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Topic: Curtain Up..Here's...Mazeppa



Topic Curtain Up..Here's...Mazeppa from the General Chit-Chat forum.

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AuthorTopic:   Curtain Up..Here's...Mazeppa
Jean
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Registered:
6/7/2003
posted: 6/24/2003 at 6:01:11 PM ET
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Courtesy Chicago Tribune:


By Sid Smith
Tribune arts critic

June 24, 2003

"NEW YORK -- In a surprise to absolutely no one who has ever met her, Kate Buddeke plays a stripper in "Gypsy" on Broadway without a trace of hesitancy, modesty, fear or shame.

By her own description "jiggly," especially around the waist, Buddeke nevertheless bares that body segment as Mazeppa and boldly wiggles pockets of exposed cellulite in "You Gotta Get a Gimmick."

The audience goes ape.

"I thought about it long and hard after getting cast and decided, 'I'm not going to lose weight for this,'" she said in a recent chat at Angus' bar, a hangout across the street from the Big Apple's Shubert Theatre, where "Gypsy" plays. "I should be scared to be seminude on Broadway and not buff, but working out would ruin it. Mazeppa's a 40-year-old, worn-out stripper at the bottom of the barrel in Wichita. It's better they see me as I am, and it's important I don't change my body because I'm embarrassed. That would be untrue to the character.

"And you know what? Women come up to me after the show and thank me for being normal. Not normal for Broadway, maybe. But normal for life."

Buddeke's idea of normal, it should be noted, includes tough, gruff, opinionated conversation; the ability to drink anyone under any table anytime; and an effortless mastery of deletable expletives to the point of rendering David Mamet's dialogue like "Bambi" by comparison. "[Blank]ing Nazis," she remarked, as she crushed out her cigarette before entering the bar, her comment on New York's current anti-smoking laws.

But despite the harsh exterior, Buddeke is, in fact, a classic case of chutzpah coating a heart of gold, a joy both on and offstage because she's so transparently caring, soulful and, yes, soft underneath. Her career, most of it spent in her native Chicago, is littered with roles in which she screamed, raged or ranted as part of a portrayal that eventually broke hearts: in the title role in "David's Mother" at Apple Tree Theatre; as a vengeful wife in "Bad Moon" for the troupe that became the American Theater Company, where she's still a member; and an early success as a battered Belfast common-law wife in "Ourselves Alone" at Bailiwick Repertory, for which one review credited her with "blazing, pain-filled eloquence."

A caustic critic

She is as caustic and forthright a critic of colleagues, producers and directors as anyone in the business. Chicago directors who cast out-of-town actors are high on her list of bete noires, for instance. She's just as passionate about industry favorites (Bernadette Peters and director Sam Mendes of "Gypsy" are current ones), just as she's quick to melt when the occasion warrants. "Every time I walk into a Chicago theater," she said tearfully when she won a Jeff Award here for her first portrayal of Mazeppa, for Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre in 1998, "I'm happy."

Armed with a voice both froglike and gutsy, Buddeke is actually something of a Broadway veteran. She played the hardened owner of the merry-go-round in the "Carousel" revival in 1994, a break she credits to a Lincoln Center casting director who witnessed one of Buddeke's impassioned, offstage tirades. "He stood by, smiling and gaping, while I complained angrily about Chicago directors who use New York actors," Buddeke recalls. "I was yelling." Months later, she was summoned for an audition.

But unlike a lot of Chicagoans who head east, Buddeke didn't use the opportunity to leave permanently. She later spent more than a year with "Death of a Salesman," which played Broadway and Los Angeles after Chicago in the late '90s. But last fall she was back home, performing at the tiny A Red Orchid Theatre on Wells Street. The career ups and downs she blames on bad management and bad advice, though her own commitment to Chicago clearly plays a role too. During "Bug," at Red Orchid, she got a call about "Gypsy."

"They originally asked me to audition for another role that I didn't have a real shot at," she says. "Plus, I told them I was performing and could only audition on Monday. So I didn't even go. But then, in November, they called again about Mazeppa and said Monday would be fine." Her audition choice is vintage Buddeke: the "I'm just a girl who can't say no" song from "Oklahoma!"

She spent her early years on the South Side, then, during 3rd grade, moved to Winnetka with her mother after her parents divorced. She was a fish out of water on the North Shore. While a sophomore at New Trier High School in the mid-'70s, she was asked to leave. "I was kicked out for ditching math, and I admit I wasn't a good kid," she recalls. "I did drugs. I didn't really belong there. We weren't rich. I came from a family in which there were six kids living in a two-bedroom house. I remember asking the counselor why I'd ever need math, and she said I'd get married some day and need to measure curtains. I thought, `Oh, my God.'"

Letting her `Hair' down

At 16, she moved into the city and wangled a job with the Elks organization; she also got involved in theater and landed a job in the chorus of a road company of "Hair," needing, at age 17, a note from her mom in order to do the nude scene.

"It was great," says the actress, who declines to reveal her current age. "We eventually went to Spain, and then I spent almost eight years in England in a band." She came home and formed a band here called Katch, playing at venues such as Orphans and even the Playboy mansion, until someone suggested she take an acting class as a way of boosting her performance style. Her teacher, director Kyle Donnelly, changed her life. "She put me in `Ourselves Alone,' and I won a Jeff," Buddeke says.

