The place is the elegant One Aldwych hotel and in a suite kindly provided by the management Broadway star Betty Buckley is in post workout mode chatting to Edward Seckerson about her return to the London stage in Jerry Herman’s charming but much-misunderstood show Dear World. Restored to an intimacy only previously imagined by Herman, Gillian Lynne’s vision for the piece is about as far as it’s possible to get from the show that Herman and the original star, Angela Lansbury, felt had been hijacked at its 1969 Broadway premiere. It was, says Herman, supposed to be a boutique on an avenue of superstores but the Broadway money-men were hungry for another Dolly or Mame. In this informal “Live & Uncut” podcast Texas-born Buckley recalls her beginnings as Martha Jefferson in Edwards and Stone’s musical 1776 – a job she got on her first day in New York – through the London run of Bacharach and David’s Promises, Promises – a West End debut at only 22 years of age – to her triumphant Broadway Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats (where she met Lynne) and equally acclaimed Norma Desmond in the London production of Sunset Boulevard. It’s a measure of Buckley’s status in Broadway circles – she was recently inducted into the Broadway Hall of Fame – that Liza Minnelli was dropping in to see Dear World that evening.
Dear World is currently playing at the Charing Cross Theatre