Homeward Angle: Stop taking photos of sandwiches - Betty Buckley’s “Ah, Men!”

Special guest star! This month I’m turning my column over to my boy Roy – A.K.A. “Inky.” The Post & Mail’s prodigal son returns!

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As a holiday treat, Roy took his ma and pa to the bright lights, big city of Indianapolis to see and hear the divine Betty Buckley perform at The Cabaret at the Columbia Club. His write-up follows … and be sure to check out Roy’s blog at www.reelroyreviews.com where he reviews movies, theatre, music, and any other crazy stuff that strikes his fancy…



Facebook is a funny thing. Such a powerful tool that could do so much to create positive social change is being used for rather mundane, likely superficial, arguably dumb things: bragging about new homes, taking photos of sandwiches, complaining about Lady Gaga.

I love (not) the people who opine about “declining morals of society” and then post photos of themselves doing body shots at a Jimmy Buffett concert. Accountability? Yeah, apparently only when it’s a one-way street headed to Sarah Palin-ville.

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And then there are the friends (and sometime relatives) who bloviate about how some people have “too many friends” and “how could you know all of those people” and “aren’t you afraid of identity theft…cause you want to waaaaaaatch.” I don’t know what motivates this last string of comments: jealousy, annoyance, small-picture thinking, or the fact that the more friends one has the harder it is to stalk all their comings and goings on the social network.

So why am I on this annoyingly self-serving high horse? Perhaps I’m full of myself because I had the privilege of meeting a Tony Award-winning performer I’ve long-admired. I was listening to her CDs in college when my fraternity brothers were blasting Bob Marley and Pearl Jam on the front lawn.

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What does this have to do with Facebook? Well, said performer has very smartly leveraged the communication platform to connect with generations of fans in an authentic and direct way, without the meddling intermediary of a PR agent. I was beyond geeked a few years back when we “friended” one another in cyberspace and struck up conversations over the intervening months about politics, movies, and animals.

Who is this tech-savvy celebrity? Betty Buckley.

Betty Buckley is known to some musical theatre neophytes as “Abby” on Eight is Enough or as Sissy Spacek’s sympathetic (slap notwithstanding) gym teacher in Carrie. To some adventurous cinephiles, Buckley is remembered for her character turns in Tender Mercies, Frantic, or The Happening. And for millennials who subsist on a steady diet of the CW and ABCFamily, they would have seen Buckley pop up on brother Norman Buckley’s saucily fun Pretty Little Liars. (Norman and mom Betty Bob are fantastic Facebookers as well!)

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But for us theatre nuts, Ms. Buckley will always be known for her knockout performances in such classic musicals as 1776, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Cats, and Sunset Boulevard among many others. And for her series of jazz-infused, confessional cabaret recordings over the past 20+ years.

One of her latest cabaret offerings – recording as well as live performance – is a show called “Ah, Men! The Boys of Broadway!” The nifty conceit of the show is Buckley’s fulfillment of a lifelong desire to perform all the great Broadway anthems written expressly for men.

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Given our Facebook connection with Ms. Buckley, there was no way we would miss seeing her perform in Indianapolis’ most splendid room: The Cabaret at The Columbia Club, a surprisingly intimate yet Eloise-esque marble-floored, velvet-curtained, lost-moment-in-time hall with a ceiling-to-floor window overlooking the twinkling lights of Monument Circle.

You must catch this show if it comes anywhere near your community. It’s not often you get to hear a legend in person, let alone one as relatable as Buckley. Her between-song patter is a hoot: for example, as a kid, she desperately wanted to be a “Jet” in her local community’s production of West Side Story, and these anecdotes offer the perfect context for her song choices.

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And, oh, what song choices! Many of my personal favorites – from The Fantasticks‘ rallying “I Can See It” to Guys and Dolls’ elegiac “More I Cannot Wish You” – are featured. The Sweeney Todd medley effortlessly marries “Not While I’m Around,” “Johanna,” and “My Friends,” capturing the melodiously tragic arc of Sondheim’s best show in a perfect seven-minute bon-bon.

