Betty Buckley Is Plushfab!

by "Buzzin" Lee Hartgrave on September 17, 2004

With a touch of a cheek and a wistful look at the audience – Betty Buckley sets the tone for an evening of extraordinary song interpretation. I can hardly think of anyone singing “Just The Way You Look Tonight” with more emotion. The standard was written by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. This is not a razzle dazzle show with lots of theatrical gimmicks – it is a wonderful celebration of love with all it’s moments of joy and moments of depression. You’ve been there – we’ve all been there and this is the show to help you relive those moments. ##M:{more]##

Not since Peggy Lee has a singer been able to really get to the bottom of what it is to lose something that you love. Take “Dimming of the Day” by Richard Thompson, who wrote these words — Broken Promise, Broken Heart at the dimming of the day. Words that are woven into a perfect blend with a Celtic beat. If you are vulnerable – have the hankies ready. As Buckley says “The songs we have chosen tonight are darkly beautiful.’ They are more than that– they are like the title of the show a “Journey”.

For stunning poetic beauty you can’t beat “I Am A Town”, written by Mary Chapin Carpenter. It will have you crying over your beer for weeks to come. Here are some of the words that Buckley floats through the air. “I’m the pines behind the Graveyard.I’m a church beside the highway where the ditches never drain.I’m Billboards in the fields.”

On the lighter side is a wonderful My Fair Lady Medley – she brings out all the Broadway fire with “On the Street Where you live”. The amazing thing about Buckley is that she can be a Broadway belter when is requires it – and then she can practically whisper in your ear with the tender “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor. This lyric will give you a hint of what’s to come. “I woke up this morning and wrote this song – but I can’t remember who to send it to”. Crushing right? Well, it devastated me! Then as if that’s not enough to exhaust you emotionally there’s the story of “Two older gents sitting in the Park” – in the simple, but gorgeous “Old Friends” written by Paul Simon, Alex North and lyrics by Hy Zaret.

This is one “Journey” that you won’t want to miss! Through Sept. 26. RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! The recipient of the Lee Hartgrave FAME Award for best Cabaret singer.
ON THE AISLE: It had to happen. A new musical based on the life and songs of John Lennon. San Francisco may not be a big town for movie making anymore, but it sure is the place to tryout new musicals before taking them to New York’s Broadway. Pre-Broadway hits that played San Fran first are “Evita”, “Wicked” and “Baz Luhrman’s La Boheme.” Others could have made it to Broadway also – if they could find the funding to open in The City. Take “Batboy” for instance. It was a huge success for TheaterWorks in Palo Alto. They had a deal to bring the show here for a pre-Broadway tryout – but ran into roadblocks that ran into big bucks. No one came up with the extra dough. So, it was a no go. Too bad – because it was a really great show. This premiere engagement of Lennon will open at the Orpheum after they sweep out all the lion hairs left on the stage. They have plenty of time, because Lennon will not open until April 5, 2005. And I suspect that tix will be hot and go fast – so plan ahead. In case you wondered.Lennon is produced by arrangement with Yoko Ono. But, of course, you already knew that. Here’s the scoop: They will tell the story of John Lennon’s life using Lennon’s own words – and twenty-seven of his songs. There are 10 cast members and a ten-piece onstage band. Some of the songs you will hear are “Imagine,” “Instant Karma,” “Give Peace a Chance” and others. They will also use film and slide projections to conjure up Lennon’s persona. For more info you can visit

TAKE TWO: Richard Greenberg who wrote the gay baseball drama “Take Me Out” will arrive in San Fran soon. Greenberg also wrote “The Violet Hour” which is now at the SF Playhouse just off Union Square. This Jazz age comedy is about a writer, a publisher and a bigger than life lover. SF Playhouse on Sutter Street can be reached at 677-9596.

TAKE THREE: On Oct 4, The New Conservatory Theater brings in nationally known playwright Terrence McNally for a one-night stand, so to speak. He will conduct a Conversation with Barry Humphries, who is also Dame Edna. The proceeds benefit the Theatre’s youth programs. Info: 8618972. Also now playing at NCTC is the hilarious musical “Pageant” that spoofs beauty pageants. The all-male cast includes Patrick Michael Dukeman and Trauma Flintstone. With a name like that – how can it not be funny? Look for new theater seats – with brass plates on the chairs showing who donated them.

TAKE FOUR: “Single Spies” is a play about homo British cold-war spies. I think some live in my building. It opens at theatre Rhino on Sept 25. This is a surprise – “Awe About Eve” is coming back to Rhino. I guess it was more successful than I thought. It is a hoot – so if you missed it the first have another chance. 861-5079.

TAKE FIVE: Limited! A two-week engagement at the marines Memorial Theater of “Addicted.a comedy of substance. I don’t know what kind of Substance they are talking about. This is an autobiographical theater piece that takes you though an up and down journey through the life of Mark Lundholm a bay area native, who went from homelessness to a successful stand-up comedy career. Opens Oct. 5th. Tix/info at 771-6900.

TAKE SIX: She’s back! New York blues diva Sandra Reaves-Phillips returns to Teatro ZinZanni’ magical tent on the Embarcadero on Oct. 14. There will be other cast changes also at this time.

TAKE SEVEN: Seven is a lucky number they say. Another pre-Broadway musical opens at the Curran Theatre on Nov. 3 – Dec. 26. Based on the wonderful warm and fuzzy movie “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin. It’s a buddy story. In this cast the buddies are putting on a show in a picturesque Vermont Inn. Guess what? They find their soul mates while they are there. Imagine that. See what snow can do. Yes, you will hear the song “White Christmas” among others. This is exciting: The sound design is by Acme Sound Partners who did the sound for “The Boy From Oz.” “White Christmas” should be a show that will put every one in the giving mood. I hope so – I want some gifts! Tix on sale at the Orpheum Theater Box office.


Martin Short Delays B’way Solo Show. Just guessing…Maybe it’s a bow-wow. .Original Sweeny Todd barber George Hearn is taking over for Joel Grey in “Wicked” on the Broadway stage. Remember Brooke Shields? Well, she is rehearsing to take a roll in “Wonderful Town”. .There’s an opera for everyone: Here comes “Bare, a pop opera” – the new musical is about five high school seniors at a co-ed Catholic boarding school. Sounds like a lotta mischief to me. .Or when you are in New York, you could take in “Brooklyn, the musical.” .A young girl searches for fame and the father she never knew. O.k. .But somehow I never really thought about Brooklyn being very musical. And that’s Tick Tick Headlines for today! It’s Phone Buzz Time!

Send Love Letters/ Hate Mail and tips to Lee Hartgrave at

Filed under: Archive