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Why didn't Betty Buckley do Into the Woods on Bway?

Leadingplayer
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She did the workshop.
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latitudex1
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Around five years ago, someone on this very board said she was axed because she was "uncooperative and a diva." I'm guessing it was a little less dramatic than that.

We all know that Sondheim likes his music sung in a very particular way and that Ms. Buckley likes to sing in a very particular way, and maybe they just clashed. Along with other little problems along those lines.

Whatever happened, at the end of the day, it was decided that Ms. Buckley wasn't the right person to play the witch.
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once a month
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When I saw a late preview of the show, at intermission she happened to be there smoking a long brown cigarette. Standing next to her I spoke to her-embarrassing myself by my sudden stuttering, thanking her for her career choices(what a dweeb). As wonderful is she is, she did seem somewhat nutty...at least according to this dweeb!
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henrikegerman
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What I heard at the time was that someone thought she wasn't capable of the grand glam transformation.

The person who told me that might have been misinformed by someone in touch with someone in touch with someone who knew the real story. Or, if that reason was ever given by someone in control, it might have either been a) inaccurate or b) disingenuous.

I have no idea. I'm just saying what I heard.

Buckley is well known as being an eccentric. She is also not for everybody. To me, she is one of the most talented people alive.

What's interesting to me is to imagine what she would have been like in the role. I believe she would have been far more frightening than Bernadette. I also think that might have been part of the replacement equation.

Just a theory.

Updated On: 7/2/12 at 08:48 AM
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castlestreet
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The truth is Buckley wanted her voice heard in terms of what she wanted for the character/songs. Sondheim as noted previously wanted his songs done the way they were written, no questions asked.

As far as her "diva" behavior- I've said this before- yes she can be erratic- but who at that level of talent in this industry can't be from time to time. I think she gets a bad rap, and quite frankly, considering what some other "divas" in this business get away with, I think its a little unfair.

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henrikegerman
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Wow, sounds like a true case of creative differences.
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I remember hearing something that Bernadette told Sondheim she would be interested in it if he built up the Witches part a little...She was huge then -just coming off Sunday and Song and Dance-and willing to work in an ensemble so he jumped on it
Many people were disapointed that she chose to be the witch because it wasnt a huge part....I loved her in it and believe me no-one was as good as her. Peters at that time could fill seats Buckley really coulnt
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Jordan Catalano
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Buckley can be a crazy diva but (at least in my experience and others I know with her) her behavior in no way matches that of actresses even half her age.

I hope to God she returns in a new musical some time soon. I miss hearing that voice live on stage.
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ComingUpRoses2
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I thought I heard somewhere that Sondheim wrote the score with Buckley's voice in mind.

Such a shame she never got to do the role. She would have been pretty scary and intense.
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I believe this was also the time when she had a little sniff-sniff problem.

@henrikegerman "What I heard at the time was that someone thought she wasn't capable of the grand glam transformation."

I don't think Donna Murphy is capable of that, but we'll see.
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E.Davis
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Why don't you think Murphy is capable of that?
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Gothampc
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"Why don't you think Murphy is capable of that?"

Because next to Amy Adams, Murphy will look like a troll. There's no way they can make Murphy look better than Adams.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
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castlestreet
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Jordan I couldn't agree more! That voice in my opinion has always been one of the best in the business.
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That was one major thing Vanessa Williams had in the last revival. No matter what you thought about her performance there is no denying that her transformation, both the way it was staged and how she looked afterwards, was stunning.
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best12bars
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Buckley was a mess in the mid-'80s at the height of her career in theatre and in her professional problems. She survived both, but opportunities were lost and squandered. Ultimately, she got her act together and her enormous talent endured. In the end, that's what counts.
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bryan2
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As beautiful as Vanessa Williams is -Bernadette looked better to me when she transformed...it was amazing ..
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little_sally
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I actually think Donna Murphy is quite beautiful.
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henrikegerman
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Wow, Gotham, of course it's a subjective thing, but count me as one who also thinks Murphy is exceptionally beautiful. While Adams is lovely, I actually find Murphy to be even more attractive. (not to mention that the two characters are not competing in the Miss Storybook Contest and are each being played by fine actresses capable of turning off and on their level of physical attractiveness).

While we are on the subject, during rehearsals for Into the Woods, I was having lunch at the Blue Water Grill (or whatever that Union Square restaurant was called at the time). Bernadette came in - I should say made an entrance, because it couldn't have been other than that, notwithstanding the lack of any pretentious theatricality - with Zien and Gleason. Of course, I had seen her before many times on stage and screen, and always found her very attractive, but at that moment she was, not to exaggerate, breathtakingly beautiful. I, and it seemed most of the place, were stunned at how gorgeous she was.



Updated On: 7/2/12 at 01:37 PM
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It's not like the there's a line in the show that says, "And the Witch was restored to her youth and beauty- and she's way more beautiful than the Baker's Wife, too!"
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ray-andallthatjazz86
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Haha, thank you, Kad. I think Murphy is going to be wonderful as the Witch, anyone who saw her in FOLLIES can see how she'll easily pull off the glamorous part of the role, she'll be regal and fantastic, I can't wait to hear her rendition of "Last Midnight," I imagine it'll be nothing short of mind-blowing.
I believe Peters' involvement came very late in the game, not too long before rehearsals started, and there's some really cool old threads about this that get into how Peters got involved (and it's also talked about in Secrest's Sondheim bio I believe), but I do remember that it was agreed upon that Peters did this almost as a favor to Sondheim when they were scrambling to sign up someone for the role.
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I heard from a few of the original CATS that Buckley's behavoir during the run (esp. after the TONY) was rather erratic and unprofessional. For example; she would arrive at the theatre later than half-hour (much later), the understudy would be already dressed in Grisabella drag and Miss B. would demand to do the show.

A girl can get a bad rap for that.


Updated On: 7/2/12 at 03:01 PM
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TheLadyoftheWood
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The makeup artist for Ms. Buckley during that run must have been a miracle worker because that amount of detail that goes into painting every character for that show is astoundingly time consuming when done correctly.
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An elderly original cast member of My Fair Lady told me many years ago that Rex Harrison would also often show up right before curtain, and would then do the first scene in whatever he happened to be wearing that day. Hilarious.
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ray-andallthatjazz86
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the understudy would be already dressed in Grisabella drag and Miss B. would demand to do the show

That's so very SMASH of her, and people call that show unrealistic... Love fascinating backstage stories Why didn't Betty Buckley do Into the Woods on Bway?
"Some people can thrive and bloom living life in a living room, that's perfect for some people of one hundred and five. But I at least gotta try, when I think of all the sights that I gotta see, all the places I gotta play, all the things that I gotta be at"
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best12bars
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I had a friend in CATS for 2.5 years in NY. She was one of the original understudies then took over a role. She said when they first started applying the makeup, it took about 90 minutes to do it.

They very quickly got that time down to about 20 minutes, and most of the cast (not all) applied their own makeup using a diagram with photos as guides.

As for Buckley, she had a similar issue with punctuality (among other things) with Drood. She would show up right at 8:00 or wait for someone to come and fetch her, and she was in the opening number (There You Are).

Not so cool.
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