Tony Award winner Betty Buckley received the American Songbook Association's Lifetime Achievement Award October 2 at the organization's Fourth Annual Gala at New York’s Merkin Hall at the
Kaufman Music Center.
The inimitable Buckley—honored for her work as a guardian of the Great American Songbook who also champions new songwriters—was celebrated by the best of Broadway, who turned out in full force to salute the Fort Worth, Texas, native in both story and song.
Among those celebrating the star of Cats, Sunset Boulevard, and many more were Sandra Bernhard, Sharon Catherine Brown, Mario Cantone, Carolee Carmello, Elizabeth Davis, Howard McGillin, Jessie Mueller, Orfeh, Christine Pedi, Jennifer Simard, Ellen Burstyn, Katrina Rose, Marsha Mason, Michael Wilson, Bryan Batt, Rupert Holmes, Jason Robert Brown, Veanne Cox, Paul Hecht, Bonnie Milligan, Ken Page, Kurt Peterson, Seth Rudetsky, Ian Herman, Scott Schwartz, and Stephen Schwartz as well as a video tribute from Andrew Lloyd Webber.
In addition to deconstructions from Rudetsky and remarks from Burstyn, Scott and Stephen Schwartz, Carolyn Montgomery, Mason, Holmes, Hecht, and Wilson, the song list for the evening featured the following:
Sharon Catherine Brown: Songs from Sunset Boulevard
Elizabeth Davis: "Old Friend" with violin solo
Orfeh: "Knowing When to Leave"
Stephen Schwartz, Kurt Peterson, and Veanne Cox: "Love Song"
Bryan Batt and Christine Pedi: Ethel Merman/Sunset Boulevard Parody
Howard McGillin and Jennifer Simard: "Two Kinsmen"
Jessie Mueller and Carolee Carmello: "Perfect Strangers"
Katrina Rose: "Old Flame"
Bonnie Milligan: "Serenity"
Sandra Bernhard: "Before the Parade Passes By"
Mario Cantone: "Rose’s Turn"
Ken Page: "The Way We Were"/"Memory"
Buckley also entertained the sold-out crowd, performing two of the more recent additions to her eclectic repertoire: Stephen Schwartz's "Chanson," accompanied by long-time music director Christian Jacob, and Jason Robert Brown's "Hope," accompanied by Tony-winning composer Brown.
Actor, music director, conductor, talk-show host, and Playbill
columnist Rudetsky also received the Bill Sensenbrenner Dream
Maker Award, given annually to a leader in the art and business
communities who exhibits a passion for investing in the cultural capital
of our youth.
Check out photos from the gala event below:
Texas native Betty Buckley, seen in an acclaimed performance as Dolly Gallagher Levi in the national tour of the Tony-winning revival of Hello, Dolly!, won her Tony Award for her performance as Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats, later earning another nomination for her work in the musical Triumph of Love. She starred in both the London and New York productions of Sunset Boulevard, earning an Olivier nomination for her take on the ill-fated silent-screen star Norma Desmond. London audiences have also enjoyed Buckley's work in Promises, Promises and Dear World, and her other Broadway credits include Carrie, Song & Dance, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 1776, and Promises, Promises.
A 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee and the 2017 recipient of the Julie Harris Award from The Actors Fund for Artistic Achievement, Buckley's most recent screen credits include Split, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Cleaning Lady, Supergirl, The Film Crew, Preacher, Chicago Med, The Leftovers, Getting On, Pretty Little Liars, and The Happening. She has been awarded two honorary doctorates of fine arts for her contribution to the musical theatre by Marymount College and the Boston Conservatory of Music.
American Songbook Association—led by Executive Director Carolyn Montgomery—seeks to preserve, promote, and advance the legacy of American popular music, the Great American Songbook (classic and new), and the unique art form of cabaret. Visit AmericanSongbookAssociation.org.
Look back at Tony winner Buckley's numerous stage outings below: