By Andrew Gans
01 Feb 2013
|Photo by Myriam Santos|
Musical theatre fans, this writer included, rejoiced last year when it was announced that Tony Award-winning actress Betty Buckley would return to the London stage in Jerry Herman's little-seen Dear World, directed and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, the woman who helped guide the multitalented Buckley to her Tony Award for her heartbreaking work as Grizabella in the original Broadway production of Cats.
Although Buckley has been busy with concert work, TV and film appearances, the release of several acclaimed CDs and the operation of a ranch bursting with animal life, it's been an unfathomable 15 years since Buckley has graced audiences with her presence in a musical theatre work on either side of the Atlantic. That situation has thankfully now been rectified.
"Gillian and I had been talking for years about doing a project together," an upbeat Buckley recently told me by phone from London during a break from rehearsals for the musical, which begins previews Feb. 4 at The Charing Cross Theatre. "We've maintained our friendship since 1982 when we did Cats together. She was a really important inspiration and role model to me. I loved her ever since I was a teenager and knew her name from the work she did with Anthony Newley [on] Roar of the Greasepaint. I think she's one of the great ladies of the musical theatre, so I was, of course, thrilled to get to work with her in Cats. And, we really had a connection, and she was such an inspiration and role model for me. We stayed in touch through the years — corresponded — and she has come to see everything I've done.