How Betty Buckley sang her way from the pageant stage to Broadway


I’m going to Cafe Carlyle to see the fabulous Betty Buckley. She’s here all week so sit down!

If you don’t know, Betty moved to New York when she was 21. She already had an agent after bringing their attention to the Miss America pageant. Despite her pageant upbringing, Betty was not a fan of this type of competition. Indeed, she was a feminist and adherent to the charter of Ms Magazine. Her father, however, who was not a fan of show business at all, has been contest fan. He encouraged Betty to enter the Miss Texas pageant. Surprisingly, she didn’t win, losing to someone who performed a monologue by carried away by the windending it by eating a turnip.

After the pageant, Betty was asked to sing on the Miss America show. She claimed to “represent the other losers.” An agent saw her amazing singing, asked to represent her, and she moved to New York. On her first day in New York, she auditioned for 1776, scoring the role of Martha Jefferson. In other words, she didn’t work her way up from the chorus, she started on Broadway in a lead role. Don’t make a mistake, she definitely paid her dues! Not only did she a lot of the regional theatre, notably at the Casa Mañana where she was Jet en West Side Story and Dainty June in Gypsy, but she also spent years singing at outdoor theme parks in Texas. She feels that you haven’t really paid your dues until you learn how to hit a note, fly a bug in your mouth as you hit it, swallow it and keep holding the note. . Well done Buckley!

Check out her Cafe Carlyle where she’s been all week. Here is one of my favorite deconstructions where I highlight her shiny high waistband coupled with pure vowels!

I also had fun Seth speaks SiriusXM interviews with people like Nicolas King, who started working on Broadway at age 8. He was cast as Chip in The beauty and the Beast. Her Belle was the amazing Andrea McArdle. As often happens to kids in show biz, he outgrew the role and was replaced by another Nick, Nick Jonah! Here says the brother of Jonas as an old cup of tea:

Nicolas continued to work. He soon starred as the little boy in the Broadway revival of A thousand clowns directed by John Rando.

That reminds me ! When I was a kid, I also auditioned for shows and read in In the wings that they were making a production of A thousand clowns. I used to walk around trying to memorize the script. When people asked me why, I said, with show-biz know-it-all, “After auditioning, if it comes down to me and another kid, they’ll probably want the one who already memorized it.”

Spoiler Alert: I auditioned and haven’t been called back.

Luckily for me, I never memorized anything more than the first page.

Back to Nicholas! A thousand clowns was in its last week of Broadway performances. One evening after the encore, Nicolas gets changed and goes to open the door of his dressing room to see Hal Prince and Carol Burnet I’m waiting for him. They told him they were working on a new show called Hollywood Weapons. Carol said there was a role they were considering changing from a little girl to a little boy and wanted him to audition. She made the switch, he auditioned, and Nicolas got the part!

Now he is an adult and he tours the country in his own concerts. Here is a video of him and one of my favorite singers, Norm Lewis!

I also did a SiriusXM interview with Michael-John LaChiusa who I worked with when our careers were just beginning.

At the time, I was the rehearsal pianist for the first stage reading of Hello again, Marie-Christineand R Shoman, who became see what i want to see. When we repeated Hello again in 1994, I remember one of the actresses talking about an upcoming audition for a new Sondheim show. Yes, Donna Murphy was auditioning for Fosca in Passion during this time. JHats how long ago !

Chita Rivera and I talked about Donna at the show Chita and I did together in Worcester, MA. When Kiss of the Spider Woman was first written, there was a studio production, but instead of going out of state, the producers staged the show at Purchase College. Critics have been told not to review it because it wasn’t ready for public review, but for some reason it came and was reviewed anyway. Yay?

The really awful part was that it got a terrible review and killed the chances of the show being developed further at that time. Despite the turbulent history, it was picked up by another producer who took it to Broadway and the Tony Awards, where he won! However, I move forward. While the show was revamped, Kander and Ebb searched for a new person to play Spider Woman. Oddly, they didn’t ask Chita Rivera, who they had worked with on many shows. Even weirder, Chita never said to them, “Hello! Hire me!” Instead, she took them to a downtown musical called Singapore song. She wanted them to see an actress who had received wonderful reviews, someone who Chita thought would be perfect for Spider Woman. It was Donna Murphy! Donna didn’t get the gig because, get it, the role eventually turned into a dance role and did go to Chita. Because everything has a dramatic way of working in the end, Donna got the chance to sing the title track when Chita received the honor from the Kennedy Center. Listen !

Back to Michael-John… I am obsessed with some of his songs. It’s from see what i want to see. When I first did it, Judy Blazer played that role wonderfully. So Audra McDonald said it everywhere, and then it was performed Off-Broadway by high belt Idina Menzel! Check it out:

A note to other pianists: his music is then hard to play! Michael-John told me that he had seen a production at another theater and felt he had to tell the musical director, “It’s called see what i want to see. Not play what i want to play.” Toupee!

Speaking of Chita, Michael-John couldn’t help but laugh at the story of Chita’s unique name change. See, I also had Luba Mason on my SiriusXM show. She is one of the two stars of her recent show Los Otros currently playing ART here in New York.

Luba’s full first name is Lubitza and her maiden name was Gregus. So she was Lubitza Gregus, then Luba Gregus, then she got married and became Luba Mason. The name change I was obsessed with was from the 80s. We told her to change her name and she listened. She changed it to Kim Freshwater. In a typical name change, someone retains some aspect of the person’s legal name, but there is no any similarity in this one. Check out the original Playbill for Late night comic. Kim Freshwater is in the poster! I told them Chita’s story from the mid-50s when Chita wanted her name to be “less ethnic”, so she spent a period as Chita O’Hara. It didn’t last very long!

I finally started my livestream concerts again! Coming this Sunday, I have Michael Cerveris. Yes, we will sing songs from his many Broadway shows: Sweeney Todd, Fun Home, Assassins, Evita, and Tommy. We Could Feature A Song From His TV Career As A British TV Rocker Notoriety. Look!

Here it is in its Broadway debut!

Watch us Sunday at 5 p.m. ET. Tickets are available at


Michael Cerveris and Seth Rudetsky
Courtesy of Seth Rudetsky

Seth Rudetsky, Chita Rivera and James Wesley

Seth Rudetsky, Chita Rivera and James Wesley
Courtesy of Seth Rudetsky


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