DIVA TALK: A Very Betty Season & More

DIVA TALK: A Very Betty Season & More Hello, diva lovers! Well, the weekend is here at last, and I’m looking forward to listening to Varese Sarabande’s “The Stephen Schwartz Album,” which I just received in today’s mail. It’s an especially exciting release because it boasts some of my newer favorites: Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner, Marin Mazzie, Kristin Chenoweth as well as Susan Egan, Christiane Noll, Sara Ramirez plus Brian d’Arcy James and many others. I’ll have a full report for next Friday’s column (the CD will be in stores August 24), but, for now, enjoy these diva items . . .

Hello, diva lovers! Well, the weekend is here at last, and I’m looking forward to listening to Varese Sarabande’s “The Stephen Schwartz Album,” which I just received in today’s mail. It’s an especially exciting release because it boasts some of my newer favorites: Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner, Marin Mazzie, Kristin Chenoweth as well as Susan Egan, Christiane Noll, Sara Ramirez plus Brian d’Arcy James and many others. I’ll have a full report for next Friday’s column (the CD will be in stores August 24), but, for now, enjoy these diva items . . .

BETTY BUCKLEY

It looks like it will be another busy fall for the always-in-demand Tony winner Betty Buckley. On Sept. 9 Ms. B begins previews in the Hartford Stage Company’s production of Tennessee Williams’s Camino Real. Buckley, who will portray Camille, will be joined onstage by James Colby as Kilroy, and Hartford’s artistic director, Michael Wilson, will stage what is perhaps Williams’ most controversial and ambitious work. The play, which was seen on Broadway in 1953, is set to run through October 10; for additional information, call (860) 527-5151.

Also, a host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi-talented actress and singer. Buckley’s confirmed concert appearances through May 2000 follow. Be sure to check the Betty Buckley website -- in its home on Playbill On-line -- for additional updates throughout the year.

Aug. 20, 1999: Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV
Sept. 24: Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, PA
Oct. 2: South Street Theater Company in Morristown, NJ
Oct. 9: Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY
Oct. 23: Foellinger Great Hall in Urbana, IL
Oct. 24: Sangamon State University Aud. in Springfield, IL
Oct. 27: Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, NY (Benefit dinner)
Nov. 6: State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
Nov. 12: Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE
Nov. 14: Music Hall in Cincinnati, OH
Dec. 13-14: St. Barth’s Church in New York, NY
Dec. 17: City Center in Coral Springs, FL
Dec. 18: Atlantic University Aud. in Boca Raton, FL
Dec. 31: Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT
Feb. 5, 2000: Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
Feb. 6: Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
Feb. 8-9: Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
Feb. 11: Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
Feb. 12: Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY
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 And, don’t forget, on Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 9:30 PM, PBS stations in the metropolitan area will begin airing “Yours for a Song: The Women of Tin Pan Alley,” which features Buckley’s wonderful interpretations of classic tunes.

BERNADETTE PETERS

Well, I’m usually pretty good at programming my VCR, but every once in a while I set it for “p.m.” instead of “a.m.” So, if like me, you happened to accidentally miss Bernadette Peters’ recent "Regis & Kathie Lee" appearance, I thought you might enjoy reading part of the show’s transcript that was sent to me by a loyal diva watcher. . .

Regis Philbin: And now you got the one-woman concert coming up on PBS.
Bernadette Peters: PBS, yes, August 9th. It was a concert that I had originally done at Carnegie Hall, for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center, and then did it in London at the Royal Festival Hall, and we taped it for PBS.
Kathie Lee Gifford: I have that. That’s the one on record, right?
Peters: It’s on record.
Gifford: Yeah, I have the record. Yeah, it’s a wonderful record.
Peters: So, it’s going to be on PBS.
Gifford: (Singing) “You could drive a person crazy.”
Peters: That’s right!
Gifford: That’s a cute song.
Peters: You’re going to do some Sondheim.
Gifford: Not like you.
Peters: Every Tuesday night you’re going to do it. I’m plugging her.
Gifford: No, I want to talk to you long before that happens because I need a little help. It’s a wonderful record. I didn’t realize it was the same concert.
Peters: Same concert, but now people get to watch it at the same time.
Philbin: So, is there any difference appearing in Carnegie Hall as opposed to the hall in London?
Peters: Well, actually, it wasn’t too much different, which is nice to be able to say. I was so surprised that the people in London knew who I was and were there to cheer me on.
Gifford: But they love theatre in London.
Peters: They love theatre.
Gifford: And, so, you know, they . . .
Peters: They’re very aware of it, but I never performed there except for doing “Hey, Mr. Producer,” for Cameron Mackintosh, which was a television show, in June, and then I came back in July.
Philbin: But they still knew who you were.
Gifford: But you’re like our -- their Elaine Paige is to our audiences. You know, this brilliant British actress who comes over.
Peters: Thank you.
Philbin: But then you’re the First Lady of American musical theater.
Peters: As long as you say so.
Gifford: That’s what they say.
Philbin: That’s what we’re reading about. Can you believe it? Little Bernadette Peters, the First Lady of American musical theater.
Peters: You hang around long enough, you know.
Gifford: You hang around long enough and do enough great work and finally somebody is going to take notice.
Peters: Well, thank you . . .

