Betty Buckley Returns To New York To Sing ‘Story Songs’ And See Broadway Revival Of ‘Cats’

By Jane Levere
September 22, 2016

Betty Buckley, who won a Tony Award in 1983 for her performance as Grizabella, the Glamour Cat, in the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, Cats, is introducing a new concert program, “Story Songs,” at Joe’s Pub in New York tonight, performing there through Sunday.

The program—which Buckley will also perform in Port Washington, N.Y., September 30 and in San Francisco and Costa Mesa, Calif., next month—will feature what Buckley calls songs that “reflect this particular time period in my life, an older person looking back in some way.”

These songs include “Old Flame,” which she called a “very funny piece” by Joe Iconis, who wrote music for Smash, and a Radiohead song, which she said had been suggested by Martha Plimpton.

Buckley, who has guest-starred as what she described as a “raging music professor who drinks herself to death” on HBO’s Getting On, said that when she arrived to shoot the series, fully made-up, she was told her character was not supposed to wear make-up, an experience she said “forced me to deal with how I really look in the world.”  She also appeared this past summer as “Big Edie” Beale—another role for an older woman–in a Los Angeles production of the musical, Grey Gardens.

“The past year and a half have been a transformation for me, a realization of myself as an older person.  There’s a quest to find the right material at each point in your life, as you grow and change, and it’s always very interesting.  You find material that fits you at every point in your life.  Some things fit and some things fall away,” she said.

“I always had a feeling that my best work would come in my later years, but I was always under the impression my later years were ahead of me,” she added.

Buckley said the songs in “Story Songs” “reflect this period in my life, an older person looking back in some way…They’re wonderful stories about really interesting female characters.”

She also said she was “really excited” to see the current Broadway revival of Cats while in New York.

“I saw the revival done in London last year.  I was so touched by it.  As soon as I walked into the theater and saw the set, I burst into tears.  It’s a very nostalgic experience for me,” she said.

Buckley—who when she’s not touring lives on a ranch an hour outside of Fort Worth where she takes care of her horses and rescue animals—will appear in M. Night Shyamalan’s next film, Split, which opens January 20, 2017.  She portrays a psychologist who works with the main character, James McAvoy, who she said plays “a man with multiple personalities.”