DIVA TALK: Betty Gets Real And The Patti Weekend

DIVA TALK: Betty Gets Real And The Patti Weekend BETTY BUCKLEY
Add Camille (Marguerite Gautier) to the list of vulnerable but determined women that Betty Buckley has brought to life throughout her award-winning career. In fact, Buckley not only brings her character to life, but it is during the Tony winner's moments on stage when the Hartford Stage Company's current production of Camino Real works best. One of the least accessible of Tennessee Williams plays, Camino Real is a dark adventure set somewhere between earth and hell while intermingling characters both real and fictional: the romantic poet Lord Byron; the infamous Italian lover Casanova; Cervantes' knight-errant Don Quixote de la Mancha; the aforementioned Camille, the consumptive courtesan from Alexandre Dumas' La Dame aux Camelias; and several others.

BETTY BUCKLEY
Add Camille (Marguerite Gautier) to the list of vulnerable but determined women that Betty Buckley has brought to life throughout her award-winning career. In fact, Buckley not only brings her character to life, but it is during the Tony winner's moments on stage when the Hartford Stage Company's current production of Camino Real works best. One of the least accessible of Tennessee Williams plays, Camino Real is a dark adventure set somewhere between earth and hell while intermingling characters both real and fictional: the romantic poet Lord Byron; the infamous Italian lover Casanova; Cervantes' knight-errant Don Quixote de la Mancha; the aforementioned Camille, the consumptive courtesan from Alexandre Dumas' La Dame aux Camelias; and several others.


Buckley, who sports an engaging French accent, manages to find both the humor and humanity in this aging beauty's doomed soul. She is at once passionate and driven, while at other times frantic and seemingly damned, awash with the full spectrum of emotional colors that Buckley conveys with her expressive voice and eyes and equally so with her hands. Those hands take on a life of their own, as if possessed by the character inhabiting the actress.


Buckley has also been handed some of the best lines of the play and handles them exquisitely. She breaks your heart when she speaks about her own: "I have outlived the tenderness of my heart"; yet, in the surprisingly optimistic ending, she seems to have found the tenderness lost, explaining, "The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks."


And, a bonus: Two songs were penned especially for Buckley's character for this production by composer John Gromada. According to the program notes written by director Michael Wilson, the passages set to music followed "the playwright's suggestions in early drafts of music and 'recitative.'" As expected, Buckley makes the most of her two musical moments, sending the poetic lyrics soaring.


James Colby also deserves special mention for his thoroughly engaging performance as Kilroy, the ex-boxer whose descent into a bleak netherworld is gripping. While this bizarre, grim, sometimes dreamlike play may not be everyone's cup of tea, it is certainly an interesting piece of theatre, one that Tennessee Williams' admirers will surely want to catch. Camino Real plays through October 10 at the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Connecticut. Call (860) 527-5151 for tickets. PATTI LuPONE
It certainly is a busy weekend for our Evita gal. The Tony and Olivier award winner will make several appearances in the New York City area to promote her newest album, which was released this past Tuesday on the Varèse Sarabande label. Entitled "Matters of the Heart," the 20 track CD is an entrancing mixture of tunes from such diverse artists as Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, Stephen Sondheim and others.


Tonight, Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 PM, Patti fans can meet the star and have her sign the new disk by attending the CD signing at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Lincoln Triangle (1972 Broadway at 66th Street). And, this Sunday evening, LuPone will make a rare New York cabaret appearance at the Public Theater's Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street between East 4th Street and Astor Place) at 9 PM La LuPone will perform highlights from her new recording during this already-sold-out evening.


But, don't despair if you cannot get in to see LuPone this weekend. The multi-talented actress will make her solo Carnegie Hall debut on November 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!

QUOTABLE QUOTES:


Kristin Chenoweth discusses her Broadway roles in a New York Post article by Michael Riedel:
"My job in both [Steel Pier and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown] was to go out and sock it to 'em. I had one chance to make the joke land, and I did. But in this play, there is more to the character, and I'm kind of the straight man. Everybody around me is crazy."