Accompanist and arranger Christian Jacob helps Buckley transform the bombast of The Pajama Game's signature tune “Hey There” into a haunting, undulating meditation on regret, loneliness, and heartache. But the show’s highlight is a ten-minute Spike Jones-meets-Mel Brooks riff on My Fair Lady’s “Hymn to Him” in which Buckley runs through nearly every noteworthy male role in the musical theatre canon and winkingly expounds on how much better her take on said roles would be.

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We have admired and appreciated Ms. Buckley’s talent throughout her career; we are grateful to live in an age where technology allows us to appreciate the person as well as the performer, an age that can inspire thought and expression and compassion and kindness … if people will let it … and stop taking photos of their d*mn sandwiches.

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neat feedback!

Christine Greenwald: "Nice write-up! Betty Buckley is a true star and real performer."

Tina Braid: "Pretty awesome, Roy!"

Mary Maday: "Wonderful. Good job, Roy!"

Maureen Mansfield: "Well done!"

Kat Kelly-Heinzelman: "Thanks, Roy; doing a great job. Susie, you're doing an awesome job too. Love you both."

Paula Rivera-Kerr: "Love this! Particularly love your conversational use of the following words: bloviate, cinephile and bombast! You don't need an intermediary PR agent because you have essentially become one on your own. BTW, I like taking pics of sandwiches, thankyouverymuch!"

Beth Kennedy: "great choice, Susie! you know how to pick your writers!"

Betty Buckley: "Thank you, Roy. Lovely. So nice seeing you guys in Indy. Wishing you and Susie a most wonderful 2014!

Mary Shaull: "Ah! Nice, Roy. 'More I cannot wish you.' brings me to tears, for some reason. I think it's the velvet I can bring you -- pretty velvet..... Am I right? So tender. Nice tribute to Betty Buckley and good shots of you all. Thanks for brightening a lousy, blizzardy, horrendously cold day. I do not like winter."

Lucy Grant: "Roy, thanks again for sending. When you get my note you'll find I was somewhat prescient...you writing that is...would love to hear more. I adore Betty Buckley. We were lucky enough to hear/see her in 'Cats' and your column brought back great memories of that experience but frankly, it's been years since we've followed her. Hope the show comes to Durham as we do have the fourth largest ticket selling venue in the U.S.....hard to believe but true....so just maybe."

Betty Bob Buckley: "Enjoyed reading your column! It's fun to follow your writings."

Mary Maday: "Love it! Shared it!"

Bob Kellogg: "Good job, Roy!"

M. Ford: "Loved the piece, although I will admit my tie was Eight is Enough, which likely says a lot about my lack of musical theatre knowledge. The good news is I do not subscribe to facebook still, so you do not have to see photos of my lunch. Who needs FB when e-mail will work? My breakfast is attached for your viewing pleasure (or sympathy). Happy new year!"

Angie Choe: "Loved the article – just got a chance to read it. What wrong with Bob Marley and Pearl Jam LOL! Totally agree about the Facebook thing. Anyway…looks like you all enjoyed seeing Betty Buckley."

Kat Kelly-Heinzelman: "I have always liked Susie's columns and her books. With Susie, there is always more to like every article."

Jean Armstrong: "Roy, you have some big shoes to fill. Good Luck!!!! All the best to Susie in your next adventure...."

Ramona Zachary: "Love this Roy, and Susie ! I saw Betty at the Briar Street Theatre in Chicago, 1993, in A.R.Gurney's THE FOURTH WALL. George Segal was her hubby. She's delightful."

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message 1: by Kat (new)

Kat Roy,
You fill you Mom Susie's shoe just fine and I'm proud that you do. You have a different writing style but hey you learned from the best (LOL) You kind of aged me a little when talking about "Abby" on eight is enough because that was one of my favorite shows and I won't say while I was growing up but well after I hit a certain age. I bet she "Miss Buckley" is great on stage. Am I not right? You filled in for Mom just right Hon thanks a lot. Kat


message 2: by Susie (new)

Susie Sexton Kat wrote: "Roy,
You fill you Mom Susie's shoe just fine and I'm proud that you do. You have a different writing style but hey you learned from the best (LOL) You kind of aged me a little when talking about "A..."


why thank you, dear Kat! (Roy typing here.) and if I aged you, I aged myself as well! I remember that show fondly - though I was always more of a "family" fan. and, yup, Betty was marvelous - a very gracious talent! thanks as always for your friendship and kindness!


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