ONSTAGE & BACKSTAGE: Linzi Hateley Remembers Blood and Backstage Disasters in Carrie

By Seth Rudetsky
27 May 2014

Linzi Hateley and Betty Buckley in Carrie.
Photo by Peter Cunningham
Carrie had a half American/half British cast, so after playing England, they all came to Broadway, except Barbara Cook who asked to leave and was replaced by Betty Buckley. Linzi said that Betty took her under her wing and helped her tremendously. I asked how Betty would imply a moment didn't work and Linzi said she'd flat-out say, "I don't believe you." Brava on the honesty! Linzi thought it was great because it really motivated her and made her think, "Well, watch this! Now you're going to believe me." The story she recalls and Betty has also told me is that at the end of the first preview on Broadway, they both died onstage and the lights went to black. They didn't hear applause. Instead, they heard people start booing in the audience! Literal "boos." Linzi didn't know what to do and looked upstage to Betty for advice. Betty indicated to her that they had to get up and take their bow as directed. A terrified Linzi stood and when the lights came up on the both of them, the boos changed to cheers! Both extremes! Sadly, the show opened on a Thursday and closed on Sunday. Judging from London's ticket sales, the show probably could have found an audience but rumor has it that the lead producer flew back to Europe and closed the bank account. Linzi remembers after the final performance, Betty walked her onstage, with just the ghostlight on, and told her firmly, "None of this is your fault." Linzi felt very comforted by Betty's kindness throughout the run of the show, but that didn't stop her from being terrified of her during this number. This is a video from eight years later at Betty's amazing Carnegie Hall concert for BC/EFA. It's so thrilling! And Linzi's screams are so scary!

Speaking of screams, when Linzi got back to England, she was immediately offered the role of Eponine in Les Miserables ("I'm gonna scream, I'm gonna warn 'em here"). She then went on to do many leading roles including the narrator in Joseph, Roxie in Chicago and originating the role of Mrs. Banks in Mary Poppins. She later went back to Les Miserables as Eponine's mother, Madame Thenardier! While she was backstage, she noticed the pre-recorded screams that were playing when the current Eponine did the "I'm gonna scream" scene sounded familiar. She mentioned to the sound designer that the current Eponine had similar screams to when she played Eponine, and found out that the recorded screams they've been playing during that scene for the last 25 years are the ones she recorded back then! Brava Carrie training!

This Thursday at 5 PM, I have Zach Braff at "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox" and on Friday I fly to Detroit to do my Broadway @ show with Patti LuPone. I'm excited to do her show again but sad I won't be with James in Dallas. His play, Art and Science opens this weekend! And now, I'm off to "Seth Speaks" to interview Norm Lewis. Peace out!

(Seth Rudetsky is the afternoon Broadway host on SiriusXM. He has played piano for over 15 Broadway shows, was Grammy-nominated for his concert CD of Hair and Emmy-nominated for being a comedy writer on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." He has written two novels, "Broadway Nights" and "My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan," which are also available at Audible.com. He recently launched SethTV.com, where you can contact him and view all of his videos and his sassy new reality show.)