Hello, diva lovers. I’d like to dedicate this week’s column to the memory of Gwen Verdon, who passed away earlier this week in Vermont. A four-time Tony winner for her work in Can-Can, Damn Yankees, New Girl in Town and Redhead, Verdon also appeared on Broadway in Alive and Kicking, Sweet Charity and Chicago and will be forever linked with one of Broadway’s greatest director/choreographers, her husband, the late Bob Fosse. A triple-threat star of both the stage and screen, Verdon was a legend if there ever was one, and, thankfully, some of that legendary work was preserved on film. If you’ve never seen her wonderful turn as Lola in Damn Yankees, do yourself a favor and rent the movie this weekend. Several of Verdon’s other film and TV appearances follow:
Walking Across Egypt (2000) .... Alora
Best Friends for Life (1998) (TV)
Marvin's Room (1996) .... Ruth
In Cold Blood (1996) (TV) .... Sadie Truitt Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994) (TV) .... Etta Pell
Alice (1990) .... Alice's Mother
Cocoon: The Return (1988) .... Bess McCarthy/Bess Selwyn
Nadine (1987) .... Vera
Cocoon (1985) .... Bess McCarthy
The Cotton Club (1984) .... Tish Dwyer
Sanford Meisner: The American Theatre's Best Kept Secret (1984) .... Herself
The Jerk, Too (1984) (TV)
Legs (1983) (TV) .... Maureen Comly
"All My Children" (1970) TV Series .... Judith Kingley Sawyer (1982)
Damn Yankees! (1958) .... Lola
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes (1955) (uncredited) .... Specialty Dancer
The Farmer Takes a Wife (1953) .... Abigail
The I Don't Care Girl (1953) (as Gwyneth Verdon) .... Specialty Dancer
The Mississippi Gambler (1953) (uncredited) .... Voodoo dancer
Dreamboat (1952) (uncredited) .... Girl in commercial
The Merry Widow (1952) (uncredited) .... Specialty Dancer
Meet Me After the Show (1951) .... Herself (dancer)
On the Riviera (1951) (as Gwyneth Verdon) .... Specialty Dancer
David and Bathsheba (1951) .... Specialty dancer
(Verdon film credits taken from IMDb Website; go to http://us.imdb.com/Name?Verdon,+Gwen)
Last on Broadway as Emma Goldman in Ragtime, Tony winner Judy Kaye will bring her new cabaret act, Solo, to the intimate stage of Arci’s Place for four weeks beginning Nov. 7. Kaye, who possesses one of the more spectacular vocal ranges, first shot to fame when she replaced the late Madeline Kahn as Lily Garland in On the Twentieth Century, earning a Theatre World Award and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for her performance. She has also appeared in several operas, but theatregoers perhaps know her best for her work as opera diva Carlotta in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. What follows is a brief conversation I recently had with the multi-talented performer . . . BTW, Kaye will play Tuesday through Thursdays at 9 PM and Friday and Saturday nights at 8:30 and 11 PM at Arci’s (450 Park Avenue South). There is a $30 cover charge and a $15 food/drink minimum; call (212) 532-4370 for reservations.
Q I know you've performed solo shows before, but was wondering if this is your first extended cabaret run in New York. If it isn't, what other venues have you played?
Kaye I played Reno Sweeney's first when I was doing On the Twentieth Century. The curtain would ring down, and I would head to the club wearing a version of my platinum blonde wig and silk peignoir outfit, to sing some more. It was quite exciting and exhausting. I returned to Reno's (a wonderful venue) for another run. I then took the show to L.A., The Backlot, when 20th played the Music Center. Later I played Freddy's. There was a brief stop at the Russian Tea Room, but, really, it's been quite awhile since I played to a cabaret audience. I'm really looking forward to it!
Q Tell me a bit about your upcoming show. Is there a theme or a particular composer you're highlighting?
Kaye No, I'm not highlighting any particular composer. I'm singing wonderful music written by composers current and past. All music I love and want to share. I have an emotional connection to each and every song in the set. [Some of the songs will include “Taking a Chance On Love,” “You & I” and “You’ll Never Know.”]
Q How do you go about choosing songs for a show?
