DIVA TALK: Catching Up With Tony Winner and Dear World Star Betty Buckley

By Andrew Gans
01 Feb 2013

Buckley in Sunset Boulevard.

One of the great musical theatre stars of our time, an artist who crafts her songs and scenes with equal brilliance, Buckley admitted returning to the musical theatre stage for the first time in over a decade is "wild, but it's really exciting to be a part of a team like this. Every day that I'm at rehearsal, I [think], 'Don't get frustrated.' [I need to] stay calm with myself because I have so much to learn. It's a huge role, and there's so much to learn because I'm also dancing and incorporating all this stuff that Gillian sees for all of us. It's not an easy task, but I just keep reminding myself to be at peace and take each day because this moment may never come again. Really, this is such a privilege and an honor to be here. The cast is amazing. The musicians working on this show, [orchestrator] Sarah Travis and [music director] Ian Townsend, are awesome, and the cast is just glorious—such sweet human beings and very, very talented, gifted people. And, then at the helm is Gillian. I'm so, so thrilled to be here and be a part of this. I really hope it goes the distance. I think it deserves to. I hope so anyway. We're only midway through the rehearsal process, but it feels really good so far." In fact, Buckley said there is a good chance the production could transfer to the West End following the limited engagement that is scheduled through March 30.

"They've always structured it this way that the eight-week Charing Cross run is a tryout, so to speak, in a small theatre in the hopes that it will be well-received and successful, and we would have the opportunity to move to a larger theatre in the West End. That's always been the hope."

And, if her previous London experiences are any indication, it is likely West End and Broadway audiences will have the great opportunity to catch her take on Countess Aurelia.

"Some of the best things I've ever done have begun here," Buckley admitted, "and some of the doorways to my realization of myself as an artist happened here, and in the hands of Gillian Lynne. The doorway to my real potential in the world came with Cats, working with Gillian, Trevor Nunn and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was after that experience I knew how to work… Cats was the doorway to my stepping into my real potential as a singer-actress. I knew that was in me, but I hadn't had the opportunity to completely manifest it. And, Sunset Boulevard was on another level of that, stepping into who I really am as an actress and singer. In each case there were very, very challenging things. Next to Norma Desmond, this is the hardest thing I've ever done that requires all that I can give and more, so it's demanding and it's terrific. It's inspired me to toe it up, you know!"

[Charing Cross Theatre is located at The Arches on Villiers Street. For tickets call 08444 930 650 or visit charingcrosstheatre.co.uk.]

Read more about Betty Buckley's career at the Playbill Vault.


Watch a Video Celebration of Betty Buckley, from Broadway to London and Carnegie Hall, here.


Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.