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July 25, 2014

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In Las Vegas, Betty Buckley is used to a standing ‘O’

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Cashman Photography

Betty Buckley with cast members of “Mystere” at Treasure Island on Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012.

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Betty Buckley is starring in "The Vixens of Broadway" on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Cabaret Jazz in Smith Center.

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Betty Buckley at "Zumanity" in New York-New York on Friday, Nov. 16, 2012.

Betty Buckley is a legend on Broadway, but she is well connected in Las Vegas. Consider her appearance 15 years ago at UNLV’s Ham Hall.

She lit up the university’s performing arts center that night. Later, she was afforded VIP status as an audience member at Bellagio.

This distinctly Vegas doubleheader unfolded 15 years ago, when Buckley appeared at UNLV as part of the university’s Best of the New York Stage series. Myron Martin, who has since lured Buckley to Cabaret Jazz in Smith Center for four shows this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, was heading up the university’s performing-arts schedule at the time.

After Buckley’s show at Ham Hall, Martin and she had planned to hit the new Cirque du Soleil show at Bellagio, “O.” Hotel owner Steve Wynn had arranged for Martin and her to see the show the same night she appeared at UNLV.

“Steve Wynn and Elaine came to the show, and I was talking about my arrangement of ‘The Very Thought of You’ being inspired by (Monet’s) The Water Lilies, the impressionist painting,” Buckley said in a phone interview last week. “After the show, he came up and gave me a big hug and said, ‘We’re holding the curtain for ‘O’ so you can see the show at the Bellagio in its entirety.’ ”

Buckley and Martin hustled to Bellagio and after the show Wynn hosted yet another unveiling.

“Afterward, he brought us into his private art gallery,” Buckley said. “And there was the painting. It was a pretty memorable night.”

On another trip, Buckley was registered at a hotel off the Strip. Wynn stepped in once more, as he owns lots of hotel rooms.

“He moved my assistant and I into the Wynn,” Buckley said. “He has been a great friend and a generous supporter.”

Commonly referred to as “The Voice of Broadway” and a Tony Award winner for her portrayal of Grizabella the Glamour Cat in “Cats,” Buckley is among the most respected Broadway stars to visit Las Vegas. Along with her wide-spanning TV and film career, she has headlined around the world in theater and concert.

As always, those who pay attention to live performances in Las Vegas wonder what someone of Buckley’s stature has to say about Smith Center. Buckley appeared at Cab Jazz last year.

“I think it’s a great, very resonant hall,” she said. “It’s a beautiful, beautiful place.”

Buckley show is titled “The Vixens of Broadway.” Tickets are $39, $59 and $79. As she describes the format, “These are songs from the ‘other woman,’ or the second lead, and they are a bunch of show-stopper songs, very lighthearted.” In the set are “When You’re Good to Mama” and “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.”

Buckley hopes this show leads to a more frequent schedule in Las Vegas.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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