‘Hello Dolly’: Betty Buckley talks about the perils of following Bette Midler – And very well said, too
By Chris Jones
October 17, 2018
Q: I have to ask. You’re following Bette Midler, for God’s sake. Can’t be easy.
A: You’re being so depressing, Chris. “What’s it like being compared to Bette Midler?” I thought we were friends.
Actually, it is very intimidating. I never thought of this show for myself. I saw Bette Midler in the Broadway production, right before the Tony Awards; I was standing and weeping with rapture and joy. I was just so deeply touched. My early experiences of “Hello, Dolly!” were all Pearl Bailey — I never really got the show before Bette, I never saw the hoopla, the lady in fancy costumes sashaying around the stage. I dealt with this question with “Sunset Boulevard.” It’s not a pleasant thing to have to go through being compared to another actress — everybody brings their own experience to the show, there is no definitive version, it is not an easy thing to have to handle especially since you are a fan. Bette was the best ice cream sundae you ever witnessed and you just wanted to scoop her up. But with the help of our illustrious director, Jerry Zaks, I am being encouraged to put my own stamp on Dolly.
Q: I can imagine.
A: Bette is always definitively Bette, and Jerry has a very specific vision of Dolly, and there’s an obligation to fulfill his notion of things — while also bringing her into my own game. I’m a very different kind of actress, each one of us are very different actors, we shouldn’t be expected to be like anyone else, I am the first person who has to say that — to herself.
For the full interview click here
And a Bette photo just for the hell of it: