Betty Buckley says Arthur Laurents **STABBED** her in the back in regards to Mama Rose & GYPSY
The “might have been” Buckley has trouble laying to rest, Gypsy. With Buckley as the stage mother to end all stage mothers, Rose.
It opened at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey in 1998 to excellent reviews and wildly enthusiastic audiences.
The Mirvish organization had a sudden gap in its schedule and wanted to bring it to Toronto.
But first, Arthur Laurents, author of the book, and Stephen Sondheim, lyricist of the songs, had to give it their stamp of approval.
For Buckley, it was more than just a show. It was a work that she had emotionally invested herself in fully, even working with a therapist to understand the complexities of the character.
The performance Laurents and Sondheim attended went very well. “I remember saying to the team, ‘Nailed it! If they don’t like that, there’s nothing we can do.’”
Sondheim was smiling and polite, but Laurents twisted the knife: “Obviously you’re a virtuoso, but you don’t know how to play Rose.”
Many years later, you can still hear pain in Buckley’s voice. “I kept my poise, but it took me many weeks to overcome my disappointment ... if I ever did. We were supposed to come to Toronto. I thought it was ridiculous to put all those people out of work.
“It was a sobering experience for me,” she adds. “Laurents was one of my idols. But I realized that a man can be a genius as an artist, but as a guy he’s just like everyone else. I’ve had a more sober eye and a more sober approach to show business ever since. I feel respect, reverence even. But no awe. Never again.”
What was Laurents' damage? Why was he such a vile prick?
I often can't stand Buckley but she was actually pretty good in the Papermill production.
How long was the Mendes production in planning? Perhaps that was more of a factor than the quality of Buckley's performance.
Though, to be fair, she sang the shit out of it. But she seems to have been unaware that Gypsy is a musical comedy. You can go for broke with Rose's Turn etc. But Rose also has to be funny.
R1 Sometimes that is all you have to offer as a person.
I know she's notorious but she does kinda rock As if We Never Said Good Bye.
Hah hah hah hah hah! That Arthur! What a pill!
Wait - am I still mad at him or not?
Who is Betty Buckley?
"even working with a therapist to understand the complexities of the character."
When I worked on a show with her, she was regularly seeing a therapist 4 times a week (!) and had been for years. Calling it "research" would be the way to get it written into a contract - in other words, for that amount of time at least, she got someone else to fund her crazy.
Bitch can sing and her 'Rose's Turn' on CD is epic.
She sang the hell out of the songs and made some stunning acting choices.
But she wasn't funny. At all. Rose has to be funny.
I thought that's why her performance as Norma Desmond wasn't fully satisfying-she never landed any of the laughs. That's because the bitch has a zero sense of humor. However I remember being pleasantly surprised that she landed a few laughs in that production of Gypsy. I'm pretty sure they actually landed because the audience was appalled in an amused sort of way at how Rose operated.
I thought the best thing she ever did was MAMA ROSE. I was not a big fan but thought she was fantastic in the role.
Rose has to be UNINTENTIONALLY funny. She's got to be a bit of a buffoon, the female equivalent of Oscar Jaffe or Max Bialystock. If you tried to play her with sincerity and authenticity you'd end up doing what Faye Dunaway did in "Mommie Dearest."
"I thought it was ridiculous to put all those people out of work."
As IF she cared about one other person's job other than her own. Puh-LEEEEZE.
[quote]But I realized that a man can be a genius as an artist, but as a guy he’s just like everyone else. I’ve had a more sober eye and a more sober approach to show business ever since. I feel respect, reverence even. But no awe. Never again.”
That is exactly how I felt after meeting Betty.....
Ha, I asked Debbie Gibson why the show didn't transfer just last week and she said she assumed it was Laurents too.
But why would Laurents care about a production of Gypsy in Toronto, of all places?
I got the impression in his later years Gypsy was one of his few remaining ways to hiss.
I just read the article. It begins with a great big typo in the headline, and goes on to use the beyond-cliched "attention must be paid". Ick.
I thought Laurents put the kabosh on it transferring to Broadway. He said on Riedel's TV show once that he told her if you are think you are taking this to Broadway you are crazy...or something like that.
Blah blah blah. What's with that dame? You don't get stabbed in the back through the front. It ain't Arthur's fault that the bitch isn't me. I'm dead and I can still get more laughs than she ever could. I'll bet she couldn't get a rise if she played Rose in a hyena cage.