Kaye As I said, songs need to have an emotional pull for me to choose them in a situation like this. I spend most of my time singing music other people ask me to sing. And, I love helping a composer to realize his or her vision. That's a real thrill for me. But, in a situation like this, I get to pick all the songs myself. The time onstage is very precious. I want it all to count. And, the show needs to hang together. If I had my druthers, I'd just stand there and sing every great song that pops into my head. So, I need a terrific director and music director to help edit me and shape this evening into a whole. I think I have that in David Green and Michael Horsley.
Q A lot of us expected Ragtime to run, if not as long as Cats, then for quite awhile. Was it disappointing when the epic show ended? How was your experience in that musical?
Kaye Ragtime was an amazing, exhilarating, frustrating experience. We had so much show there. And, it was terribly sad for all of us when it closed. But, the backstage drama was tough on everyone, from beginning to end. The show was brilliant and deserved better. It should have run a long time. And, if we had only been paying our own bills, it would have, I believe. But, Ragtime was paying all of Livent's bills. And, that was too much to ask. I shall always feel honored to have been part of Ragtime.
Q I've always been impressed with the range of your instrument -- you can belt impressively and your soprano seems effortless. How do you keep your voice so strong? What's your daily regimen for vocal health? Do you work with a vocal coach at all?
Kaye Thank you for your kind words about my vocal gifts, and they are gifts. I try to stay healthy. I eat properly. I work out at a gym. Try to get ample rest. I vocalize when I feel I need it. I try not to create problems where none exist. But, I haven't studied since I was in college at UCLA, awhile back.
Q You released two solo albums for Varese Sarabande. One was particularly apt for this column, “Diva By Diva.” Tell me how that disc came about.
Kaye I was approached by Bruce Kimmel whom I had known many moons ago in California. He invited me to do a recording. We came up with a concept -- for example, celebrating the ladies of the musical theatre, and proceeded. I picked a bunch of great songs I wanted to sing. Bruce gave his fabulous input. And, most importantly, introduced me to Patrick Brady, a truly brilliant arranger and musician, who made total magic. I would follow him anywhere!
Q I was wondering if you're working on any new recordings.
Kaye I'm contemplating some ideas, yes.
Q Tell me a little about the demands of working in musical theatre vs. cabaret. What are some of the similarities and differences?
Kaye The theatre is hard, wonderful, exhilarating work. Cabaret is more intimate, obviously, but also can be fulfilling. It's all about creating stories and telling them with truth and passion. And, it's all about great material. We who are interpreters cannot live without that.
Q Do you get to see much theatre? What has impressed you lately?
Kaye I'm afraid that I'm way behind in my theatre attendance. But, just the other day, I got to see Chita in Anything Goes at Paper Mill. It was a terrific production. Lee Roy Reams and Michael Lichtefeld staged a thoroughly engaging, finely tuned production. Bruce Adler was hysterical. George Dvorsky was adorable and sang like a god. Patrick Quinn was perfect. And, Chita was so wonderful! She is truly a force of nature. She makes it all look so easy. But, of course, it's not. She's the product of total commitment and complete dedication to her art. Could any of us ever hope to be all she is to the American Theatre!
Q What would you like to see happen for Judy Kaye in the year to come?
Kaye What do I want? I want a great new Broadway show! I want a role I can sink my fangs into. I want to go to the theatre every night and work my heart out in a great piece of theatre that uses everything I have trained myself for, have lived my life for.
MY FAVORITE BROADWAY
I wasn’t able to catch this year’s My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs, which was held this past Monday night at City Center, but I thought you would be interested in reading the song list for the evening, which included a very brief bit of singing by the hostess of the evening, Julie Andrews. MFB: The Love Songs, which was presented by Target Stores, was taped for future PBS broadcast, and a portion of the proceeds benefited Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
“Love Is Sweeping the Country” (Adam Pascal, Brent Spiner)
“Til There Was You” (Rebecca Luker)
“Lover” (Peter Gallagher)
“So in Love” (Marin Mazzie)
“The Lullaby of Broadway” (Tom Wopat & Company)
“Sue Me” (Nathan Lane, Michael McElroy, Darius DeHaas and Dwayne Clark)
“He Touched Me” (Heather Headley)
Medley (performed by Three Mo’ Tenors -- Thomas Young, Victor Trent Cook and Roderick Dixon): “La Donna e Mobile” (from Rigoletto), “Let the Good Times Roll” and “Standing on the Corner”
“Gigi” (Ron Raines)
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (Jeffry Denman & Joan Hess)
“When Did I Fall in Love” (Marin Mazzie)
“An English Teacher” & “Rosie” (Chita Rivera & Brent Spiner)
“If Ever I Would Leave You” (Robert Goulet)
Medley (performed by Linda Eder): “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?”
