Tony Winner Betty Buckley Chats About Tales of the City, Concert, New CDs and Carrie

News   Tony Winner Betty Buckley Chats About Tales of the City, Concert, New CDs and Carrie With the announcement that MCC Theater will produce the 1988 cult musical Carrie during its 2011-2012 season, it seemed like a perfect time to check in with the ever-busy Tony Award winner and Olivier Award nominee Betty Buckley, whose roster of projects includes a New York City concert, two new solo recordings, a role in the workshop of the eagerly anticipated new musical Tales of the City and a possible return to the London stage.

Tony winner Betty Buckley will perform in concert at Town Hall.
Tony winner Betty Buckley will perform in concert at Town Hall.

Buckley, who created the role of Margaret White in the ill-fated musical based on the Stephen King novel "Carrie," managed to emerge from the production unscathed; in fact, her intense performance was hailed by the New York Times, and bootlegs of her work are cherished among theatre collectors.

About the musical's upcoming return to the New York stage, the Tony-winning Cats star told Playbill.com Oct. 7, "It's terrific that they are reviving Carrie! I always thought the show had great possibilities. It has a great score — beautiful songs and wonderful music! I'm really happy for my friends Dean [Pitchford], Michael [Gore] and Larry [Cohen]. I was very proud of the work we did on Carrie in the original production. It was quite the event. I always felt if the original producer had had the wherewithal to push it past our mixed reviews — 'cause we had some pretty great ones too, you know — it would have been an 'event musical' like Rocky Horror. It was a wild and crazy experience — people dressing like the characters, talking to us onstage from the audience! I loved it! I can't wait to see the new version. I know it'll be great!"

Buckley, who is in the midst of a three-week workshop of the new Jeff Whitty-Jake Shears-John Garden musical Tales of the City — she's playing pot-friendly San Francisco landlady Anna Madrigal of 28 Barbary Lane — will return to the New York concert stage Oct. 16 at Town Hall as part of the annual Broadway Cabaret Festival produced by Scott Siegel. Her solo concert at the Manhattan landmark will also feature Clifford Carter on piano, Tony Marino on bass, Steve Cardenas on guitar and Anthony Pinciotti on drums.

"We're releasing a new CD to be sold at Town Hall that night," Buckley explained. "It's called 'Bootleg: Boardmixes from the Road' [and features] eight tracks of live performances from different concert halls over the last several years featuring different configurations of musicians. One song, 'Honest Emotion,' is a brand-new song by Michael McDonald and his collaborators that has never been released before." The other songs include "Falling in Love," "Ghost in This House," "On the 4th of July," "Bye Bye Country Boy," "Stormy Blues," "Straighten up And Fly Right," "It Might As Well Be Spring" and "Blue Skies." ("Bootleg" will also be available next week on iTunes; a link will be provided on bettybuckley.com as well as information concerning how to obtain the actual CD.) The last track is a preview from another new Buckley album, "Ghostlight," produced by the legendary T Bone Burnett that will be released in 2011. (Buckley, it should be noted, will perform "Blue Skies" atop the Macy's float at the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade.)

"I'm so excited about the new recording produced by T Bone," Buckley said. "We both grew up in Forth Worth, and he recorded the first recording of my voice when we were both 19 years old. It was originally intended as an archive recording of my voice, and there were only two copies of a reel-to-reel tape — one for my first love and the other for my friend and first agent Rodger Hess, who became producer of Annie, among other great shows. Rodger kept his copy of the tape all these years and played it for Playbill Publisher and President Phil Birsh, who wanted to release it as a record." "Betty Buckley 1967" was released two years ago by Playbill Records as a vinyl record and CD.

"T Bone and I have been friends all these years," Buckley continued. "He called in June to say, 'Let's make a new record!' We got together to go through boardmixes of songs from the road that I had not previously recorded. He pointed out to me versions that he thought were good performances, and we decided to do the 'Bootleg' release first."

The second recording, "Ghostlight," due in spring or fall 2011, is a "mixture of songs from the great American Songbook, Broadway tunes and contemporary songs," Buckley said. "The wonderful musicians are friends of T Bone including the great Bill Frisell on guitar." Buckley recorded "Ghostlight" at the famed Village Recording Studio in Los Angeles.

It's an especially busy time for the actress, who also recently completed filming a guest-starring role in the new Shawn Ryan series "Ride Along" and will be seen opposite four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh Feb. 4-March 13, 2011, in Joseph Kesselring's classic comedy about murder and elderberry wine, Arsenic and Old Lace, at the The Dallas Theater Center. "We're all very excited about the production," Buckley said; her director for that project will be Scott Schwartz (Golda's Balcony). And, the Sunset Boulevard star is also in negotiations to star in a musical revival on the London stage, although she said it was too early to name which show.

But, for now, Buckley is focusing on her new recordings, her upcoming Town Hall concert and her role in the Tales of the City workshop, which will culminate in two by-invitation-only presentations at the end of the month. "The musical is awesome," Buckley exclaimed. "It's really beautiful music, and the voices are amazing." Her co-stars include Tony Award–nominated actor Stephen Bogardus (Love! Valour! Compassion!, Man of La Mancha, and Falsettos on Broadway) as Edgar Halcyon, Anna's love interest; rising star Betsy Wolfe (Broadway's Everyday Rapture) as Mary Ann Singleton, the Midwestern transplant to San Francisco at the center of the story; and A.C.T. core acting company member and Tony Award–nominated actor Manoel Felciano (Sweeney Todd on Broadway) as Norman Neal Williams with Bay Area actor Nick Gabriel as Michael Tolliver (aka Mouse), Morgan Spector as Brian Hawkins, Patti Allison as Mother Mucca, Mary Birdsong as Mona Ramsey, Colin Donnell as Beauchamp Day, Adam Fiorentino as Jon Fielding, and Kate Reinders as Dede Halcyon-Day. A spring 2011 full production at A.C.T. will follow the workshop.

[Tickets for An Evening with Betty Buckley at Town Hall are $55 and $50 and are available through Ticketmaster.com, (212) 307-4100 or the Town Hall Box Office (123 West 43rd Street). For more information visit www.the-townhall-nyc.org.]

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