DIVA TALK: A Busy Season for Divas

DIVA TALK: A Busy Season for Divas BERNADETTE PETERS
Well, it's only a few days away before the last big diva event of the year, Bernadette Peters' eagerly-awaited Carnegie Hall debut, which will benefit the Gay Men's Health Crisis. As reported earlier in the week, the concert will be recorded live by Angel Records.
BP will perform on the legendary stage on Dec. 9, and according to a few recent interviews, BP's show will be divided into two acts. The first act will consist of songs from her recent album and earlier recordings, plus a bunch of songs from the Broadway shows in which she has appeared: "But not the ones you'd expect," BP recently told writer Patrick Pacheco. "My friend, Richard Jay-Alexander, kept saying, 'Bernadette, you've got to sing this one and that one and that one.' But we can't sing 'em all . . . I was such a little girl when I sang a lot of them. Now I understand them on a much deeper level."
The second act of the evening will consist of songs by Stephen Sondheim. "And they're all ones I've never done before," BP reported to Debra Scott in an interview in the New York Post. "A song from Into the Woods and a fairly unknown song [Sondheim] wrote when he was 24. His works are so fulfilling. He sent me a tape of him singing his own stuff throughout the years. It was really a thrill. The more you sing each of his songs, the more you realize not only how well-constructed they are but how true they are."
Tickets for the Carnegie Hall event are priced at $40, $100, $150, $250 and $550. The top two ticket prices include a post-concert party/reception. Call 212-247-7800 for more information.

* Bernadette also currently appears in a wonderful TV commercial for Ocean Spray Cranapple drinks, and she will star opposite Armand Assante in an upcoming TV production of "The Odyssey."
Bernadette Peters: center stage at Carnegie Hall on December 9

Bernadette Peters: center stage at Carnegie Hall on December 9

(Photo by Photo credit: Starla Smith)

BERNADETTE PETERS
Well, it's only a few days away before the last big diva event of the year, Bernadette Peters' eagerly-awaited Carnegie Hall debut, which will benefit the Gay Men's Health Crisis. As reported earlier in the week, the concert will be recorded live by Angel Records.
BP will perform on the legendary stage on Dec. 9, and according to a few recent interviews, BP's show will be divided into two acts. The first act will consist of songs from her recent album and earlier recordings, plus a bunch of songs from the Broadway shows in which she has appeared: "But not the ones you'd expect," BP recently told writer Patrick Pacheco. "My friend, Richard Jay-Alexander, kept saying, 'Bernadette, you've got to sing this one and that one and that one.' But we can't sing 'em all . . . I was such a little girl when I sang a lot of them. Now I understand them on a much deeper level."
The second act of the evening will consist of songs by Stephen Sondheim. "And they're all ones I've never done before," BP reported to Debra Scott in an interview in the New York Post. "A song from Into the Woods and a fairly unknown song [Sondheim] wrote when he was 24. His works are so fulfilling. He sent me a tape of him singing his own stuff throughout the years. It was really a thrill. The more you sing each of his songs, the more you realize not only how well-constructed they are but how true they are."
Tickets for the Carnegie Hall event are priced at $40, $100, $150, $250 and $550. The top two ticket prices include a post-concert party/reception. Call 212-247-7800 for more information.

* Bernadette also currently appears in a wonderful TV commercial for Ocean Spray Cranapple drinks, and she will star opposite Armand Assante in an upcoming TV production of "The Odyssey."

BETTY BUCKLEY
It's a very busy month for Betty Buckley fans as Ms. B continues her tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber Music of the Night. First, BB's Showtime movie, Critical Choices, will air on the Showtime network 8 PM Sunday, Dec. 8. The movie will be rebroadcast several times during the month, so check your local listings. Then, the Christmas episode of AMC's "Remember Wenn" on which Buckley guest-stars will premiere on AMC on Saturday, Dec. 21. Buckley will wrap her rich vocals around two Rupert Holmes songs during the episode.

Thought you'd be interested in a few reviews of Buckley's different performances.

Iris Fanger's review in The Boston Herald of Music of the Night, Fanger has this to say about BB:
"She opens the show with Norma Desmond's anthem from "Sunset Boulevard" to sing the words of greetings to her fans as Desmond did, with the fervor of being right back in the spotlight where she belongs.
Since Buckley is the reigning diva, the emphasis in the 12-person revue of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs that played Boston last winter is on the heroines: Evita, Grizabella--think "Memory"--Mary Magdalene and Desmond.
Buckley has a voice that roams many places, from a high melody line that softens its tones into an echo to the resonance of the deep, emphatic phrases. There's no need of a story line to explain what type of a woman she portrays as Evita, or the desperation of Desmond's desire for a comeback. Without choreographed gestures or gimmicks beyond the constant costume changes, Buckley is a mesmerizing figure on stage."

