Buckley’s NYC jaunt brings singer to QTIP – QNS.com

Buckley’s NYC jaunt brings singer to QTIP

By Arlene McKanic

Reached via phone from her Texas ranch, the multi-talented performer said, “We're doing an eclectic mix of songs from the Broadway songbook, the American songbook and from contemporary songwriters.” She'll be doing numbers from such shows as “Sunset Boulevard” and “Cats.” The folks at Queens Theatre in the Park invited her to perform, and this will be her first time there. Afterwards she'll be performing for three weeks at Feinstein's in Manhattan – it will be her fourth time performing there. She'll be with her quartet, led by pianist and musical director Christian Jacob with Tony Marino on bass, Dan Rieser on drums and Billy Brewes on sax. Jacob and Rieser are new, but the other musicians have been with Buckley for 17 or 18 years. Kenny Warner will replace Jacob during the second and third week at Feinstein's. He's been with her for 18 years as well.Buckley's new CD, “Quintessence,” will be coming out on Feb. 5 from Playbill Records. Another CD, “Betty Buckley 1967,” was released in October and is a compilation of her first recordings, made when she was 19.”Quintessence” is her 11th album. “The songs were created for the Blue Note jazz club a year or so ago. I liked the collection and took my band into the studio,” Buckley said. The CD that came out in the fall was an archive recording and was really never meant to be released. “We recorded it with a bunch of jazz musicians,” she recalled. “The producer was T-Bone Burnett and it was at the only studio in Fort Worth, Texas.” One recording was given to Roger Hass, her agent, and the second recording was given to her boyfriend at the time. “Those are the only two existing tapes.” But Buckley's agent gave his to Playbill Records, which then digitized it. There's also a vinyl pressing, which Buckley said sounds a bit better. Speaking of technology, unlike some singers she doesn't have a problem with performers being miked on stage. “You can get all the subtlety from the performance,” she said.On top of her new CD and concerts she'll be in a movie, “The Happening,” directed by M. Night Shyamalan, this June, co-starring with Mark Wahlberg. That's about all she could say about it – she signed a confidentiality agreement. Of her director, she said, “He's awesome! He's just great. It was a wonderful experience.” As for her return to Broadway, she laughed and said, “We'll have to see.”She used to live in New York, but sold the place for her ranch. “A ranchette, they call it in Texas,” she said, because it's only 35 acres. She has two show cutting horses. “It's a nice, peaceful life, but I have to work like crazy to pay for it!”As a child she listened to all the jazz greats: Judy Garland, Della Reese, Sarah Vaughan. Her mother had a collection of their recordings and Buckley added to it with her baby-sitting money. She was also influenced by Brazilian music – she mentions Brazil 66 as a favorite – and has some Brazilian-flavored songs on the new CD.Buckley arrived in New York in 1969. “It was cold!” she recalled. “I didn't know how to dress for the cold.” She quickly landed the role of Martha Jefferson in the hit musical “1776” and went on to play roles in such works for stage and screen as “Promises, Promises,” “The Ballad of Johnny Pot,” “What's a Nice Country Like You Doing in a State Like This?,” “Carrie,” “Song & Dance,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” and “Pippin.”She played Dixie Scott in Horton Foote's “Tender Mercy” and in 1982 became Grizabella the glamour cat in Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Cats,” for which she won a Tony. When asked how long it took to put on Grizabella's makeup, she said, “Nine minutes.” Fortunately, her character's makeup consisted of grays and blacks and whites, and so was less elaborate than the other actors' makeup. “The kids used to think that I threw my makeup in the air and just walked under it!”If You Go: Betty BuckleyWhen: Feb. 2, 8 p.m.; Feb. 3, 3 p.m.Where: Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona ParkCost: $40; Multi-show: $35; Senior: $37; Student: $25For More: 718-760-0064 or www.queenstheatre.org

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