Patti LuPone discusses the recent London production of Oklahoma! in a Daily News interview by Howard Kissel:
"I cried at the music. I cried at the voices. We used to have the best of the composers, the best of the lyricists. They knew how connect to the heart, connect to the groin. We have talented young musicians, but we don't encourage creativity. We tell young creators, 'You create it, we'll license it.' It's just another business. I don't think the young creative forces will be heard.'"


A review of Andrea Marcovicci's recent performance in the San Francisco production of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (from Philip Elwood, San Francisco Examiner)
"A fine actress (note her ACT credits) as well as a singer, Marcovicci has a grand time as Daisy/Melinda . . . She is also delightful when joining Paula Sonenberg, Martin Lewis, and Kirk Mills in singing the jaunty 'On the S.S. Bernard Cohn" . . . she's also outstanding in a quintet singing 'Wait Till We're Sixty-Five,' an interesting song about scrimping, saving and working so hard so that at 65 (if you make it) you might enjoy life. Marcovicci's effervescent performance makes all the difference in this production."


Another Marcovicci review (from Octavio Roca in San Francisco Chronicle):
"There may be bigger shows in town, but there's really nothing sweeter . . . 42nd Street Moon's concert version of 'On A Clear Day You Can See Forever' . . . is pure delight . . . There are some important firsts here: . . . its first production with an orchestra rather than just two pianos and, happiest of all, Andrea Marcovicci's debut with the adventurous San Francisco troupe. Here is a musical star with a heart, a gifted and distinctive singing actress in a beguiling role she makes her own. To hear and see Marcovicci sing 'What Did I Have That I Don't Have' -- a miracle of rhythmic control and sensual abandon -- is reason enough to love the American musical. The woman is terrific."


A review of Faith Prince's cabaret act at Joe's Pub (she concludes her run this Monday, Sept. 27 with an 8:30 PM show) by The New York Times's Stephen Holden:
". . .The nightclub personality Ms. Prince displays is an intriguingly complex mixture of the demure and the brassy. The facets of herself that she reveals include a Southern nostalgist (Dave Frishberg's 'Sweet Kentucky Ham'), a jolly self-deprecating life of the party (Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen's 'I Have to Do It the Hard Way'), a small-town girl with big-city dreams ('The Other Side of the Tracks,' from 'Little Me') and a faux-naïf kook (Murray Grand's 'I Always Say Hello to a Flower'). Like many theater singers, Ms. Prince is at her most self-assured when opening up and aiming her distinctively piercing voice toward the last row. At these moments, she suggests the stage equivalent of a billowing ice cream sundae with tangy lemon topping. . ."


Another Faith Prince review from Variety, written by Charles Isherwood:
". . . 'I Do What I Can With What I Got,' is a bawdy honky-tonker performed by a Southern good-time-girl who's seen better days. Prince delivers it with an enchanting and touching combination of wry cynicism and earthy sexuality, spiced with a smidgen of genuine heart. She's a singer who can define a character in a few bars of music, a talent so rare and valuable that her absence from Broadway, however temporary, is indeed a crime."