In the Hollywood Reporter, Marilyn Moss writes the following about Critical Choices:
"In the wake of the media-blitzed 'If These Walls Could Talk,' this solid made-for-television movie--also dramatizing the issue of abortion--deserves not to be left behind. Its script may be a bit on the light side, but the performances are dynamic.
Betty Buckley is Dr. Margaret Ludlow, a gynecologist who runs a women's health clinic and regularly performs abortions. Her friend, Diana Johnson (Diana Scarwid), is an abortion-rights activist who defends her.
On the other side is Arlene Dickens (Pamela Reed), a religious anti-abortionist who preaches issues outside Ludlow's clinic.
Buckley, Reed and Scarwid are powerhouse performers in this timely drama. However, the story takes awhile to ignite and adds little to the abortion debate. Nonetheless, it's steady entertainment from director Claudia Weill. And, lastly, there was a review of Buckley's recent stint in the cabaret room at New York's Maxim's. The review appeared in Backstage and was written by John Hoglund in his "Bistro Bits" column.
"With one look Betty Buckley captivated the SRO crowd at Maxim's posh nitery, on Nov. 22, during her sold-out weekend run there. This newly reopened art nouveau citadel of elegance is rapidly becoming one of Manhattan's hottest niteries, in the same league as Cafe Carlyle and Rainbow & Stars. Buckley unabashedly urged, "New York needs more rooms like this! Spread the word--we now have another great room for singers."
Buckley displayed some awesome vocal magic when belting everything from familiar songs from Broadway ("Unexpected Song," "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "With One Look," and, of course, "Memory") to more contemporary, country-style material like Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Come On, Come On" and Amanda McBroom's beautiful "Dreamin'."
Famous for being an amalgam of shattering emotions and stunning vocals with her spine-tingling vibrato and thrilling belt, here, Buckley shined more on the softer, more vulnerable songs in the varied set. Perfect examples were her poignant, simple readings of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and a riveting "Never Never Land." Billy Mays' arrangements were well tailored, while on the jazzy side at times. To experience one of the great stage voices of our day in a nitery is a treat. Buckley is one of the only singers in a cabaret who can successfully get away with the overwrought, overdone "Meadowlark" and sing it like nobody else. She is also always true to herself, choosing just the right material right from the heart."

PATTI LuPONE
LuPone continues to thrill audiences with her portrayal of Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's Master Class. And, La LuPone will be a guest star at a Colm Wilkinson concert that will be recorded this Monday night to be aired sometime in the future on PBS. More information when it becomes available.

ELAINE PAIGE
There was a spotlight on Sunset Boulevard''s Elaine Paige in last weekend's Daily News. Here are some of Paige's choice quotes from Paula Kerr's article:

* about her height and that staircase:
"The first time I descended the staircase in 'Sunset,' you couldn't see me because of my height, [she's 4 feet 11], so Andrew [Lloyd Webber] arranged for the steps to be built up by 2 1/2 inches. He made my turbans taller, too. Those little touches make the character more regal and help give her Norma's wonderful imperious manner. Because Andrew wants to make things work better, he brings out the best in everyone."

* about Evita's change on her life:
"[Before Evita] I was living in a dreadful flat and had no money, but Andrew turned my life around, and I'll always be grateful. . .Playing Eva Peron will always remain special because it was the first time I created a major part in the West End. Also, because it was the start of my relationship with Andrew and Tim Rice. They were bringing about a whole new form of musical theater. It felt very different and innovative, and I felt very lucky to be involved."

* about New York City and Broadway:
". . .so to actually perform on Broadway in a proper theater is marvelous. It's something I very much enjoy. I absolutely love New York. I enjoy the buzz I get from New Yorkers--they are very energetic and positive and I think I get off on that because I'm quite lively.
As I'm so short, I find the tall buildings a bit claustrophobic, but I spend as much time as possible by the river and in the park so I get to see some sky."

* about love, life and work:
"There is a great deal more to life than love. My work is my life, it takes up a great deal of time. I would like a relationship again, I'm still hopeful, but I accept that I have a wonderful life. I word hard, then I find time to play hard. I'm very lucky."

-- By Andrew Gans
(My e-mail address is andrew_gans@playbill.com.)