DIVA TALK: Betty, Barbara And More

DIVA TALK: Betty, Barbara And More BETTY BUCKLEY
This past Sunday, Betty Buckley concluded her acclaimed run in the Hartford Stage Company's production of Tennessee Williams' Camino Real. The evening before, however, BB performed in concert for a gala at the Tilles Center on the campus of Long Island University. I thought you would enjoy reading some quotes from Steve Parks' glowing review in Monday's Newsday:

BETTY BUCKLEY
This past Sunday, Betty Buckley concluded her acclaimed run in the Hartford Stage Company's production of Tennessee Williams' Camino Real. The evening before, however, BB performed in concert for a gala at the Tilles Center on the campus of Long Island University. I thought you would enjoy reading some quotes from Steve Parks' glowing review in Monday's Newsday:


". . .[Buckley] didn't just stick to Broadway tunes in her concert backed by the Long Island Philharmonic and her four-man combo. From Kurt Weill to Billy Joel, from Billy Strayhorn to, of course, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Buckley displayed an eclectic musical taste and nimble vibrato that was the aural centerpiece for the [gala] . . . She also made lush use of [the symphony's] musicianship and that of her usual accompanists, including pianist/arranger Bill Mays and percussionist Jamey Haddad, fresh from his tour with Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. She rested her voice during extended instrumental interludes that turned Stephen Schwartz' "The Meadowlark" from the ill-fated Baker's Wife into a World Beat number (Simon's influence?) and Weill's 'September Song' into a delicately husky cabaret tear-jerker . . . By the time she introduced the two songs from Sunset Boulevard -- 'With One Look' and 'As If We Never Said Goodbye' -- she deployed every vocal fiber and theatrical flourish into the delivery of a standing-ovation Broadway moment. But unlike Norma Desmond, Betty Buckley is no show-biz has-been. Especially on these songs, her tremulous trilling, which not so much glided over the orchestra as pierced through it, brought to mind -- and ear -- an Edith Piaf from Fort Worth instead of from Paris . . . And in her closer, 'Memory,' which earned Buckley a Tony 18 years ago . . . we could almost see the feline whiskers and curled costume claws. In this concert, the diva didn't forget to be an actress, too."


And, Ms. B heads to Los Angeles next week to record a duet with the legendary Johnny Mathis for his upcoming Broadway CD. The two will lend their voices to a duet of Stephen Sondheim's "Children Will Listen" and the "Ragtime" ballad, "Our Children." Stay tuned for a release date.

BARBARA COOK
If you're like me, you can read ad infinitum about your favorite divas. So, I was thrilled to receive the most recent publication of "The Barbara Cook International Appreciation Society." The 60-page tome compiles reviews, interviews and photos from Cook's concert and cabaret appearances around the world during the past year. It begins with reviews from her "Divas at the Donmar" appearance in London in August 1998 and concludes with a discussion of the renowned performer's newest DRG CD, "The Champion Season: A Salute to Gower Champion." As a supplement to the publication, which is edited by Larry Zimmerman, is a transcript from an in-depth radio interview between Cook and WQEW's Jonathan Schwartz from this past November. Next week, I'll post quotes from that wonderful interview, but, for now, here is Cook's upcoming concert schedule:
Now through Oct. 17 at the Grand Center in St. Louis, MO; call (314) 533 1884
Oct. 18 at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, NY (a salute to Lena Horne); call (212) 875-5030 or (212) 721-6500
Oct. 22 at Purchase College in Purchase, NY; call (914) 251-6200 or (914) 251-6222
Nov. 19 at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA; call (617) 482-2595 or (617) 482-3208
Nov. 22 at The Plaza Hotel in New York, NY (gala dinner honoring Cook, Paul Taylor and Will Barnet with the 1999 Kitty Carlisle-Hart Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement)
December 1 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY (All-Star cast for The Noel Coward Centennial Gala); call (212) 980-3026 or (212) 247-7800
December 31 at The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, PA; call (215) 893 1956 or (215) 893-1999
January 27-30 at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA (with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony); call (412) 392-4900


By the way, if you're interested in subscribing to the publication, write to Membership/Secretary Scott D. Feifer at 407 N. Duke Street, Lancaster, PA 17602. Annual dues are $15 (USA), $20 (Canada) and $20 (Overseas). Back issues are also available.