Soon after, in the late '80s, she joined American Blues Theatre, the original name of American Theater Company, working with the likes of founder playwright Rick Cleveland and director William Payne. Buddeke and her tomboy hard edge fit right in. "They were guys," she says of the troupe then. "I mean guys." She has been with the troupe ever since, running it with actress Carmen Roman for a while and determined to persuade the L.A.-based Cleveland (now writer and supervising producer for TV's "Six Feet Under") to write the company a new play.

"Gypsy" will keep her busy for a while, possibly a year. But Buddeke will be back. She shares an Andersonville apartment with longtime domestic partner, Duane Yost, a carpenter she has dragooned into theater at times, both for construction and even acting. "He's a saint," she says of his patience with her long stints away. "He so understands what I do and loves it."

Her Playbill program bio for "Gypsy" concludes with a proud boast: "Kate sang the national anthem, solo, at Wrigley Field." She also loves her hometown's brand of art: "When I was back at Red Orchid, playing a nude scene in a tiny room that sits 60 people, having to cry on stage and doing things I'd forgotten how to do, I'd think, `Yeah, this is what it's all about.' I'll never give that up, never." "

Jean


BP Broadway Diva
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Registered:
2/19/2003

From:
NJ

Fav. BP Song: Rose's Turn
Fav. BP Show: Gypsy
Fav. BP Character: Rose
Fav. BP CD: Sondheim Etc

posted: 6/24/2003 at 6:54:12 PM ET
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Thanks for posting that Jean. It was a great article

*~Danielle~*

bliss
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Registered:
4/5/2003
posted: 6/25/2003 at 11:33:08 AM ET
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thanks for finding that...how did you find it...do you read the chicago tribune? kate

moljul
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Registered:
4/2/2001

From:
New York

Fav. BP CD: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
Fav. BP Song: Dublin Lady

posted: 6/25/2003 at 11:47:44 AM ET
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So Kate, Would you be willing to reveal the first part in Gypsy you auditioned for?

Just wondering.

bliss
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4/5/2003
posted: 6/25/2003 at 11:56:19 AM ET
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sure...it was for tessie tura...i am totally not right for that...thank god mazeppa turned up again...

moljul
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Registered:
4/2/2001

From:
New York

Fav. BP CD: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
Fav. BP Song: Dublin Lady

posted: 6/25/2003 at 11:59:19 AM ET
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Thanks. I was thinking it was for one of the other strippers but just couldn't figure out which one. We are all glad Mazzepa turned up for you as well. :-)

Anonymous
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posted: 6/25/2003 at 12:46:05 PM ET
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bliss, I found that article on broadwaystars.com right before I saw it here. They have links to theatre news from everywhere. Hope that helps! It was a great article.
-Lj

Anonymous
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posted: 6/25/2003 at 12:56:28 PM ET
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Yes, it was on broadwaystars.com--I don't read the Chicago papers.

I can get almost everything I need in the way of information/gossip from broadwaystars.com.
Sorry to cut this short but I'm in Times Square (!) and I have to run.
Jean

Anonymous
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posted: 6/25/2003 at 1:10:19 PM ET
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Great article, Kate.

moljul
Registered User

Registered:
4/2/2001

From:
New York

Fav. BP CD: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
Fav. BP Song: Dublin Lady

posted: 6/25/2003 at 1:10:31 PM ET
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Oh, that's right. It's Wednesday so Jean is in NYC. LOL

BroadwayBabyGal
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5/8/2003
posted: 6/25/2003 at 1:11:13 PM ET
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Oops, that was me.

Mabel
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Registered:
4/21/2003

From:
Boston, MA
posted: 6/25/2003 at 2:30:15 PM ET
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Jean, Thanks for posting the article. It was great!

Kate, I really enjoyed your performance during previews and am impatiently awaiting August 30 so I can have the pleasure of seeing you again. Thank you. You made me laugh and laugh. :-)

jmslsu01
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Registered:
6/9/2003

From:
northern VA
posted: 6/25/2003 at 5:31:17 PM ET
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Lovely article-thank you for posting it,Jean. I have Broadway Stars on my favorites,but I don't check it very regularly. Thanks for the reminder as well!

Kate-you are in my prayers. God bless.When you do decide to leave Gypsy,please keep in touch on this board. I know I'm not just speaking for myself when I say that we think highly of you and want nothing but the best for you and want to know how things are going,without being nosy (that's a run on sentence,but who cares). ;-)

Jenn



mikee
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12/4/2002
posted: 6/25/2003 at 8:43:04 PM ET
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If I could figure out how to do it I would like to open a fan site for Kate!

MsPetersFan1
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Registered:
6/25/2002

From:
Long Island, New York & Boston,
posted: 6/25/2003 at 9:09:02 PM ET
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www.geocities.com runs your basic website for free and you can add nice updates for like $8.95 a month. It's summer vacation for me so I can maybe give it a try. I would need everyone's help tho!

~* Megan *~

Bwaybaby
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Registered:
3/10/2001
posted: 6/25/2003 at 9:12:15 PM ET
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I've had experience with running a website on 20megsfree.com

Its completely free, its pretty reliable, you get a decent amount of space and its pretty easy to setup and maintain a website through them.

I would totally be willing to help run a site for Kate but we don't even know if this is what she wants so I'm not going to jump to any conclusions

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