I know, Patti! I can't even sing and I won one for that role. BB must have really sucked.
These theater people are so... theatrical.
R5 She was excellent (the pompous, egocentric crazy is not a stretch) but who was the FUCKING ASSHOLE who sat through a Broadway production recording? People like that should be strangled as they leave the theater!
Was Arthur Laurents ever in a touring company of Boys In The Band? He was such a nasty, vicious queen that he'd have been perfect for that play.
I'm sure Laurents had already heard the stories from Sondheim of Steve's encounter with Betty in her London dressing room and the workshop of Into the Weeds. He knew who he was dealing with....
[quote]I'll bet she couldn't get a rise if she played Rose in a hyena cage.
At least I know how to relate to my fellow actors onstage, Ethel, dear.
And nobody ever called me "dumb."
[quote]by: Patti (bitch stole Meadowlark from me)
You BOTH stole Meadowlark from ME, especially you, Patti, you motherfucking role robber.
Meadowlark is a shitty song. Can we move on, please?
Toronto is considered a major market. Priscilla had its pre-Broadway tryout there.
So perhaps if Toronto was given the go ahead, Laurents and co couldn't stop it transferring to the Broadway.
And the old prick liked Bernadette Peters' awful performance? He was a bitter shriveled up piece of shit. He did have s stunning lover though.
Betty, no one calls you "dumb" because a bitch like you just make adjectives sick.
Like I used to say to Mary Martin when she got all high and mighty about her talents and put me down for being me:
Fuck you with your girlfriend's salami.
As for me not relating to people on stage, that's hooey. You never saw me bumping into them, did ya? Well, that PROVES I was aware.
If Arthur didn't like Betty, what did he have to say about Angela?
Arthur was a self-loathing Jew who yearned to be a WASP, so I'd wager that he loved the English Lansbury.
saw it powerfully sung-but she was too old, sexless, and humorless
Betty couldn't have been too old. She was born is 1947 so she was 51 in 1998. Peters was born in 1948, so she was 55 in 2003 and LuPone, born in 1949, was 59 in 2008 and won the Tony, so technically Buckley was the youngest Rose.
[quote]It was a work that she had emotionally invested herself in fully, even working with a therapist to understand the complexities of the character.
This alone makes me suspect that she gave a performance that sucked all the humor and joy out of the part. Some actors are so "dedicated to their craft" that they turn every performance into a grim chore, "researching the role" as if they were sifting through the remains of a fatal house fire.
Sometimes in musical comedy (and in comedy in general) "hit your mark and say your line, punching THIS particular word each and every time" is the correct way to get the job done. You can damned well bet that rule applies to any role that was written for Ethel Merman.
[quote]For Buckley, it was more than just a show. It was a work that she had emotionally invested herself in fully, even working with a therapist to understand the complexities of the character.
Then she's crazy.
A show is just a show is just a show is just a show. The end.
"Then she's crazy."
Thanks for the newsflash.
Thank you Jerry Zaks at r39.
[quote] If Arthur didn't like Betty, what did he have to say about Angela?
Laurents directed the Lansbury production, so it's safe to say he liked Lansbury.
I wonder what he thought about her replacement - Dolores Gray, whose mother has been cited as something of an inspiration for Laurents when he first wrote the libretto.
Laurents hated the Bernadette production. Never really was harsh to her but savaged the director.
Betty sounds like batshit crazy and now very fat Florence Lacey who thought she was the reincarnated Eva Peron when she was in Evita!
And Flo sang Evita as if she was being performed by Julie Andrews. She sang "Buenos Aires" as "Bwaynos Eye-rees."
I thought Bernadette was fantastic, but the production was sh*t.
R47, I liked Mendes' production although he miscast Louise with Tammy Blanchard. Even Mr. Goldstone was a distinctive character rather than just a nebbishy blank.
Blanchard, who I've LOVED in other roles, was a terrible Louise. John Dossett was also the worst Herbie I've ever seen. It was just a bad production, and unnecessary.
r46, would sing "Bonus Air-eeez."
Ah, that's right, R50. I knew she sang it like Julie Andrews but forgot her precise pronunciation.
Laurents was on record saying he LOVED Angie but felt she was too patrician as Rose.
He loved Daly....when no one else did. There is a great American Theatre Wing Seminar somewhere where he tells that when Daly was in Chattanooga out of town previewing, she wanted to quit and the Weissler's wanted her gone. And he says AND I BELIEVED IN HER.