MAUREEN McGOVERN
A host of Maureen McGovern appearances were recently announced for the multi-octave singer. The list follows:


Oct. 15 - 16 "Come Fly with Me" - The Songs of Jimmy Van Heusen American Songbook Series; Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York, NY
Oct. 22 "Great American Songbook" at the Strand Theatre, in York, PA
Oct. 23 "Great American Songbook" at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
Nov. 8 Coffee Club Orchestra 10th Anniversary Bash at City Center in New York, NY
Nov. 19 "Great American Songbook " at the Marsee Auditorium in El Camino, CA
Nov. 26, 27, 28 with the Baltimore Symphony at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, MD
December 1 "Tree of Life & Festival of Lights" in Los Angeles, CA
December 17 - 18 "Holiday Pops" at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, OH
December 30 - 31 "New Year's Eve Millennium Gala" with the Detroit Symphony at the Orchestra Hall in Detroit, MI

QUOTABLE QUOTES


Carol Burnett discusses the songs of Stephen Sondheim in an upcoming Playbill article by Harry Haun:
"[Sondheim is] hard to learn, not just because there are so many words but also because the notes are not what you would expect at times. Once you know the song, though, it's not hard to sing it. It just flows so naturally with what he's writing that it couldn't be sung any other way . . . Some of the songs are very difficult to learn. I think the hardest is a number that George [Hearn] and I have called 'Country House' [written for Diana Rigg and Daniel Massey to sing in Mackintosh's 1987 London revival of Follies]. I spoke with him before rehearsals began, and he said, 'Oh, my God! "Country House"!' I said, 'Don't worry. Once you have it, you never forget it.' But it's getting it. That song's tougher than 'Getting Married Today.'"


Ann Hampton Callaway discusses her upcoming Broadway debut in the "A Theatregoer's Notebook" column in the Nov. issue of Playbill:
"It's such an exciting process, not only to be in the show but to help create it as well. We had a lot of brainstorming sessions at the beginning, and I put my lips together and gave opinions. Like a number at the end of the show called 'Stomping at the Savoy.' I did research on what it was like to be at the Savoy then, and they allowed me to write lyrics to give a more vivid picture of what historically happened . . .It's really a fun musical romp, and people get educated. That's what I love about the show. It honors the new swing movement, but it also gives people a bird's-eye view of what it was like in the old days. It covers the old and the new and what may be coming."


Ally Sheedy discusses what being a woman adds to the title role of John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig and the Angry Inch in an In Theater article by Paul Wontorek:
"I think it adds something poignant. It takes the show out of the big joke of a guy in a dress. And that question of 'Who are you? Man or woman?' that Hedwig is trying to answer . . . Who is Hedwig's other half? I think the message is that you can't find your other half or define yourself only by your gender or your sexual preference; it's in your being. Hedwig is more than a story of someone discovering their sexuality. It's not interesting to have a play or a movie about someone just figuring out that they're gay or bi or whatever. You have to go beyond that."

IN OTHER NEWS As Ann Hampton Callaway prepares to make her Broadway debut in Swing!, her sister Liz, star of Broadway's Baby, Miss Saigon and Cats, is equally as busy. Liz will perform the songs of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber on Oct. 29 and 30 when she joins the Nashville Symphony Pops Orchestra in Nashville, Tennessee. Tickets can be obtained by calling (615) 255-5600. Then, the gorgeous voiced performer will sing with the Brass Band of Battle Creek in Battle Creek, Michigan, on December 3 and 4. Callaway has also recorded three songs for a demo tape of The Molly Maguires,, five tunes for the concept recording of Far From the Maddening Crowd, and she also took part in the reading of a new musical, entitled The Boswell Sisters Project, for the National Alliance of Musical Theatre . . . Comedian and writer Seth Rudetsky has organized a benefit for The Illyria Theatre Company, a new NYC-based theatre organization that plans to stage revivals of musicals "that have pushed the traditional boundaries of the musical genre while developing new works for the American theatre." The benefit, which will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 9 PM at Don't Tell Mama will include performances by Rudetsky, Kristine Zbornik and Varla Jean Merman. Rudetsky says that the evening will include "a big fat section of [songs from] Carrie, including 'Do Me a Favor.'" There is a $20 cover charge and a two-drink minimum. Call (212) 757 0788 for reservations . . . One of this city's cabaret favorites, Karen Mason, will participate in a reading of a new musical on Oct. 26 at the 92nd Street Y. She will then join A Chorus Line composer Marvin Hamlisch for "A Cole Porter Celebration" at the Meyeroff Symphony Hall in Baltimore on Oct. 28, 29, 30 and 31, where she will be backed by the Baltimore Symphony. Then, the woman who was just honored with a "True Cabaret Classic Award" at the Town Hall Cabaret Convention, will open a new cabaret, ARCI's Place, at 450 Park Avenue South. Mason will perform for a month at this new club, beginning Nov. 3. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 9 pm, with Friday and Saturday shows at 8:30 and 11 pm There will be a $25 cover charge and a $15 minimum; for reservations, call (212) 532-4370. And, if all that weren't enough, Mason's newest CD, "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas"-- recorded live at the West Bank Cafe last December -- will be released by the end of this month . . . There are two more recordings now in stores from the ever growing Varese Sarabande label: a reissue of The Grass Harp, starring Barbara Cook, Karen Morrow and Carol Brice, and If Love Were All, a recording of the recent Off-Broadway tribute to Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence that starred, respectively, Harry Groener and Twiggy. Of special interest: The Grass Harp recording includes three bonus tracks -- Elaine Stritch's rendition of "Trust the Wrong People," Max Showalter's "The One and Only Person in the World," and "Brazil," sung here by the late George Rose . . . Heather Headley dazzled the audiences this week at a Group Sales presentation of selections from the upcoming Disney musical AIDA. Headley's fabulous voice and intense emotional presence will surely make this upcoming Elton John/Tim Rice work a must-see. And, if Tuesday's performance was any indication, Headley may find herself nominated for a Best Actress in a Musical Tony Award. That category should be jam-packed this year. Consider the possibilities: Carol Burnett in Putting It Together, Audra McDonald in Marie Christine, Marin Mazzie in Kiss Me, Kate and, perhaps, Swing!'s Ann Hampton Callaway. Time will tell . . . And, an award-winning reminder: Tony, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy and Golden Globe winner Rita Moreno will make her highly-anticipated New York cabaret debut next week at the famed Oak Room of the legendary Algonquin Hotel. Moreno, who recently received an Image Award nomination for her brilliant work in the HBO series "Oz," will perform at the Oak Room from Oct. 19 to Nov. 13 (Tuesdays through Thursdays at 9 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 9pm and 11:30 pm). Tickets are priced at $45, and there is a $15 food/beverage minimum; call (212) 840-6800 for more information.