“Music of the Night” (Michael Crawford)
“Seasons of Love” (Adam Pascal & Broadway Inspirational Voices)
“Elaborate Lives” (Adam Pascal & Heather Headley)
“Every Single Day” (Barry Manilow)
“Too Late Now” (Rebecca Luker)
“Sometimes a Day Goes By” (Peter Gallagher)
“Not a Day Goes By” (Marin Mazzie)
“I’m a Brass Band” (Bebe Neuwirth & Company)
“This Nearly Was Mine” (Robert Goulet)
“Brush Up Your Shakespeare” (Michael McCormick & Michael Mulheren)
“How Lucky Can You Get” (Chita Rivera)
“I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” (Michael Crawford & Julie Andrews)
IN OTHER NEWS Next weekend, Oct. 27-29, the York Theatre Company will present a revival of Hallelujah, Baby! as part of its “Musicals in Mufti” series. The production will star Thursday Farrar, Heather Headley’s former understudy in AIDA, who I hear is just terrific. Also appearing in Baby! will be Carol Woods, who is set to star in the upcoming Follies revival for the Roundabout Theatre Company. The “Musicals in Mufti” production will be directed by original Hallelujah, Baby! cast member, Hope Clark; call (212) 935-5820 for ticket information . . . She was a hugely popular vocalist in the late seventies and early eighties, but then Jane Olivor seemed to disappear. Fans of the talented songstress will be happy to learn that on Nov. 7, Olivor will release her first studio album in 20 years, “Love Decides.” The disc, which will be released on the Varese Sarabande label, includes such songs as Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken’s “Colors of the Wind” and David Friedman’s “I’ll Be Here With You.” . . . Last week, I wrote an item about a new recording from up-n coming cabaret singer, Lisa Viggiano. I’ve continued to enjoy the disc throughout the week -- especially a humorous and touching tune, “Virgil and Me” -- and thought cabaret fans would like to know that her debut disc, “One Private Moment,” will also be available from Amazon beginning tomorrow . . . Barbara Cook’s upcoming show at Feinstein’s at The Regency will be based on Stephen Sondheim’s list, “Songs I Wish I’d Written” (from The New York Times Magazine, 3/12/00). Cook’s program will also include songs that Sondheim actually did write, so it should be quite an evening!
U.S. Concert Schedule:
Oct. 20 in Las Vegas, NV at the MGM Grand
Oct. 21 in Santa Barbara, CA at the Santa Barbara Bowl
Oct. 22 in San Diego, CA at the SDSU Open Air Theatre
Oct. 24 in Los Angeles, CA at the Universal Amphitheatre
Oct. 26 in Sacramento, CA at the Arco Arena
Oct. 27 in San Jose, CA at the San Jose Arena
Oct. 29 in Portland, OR at the Rose Garden
Oct. 31 in Seattle, WA at the Paramount/Key Arena
Nov. 5 in Spokane, WA at the Arena
Nov. 7 in Salt Lake City, UT at the Delta Center
Nov. 8 in Denver, CO at the Magness Arena
Nov. 11 in Chicago, IL at the Arie Crown
Nov. 13 in St. Louis, MO
Nov. 14 in Grand Rapids, MI at the Van Andel Arena
Nov. 15 in Milwaukee, WI at the Riverside Theatre
Oct. 22 Helen Hayes Theatre in New York, NY (1 Song as part of Gala Benefit for the Theatre)
Oct. 26 Don’t Tell Mama in New York, NY (Special Guest for “Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Chatterbox”)
Oct. 28 Univ. of Texas Cowan Fine & Perf. Arts Center in Tyler, TX
Nov. 4 The American Theater in St. Louis, MO (Fund Raiser for the Rep Theater of St. Louis)
Nov. 10 & 11 University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT
Nov. 19 Symphony Hall in Boston, MA (Performing with Michael Feinstein)
Nov. 27 The Millennium Broadway and Hudson Theater in New York, NY (Presenting Award at the “Music Has Power” Awards)
Dec. 6 Seminar Center in New York, NY (6:30-9 PM)
Dec. 31 The Cuillo Center for the Arts in West Palm Beach, FL
Jan. 5, 2001 Koger Center for the Arts (Univ. of SC) in Columbia, SC
Jan. 6 Georgia Institute of Technology Center for the Arts in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 19-29 Florida Condo Tour in Florida
March 3 Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
May 12 College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
June 17 Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA
Cook’s concert itinerary follows:
Oct. 20 & 21 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC
Oct. 24 through Nov. 25 at Feinstein’s at The Regency in New York, NY
Nov. 1 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY (“The Songs of Alan Jay Lerner” with June LeBell, Peter Howard and others)
Dec. 5 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ
Jan. 12, 2001 at Alice Tully Hall in New York, NY (“The Music of Arthur Schwartz” with Maureen McGovern, John Pizzarelli and more)
Feb. 2 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Feb. 23 and 24 with Michael Feinstein at the Cerritos Center for the Perf. Arts in Cerritos, CA
Eder in concert:
Oct. 29 at Symphony Hall in Boston, Ma. (617) 266-1492
Nov. 3 at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA (215) 572-7650
Nov. 17 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ; call (732) 246-SHOW
Nov. 18 at the State Theatre in Easton, PA; call (610) 252-3132
Nov. 19 at the Strand-Capitol Theatre in York, Penn.
