to1994, was in the first row and enjoyed the performance. He was the first bout for The Undertaker. He said his best move was the reverse body pass off the ropes. I saw the chairs were bolted down and couldn’t be thrown so I asked him if his best move was counting to10. He said it was counting to 3. He can be seen on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYoiOxy8
Buckley wore a blue cape and black pantsuit and blouse and red shoes. The black went well with her blond hair and was figure flattering. The lighting subtly changed to fit the songs mood. Tickets were higher for this performance than others but portion goes to support BC’s SchoolTime series of live performances. It annually serves 46,000 school children from over 300 schools. At a private party she was presented the Brooklyn Center’s 2011 Cultural Leadership Award.