DIVA TALK: A Chat With Mimi Hines & Lots More

DIVA TALK: A Chat With Mimi Hines & Lots More SPOTLIGHT: MIMI HINES
You may know her best as Mrs. Latimer on NBC's "Frasier," but Mimi Hines first burst onto the scene in 1958 when she and her partner, Phil Ford, performed on Jack Paar's "The Tonight Show." Hines possesses one of the more thrilling voices in the business, and her performance of "Till There Was You" on that 1958 telecast caused a sensation. After headlining in all the top clubs around the country, Hines conquered Broadway, when she replaced Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl and kept the show running for 18 months.

SPOTLIGHT: MIMI HINES
You may know her best as Mrs. Latimer on NBC's "Frasier," but Mimi Hines first burst onto the scene in 1958 when she and her partner, Phil Ford, performed on Jack Paar's "The Tonight Show." Hines possesses one of the more thrilling voices in the business, and her performance of "Till There Was You" on that 1958 telecast caused a sensation. After headlining in all the top clubs around the country, Hines conquered Broadway, when she replaced Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl and kept the show running for 18 months.


Hines has since starred in national tours of several Broadway musicals, recorded numerous successful albums, and was last on Broadway as the strict but loveable schoolteacher, Miss Lynch, in the Tommy Tune production of Grease!. And, now, she returns to the stage in the York Theatre Company's production of 70, Girls, 70, part of their successful "Musicals in Mufti" series. I recently spoke with the famed performer and asked her how she became involved with this production, which begins performances tonight and runs through the weekend at the Theatre at St. Peter's Church (Lexington Avenue and 54th Street). "My dear friend and attorney, Mark Sendroff," Hines explains, "also represents our director, Michael Leeds, who had previously directed me in the Drama League Benefit in honor of Jule Styne. [Leeds] thought I'd be a great Fritzi, so I packed my bags -- I live in Las Vegas -- and here I am!"


About the character she plays in this short-lived 1971 Kander and Ebb musical, Hines has this to say: "Fritzi's an off-the-wall lady who works in a coffee shop with her sister, played by the fabulous Charlotte Rae. We sing two hot numbers, 'Coffee in a Cardboard Cup' and 'Broadway, My Street.' We're having a great time together, as is everyone in the company." And, what a company: The celebrity-studded cast also boasts Jane Powell, Jane Connell, George S. Irving, Helen Gallagher and Marilyn Cooper. Despite an extremely short rehearsal period -- "I couldn't imagine doing a big musical like this with a week's rehearsal," Hines laughs, "but we're doing it!" -- this production promises to be one of the more exciting and perhaps the starriest evening of the season.


As for future plans, Hines informs me that on Monday she'll record a few demos for a new Broadway-bound musical. And, would the ebullient actress like to return to Broadway? "Always. My bags are always packed for that! 'Broadway, My Street!'" Let's hope the street and Hines meet again very soon.

BETTY BUCKLEY
As reported earlier, Betty Buckley will return to New York's Cafe Carlyle for a six-week run beginning February 15. Her newest recording, "Heart to Heart," (with pianist Kenny Werner) will be available for sale at the Carlyle during her run, and the KO Productions disc will hit stores around the country on March 23. Before that lengthy engagement, however, Buckley will perform in California on February 6 at the Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium. And, on February 7, the Tony-winning actress will read excerpts from her Grammy-nominated recording, The Diaries of Adam & Eve, at the Rizzoli Bookstore in San Francisco (117 Post Street). It's a rare chance to see Buckley up-close-and-personal, and Ms. B will also answer questions from the audience and sign copies of the audiobook. The public reading will take place at 6 PM. Plan to arrive early, as space is limited.

PATTI LuPONE
As Patti LuPone prepares for her upcoming concerts at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia (Feb. 2-14), there are two interviews with the former Evita star set to run in Au Courant News Magazine and Philadelphia Weekly. Both were conducted by arts writer Scott Mallinger, and excerpts from these uncensored interviews follow.


