Betty Buckley says she has been a fan of Stephen Schwartz “forever”.
It all started back in 1776 … the musical, not the year! Buckley performed in the original cast of 1776, along with a performer by the name of Carole Piasecki. Piasecki played the role of a prostitute connected to Benjamin Franklin, but the character was dropped when the musical toured. Piasecki’s husband came to pick her up when she was released from the show – and Betty Buckley met Stephen Schwartz for the very first time.
“I remember when she was released from the show, Stephen came to New Haven to pick her up and that was the first time I met him. It was funny. I’ll never forget that!” laughed Buckley.
It was the start of a long association with Stephen Schwartz for Betty Buckley.
“He was a big supporter of mine in my mid 20s. He actually called me and told me he had written Bakers Wife for me and had me audition for the show. The director chose not to cast me and I went on to make my first film, Carrie, then (the television series) Eight is Enough but I was so disappointed, because it was the first time a composer had told me he’d written a show with me in mind. So, later I claimed the song ‘Meadowlark’ as my own, because I felt like it kind of was. I’ve been a fan of his for so many years.”
Buckley has a long list of credits to her name. She won a Tony Award for her role as the original Grizabella in CATS on Broadway. She’s also well known for her portrayal of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard in both London and Broadway, but another show that stands out in her bio is Pippin.
“I did the show Pippin when I was in my 20s, so I have a long association with Stephen Schwartz. I’m really a fan and I’m thrilled to get to sing some of his songs,” said Buckley about the upcoming Defying Gravity concert event.
“I’ve sung many of his songs over the years and I think he’s one of the great, great musical theatre composer/lyricists and I’ve had that long history with him … I’ve been a fan forever!”
Buckley believes Stephen Schwartz writes story-songs for musical theatre “just about better than anyone else.” She used the song ‘Meadowlark’ as an example of this. It’s a song Buckley has been singing for decades and she is looking forward to singing it for Australian audiences in Sydney next weekend.
“It so describes a moment in this young women’s life and it’s such a beautiful story song … from start to end. The character goes through something very visceral. It changes her. I’m very moved by that song in particular.”
Buckley will also perform ‘No Time At All’ from Pippin, admitting, “I played Catherine in Pippin originally and for this concert I’m playing the grandmother, so I guess I’ve grown up!”
Although she has performed in both Melbourne and Brisbane in the past, it will be Betty Buckley’s first visit to Sydney and she is really looking forward to it. She will be joined by Helen Dallimore, David Harris, Joanna Ampil and two performers Buckley is a great fan of already: Sutton Foster and Aron Tveit. It’s an impressive international line up of musical theatre stars and one of those genuinely “not-to-be-missed” events.
Defying Gravity: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz plays at the Theatre Royal for three performances only on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th February.
For more information and tickets http://www.defyinggravitytheconcert.com/