It's been a roller-coaster week for Betty Buckley. Last week, Long Wharf Theatre announced the musical theatre star would appear in its production of Sinan Unel's Pera Palas, running Jan. 16-Feb. 17. Then, Long Wharf said Buckley had backed out of the production, citing scheduling conflicts with Buckley's concert tours. Glynis Bell was hired to replace her.
Now, Buckley has officially accepted the lead in The Studio Arena Theatre of Buffalo's March 17-April 21 mounting of A.R. Gurney's latest, Buffalo Gal. The theatre told Playbill-Line back on Dec. 3 that Buckley was being courted for the play.The opening night is March 21 and the run is longer than usual for the company, which is expected high ticket demand.
A representative for Buckley said the actress' decision to leave Palas and take the job at Buffalo Gal were not contingent on each other in any way.
Buffalo Gal received its debut this past June at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where it opened the Nikos Stage 2001 season. Mary Tyler Moore was first announced to star, but soon bowed out due to a foot injury complicated by diabetes. Mariette Hartley took her place.
John Tillinger will direct, as he did at Williamstown. Buffalo Gal is about a famous actress who returns to her hometown of Buffalo to star in a production of The Cherry Orchard, but is unexpectedly confronted with the sale of her grandmother's house (shades of Chekhov) and the reborn affections of her high school sweetheart.
Buffalo Gal is the latest addition to a strong Studio Arena season for 2001-02. The Buffalo, NY, company recently presented the premiere of Lake Effect: Over the Tavern Part III, the final chapter of Tom Dudzick's Pazinski family trilogy that began with the wildly popular Over the Tavern in 1994.
Lake Effect: Over the Tavern Part III opened Nov. 29 following previews that began Nov. 25. Terence Lamude, who shepherded the first part and its sequel, King O' the Moon, both concerning the Polish Catholic Pazinksi family of Buffalo in the 1950s and '60s, respectively, directs the world premiere chapter, set during the Blizzard of 1977. Karl Kenzler plays 31-year-old Rudy, all grown up and returning to Buffalo from his life in New York City. Performances continue to Dec. 29.
—By Robert Simonson
and Kenneth Jones