Scott Mallinger: Folks may be surprised that a big theatre star is doing a cabaret show. But I understand you were doing a cabaret show even during the run of Evita. Why?
LuPone: Well, the show was not received well at all, and I was desperate for people to know who I was. My character [Eva Peron] was not terribly likeable, and my applause used to dip after Mandy's curtain call! I thought, 'My God, my career is going to be ruined!' So I've been doing this since 1980. The last two concerts are more theatrical. I think there's a difference between cabaret and theatre, even if it resembles the cabaret form. This is more of a theatrical concert as well.


SM You know you're a star, but I hear you don't consider yourself a diva. What's the difference between a star and a diva?
LuPone: Well, first of all, the word is completely overused. It's tedious and tired. It used to have a majestic connotation. It's an opera word. It was reigned upon the great sopranos.
SM Like Maria Callas, who you portrayed in [Terrence McNally's] Master Class.
LuPone: She may have started to turn the tides on that word. Being a diva is about doing unnatural things with a natural instrument. It's about your phenomenal talent, not about your phenomenal attitude. Today, anybody can be a diva. I mean, Mariah Carey is a diva now! Look at VH1's Divas Live. It's ridiculous. And I do not mean to disrespect those singers. But a diva is an opera singer, a ballerina -- it's a high end of high art. Besides, I don't live like a diva. I live on a chicken farm. Divas don't live on the chicken farms.


SM "Matters of the Heart" seems like a rather intimate, personal album. Do these songs have special meaning for you?
LuPone: I think every song I sing has personal meaning to me, or I don't sing it. Even with Evita, I had to find ways to relate to the material. But for this album and show, I didn't want to sing a lot of show tunes. I wanted a show that was devoid of them . . . That's not what I started listening to as a kid. I started recalling music that I liked to play on the radio or record player, and [my collaborators and I] started playing music that we all liked.
SM I'm used to your sense of humor from other concerts, but I've never really heard your humor come across in song before. But your take on Fascinating Aida's "Shattered Illusions" is hysterical.
LuPone: I thought it was screamingly funny. And I thought if the evening was going to be about a contemporary look at love, its trials and tribulations, this song would fit perfectly.


SM What do you think of Forbidden Broadway, which has made fun of you in almost every single edition?
LuPone: I love it! I laugh my head off. I don't think they make fun as much as pay tribute, even if they are vicious. But can you imagine being on Broadway and not being parodied?


SM "Life Goes On" was a wonderful family show, but I hear you were bored doing it.
LuPone: Eventually the show became about Kelly, whom I adore, and Chad and the whole AIDS thing. The parents didn't have a thing to do. And if you're sitting in L.A., which was not my home, it gets boring. That's when I started working on my first concert. So it was a blessing that I was bored sitting in L.A.
SM Would you consider doing another television series?
LuPone: I am doing another! It's called "Falcone," and it stars Jason Gedrick, the guy who had sex with Ally McBeal in a car wash. He's very sexy. It's the same story as Donnie Brasco. It's a mid-season replacement for CBS.
SM So if it's successful, you'll stick with it for a while?
LuPone: I hope so! I like my part. I play an Italian Jew, by way of Spanish Harlem, who is an assistant district attorney. She's got glitz and glamour and sharkskin clothes, and she's sassy and tough. I hope I hang with this one!
SM And would you be taking any of this wardrobe home with you?
LuPone: I hope so. The guy who's dressing me is fantastic!


SM What was your most embarrassing moment on stage?
LuPone: Oh! Falling flat on my face in a pink dress in Women, Beware Women. I was making a big entrance as a duchess in a dress that was too big. David Ogden Stiers was the grand duke. And I fell flat on my face! The dress was pink and my face was red!
SM What was the high point of your career?
LuPone: I can't answer that. I love performing. When I give a good performance, that's a high point for me.
SM Being in the audience for your concert at Carnegie Hall was electrifying. What was it like on stage?
LuPone: It was great. We worked so hard on that show. We thought it was pretty funny, and we were there to give our all to the audience. And they were there to take it all. That's what theatre is about. Of course, I was getting over my nerves. I didn't want to blow it. But also a lot of new material, so it was also a lot of recalling.


