DIVA TALK Hello diva lovers. Just a few items this week as we prepare for the Tony nominations on Monday...
Hope you were able to catch Betty B on WQEW this past Monday, when she was a guest on Stan Martin's cabaret program. Ms. B sang two songs from her "Songs of Innocence and Experience" program that she recently debuted at Maxim's in New York City. She treated the radio audience to a lively version of "Come Rain or Come Shine" that prompted host Martin to comment, "Wow! What a 'Come Rain or Come Shine' that is." Buckley then sang her Disney medley of "Just Around the Riverbend" and "Part of That World." When Martin asked BB where she gets such vocal power from, Buckley joked, "[from] yelling at my brothers out on the West Texas plains!"
Buckley spoke about her upcoming concerts at Disneyworld with the All Star Youth Orchestra and said she may return to the Bottom Line later in the year. When she returns from her Disney gig, she may again be a guest on Martin's radio program, this time as a co-host, playing some of her favorite recordings of various recording artists.
On Wednesday evening (May 7), our British diva makes her eagerly-awaited U.S. concert debut with the Boston Pops. Paige is set to sing many of her theatrical hits, including "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Memory," "As If We Never Said Goodbye," as well as a few songs from Piaf and perhaps a surprise or two. Paige will repeat her performance on May 12, and that evening will be taped for broadcast on PBS throughout the summer. Call Symphony Charge in Boston at (617) 266-1200 for information and/or reservations.
While in Boston, Paige will hold a press conference on the afternoon of the 7th for the major Boston newspapers and television programs. Be on the lookout for articles on Paige in the Boston Herald, Boston Globe and other papers. Paige will also greet her many fans in the Boston area on Friday, May 9th when she signs copies of her Encore CD at the HMV in Harvard Square. She is scheduled to meet her New England fans at 5:00 pm on Friday.
And, a reminder, that EP will appear on the TV Food Network on May 8 as a guest on "Dining Around."
The date has been set for the first night of the made-for-television movie The Odyssey in which Bernadette Peters will co-star. The TV film, which casts Peters as Circe, will begin its run on NBC on May 18 at 9 p.m. Others who star in this adaptation of Homer's classic include Armand Assante, Greta Scacchi and Vanessa Williams. And, don't forget, Peters will make two talk-show appearances in May. Peters will be a guest on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" on May 5, and she will also appear on "Fox After Breakfast" on May 15.
Anne Runolfsson, the standby for Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria, recently released her first solo album. Entitled At Sea, Runolfsson's recording is an eclectic mixture that includes theatre tunes, standards, pop hits and a few songs she has composed with friends as well. Runolfsson has a wonderfully agile voice with a remarkable range and an extremely high belt. Her beautiful version of the traditional tune, "The Water Is Wide," begins the recording, and it is extremely moving in its simplicity. She also scores with a somewhat plaintive reading of Ed Dixon's "Sailing" and a quick-tempo, belty version of "How Can I Be Sure." The recording's title song is one she co-wrote with composer David Friedman, and it explores, one assumes, her relationship with her father who was often "At Sea." It is one of my favorite tracks of the recording, as it is sung from the heart and has a driving force. Runolfsson delivers a great rendition of Maury Yeston's "New Words," a song about teaching a child (who is just learning to speak) words like "stars," "moon," but mainly "love."
A few months back I had the chance to see Runolfsson sing a few tunes (in concert with belter deluxe Alix Korey at Rainbow & Stars), and the song that brought down the house was her thrilling version of "Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead." I'm happy to report that Runolfsson closes her recording with this free-spirited version of The Wizard of Oz tune. At Sea is available from Lili Run Records.
If you've never heard Runolfsson sing and are contemplating buying the disc, be sure to tune in this Monday, May 5 to the Stan Martin Cabaret Show on WQEW (1560 AM). Runolfsson is scheduled to appear on the program at 6 p.m.
DEBRA BYRNE and SUNSET DOWN UNDER
I received word from Australia this week that the Melbourne production of Sunset Boulevard will close its doors in three months. The show is scheduled to reopen in Sydney (no official date yet), and it appears that Debra Byrne, who opened to raves, will not re-create her portrayal of Norma Desmond. Most likely Maria Mercedes, who performs the role twice a week, will portray the silent screen star. Next week, a profile on Mercedes.
PATTI LuPONE. . .
officially opens in the West End production ofMaster Class on May 6. The production, at the Queens Theatre (Shaftesbury Avenue) plays Monday through Saturday at 8pm and Saturday at 3pm. Tickets range from £7.50 - £30.00; call the box office at 0171-494-5040 for further information.
FLORENCE LACEY. . .
will take part in a six-week tour of the music of Jerry Herman this summer. The tour dates follow (tickets can be booked beginning in June for most summer playhouses):
July 21-August 2 at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT
August 4-16 at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, ME
August 18-30 at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, MA
KAREN AKERS. . .
continues her month-long stint at Rainbow & Stars through May 10, performing two shows nightly (Tuesday-Saturday) at 8:30 and 11:00pm. Call 212-632-5000 for reservations. I was unable to attend Tuesday night's performance as originally scheduled, but I will catch her show tonight and report on it in next week's column.
Diva to watch: There's some great singing going on at the Plymouth Theatre, especially from the Streisandesque Linda Eder, whose voice soars in songs like "Someone Like You" and "A New Life." More on Eder and her new album, It's Time, in the weeks to come.
To keep you thinking: Which diva will be making a rare talk-show appearance (on which she will sing) in the near future?
That's all for now. Happy diva-watching!
By Andrew Gans
e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org