30 Seconds With… Kerry Butler


In this weekly feature, WCBS culture critic Jim Taylor shares 30 seconds with the theatre stars and upstarts of NYC. From Broadway to Off-off, Jim tracks down the talent and gets them to spill just enough for our collectively shortened attention spans.

Kerry Butler was on roller skates in Xanadu, and on the run in Catch Me if You Can. Now she’s starring in the just-opened The Call.

Jim Taylor: This is a different role for someone known for cheery musicals. Really, The Call very much tells your story, right?

Kerry Butler: It’s crazy. I read the script and I thought “this is me.” So I went to the audition and they didn’t know my back story. And I excitedly told them, “I know this part. I just finished adopting my second daughter from Ethiopia. It is all fresh in my mind.” I auditioned and I got it that day.

JT: Art imitates life here. The play’s about a young white couple seeking to adopt an African baby. Which is a very real trend in America today.

KB: For me, I also adopted two girls from Ethiopia. I feel like it makes the world a smaller place. Now I have this connection to Africa. And I am connected to the African American community because I have to defend my daughters. And I have to make sure they have the same opportunities as everyone else.

JT: The cast of five is excellent. You’re grappling with political, cultural, racial issues of right now. It can get kind of raw.

KB: There are some of the things I say in the play I thought about in my head but I’ve never even said out loud. So that’s pretty powerful.

JT: Sounds therapeutic.

KB: I don’t know if it’s therapeutic or the opposite. I’m exhausted at the end of every night!

Playwrights Horizons’ The Call is up at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater through May 26.