DIVA TALK: Bette Midler Preps 'Diva Las Vegas'

DIVA TALK: Bette Midler Preps 'Diva Las Vegas' DIVA TALK

DIVA TALK

BETTE MIDLER
Very exciting news for all the Bette Midler fans out there. Midler will perform in concert at the MGM Grand in a show titled "Diva Las Vegas"!! The concert will air on HBO on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 9 PM. More details as they become available . . .

BETTY BUCKLEY
Betty B continues to dazzle audiences in the tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Music of the Night, which will make a stop the week of Dec. 15 in Philadelphia. I will be catching BB's performance on Friday night and will write about it in the following diva column.

There was a recent article in TOTAL TV by Lisa Bernhard entitled "Karma Chameleon: Amid diverse stage, film and television roles, actress/singer Betty Buckley scores a perfect zen." In the article Buckley discussed her recent role in the made-for-Showtime movie, "Critical Choices." Following are a few of BB's choice quotes:

* About playing an abortion clinic doctor in "Critical Choices":

"I had always been reflexively pro-Choice from having graduated college in 1968 and being a charter subscriber to Ms. Going through the issue caused me to re-examine it. There's a specificity to my pro-Choice, now in that the only really safe time to do an abortion is in the first trimester. But I still have come to the same point of view I've always had: It's important for a woman to be able to choose for herself without men in suits dictating to her what they can't possibly know or feel." * About seeing herself on film as she approaches 50:
"When I saw the "Critical Choices" footage, I didn't know what I'd look like. I hadn't been on film for awhile. I was relieved. I thought, not too shabby. I'm happy with the way my aging process is going. And I'm a better actress than I've ever been. I think it's really important to stay interested, alive and subject to change. From that point of view, life can only be more interesting and creative."

And, don't forget, Betty will be featured in the Christmas episode of "Remember Wenn" that will premiere on AMC on Saturday, December 21. In this episode BB will get the chance to perform two songs by Drood composer Rupert Holmes.

PATTI LuPONE
La LuPone performed with Colm Wilkinson this past week in a concert that will air on PBS next spring. LuPone and Wilkinson both starred in the original London cast of Les Miserables, and each sang a song from that show in the concert: Wilkinson performed "Bring Him Home" and LuPone entranced the audience with "I Dreamed a Dream." LuPone also performed her wonderful version of The Baker's Wife's "Meadowlark, the torchy "As Long As He Needs Me" from Oliver, a lilting "Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered" that she sang in the Encores! production of Pal Joey, and, of course, her unebeatable "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." No air date has been scheduled, but I will keep you posted.

BERNADETTE PETERS
Two days after her triumphant concert at Carnegie Hall, Bernadette Peters presented composer Stephen Sondheim with the Third Annual Japan Musical Award. The award, which honors outstanding achievement on Broadway and the development and growth of the Japanese musical industry, was conferred on Sondheim at a cocktail reception held in New York's Algonquin Hotel on December 11.

Speaking of the Carnegie concert, there was a rave review in the New York Times. Following are some excerpts from Stephen Holden's review:

"Bernadette Peters...effuses sweetness as naturally as she breathes.
Ms. Peters, whose thrilling concert was a nearly three-hour affair with a 30-piece orchestra (directed by Marvin Laird), has the stage personality of a preternaturally wise and loving child. At 52 [most sources list BP as 48], she suggests a modern-day Shirley Temple, with a touch of Betty Boop, who grew up in the theatre instead of the movies and developed an adult version of Miss Temple's radiant adorability. . .
When she devoted the entire second half of Monday's concert to the songs of Stephen Sondheim, the chemistry between the voice of the wise child and the lyrics of Broadway's ultimate sophisticate filled the hall with a profoundly bittersweet feeling of lessons learned on roads long traveled.
. . . Mr. Sondheim was not the only composer whose music flourished under her touch. John David Souther's country-rock ballad "Faithless Love" glowed inside a bare voice-and-piano arrangement in which Ms. Peters trailed each phrase into the ether. Jerry Herman's "Time Heals Everything" was built into a bold emotional exclamation.
Comic changes of pace included "Making Love Alone," a steamy Latin-flavored ode to onanism, and two lighter Sondheim numbers: a zany "You Could Drive a Person Crazy" and a "Broadway Baby" in which she became a would-be Ziegfeld girl swiveling through Times Square."

ELAINE PAIGE
Following are more excerpts from the recent article on Elaine Paige that was featured in the December 1 issue of the Daily News. Paula Kerr's article included many quotes from composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose Sunset Boulevard Paige now stars in:

Says Webber:
"Elaine is a supreme professional and I hope I am. I think life is too short to have any battle with anyone. I hate the idea of any kind of conflict. I don't think there was ever a moment when Elaine's relationship with Tim [Rice] interfered with our working life.
Elaine has been a trouper for me. We see each other socially from time to time, though she doesn't like to party all night. I have always kept up with her. I've always been able to lift up the telephone and say, 'I've got a problem,' knowing she will listen and try to help me. I always have a soft spot for her.
The first time I heard Elaine sing was for the 'Evita' audition. The whole idea was to show how attractive a dangerous woman like Eva Peron could be. Whoever we chose had to be able to convey the Peron charisma that helped her claw her way out of nowhere and control a country at a very young age. Elaine has an extraordinary ability to act through her singing voice. Watching her come through on her opening night was so important to me.
I adore writing for women's voices and Elaine has a truly theatrical voice. Every composer needs a musical instrument and I'm very lucky to be able to call on Elaine.
Elaine knows when she's given a great performance and when she hasn't. She has a real artist's concern about what she gives to the public. When she records, she goes over a note time and again to make sure she has given the best vocal performance she can possibly do. She's a complete perfectionist and she's a worrier, just like me. She worries that her standards are as high as possible."

KAREN MASON
Karen Mason, who will leave her long-held position as standby for the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard at the end of the month, recently released her second CD on the Zevely Records label. The album, which is entitled Better Days, features songs by her long-time partner, the late Brian Lasser.
The recording is available at HMV, Virgin, Colony and other major music outlets or from Zevely Records, 511 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 382, NY, NY 10011 (send check or money order for $21--includes shipping).
The tracks on the recording are:

Tear Up the Town
How Long Has It Been
Hold Me
I Made a New Friend
Hello, Tom
Something Warm and Wise
The Lucky Ones
Becoming My Mother
Just To Look at Him
What I Saw
Getting So Old In New York City
I Haven't Got Time
Better Days
Living Loving You

Mason will also headline at Rainbow & Stars, the chic cabaret room atop Rockefeller Center, from March 4 through March 22, playing Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:30 and 11 p.m.

That's all for now. Happy diva-watching!

-- By Andrew Gans
e-mail me at andrew_gans@playbill.com