IN OTHER NEWS: Two-time Emmy winner Sharon Gless will make her solo singing debut this Monday, Aug. 2 at an AIDS benefit for the Richmond Ermet/AIDS Foundation (R/EAF), an organization that supports several service groups in the San Francisco area. Entitled "Help Is on the Way V: A Salute to Sondheim" and produced by the Men’s Associated Exchange (MAX), the evening will be held at the Palace of Fine Arts. Joely Fisher, Meg Mackay, Davis Gaines and Carole Cook are also among the star-studded line-up, but we hear that Gless’ performance of the Sondheim classic, “Send in the Clowns,” may be the show’s most moving moment. For more information about R/EAF, call (415) 931-2515. Playbill Editor Judy Samelson is scheduled to attend the sold-out performance and will provide full details for next week's Diva Talk . . . Barbra Streisand’s 55th (!) solo recording, “A Love Like Ours” (Columbia Records), is due in stores in October. The 14-track recording, which features all-new performances, is a love-themed collection that includes such titles as “Isn’t It a Pity?,” “I’ve Dreamed of You,” “If You Ever Leave Me” (a duet with Vince Gill), “Just One Lifetime,” “Love Like Ours,” “The Island,” “We Must Be Loving Right,” “I’ve Dreamed of You,” plus a new version of an early Streisand standard, Bob Merrill and Jule Styne’s “The Music That Makes Me Dance.” . . . The current Fantine of Les Miz, Alice Ripley, will perform with her band, Uncle Daddy, at Gaslight on Sunday, Aug. 8 at 10 PM Gaslight is located at 400 West 14th Street (at 9th Ave.). There is a $5 cover, and reservations may be made by calling (212) 807-8444 . . . PBS will rebroadcast “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday Celebration” on Friday, Aug. 6 on WNET/13 in New York from 8:30 to 10:30 PM. The glittering salute to the Tony-winning composer features show-stopping performances from Elaine Paige, Sarah Brightman, Michael Ball, Glenn Close and several other performers who have appeared in his musicals throughout the past three decades . . . Speaking of PBS, the Grammy-nominated vocalist Maureen McGovern will make an appearance on an upcoming program that celebrates the music and influence of the band The Four Freshman. Entitled “The Four Freshman: 50 Years Fresh!” the TV special will include many of the group’s signature tunes, including “It’s a Blue World” and “Day By Day,” and McGovern will join the quartet for a pair of numbers. The hour long program will air during PBS’ August pledge drive. Check local listings for dates and times . . . A new club called The Black Orchid has recently opened in Chicago. Their headliners for the month of August include jazz great Dianne Schuur, cabaret sensation and upcoming Swing! star Ann Hampton Callaway and Tony winner Jennifer Holliday. Call (312) 944-2200 for dates and times . . . London’s hottest cabaret room, Pizza in the Park, plays host to many other favorites this fall, including Marion Montgomery, Nov. 1-Nov. 20, and Cleo Laine from Nov. 29 through Dec. 4.

QUOTABLE QUOTES

Damian J. Holbrook’s TV Guide review of the PBS special, BERNADETTE PETERS in Concert:
“Broadway’s first lady is in top form in this concert showcasing her wide range and ample talents. Those plunging necklines don’t hurt, either. Mercifully free of big dance numbers and “special guests,” Peters engages the crowd with tales and tunes from her career, including an act devoted to the music of her friend Stephen Sondheim. She’s in her element. As she leads into ‘Children Will Listen’ from ‘Into the Woods,’ it’s clear that the audience will listen, too. My score: 9 [out of 10]”

Peter Leavy’s review (in the August issue of Cabaret Scenes) of MAUREEN MCGOVERN’s recent cabaret act at the Algonquin Hotel:
“Almost from the moment this striking, red-haired performer edged through the tables at the Algonquin’s Oak Room, took up the mike and sang Comden-Green-Bernstein’s ‘Lucky To Be Me,’ there was little doubt the audience was in the hands -- completely in the hands -- of a masterful entertainer. By the time she’d followed her opener with ‘Nice and Easy’ and turned up the heat with ‘Fever,’ Maureen McGovern owned the room and everyone in it . . . But, whatever the source of her talent, she possesses a chameleon-like persona that alters from song to song. In some, she’s wide eyed and singing to the nearby tables. In another, she’s lost in a reverie, singing the entire song with her eyes closed and her head titled slightly up. With Sondheim’s ‘Could I Leave You?’ (which Maureen mused might have been written today about a well-known Washington couple), she’s a woman full of energy, wit and venom . . .” (McGovern will be back at the Algonquin in the fall of 2000.)