Speaking of the Mendes production we must remember David Burtka as the gayest Tulsa in the history of the theatre. Did Mendes want it that way (he does seem to have a fascination with gay characters.....wonder why!) or do all Burtka performances turn out that way?
EVERY Tulsa seems gay!
Every eye rolls in the theater when Tulsa sings "All I Need is the Girl."
but Burtka's wasn't just gay, it was GAY!!!!!!
John Sheridan who played Tulsa with me and Angie and Zan was an absolute sweetheart who only seemed to go for black guys during our pre-Broadway nationwide tour in 1974. They were coming and going out of his hotel rooms and they all looked like Clifton Davis.
Oh give it up Betty. A terrible crime was committed against you and if you weren't so universally disliked and known to be batshit crazy maybe I'd have compassion.
Are you going to bitch about Jon Robin Baitz next?
I was going to say that too -- Tony Yazbeck was the exception to the rule at r54.
He did Billy Flynn in Chicago a while ago.
[quote]Patti's Tulsa was not remotely gay
That makes him sound like a part of Patti LuP's anatomy.
I thought Blanchard was the best Louise I ever saw. For once, she was someone who was believable as both Louise and Gypsy. And she was funny and sexy as Gypsy. Moving without being sentimental like Benanti's Louise.
"He loved Daly....when no one else did."
Everyone else did.
Daly won a Tony for it, FGS. She sounded like shit "singing" the score, though.
Nobody's mentioned yet that a pretty terrific production of Follies was denied a move to Broadway due to snobbery on the part of James Goldman's widow that it originated at the Papermill Playhouse. Simple snobbery on her part and probably on Laurents'.
Was it really snobbery? Or did they want current big(gger) names? Hence - Blyther Danner bumping into chorus boys.
Streisand's role will be definitive.
Yes, like Lucy/MAME
[quote]68 Streisand's performance won't be definitive. She should have done it right after Prince of Tides. Voice was excellent and she was young enough for the role. Today, she's 71 and the belting is long gone.
[quote]Yes, like Lucy/MAME
Except that when she filmed MAME Lucy was several years younger than Barbra is today.
She was younger than most of her step kids.
Like SHE has anything to complain about, compared to MY rape with SO MANY PRODUCTIONS.
Like "Annie Get Your Gun". No "wedding with a HONK HONK" for Broadway... ;(
Was Tyne's tulsa gay?
Her lack of humor was not the only problem. First and foremost this was not a Broadway caliber production. Also as someone upthread mentioned, Steve disliked BB. Arthur may have been the messenger but he had SS's full support.
[quote]Steve disliked BB. Arthur may have been the messenger but he had SS's full support
Horseshit. This is a man on film praising Helena Bonham Carter for her Mrs. Lovett. He wouldn't care if Betty Buckley was Rose as long as the checks cleared.
R77 Steve and Betty had a major falling out when she walked out during rehearsals for "Into The Woods"
She was replaced by Bernadette Peters.
Sondheim mentioned in his book that Gypsy can easily be quite cartoonish, even in some productions directed by the librettist. So I wonder which of the 3 productions he was thinking of.
Didn't Buckley only do the Woods workshop? Ellen Foley originated the witch, before Peters took over for Broadway.
Buckley was hated in this show for the most petty reasons that speak to nothing but pure jealousy and envy.
Her Rose's Turn may well be the best one ever done. A ferocious performance.
And she's the only one who makes that pause before she does "Here she is boys!" It's always annoyed the shit out of me that the others ramble through that monologue without basking in the true emotion and desperation of it.
Ellen Foley played the part in San Diego. Buckley was suppose to play the part on Broadway, but abruptly left after two weeks of rehearsals.
The team reached out to Bernadette Peters in an emergency recast.
Thanks for the clarification!
and yet Buckley still has the nerve to say Sondheim wrote "Children will Listen" for her. He wrote it for the role that you quit deary.
Betty: How did you like my performance?
Steve: I wouldn't have brought this up BUT since you asked, I really don't like the way you've been doing my material. You change my melodies to suit yourself.
Betty: (seething rage and hatred for years)
I guess Sondheim didn't hold much of a grudge against Buckley after Woods, if he allowed for her to perform Children Will Listen at the 1993 Carnegie Hall Celebration.
I thought Buckley left after the workshop of Woods. I thought that they considered Lupone and Donna Murphy but ultimately called Bernadette for Broadway.
