DIVA TALK AT SEA: The Beat Goes On

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK AT SEA: The Beat Goes On
 
Diva Talk hits the sea this week as the Norwegian Dawn travels from New York City to Nova Scotia and Massachusetts with a host of Broadway performers.

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Day Five: Thursday, July 14

On my last trip to Provincetown (in 2000), my ex drove as I took care of his two dogs, one of which vomited about every half-hour of the car ride. Since I wasn't behind the wheel, it was my job to clean up after the pooch. Ahhh, romance. Well, I have to say that the trip to Provincetown five years later was markedly better. In fact, it was smooth sailing as the Norwegian Dawn made its way from Boston to Provincetown, arriving in what is Rosie O'Donnell's "favorite gay destination" around 7 AM this morning.

Zeke (my friend who is traveling with me) and I decided to let ourselves sleep a bit longer today and didn't make our way off the ship until 10:30 AM. Tenders (smaller boats that butt up to the large cruise ship) took us to Provincetown, where we enjoyed walking down Commercial Street, which houses dozens of cute shops. We ate at the Lobster Pub, bought a few gifts for friends and returned to the Norwegian Dawn around 4 PM so we could exercise before the night's many activities.

The entertainment began at 8:30 PM with Broadway favorite Liz Callaway, the Tony-nominated actress whose Main Stem credits include Merrily We Roll Along, Baby, Cats, Miss Saigon and, most recently, The Look of Love. Callaway, who boasts one of the clearest, purest voices in the business, chose to perform her evening of sixties songs for the audience in the ship's Spinnaker Lounge. The singing actress began her evening with a medley of "The Beat Goes On" and "Feelin' Groovy." Callaway, who is traveling on the cruise with her son Nicholas, explained, "It's very difficult choosing songs [from the sixties]. Everyone has very strong feelings about what the best songs are. Then a thought occurred to me, 'It's my party, and I'll sing what I want to!'" She then launched into a great rendition of "You Don't Own Me." Among the other sixties tunes she offered were Hair's "Frank Mills"; "Leavin' on a Jet Plane"; Promises, Promises' "Half as Big as Life"; "Up, Up and Away"; a medley of "Didn't We" and "MacArthur Park"; and "Where Have All the Flowers Gone," which was the evening's most emotional moment. The room was silent as she sang this anti-war song as relevant today as it was when it was written. Callaway also had a bit of fun singing the Petula Clark hit "Downtown." Since she wasn't able to have back-up singers for this gig, she asked all those in attendance to join her and joked, "I could call you 'the Lizbeans.'" Callaway concluded her concert with a beautiful version of "Moon River" the ended with a lovely diminuendo on "moon river and meeeee." O'Donnell, who was in attendance, told Callaway she had time for two encores, so Callaway graced us with "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" and "Wedding Bell Blues." Then, O'Donnell asked for one additional song, and after a few people shouted "Meadowlark" (myself included), Callaway agreed. Her wonderful musical director for the evening, Steve Marzullo, didn't know the accompaniment, so Seth Rudetsky, who was in the audience, gamely stepped up to the plate and played while Callaway belted out the Stephen Schwartz masterpiece. A thrilling end to a wonderful concert.

Many of those at Callaway's performance then ran down a few flights to catch Avenue Q star John Tartaglia's solo evening, "AD-LIBerty." I hadn't had the chance to catch Tartaglia's concert during his sold-out run at New York's Joe's Pub, so I was quite excited to finally get to see this acclaimed evening. Tartaglia began his concert with a campy version of "Y.M.C.A." that featured two back-up singers and six buff dancing boys.

After greeting the packed room, Tartaglia told us that he will indeed be opening the Las Vegas production of Avenue Q in the fall. He also related the he recently signed a deal to co-create and star in a new series for the Disney Channel.

During his high-energy act, the charming singer-actor performed many pop tunes, but my favorite numbers were the comedy and theatre-related tunes. Among the highlights were "My Second Cousin," a song about marrying one's second cousin, which features the lines, "If you can't keep it in your pants, keep it in the family"; the wonderful Heisler-Goldrich cabaret favorite "Taylor, the Latte Boy"; a tongue-in-cheek version of Grease!'s "There Are Worse Things I Could Do"; and a terrific version of A Chorus Line's "What I Did For Love" with Tartaglia performing the song in a slew of character voices. Tartaglia, who performed 11 seasons on "Sesame Street," easily switched from the voices of Cartman to Miss Piggy, Elmo, The Swedish Chef, The Count, Rosie Perez, Gonzo, Kermit the Frog, Mary J. Blige and, of course, Carol Channing. An extended skit let Tartaglia live out a fantasy of being part of the eighties TV show "Kids Incorporated," and he closed his show with a heartfelt reading of Billy Joel's "I've Loved These Days." After a comical encore of "Hey Mickey," the crowd jumped to its feet for the adorable performer.

Rosie O'Donnell then took to the stage for the week's biggest giveaway, a two-year lease on a new Volvo. Before she announced the winner, O'Donnell brought four adolescents to the stage, who are part of an exceptional family of foster children. That family had also won a Volvo lease, and while chatting with the kids onstage, one of the girls explained to Rosie that she had originally been from a very religious family, and when her mother learned she was gay, she was put into the foster-care children. When O'Donnell heard this story, she immediately told the young girl that she and her entire family would receive free cruises for as long RFamily Vacations is in business. It was the most touching moment of the night, and perhaps, the entire cruise thus far.

The evening ended with an hour of comedy from Judy Gold, who had the audience convulsing with laughter from start to finish. Unfortunately, nothing she said can be printed here, but Gold was a riot.

Tomorrow we arrive at Martha's Vineyard. . . more to come. . .

Happy sailing, and, of course, happy diva-watching!

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