Dec. 6 at the Ordway Center for the Perf. Arts in St. Paul, MN (651) 224 4222
Jan. 12 & 13, 2001 in Charlotte, NC at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; (704) 372-1000
Jan. 20, 2001 with the Boca Pops at Florida Atlantic Univ in Boca Raton, FL; go to: www.bocapops.org
Jan. 21 in Naples, FL at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts; (941) 597 1900
Feb. 1 & 2 in Phoenix, AZ at the Orpheum Theatre
Feb. 3 at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek, CO; (888) 920 2787
Feb. 15-17 in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; (202) 467-4600
Feb. 23 at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, NY; call (516) 334 0800
Feb. 24 at the Community Theatre in Morristown, NJ; (973) 539-8008
March 8 in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd Hall; (727) 791-7400
March 9 in Sarasota, FL at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; www.vanwezel.org
March 10 in Melbourne, FL at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts; (407) 242-2219
May 31-June 3 in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392-4900
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:
Now through Dec. 17 (“Matters of the Heart”; Sunday and Monday evenings only) at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY; (212) 239-6200
Nov. 3 ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda") with the Louisville Symphony Orchestra in Louisville, Kentucky (502) 583-4555
April 8 ("Matters Of The Heart") at Duke University’s Page Auditorium in Durham, North Carolina; (919) 684-4444
Jan. 5-7, 2001 at the Morton J. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX (214) 871-4000
What follows is Mason’s up-to-date performance schedule:
Nov. 1-12 Appearance at The Plush Room in San Francisco’s York Hotel; (415) 885-2800
Nov. 5 Special appearance at MaraLago in Palm Beach, FL
Dec. 6-10 Karen performs her Christmas Show at Davenports in Chicago, IL (773) 278-1830
Dec. 15-17, 22-23 Karen celebrates Christmas with conductor John McDaniel and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, MO
March 17 Appearance at 92nd Street Y with Craig Carnelia in New York, NY
Audra McDonald’s most recent concert listing follows:
Oct. 21 in Los Angeles, CA at UCLA’s Royce Hall
Oct. 22 in San Diego, CA (venue to be announced)
Oct. 28 in Fort Worth, TX (venue to be announced)
Oct. 23 Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation Benefit Concert with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Dec. 8-11 Holiday concert with the Oregon Symphony in Portland, OR
Dec. 12 Holiday concert with the Oregon Symphony in Salem, OR
Former star of Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde, Christiane Noll will be hitting the concert circuit, performing throughout the USA. Noll will join other Broadway names in this concert tour, backed by some of the world’s greatest orchestras. Her complete schedule follows:
Dec. 2 with Doug LaBrecque and Michael Maguire and the New London Symphony in New London, CT
Dec. 7-17 The Magic of Christmas with the Portland Symphony in Portland, ME; (207) 842-0800
The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
Jan. 5, 2001 at PAC in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with symphony)
Jan. 11 at the Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee
Jan. 13 at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater
March 29 at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, NY
April 6 at the Bass Perf. Hall in Fort Worth, TX (with symphony)
April 7-8 at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX
April 19 at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto (with symphony)
April 28 at the Pasquerilla PAC in Johnstown, PA
May 11-12 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN (with symphony)
May 18-20 at the Myerson Hall in Dallas, TX (with symphony)
Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!
By Andrew Gans