Buckley hosts week-long workshop

Bella Lee, Staff writer

This past week, students had the opportunity to partake in a workshop hosted by the one and only Betty Buckley. The workshop took place nightly from Sept. 19-23 and culminated in a special concert that took place in Walker Recital Hall on Saturday, Sept. 24. “Ms. Buckley’s residency is a testament to how MIAC furthers the educational mission of Mercyhurst by providing opportunities for students to watch, learn from and even perform alongside world-class artists,” said Brett Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Mercyhurst Theatre Program and artistic director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts and Culture (MIAC). “We’re thrilled to welcome Ms. Buckley back to campus and provide this invaluable experience for our emerging artists.”

Buckley made her first appearance on campus last summer as part of MIAC’s 501 Summer Soirée. “I am thrilled to be returning to the gorgeous Mercyhurst University and the wonderful town of Erie,” said Buckley. “I am so looking forward to working with the talented students and presenting some beautiful music with my collaborator, Christian Jacob.”

Buckley’s career has spanned decades in theatre, film and TV. Her Broadway debut was in the musical “1776,” but her most notable role was as Grizabella in “Cats,” which she won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Her notable movie roles include Miss Collins in the 1976 film “Carrie” and Dr. Karen Fletcher in the 2016 film “Split.” She has earned honorary doctorates from the Boston Conservatory of Music and Marymount Manhattan College and was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2012.

Buckley’s concert in Walker Recital Hall consisted of a lively performance of songs both from theatre and mainstream music. Her concert was topped with a jaw dropping rendition of “Corner of the Sky” from “Pippin”, one of her first Broadway hits that she will reprise for the 50th year reunion. She dedicated the song to one of the students in her workshop, joking that he did not have the correct lyrics when he performed the song for her. Students in Buckley’s workshop had a deep and rewarding experience working with the Broadway giant.

Rondale Smith, a senior Psychology and Criminal Justice major, was thankful for the opportunity to work with such a legendary star. “I’m happy that I could participate in this workshop because it was something that I did for myself. We learned a lot about how to value our minds as both our greatest gift and problem, and we learned how to reprogram how we think about ourselves,” Smith said. “We gained insight on how to connect with the audience, whether through song or monologue, and how the role of an actor is to be of service in bringing the audience on a journey.”

The next MIAC performances are “An Evening with Fran Lebowitz” on Thursday, Oct. 6, and “Michael Feinstein Celebrating the Judy Garland Centennial” on Monday, Oct. 26. Be sure to get your tickets at the PAC box office so you do not miss out on these amazing opportunities!