I think there were two workshops. Buckley did the first one...Foley the second. (at least according to a Sondheim book I have.)
LuPone said on Watch What Happens Live that she was offered the show (she didn't specify when) but she said she wanted to play Cinderella instead of the witch.
[quote]and yet Buckley still has the nerve to say Sondheim wrote "Children will Listen" for her. He wrote it for the role that you quit deary
Maybe he told her that. Maybe he wrote the role with her in mind. You have no idea what their conversations were, deary.
Actually the London conversation was recounted (by Ms. Buckley) in the Sondheim magazine....deary
[quote]Buckley was hated in this show for the most petty reasons that speak to nothing but pure jealousy and envy.
Isn't that what narcissists and their defenders always claim?
R86 Patti LuPone auditioned for Cinderella and only wanted to play that role, refused Witch. Donna Murphy auditioned for the Witch in a catsuit but then went through consideration as the Baker's Wife which she ultimately lost.
Was Ellen Foley deemed a disappointment in the role? Or was it just a case of Bernadette (and Ms Allen) meant box office?
The didn't care for Ellen Foley. Buckley apparently, they liked, but she wanted sole billing above the title.
But they brought Foley back to close the show, which suggests that is was a purely business decision not to have her open the show.
It was a business decision.
Ellen Foley was replaced because they wanted a bigger name to open the show.
Sondheim loved her. She came back to close the show, as mentioned. On closing night, SS gave the cast members a signed copy of the score. On hers, he wrote ‘To Ellen: the alpha and the omega.'
I think Laurents was disappointed that she was so different than Merman and Daly. She was vulnerable, sexy and driven in a very different kind of way. Edgy, neurotic and overbearing but with a softer center. There was nothing mawkish about her.
I didn't see Merman, or Lansbury, but I've seen Gypsy many times, including Daly, Lavin and Lupone.
Buckley was by far the best Rose I have ever seen. Certainly the best sung. Certainly the most heartbreaking.
As for her Norma, she was exceptional. She may not have played it for laughs, but neither did Gloria Swanson. And they both knew exactly what they were doing.
She's a great actress and can sell a song like nobody's business. She may also be a loon, but I don't give a shit about that when I'm watching her on stage.
It is ironic because Buckley walked because the role was so underdeveloped in her mind.
Once Bernadette took over, they re-wrote the part and expanded it because she is such a star. And the audience expected to see her (Bernadette) in a much larger role.
Gypsy is a musical comedy. Betty Buckley ignored the latter part of that statement.
Gypsy is a musical comedy, and a highly emotional one, but Buckley proved, to me at least, that it can work as a musical comedy with a Rose who is not broadly comic. It's a subjective thing needless to say.
And, as r81 has rightly said, Buckley's Rose's Turn, the emotional peak of the show, has rarely if ever packed the punch she did. It was bravura.
[quote]LuPone said on Watch What Happens Live that she was offered the show (she didn't specify when) but she said she wanted to play Cinderella instead of the witch.
BWAHAHAHAHA! "On the Steps of the Palace" would have been a horrifying quagmire of hooty, imprecise vowel sounds, and let's not even consider what she would've come off like in the gown.
LuPone was supposed to play the witch in a London revival - the one with Sophie Thompson as the Baker's Wife. Does anyone know why she didn't end up doing it?
R101 it conflicted with her TV show Life Goes On
That revival was from the late 1990s...
I saw the production. I don't remember the reviews being all that great and the audience I saw it with was quietly polite. Buckley was miscast as Rose. Period. Of course she sang the score gorgeously but she made Rose a prim and proper lady which was all wrong. And, in usual BB fashion, she groped for lines and lyrics more than once.
The production was badly directed and choreographed and Debbie Gibson was amateurish at best.
So, I'll have to agree with Laurents on this one.
Sorry, BB. But, if it means anything, loved ya in Sunset.
It's true that they wanted to replace Tyne out of town. Linda Lavin, who eventually replaced her on bway, was mentioned.
The Tulsa in the Tyne revival came off kinda gay. Yazbeck was the straightest of the Tulsa and danced it beautifully but his scene with Louise was very 'actor's studio.'
Tammy Blanchard was the best thing in the Mendes revival. Bernadette was the worst. Even the strippers sucked.
Maureen Moore was an excellent Rose (she stoodby for Bernadette).
The Dainty June in the Patti revival nailed it. Best DJ I've ever seen.
[quote] The Dainty June in the Patti revival nailed it. Best DJ I've ever seen.
Leigh Ann Larkin - she was indeed the best June I've seen.
Supposedly the Melbourne Gypsy has a 'dream double' for Louise in All I Need Is The Girl.
"Rose has to be UNINTENTIONALLY funny."
That's not true at all. There are many moments when she is intentionally funny, for example, "After three husbands, it takes a lot of butter to get you back into the frying pan." Another example: "The whole family yells. It comes from living too near the train tracks." (Not sure if those are exact quotes, but you get the drift.) If Rose has no humor, the role and the show don't work AT ALL.
Also, I can't believe some people here feel Leigh Ann Larkin was any good as June, let alone the best they ever saw. She was horrendous in the role, I'm sure due to Laurents' misguidance.
R109 Leigh Ann was excellent at Encores and early in the broadway run. But, she got way too hammy and out of control by the time the show closed. I blame two things for that kind of behavior:
1. Patti, who was guilty of the same thing and chewed every piece of scenery on that stage
2. Laurents and stage management who let her get away with it.
Laura Bell Bundy was June in the Papermill production w/ Buckley and she was horrendous.
I would love to have seen the cabaret act one of the Papermill chorus boys put together about his experience with the show.
Patti sounds drunk on the recording.
I never got Herbie's joke "I have five sisters and the ugly one didn't get married until a year ago" when Rose asks if he's married. Was it typically expected that boys got married after all of the sisters?
A lot of what you need to know about Betty Buckley is explained in this thread:
I worked with Betty Buckley and she is a Texas doll. Her companionship was vital to me surviving a personal dilema. She had nothing but bad things to say about the 8 is enuffers, though. She adored Adam Rich, but hated Willie Ames. She thought Joan Prather was the best friend she had on that set, but both women were treated like garbage by the Bradford sisters. Anytime Betty or Janet had a storyline, Susan Richardson, Laurie Walters and Lani O'grady would mark in the producers office and complain. I think Laurie was messing around wtih Lorimar's Greg Strangis at the time. Laurie was months older than Betty and she complained that Betty was too young to play her stepmother. Laurie had preferred the role go to Pat Crowley but Dick van Patten thought she was a dip. Susan Richardson would write notes on her scripts and demand changes and new pages, but she was laughed off the set. She got pregnant to get herself a People magazine cover. So sad, really.
"Leigh Ann was excellent at Encores and early in the broadway run. But, she got way too hammy and out of control by the time the show closed. I blame two things for that kind of behavior: 1. Patti, who was guilty of the same thing and chewed every piece of scenery on that stage 2. Laurents and stage management who let her get away with it."
I agree 100 percent that almost everyone in the show (especially LuPone) got worse as the run continued, but I remember Larkin being terrible from the beginning -- though, again, I'm sure she was only doing what that idiot Laurents wanted. In the "If Mama Was Married" scene, wasn't she smoking a cigarette and saying every line in a ridiculously hard-bitten tone from the beginning? And in the birthday party scene, wasn't she incredibly cold towards Louise from the beginning?
"I would love to have seen the cabaret act one of the Papermill chorus boys put together about his experience with the show."
It was hilarious. Sorry you missed it.
the 03 revival had June smoke, I don't think the 08 one did
Betty was fired because she was continually LATE. She was even late to the discussion regarding her lateness. All these remarks about billing are absurd. She was her own worst enemy for years and years. She can't just keep a smile on her face and her big mouth shut.
Anyone See her do the role in TUCSON in the 90's?????
Most of this is accurate about the role of the Witch. However we are missing an important piece. Ellen Foley was replaced by Lucille Ball. Lucy wanted to do something out of her comfort zone but Gary came to a rehearsal and thought the plot was too centered on the Occult so he convinced her not to do it as it would alienate her fan base.
What was the story about Betty Buckley sucking off chorus boys? Was it in Gypsy or Sunset?
You're thinking of Glenn sucking off stagehands r121. And it was in Sunset.
Yes. Glenn lined them up and sucked them right before entering on the staircase from what I hear. Meh.
Women don't such chorus boys nor do chorus boys want to be sucked by them.....it's the theatah! people
R119 There's a vid of the Tucson production. The less said the better. It was sort of like watching Meryl Streep play Amanda Wingfield in a church basement in Queens.
And, yes, June smoked in the Mendes production (shocking).
The BP version was a perfect example of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'