The Broadway legend comes to town for an intimate holiday concert
There’s nothing quite like spending an evening with a singer in a cozy theater. And when it’s Tony Award-winner Betty Buckley, it’s even more spectacular. Star of stage and screen (large and small), the Fort Worth native is home this month, performing three holiday shows at the WaterTower Theatre. She graciously took time out of filming in Los Angeles to answer a few questions about her career and her upcoming performances.
Betty Buckley & Kenny Werner: Home for the Holidays, Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road. Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. $50—$75 (post-show meet and greet for an additional $25). 972-450-6232. WaterTowerTheatre.org. •
You’re filming an episode of Melrose Place right now. I have a cameo. My brother [Norman Buckley] is directing it and he invited me out here to do it. I’ve never worked with him before as a director! He’s a very good director. I’m excited to get to work with him.
Do you get to slap or kill anyone? No, not this time — I play a restaurant critic.
New York magazine called you "The Voice of Broadway." That’s probably the most flattering and accurate description imaginable. Is that the name you give when making restaurant reservations or introducing yourself at parties? No, no, no. I don’t do that! But it was nice that they called me that.
On Eight Is Enough you were the coolest stepmom this side of Carol Brady and in Carrie an understanding teacher. But for most of us, it wasn’t until Cats and Sunset Boulevard on Broadway that we discovered what a great singer you are. Do you find that your TV and movie roles overshadow your Broadway successes, or vice versa? I’m just an actor, singer, storyteller. Wherever the job is I go. I don’t think about those kinds of things. It’s not really my business how people perceive me. I’m just doing a job.
Is there one song you’ll never tire of singing? I guess my signature song is "Memory" from Cats. I’m very fortunate to even have a signature song — not every singer gets that opportunity. It’s the song that’s most associated with me and most requested wherever I go still. It’s a beautiful song and the character Grizabella who sings it is one of my soul companions, one of my dearest friends and a kind of teacher for me. I’m very grateful to get to sing her song.
You’re in the area often teaching song interpretation classes to local singers. What do you think of the current talent pool? I’ve been teaching for about 38 years in New York and various universities around the country. When I moved back to the Fort Worth area six years ago I started teaching this class. I have a real variety. A number of people have [had] other careers. I have one woman who’s an interior designer and mother who always wanted to be a singing actress. She’s been with me for a number of years now. I have a college professor, some high school kids preparing for auditions, just people from all different walks of life who want to sing. I really enjoy helping people really step into their full potential as singers, storytellers and communicators. It’s really fun.
What can people expect from your show in Addison? I might sing one or two other things, but it’s mostly holiday music — it’ll be very improvisational. I’m going to be with my long-term pianist Kenny Werner, who I’ve worked with for 20 years. We’re doing a Christmas/holiday repertoire. Terry Martin will be doing a reading of the Christmas story, as well. Just going to be a real way to celebrate the holidays. I asked Terry to bring some cookies and cupcakes, too. One of my favorite things about the holidays is frosting cookies. I hope he remembers.
Do you have a favorite carol? I love Christmas music. "What Child Is This?," "I Wonder as I Wander" — which is an Appalachian carol — "Silent Night" … I love all those.
What’s next on the horizon for you? Taking care of my horses. I have a new baby horse. And I have a part in the upcoming HBO mini-series called The Pacific, being produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. But I still have two more days here in Los Angeles for my part on Melrose Place to finish first. You know, the life of an actress!
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 11, 2009.