SM I hear you recently visited Graceland. Elvis Presley was recently named the entertainer of the century. Do you agree that he was the Greatest Star of All?
LuPone: No! I dunno. I don't bother thinking about that. I'm not in show business that way! But I can tell you which kind of chicken I like over another!
SM What singers do you most admire?
LuPone: Edith Piaf. She's my fave.
SM Who inspires you?
LuPone: Edith Piaf. Joni Mitchell. Anybody who sings from their heart. I don't care if they sing on key or not, as long as they sing from their heart.
SM Is there a role would you love to play that you haven't yet played?
LuPone: No. I do what I've been asked to do. I don't obsess over these thing . . . I'm involved with my family; I'm not involved with show business that way. And I love just being home.

BERNADETTE PETERS
Bernadette Peters is happily back at the Marquis Theatre, singing "I Got Lost in His Arms" eight times a week in Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis Theatre. I spoke with Peters' personal press rep earlier this week, and she informed me that Peters has signed on to stay with the Irving Berlin musical through July 2000. So, for those of you who have yet to catch Peters' Tony-winning work in this classic musical, what are you waiting for?! Congratulations are also in order for Peters and the entire cast of AGYG -- the cast album for that musical was recently nominated for a Grammy Award. . . In other Peters news, Snow Days, the independent feature film in which she stars, was screened earlier this week at the Sundance Film Festival, and on Tuesday, February 8 BP will host the 1999 ASPCA National Humane Awards luncheon.

IN OTHER NEWS Congrats to Barbra Streisand who received the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award this past Sunday night at the annual Golden Globe Awards. I must admit, however, my favorite moment of the broadcast occurred when Jim Carrey spontaneously burst into song, singing an excerpt from "You Can't Get a Man With A Gun"! . . . Parade's Carolee Carmello will replace Debbie Gravitte -- who has a previous L.A. concert engagement -- for the final performance of All Girl Band this Monday, Jan. 31 at Joe's Pub. The wonderful evening of David (City of Angels, The Goodbye Girl) Zippel songs also stars Randy Graff and Adriane Lenox. Tickets may be purchased at the theatre's box office or through Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. For more information, call the Pub at (212) 539-8777 . . . Alison Fraser is currently recording a new album for the Original Cast Label. Entitled "Men in My Life," the CD will feature a previously unrecorded work by William Finn, a few original tunes by Christopher McGovern, a new solo version of Romance/Romance's "Romantic Notions," "Beautiful Land" from Roar of the Greasepaint. . . and several others. "Men in My Life" is scheduled for release some time in March; stay tuned for a definite date. . . . Swing! star Ann Hampton Callaway recently told Mary Campbell of The Associated Press that ``Twenty years later, my dream [of performing on Broadway] is coming true. The statuesque, sultry singer also spoke about her cabaret act, "Sibling Revelry," which she has performed around the country with Broadway belter Liz Callaway. "I wrote some of it. A lot of it is Broadway standards. It's a great deal of fun. Liz has a bright Broadway sound. She has been in Broadway shows, done Disney and animated features. When we blend, we breathe together. If I make a mistake in a lyric, she knows it before I do and sings the wrong lyric with me." . . . And, finally, here are Seth Rudetsky's upcoming guests for his weekly, live Broadway Talk show, "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox": Feb. 3 brings that dynamic Side Show duo, Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley. On February 10, Marie Christine star Audra McDonald will delight the audience, and on Feb. 17 Brian D'Arcy James and Alix Korey will share their amazing vocals. "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox" plays at Don't Tell Mama (West 46th Street) Thursdays at 6 PM, and proceeds benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. There is a $10 cover charge and a two-drink minimum; call (212) 757-0788 for reservations.

REMINDERS


BETTY BUCKLEY
Betty Buckley will return to the famed Cafe Carlyle for a five-week stint beginning Tuesday, February 15. Buckley will perform two shows nightly at the plush boite, at 8:45 PM and 10:45 PM, Tuesday through Saturday evenings. There is a $60 cover charge but no food/beverage minimum. The cabaret room of the Carlyle Hotel is located at 35 East 76th Street; for reservations, call (212) 744-1600. Be sure to make your reservations now. Seating is limited. A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
February 5, 2000 Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
February 6 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
February 8-9 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
February 11 Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
February 12 Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY
February 14 Keith Albee Theatre in Huntington, WV
February 15-March 17 at the Cafe Carlyle in New York, NY March 18 Folly Theatre in Kansas City, MO
March 19 Macomb Center for the Perf. Arts in Detroit, MI
April 24 Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance in Fort Worth, TX
April 26 Coronation 2000 in San Antonio, TX
May 4 Poway Center in Poway, CA
May 5-6 Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Cerritos, CA
May 7 Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
May 8 Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA

August 29 Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL


BARBARA COOK
Here is Cook's upcoming concert schedule:
Jan. 27-30 at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA (with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony); call (412) 392-4900

PATTI LUPONE
Several concert dates have been added to Patti LuPone's ever-growing schedule. What follows are La LuPone's confirmed concert appearances as of this week:


February 2-14 at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, PA; (215) 569 9700
February 18 at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts (Hayes Hall) in Naples, Florida; (941) 597-1900
February 19 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (Dreyfoos Hall) in West Palm Beach, FL; (561) 832-7469
May 4-6 in Sweeney Todd at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) New York, NY; (212) 875-5656
May 12 at the Union County Arts Center in Rahway, NJ; (732) 499-0441
May 13 at the Staller Center for the Arts in Stonybrook, NY; (516) 632 ARTS
June 8-11 at Theatrefest/Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ; (973) 655-5112

LINDA EDER
That belter of belters, Linda Eder, is currently preparing for her upcoming solo Carnegie Hall concert debut. Eder first dreamed of performing in the famed hall when she was just ten years old, after hearing Judy Garland's "Live from Carnegie Hall" album. A big fan of Garland's, Eder often includes a dedication to the late screen star in her concert acts. The former Jekyll & Hyde star's Carnegie performance promises to be an exciting night of thrilling vocals, with several surprises in store. Tickets for the concert, which will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 2, are still available by calling Carnegie charge at (212) 247-7800 or by visiting Ticketmaster locations.

MAUREEN McGOVERN
Already announced McGovern concert dates:


Feb. 11 & 12 "Valentine Pops" with the Baton Rouge Symphony at the Centroplex Theatre for Performing Arts in Baton Rouge, LA
Feb 18 & 19 at the La Mirada Theatre for Performing Arts in La Mirada, CA
March 5 & 6, 19 & 20 with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA
March 17 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern featuring pianist Lee Musiker" at Purchase College-SUNY in Purchase, NY
March 24 & 25 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern" with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Rose Hall Stage in Oklahoma City, OK

ALICE RIPLEY and EMILY SKINNER
That dynamic Side Show (and now The Dead) duo will join forces for a special concert this Valentine's Day, Monday, Feb. 14, at The Skylight Room at the Puck Building (295 Lafayette Street). The Tony nominated pair will perform songs from Side Show, their two albums ("Duets" and "Unsuspecting Hearts") and other tunes. A benefit for the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the evening will also include an open bar, hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction. Tickets range from $125 to $1,500. For more information contact GMHC at (212) 367-1514.

S.T.A.G.E. BENEFIT
The 16th annual S.T.A.G.E benefit -- on March 3, 4 and 5 at California State University's Luckman Theater -- will honor composers Charles Strouse, Arthur Schwartz and Stephen Schwartz and will feature tunes from Pippin, Godspell, Applause, Annie, Working, The Baker's Wife, Bandwagon, Children of Eden and more. The Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.) is the nation's longest-running AIDS benefit, and since its inception in 1984, the organization has raised millions for HIV/AIDS services and charities throughout Southern California. This year's benefit concerts will feature direction by David Galligan and musical direction by Ron Abel. Those scheduled to perform at this time include Jamie Anderson, Mitchell Anderson, Lucie Arnaz, Cliff Bemis, Polly Bergen, Alan Campbell, Mary Jo Catlett, Carole Cook, Tyne Daly, Clifton Davis, Barbara Deutsch, Jill Eikenberry, Bonnie Franklin, Penny Fuller, Betty Garrett, Sharon Gless, Jason Graae, Bill Hutton, William Katt, Lauren Kennedy, Stephanie Kramer, Dale Kristien, Lee Lessack, Andrea Martin, Pamela Myers, Linda Michele, Robert Morse, Deborah Nishimura, Linda Purl, Joan Ryan, Katie Sagal, Christopher Seiber, Tami Tappen, Michael Tucker with more names to come! Call (323) 665-0857 to order tickets by phone or visit www.stagela.com to order on-line.

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching!

By Andrew Gans