Tony-winning actress-singer Betty Buckley — who is currently starring in A.R. Gurney's Buffalo Gal at Buffalo's Studio Arena Theatre — will star in a staged reading of a brand-new musical on April 29 in New York City.
Canadian-born performer-composer Gino Vannelli — a recipient of multiple Grammy Award nominations — has written the book, lyrics and music for this new musical, which is entitled The Fool and described as a contemporary theatrical work. Joining Buckley for the all-star reading are Terrence Mann, Phylicia Rashad, James Barbour, Eddie Korbich and T.R. Knight. Marcia Milgrom Dodge will direct, and orchestrations are by Tony winner Don Sebesky and Glenn Morley.
Elizabeth Healy of Healy Entertainment Inc. is producing, and she recently told Playbill On-line that she hopes to workshop the musical shortly after the by-invitation-only staged reading. "We are also looking into Equity theatres in North America and London to premiere the work," Healy added. She described the new work as the "spirit of Shakespeare [melding] with the parody stylings of Monty Python. It's a musical endeavor fusing popular, jazz and classical music," she continued, "moving by turns from the farcical to the transcendental and dramatic." Healy also noted that two record companies are extremely interested in the piece.
Buckley, too, is very enthusiastic about this upcoming project. "Gino called me here in Buffalo to sing a new song over the phone that he wrote for me, [and] it sounded really great," Buckley explained to Playbill On-line. The actress has also signed on to continue her role in the acclaimed HBO series "Oz." Buckley played Suzanne Fitzgerald, the mother of one of the inmates of the gritty jailhouse series. Buckley is scheduled to appear in all eight episodes of the upcoming season.
Buckley continues in A.R. Gurney's play through April 21. John Tillinger, who directed Gurney's Sylvia and Love Letters Off-Broadway, is at the helm of this production, and there is word that the comedy may transfer to a commercial run in New York. Producer Julian Schlossberg is attached to the project and is scheduled to attend the Buffalo run this week. Buckley also performed a solo concert on April 8 at the Studio Arena Theatre to benefit the theatre company.
Buffalo Gal marks Buckley's second appearance at the regional theatre having appeared in the world premiere of Neal Dubrock's A Very Private Life during the Arena's 1976-77 season. Best known for her work in such musicals as 1776, Pippin, Carrie, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Cats, Song & Dance, Sunset Boulevard and The Triumph of Love, Buckley has also been a major presence on film (Carrie, Tender Mercies, the upcoming Noon Blue Apples) and television ("Eight Is Enough," HBO's "Oz") while performing in concerts throughout the country.
—By Andrew Gans