Betty Buckley is returning to San Francisco, but not for the reason most people who follow theater expected. Buckley will perform a week of Broadway show-tune concerts at the Rrazz Room — all songs she’s never performed before — then move on to her next engagement, which is not the production of “Tales of the City” at American Conservatory Theater.
She’s disappointed about that and says scheduling conflicts kept her from the role of Anna Madrigal, which she played in workshops for a month in October. Judy Kaye will play the part when the show opens next month.
“I don’t know if they’ll keep any of the stuff that I helped them work on,” Buckley says. “There was a very beautiful song that Jake Shears and John Garden of the Scissor Sisters wrote that I sang to end Act I. Gorgeous, gorgeous song. I helped them shape that, so I’m especially disappointed that I won’t be singing it.”
Well, she won’t be singing it on Geary Street at least.
“Jake told me I could sing it [elsewhere], so I won’t prevail upon them until after the show’s opened,” Buckley says. “But once it opens, I will be adding it to my repertoire. It’s a beautiful score and the guys doing it are very gifted. I call the creative team shiny. They’re very shiny boys.”
The Bay Area has always exerted a pull on the Tony-winning star.
“I wanted badly to go to [UC] Berkeley,” Buckley says, “but my dad wouldn’t let me leave town. I aspired to be part of the scene as a child of the ’60s. It was where everything happened musically. I didn’t get to fulfill that particular dream, except in spirit, and it was a vivid part of my imagination growing up in Texas.”
While still in Texas, she recorded her first album with her childhood friend T-Bone Burnett.
“We grew up together in Fort Worth and he made the first recording of my voice,” Buckley says. “There were only two copies of the tape in existence, and my first agent, who is now a very successful producer, had one and I gave the other to my then-boyfriend.”
The sessions, titled “1967” for the year they were made, were finally released on CD and LP a few years ago. And Buckley and Burnett recently went back into the studio.
“It was an amazing experience,” she says. “There have been a couple of projects in my life where I felt like I was literally swimming through love, being completely surrounded by love, and this album was like that. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco
When: 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 7 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $45 to $55
Contact: (800) 380-3095, www.therrazzroom.com