IN OTHER NEWS Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore will host a fundraiser for FIDONYC, an organization the two friends founded to help animals in overcrowded shelters. The event is being presented by Best Friends, "the nation's largest no-kill refuge for animals," on Monday, Oct. 4 at the W Hotel, 541 Lexington Avenue from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Call (212) 252-4822 for tickets, which range from $300 to $5,000. The evening will include a buffet dinner, a silent auction, live music and a performance by Tom Brackney's "Madcap Mutts." . . . Is she a diva? Or isn't she? Hmm. You decide. But, if you want to have one or a hundred good laughs, go check out Dame Edna Everage's new show, The Royal Tour, at the Booth Theatre. I caught a preview and laughed my head off. And, as Dame Edna graciously points out, "This is not a revival!" . . . Ute Lemper will return to the cabaret stage of Joe's Pub with her intense song stylings on October 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 at 8:30 p.m. The German chanteuse will be accompanied by Bruce Fontaine. Tickets are priced at $30 and may be ordered by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. . . Ann Miller, Alan Cumming and Lea DeLaria joined 13-year-old Welsh soprano Charlotte Church for an evening of song last weekend at the Hollywood Bowl. Miller was on hand to perform Easter Parade's "Shakin' the Blues Away" and "I'm Still Here" from Follies; Alan Cumming performed two songs from Cabaret, the title song and "Willkommen," then launched into Noel Coward's "Twentieth-Century Blues" and finished with Sondheim's "Being Alive." Recent On the Town star DeLaria performed one Bernstein, one Gershwin and one Styne: "I Can Cook Too," "Slap That Bass" and "Rose's Turn." . . .Melanie Vaughan and Eric Michael Gillet will bring their new act, "It Takes Two: Duets of the Silver Screen," to the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel on Monday, Sept. 27 at PM. The act includes some familiar and not-so-familiar duets from the world of Hollywood musicals: Judy & Mickey, Burt & Bing, and others. There is a $40 music charge (no minimum), and reservations may be made by calling the Algonquin at (212) 840-6800. (Theater Three in Port Jefferson, New York, will feature a two act version of this show on Sunday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m.; call (516) 928-9100.) . . . Betty Buckley has generously donated her Cats bathrobe to this year's annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Flea Market and Grand Auction. The robe will be auctioned to the highest bidder this Sunday, Sept. 26. The 13th annual event runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on West 44th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, including Shubert Alley. . . Carol (The Goodbye Girl) Woods and Karen (Jacques Brel) Saunders will perform selections from their acclaimed Bosom Buddies act at this year's 10th Anniversary Gala Benefit Concert for the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation on Monday, Sept. 27 at Carnegie Hall. Others scheduled to perform include Damn Yankees' Vicki Lewis, Peter Nero and Skitch Henderson. Call (212) 696-1033 for information . . . And, an endnote: While playing through the sheet music for Ragtime (available from Warner Bros. Publications) this past weekend, I noticed that Marin Mazzie, who created the role of "Mother," sang the same phrase in "New Music" that Giorgio --a character in Stephen Sondheim's Passion -- sang to her. In "New Music," Mazzie's character sings, "I thought I knew what love was (but these lovers play new music)." In Passion''s "Happiness," Giorgio sings to Clara, Mazzie's character, "I thought I knew what love was. (I thought I knew how much I could feel)."

REMINDERS


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


September 25 in Detroit, MI at the Opera House
September 26 in Akron, OH at the EJ Thomas Hall
September 28 in Pittsburgh, PA at the Benedum Center
September 29 in Cincinnati, OH at the Aranoff Theater
October 1 in Buffalo, NY at the Sheas Theatre
October 2 in Hartford, CT at the Bushnell Auditorium
October 3 in Portland, ME at the Civic Center
October 6 in Newark, NJ at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center
October 8 in Boston, MA at the Wang Center
October 10 in State College, PA at the Bryce Jordan Center
October 12 in Washington, DC at the Constitution Hall
October 13 in Greensboro, NC at the War Memorial Auditorium
October 15 in W. Palm Beach, FL at the Kravis Center
October 16 in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd
October 17 in Miami, FL at the Jackie Gleason Theater

BETTY BUCKLEY


A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
September 24 Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, PA
October 2 South Street Theater Company in Morristown, NJ
October 9 Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY
October 23 Foellinger Great Hall in Urbana, IL
October 24 Sangamon State University Aud. in Springfield, IL
October 27 Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, NY (Benefit dinner)
November 6 State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
November 12 Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE
November 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 November 1 at 10 PM.

PATTI LuPONE
LuPone will perform highlights from her new "Matters of the Heart" act for New York audiences in a special, one-night-only gig at Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street between East 4th Street and Astor Place). La LuPone brings her evening of song (soon to be available on CD from Varèse Sarabande) to the Public Theater's new cabaret space this Sunday, September 26 at 9 pm. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. There is also a two-drink minimum.


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 . . .

KAREN MASON
Karen Mason's Christmas album, simply titled "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" will be available this fall. On September 25 Mason will perform in concert to benefit Dallas Children's Theatre Fairmont Hotel, Dallas. . .Also, Mason will open a brand-new night-club space in New York City on November 3. She'll play through Nov. 27 at Arci's Place, 450 Park Avenue South (between 30th and 31st Sts.). 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.

ELAINE PAIGE
What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:
October 30 and 31, 1999 at the Sun City Superbowl in South Africa
November 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, October 18 at 4 p.m. on CBS.

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

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