Kerry Butler isn’t a household name. But she is making herself quite known on the Broadway stage.
The demure actress with the big voice has worked her way up the ranks in the passed several years from Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” to last year’s surprise hit “Xanadu,” which Butler received a Tony nomination for Best Actress.
Now, for a limited six month run, Butler has taken over the female lead in “Rock of Ages,” once again proving she has pipes and making a whole new set of audiences fall in love with her.
In talking with Butler, she is thrilled to be working on “Rock of Ages” and said that her run could possibly go beyond the six month’s she’s contracted for. “I first wanted to see how I fit into the part and got along with the cast,” Butler says in her short commitment to the show. But she does add that she and the cast get along famously. She said that even though new to the theatre, her American Idol costar Constantine Maroulis is as professional as any actors she’s worked with, including the seasoned veteran Tony Roberts who was one of her costars in “Xanadu.”
Speaking of “Xanadu,” Butler says that when she tried out for the part, she really didn’t rollerskate well. “I hadn’t been on skakes since I was a kid and I was hoping it would come back as easy as riding a bike,” she jokes. But it didn’t. Butler did train hard, though, and was able to master her role, even to be able to sing, dance and skate backwards as the show dictated.
In addition to her acting and skating expertise, Butler proved in “Xanadu” that she is a talented actress and not just a singer who acts. Her put-upon fake Australian accent used in “Xanadu” was just far enough over-the-top, that the audiences knew it was part of her tongue-in-cheek performance and not bad acting. “Fortunately,” Butler says, “the show ‘Prodigal’ that I did before ‘Xanadu’ was written by Australians and I had to use a real, true accent for that,” she says, mentioning how they would correct her all the time until she got it right. “So when the time came to do ‘Xanadu,’ I knew exactly where to exaggerate the words to get the most laughs.”
For those who don’t make it to Broadway much and perhaps missed Butler as the original Penny Pingleton in “Hairspray” or in the Broadway revival of “Little Shop of Horrors,” might have seen her in their own towns, originating roles in musicals that haven’t made it to Broadway yet like “Catch Me If You Can” which played in Seattle and “The Opposite of Sex” which ran in San Francisco.
Butler loved her character in “Sex” as she was a bad girl. And with Butler’s wholesome face, blonde hair and personal love for anything Disney, it’s easy to see why she’s cast in good girl roles.
Television audiences will disagree. Butler on TV has usually been the bad girl. As a
semi-regular on the “Lipstick Jungle” series, Butler played a design assistant who stole her bosses’ designs and sold them to someone else. In the soap opera “One Life to Life” Butler played a spoiled rich princess that managed to get anything her father’s money would buy.
More known for the stage, Butler may stay with “Rock of Ages” longer than planned or perhaps timing will work out that the role she originated in “Catch Me if You Can” is available when the show finds a stage on the Great White Way.
So whether a witch on TV or a sweet princess of the stage, Butler is a name that you don’t always recognize but when you hear her sing, she reminds you of the great talent she truly is.
You can catch Butler in “Rock of Ages” and you can get tickets and more info at www.rockofagesmusical.com.
You can also learn more about Butler’s upcoming projects at her website www.kerrybutler.net.
KERRY BUTLER SINGS ‘DISNEYLAND’