REMINDERS


SARAH BRIGHTMAN
Sarah Brightman's complete U.S. tour listing follows:


Oct. 15 in W. Palm Beach, FL at the Kravis Center
Oct. 16 in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd
Oct. 17 in Miami, FL at the Jackie Gleason Theater

BETTY BUCKLEY


Betty Buckley currently stars in Camino Real through Oct. 10 at the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Connecticut. Call 860-527-5151 for tickets.
A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
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
December 13-14 St. Barth's Church in New York, NY
December 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
December 18 Atlantic University Aud. in Boca Raton, FL
December 31 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT
February 5, 2000 Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
February 6 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
February 8-9 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
February 11 Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
February 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, "Bravo Profiles: Betty Buckley," an insightful documentary that includes an interview with the Tony Award-winning actress as well as footage from Buckley's recent sold-out Bottom Line concert will air on Bravo Nov. 1 at 10 PM.

PATTI LuPONE
The multi-talented actress will make her solo Carnegie Hall debut on Nov. 19. The GMHC benefit will feature an all-new act created for this special evening by LuPone and director Scott Wittman. Call the Carnegie Hall box office at (212) 247-7800. Tickets for the concert only range from $35 $75. Higher-priced tickets, some of which include a post-party reception with the star, can be obtained by calling (212) 367-1514. Be sure to book your seats early for what promises to be a thrilling evening! . . .Tickets are also now on sale for the upcoming New York Philharmonic production of Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. Starring LuPone and opera singer Bryn Terfel, the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday. Tickets range from $75 to $250 and may be purchased by calling (212) 721-6500 . . .

ELAINE PAIGE
What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:
Oct. 30 and 31, 1999 at the Sun City Superbowl in South Africa
Nov. 5, 1999 at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town, South Africa
January 21 and 22, 2000 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah

BERNADETTE PETERS
The two-time Tony winner currently stars as the gun-toting Annie Oakley in the acclaimed revival of Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis Theatre. Peters will also be a guest on The Martin Short Show on Monday, Oct. 18 at 4 PM on CBS.

LINCOLN CENTER'S AMERICAN SONGBOOK
The second season of Lincoln Center's American Songbook series begins tonight, Friday, Oct. 15 (and tomorrow night, Oct. 16) with "Come Fly With Me: The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen" at 8 PM in Alice Tully Hall. Tickets are priced at $55, and artists scheduled to appear include Eric Comstock, Lea DeLaria, Greg Edelman, Christopher Gines, Dick Hyman, Jackie and Roy, Jack Jones, Hilary Kole, Maureen McGovern, Jessica Molasky, Carol Sloane, Leslie Uggams and Scott Wise. "Always: Celebrating 100 Years of American Song" is up next and features such theatrical luminaries as Patti LuPone, Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin, Alton White, cabaret's Mary Cleere Haran and Susanah McCorkle and more. This program is set for Dec. 3 and 4 at 8 PM, also at Alice Tully Hall. Other titles in the series include "Who Wrote That Song," on March 23, 24 and 25 (cast to be announced) at the Kaplan Penthouse and "Round About: Dawn Upshaw," which features the gifted soprano singing the songs of Vernon Duke, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Sondheim and more. Upshaw will perform on May 17, 19 and 20 at 8:30 PM at the John Jay College Auditorium . . . Call (212) 721-6500 for tickets.

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

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