In the second of three concerts, Matthew Lombardo and Rick Murray’s (owner of Crown & Anchor in Provincetown where Betty has performed) South Beach Broadway Series brings the iconic Betty Buckley to the intimate Colony Theatre right here in Miami Beach on Friday and Saturday, February 27 and 28.
During my childhood, she was “Abby,” the stepmom on the family show Eight is Enough, who was kind, comforting and supportive, all with a smile that could make any frown disappear. When I was young I did not realize that this same performer had a voice that paralyzes you into focusing on it, and it alone. Miss Buckley has been dubbed the “Voice of Broadway” by New York Magazine, amongst many other praises. Therefore, you can only imagine how excited I was to sit down with Tony Award winner Betty Buckley for this exclusive Hotspots interview that will forever hold a “Memory” (pun intended) in my heart.
At what age did singing and acting become interests of yours and when did you know singing and acting were going to officially be your career?
My aunt was a dance teacher and my mother was a singer and a dancer so they told me I sang in church when I was two, and studied dance when I was three. When I was 11, I saw my first Broadway show and was bitten by Bob Fosse and knew my interest was in this form. My mother also had an extensive collection of cast albums and great lady singers and that’s what really taught me to sing. My first professional job was when I was 15. I did shows at our local theater every summer after that.
Who were your inspirations in the recording industry?
There have been so many…Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Della Reese, Nancy Wilson…I was also very inspired by Brazilian Dori Caymmi, Keith Jarrett, Michael McDonald, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and many more.
You have performed all over the world. Do you have some favorite cities or venues?
Bass Hall in Fort Worth is quite beautiful and I was fortunate enough to help open it up; after all, it’s in my hometown. I also love Carnegie Hall, which I have been privileged to play in. I just played in Wallace Annenberg in Los Angeles which is beautiful…there are just too many!
Was the Eight is Enough cast as close as it looked and are you still in touch with any of them?
Dick Van Patten and his wife came to my concert a week ago in Los Angeles. I am also in touch with Adam Rich. A few years ago we did a reunion on the Today Show and it was amazing.
Do you remember how it felt when they called your name as the winner of the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Cats, and can you describe it to me?
I was pretty excited. It was an amazing time being a member of the Cats team and doing that show brought me through the doorway to work with Andrew Lloyd Webber. His whole team taught me so much.
How amazing was it and what did it mean to you to be inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame?
It was really nice and a huge honor. I didn’t get to go to my induction ceremony as I was in London, so the following year I got to induct my friend Ellen Burstyn which made up for it. I feel so grateful that I have been included.
Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you.
I moved back to Texas 11 years ago to ride cutting horses, and I have a donkey and lots of cats and dogs. There are 17 animals out here.
Describe yourself in three words.
Storyteller, cowgirl, and teacher.
Are you excited to be a part of the South Beach Broadway Series on February 27 and 28? What should people in South Florida expect from your performance?
I’m really excited to come down to work with my friend and brilliant pianist Christian Jacob and I am doing some of my favorite songs and some from my newest album, Ghostlight, produced by T Bone Burnett that came out this past fall.
What does the future hold for Betty Buckley?
I hope the future holds the opportunity to keep working and creating art. Doing more television and theater work, and of course I love teaching. So I hope I can get to keep doing all of that as long as I can.
Don’t forget, you can catch Betty Buckley as part of the South Beach Broadway Series on February 27 and 28 at the Colony Theatre on Miami Beach. You can purchase tickets in person at their box office (1040 Lincoln Road); by phone at (305) 434-7091 or online at ColonyTheatreMiamiBeach.com.
For more on Betty Buckley, go to BettyBuckley.com. Check her upcoming concerts, workshop schedules, and much more info.