Legendary leading lady Betty Buckley named artist-in-residence at Mercyhurst

betty buckley artist in residence at mercyhurst universityMany a red carpet has been rolled at the feet of Betty Buckley, but there’s one upon which she has chosen to linger.

One of theatre’s most respected and legendary leading ladies, Buckley’s career as a singer and actress spans theatre, film, television, and concert halls around the world. And yet, tucked away in the corner of northwest Pennsylvania, she has discovered a haven of creativity and hospitality at Mercyhurst University that beckons her return.

In the summer of 2021, Buckley headlined The 501 Summer Soirée, hosted by the Mercyhurst Institute for Arts & Culture. She returned last fall to conduct a weeklong workshop for students and to perform a second concert. Today, Buckley and Mercyhurst announce a more permanent association as Buckley becomes an artist-in-residence at the university, beginning in the fall.

“I am so looking forward to returning to Mercyhurst University,” Buckley said. “It is one of my greatest joys to share what I have learned from master teachers and watch students use those tools in their own work. I was knocked out by the caliber of students at Mercyhurst, led by the wonderful Brett Johnson. He has created an atmosphere of total support and freedom of expression while instilling the discipline, skill, and knowledge of history necessary to pursue a career in the performing arts.”

Buckley’s affinity for Mercyhurst spells opportunity for the university’s arts programming, its students, and the greater Erie community. As part of her Mercyhurst residency, she will return to campus annually to teach, direct, and concertize.

“This partnership with Betty Buckley is a major step for Mercyhurst University, which has become a premier destination for world-class performing arts experiences and has long been recognized as a center of excellence in training the next generation of artist/scholars,” said MIAC Artistic Director Dr. Brett D. Johnson. “The depth of knowledge and experience that Ms. Buckley brings to Mercyhurst is awe-inspiring, and her impact on our students and community will resonate for years to come.”

Speaking to Buckley’s original workshop at Mercyhurst, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Joanne Hosey-McGurk recalls, “She left an indelible mark on our students, on Brett, and on everyone in her audience at the public concert. Nine months later, students are still talking about the lessons they learned from her week at Mercyhurst.  In addition to technique and craft development lessons, Ms. Buckley taught them object lessons about dignity and owning one’s gifts.  No matter what careers the students pursue, they will take those lessons with them wherever they go.”

Final details of Buckley’s inaugural year in residence have just been released: She will be in residence at Mercyhurst Sunday through Thursday, April 14-18, and offer a public concert at Walker Recital Hall on Friday, April 19, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, priced $45 for adults, $40 for seniors, and $35 for non-Mercyhurst students and youth 12 and younger, go on sale Tuesday, Aug. 15, at noon.

Tickets can be purchased via the MIAC Ticketing website or by calling the PAC box office at 814-824-3000. Each order is subject to a $4 per ticket processing fee, regardless of purchase or payment method.

Betty Buckley Biography

The recipient of honorary doctorates from Boston Conservatory of Music and Marymount Manhattan College, Buckley has taught at Boston University, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Central University, Carnegie Mellon, Boston Conservatory of Music, Syracuse University, Ball State University, Marymount Manhattan College, Fordham University, College of the Desert in Palm Desert, California, University of North Texas, and University of Texas at Arlington. She has also taught workshops at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Festival, and Smith Barney Investment Firm, and has been on the faculty of T. Schreiber Studio in New York City for over 40 years.

Buckley is a 2012 Theatre Hall of Fame inductee and the 2017 recipient of the Julie Harris Award for Lifetime Achievement from The Actors Fund. She won a Tony Award for “Cats” and received her second Tony nomination for “Triumph of Love.” She garnered an Olivier Award nomination in London for her performance in “Sunset Boulevard,” which she repeated to more rave reviews on Broadway.

In 2018 and 2019, Buckley headlined the first national tour of the new Broadway production of “Hello, Dolly!” Her other Broadway credits include “1776,” “Pippin,” “Song and Dance,” “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” and “Carrie.” She starred in the London productions of “Dear World” and “Promises, Promises” (Evening Standard nomination).

Off Broadway she has starred in “The Old Friends” (2014 Drama Desk nomination), “White’s Lies,” “Juno’s Swans,” “Edwin Drood” for the NYSF, and “I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road.” Regional credits include “The Perfectionist,” “Gypsy,” “Threepenny Opera,” “Camino Real,” “Buffalo Gal,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” and “Grey Gardens” (2016 Ovation Award nomination).

Her film credits include M. Night Shyamalan’s hit film, “Split,” released in January 2017, in which she co-stars with James McAvoy and for which she received a Saturn Award nomination. Other film credits include Shyamalan’s “The Happening,” Brian de Palma’s “Carrie,” Bruce Beresford’s “Tender Mercies,” Roman Polanski’s “Frantic,” Woody Allen’s “Another Woman,” and Lawrence Kasden’s “Wyatt Earp.”

Her recent television credits include a recurring role on “Law & Order: SVU” for NBC and a guest starring role on the new Fox/Warner Bros. show “The Cleaning Lady.” She co-starred in the third season of AMC’s “Preacher,” NBC’s “Chicago Med,” HBO’s “The Leftovers” and “Getting On,” the miniseries “The Pacific,” and the series “OZ.” She starred for four seasons as Abby Bradford on the hit series “Eight is Enough,” and has made guest appearances on “Without a Trace” and “Pretty Little Liars.” She also starred in the miniseries “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Roses for the Rich,” and “Evergreen,” along with various films for television. Buckley has received two Emmy nominations.

She recorded the audio play “The Vanishing Negative” by Aaron Mark for Audible in 2020. In 2022, Buckley released the compilation recording “Betty Buckley Sings Stephen Sondheim” as a tribute to the late composer. The recording consists of 24 songs previously recorded throughout her career. Buckley has recorded 18 CDs, including “Hope,” released in 2018; “Story Songs,” released in April 2017; and “Ghostlight,” produced by T Bone Burnett, released in 2014. She has received two Grammy nominations and tours extensively in concert with her ensemble of musicians.

Buckley has been honored with three Lifetime Achievement Awards for her contributions to theatre from the New England Theatre Conference, The Shubert Theater in New Haven, and the T. Schreiber School in NYC. For her work in the national tour of “Hello, Dolly!”, she was honored with the Sarah Siddons Award for outstanding performance in a Chicago Theatrical Production.