In an August Playbill article by Ellis Nassour, After the Fair’s MICHELLE PAWK has this to say about her role:
“Jennifer [Piech] said there was a role in a musical she’d be doing that had my name on it. There aren’t a lot of parts for a woman of a certain age. I found Edith’s journey into uncharted territory, at the breaking point in her marriage, haunting.”

In the current subscription issue of Playbill, CAROLEE CARMELLO had this to say to writer Patrick Pacheco about her role in the third version of The Scarlet Pimpernel:
“Isn’t it wild? To reinvent a show that has been running this long -- it’s either very brave or really stupid. I’m hoping that it’s wonderfully brave.”

In his recent review of AUDRA McDONALD’s televised Boston Pops performance, critic David Patrick Stearns had this to say:
“. . .Though McDonald has hit bull’s-eyes with her stage performances in Carousel, Master Class and Ragtime, only in the past year has she developed her concert-artist persona. It may be her best incarnation yet. Some admirers have emerged from McDonald concerts mumbling ‘not since Judy’ (referring to Garland), and it’s a revealing comparison, particularly when McDonald sings the song exclusively associated with Garland, ‘The Man That Got Away.’ McDonald’s girl-next-door approachability, operatic vocal elegance and lack of apparent neuroses automatically make her a presence distinct from Garland. But McDonald has Garland’s depth and texture of emotion, plus a sense of intimacy that gives her admirers a deep sense of loyalty, even ownership . . .” REMINDERS

BETTY BUCKLEY

During the first week of November, TV’s Bravo Channel will celebrate Broadway with a seven-day series entitled “Broadway on Bravo.” First up is the airing of “Bravo Profiles: Betty Buckley,” an insightful documentary that includes an interview with the Tony Award-winning actress as well as remarks from actors F. Murray Abraham and Ellen Burstyn, producers Rodger Hess and Kevin Duncan and writers Peter Stone and Stephen Schwartz. Footage from Buckley’s recent sold-out Bottom Line concert -- featuring such Buckley standards as “Memory” and “With One Look”-- is also included. The program about Ms. B will air Nov. 1 at 10 PM.

PATTI LuPONE

LuPone’s third solo disc, “Matters of the Heart,” will be released on Sept. 21 on the Varese Sarabande label. Also, LuPone will join opera star Bryn Terfel for a concert version of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. The performers will be backed by the New York Philharmonic, and the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim’s 70th birthday.

KAREN MASON

Mason’s Christmas album, simply titled “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” will be available this fall. The busy chanteuse will again join Greg Edelman for a European tour of Broadway music that will play Stockholm (Sept. 1-4); Birmingham, England (Sept. 5); and the Barbican in London (Sept. 8). . . Also, on Sept. 25 Mason will perform in concert to benefit Dallas Children’s Theatre Fairmont Hotel, Dallas.

MAUREEN McGOVERN

Through the end of the month, McGovern will appear in a production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at the Sundance Summer Theatre in Sundance, Utah. Other concert dates follow:


Aug. 14: Maureen McGovern and the Duke Ellington Orchestra (100th Anniversary Salute: The Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove, NJ
Aug. 19-20: Midway Stage at 1776: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Aug. 23: Kenley Centennial Amphitheater in Layton, Utah
Aug. 24: SCERA Amphitheater in Orem, Utah
Sept. 5-6: Jerry Lewis Telethon (check local listings)

BERNADETTE PETERS

Bernadette Peters in Concert, the thrilling performance taped live in London, will begin airing on PBS stations around the country on August 7.

DIVAS AT THE DONMAR

Patti LuPone is the first diva at the Donmar Warehouse, performing her new concert act, “Matters of the Heart,” from Aug. 9 through Aug. 21. Audra McDonald’s reign runs from Aug. 23 to Aug. 28, and Sam Brown will open on Aug. 31 and close September 4. The performance schedule is Monday through Saturday at 8pm with matinees on Saturday at 4pm. Tickets go on sale Monday, May 17; call 011 44 171 637 9041 for reservations.

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

by Andrew Gans
e-mail me at agans@playbill.com