DIVA TALK: Betty in Rehearsal, Florence in Europe, Liz in Print

DIVA TALK: Betty in Rehearsal, Florence in Europe, Liz in Print BETTY BUCKLEY
I was very happy to hear this week that Betty is recovering well from her recent surgery and was even able to attend the open press photo call this past Tuesday, which featured the Tony winner and the rest of the cast of the upcoming Broadway musical Triumph of Love. It's shaping up to be Buckley's year, with a new musical, a new CD (her fifth for Sterling Records, entitled Much More, due Oct. 14), concerts across the country and an appearance in the much-anticipated Robert Redford film, The Horse Whisperer.

A reminder that Triumph of Love , the new American musical comedy, now begins previews on Sept. 27 with an official opening at the Royale Theatre on Oct. 23. Tickets are available by phone by calling 212-432-7250 or 1 800-447-7400 and may also be purchased in person at the box office of the Royale.

BETTY BUCKLEY
I was very happy to hear this week that Betty is recovering well from her recent surgery and was even able to attend the open press photo call this past Tuesday, which featured the Tony winner and the rest of the cast of the upcoming Broadway musical Triumph of Love. It's shaping up to be Buckley's year, with a new musical, a new CD (her fifth for Sterling Records, entitled Much More, due Oct. 14), concerts across the country and an appearance in the much-anticipated Robert Redford film, The Horse Whisperer.

A reminder that Triumph of Love , the new American musical comedy, now begins previews on Sept. 27 with an official opening at the Royale Theatre on Oct. 23. Tickets are available by phone by calling 212-432-7250 or 1 800-447-7400 and may also be purchased in person at the box office of the Royale.


FLORENCE LACEY
I was thrilled to get word from Florence Lacey that she will be taking part in a European tour of Evita, beginning today, Friday, Sept. 19 in Zurich. Lacey, who spent the summer touring with Jerry Herman and Lee Roy Reams in An Evening with Jerry Herman, will portray the Argentinean legend in Zurich through Oct. 12, and then she moves on to Berlin from Oct. 15 through Nov. 23 and finishes the run in Vienna from Nov. 25 through Jan. 4. If you are anywhere near these wonderful cities, be sure to catch Lacey in action. She's one of the greatest Evitas, having played the role on Broadway, in Los Angeles, on tour throughout the world, holding the record for playing the role the most times.

PATTI LuPONE
And, speaking of incredible Evitas, Patti LuPone will return to the Emmy Award-winning TV drama "Law & Order" as defense attorney Ruthie Miller. La LuPone filmed her guest appearance this summer, and the episode will air on Sept. 24, its season premiere program. "Law & Order" airs on NBC; check local listings for times.


BERNADETTE PETERS
Add Georgie State University in Atlanta, Georgia, on Oct. 17 and 18 and Jan. 9 at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia to the ever-growing list of Bernadette Peters' concert engagements. . . Still no word on the price structure for the much-anticipated Into the Woods tenth anniversary reunion concert, but I will post the information as well as the phone number for tickets as soon as I receive the word. Tickets are scheduled to go on sale on Oct. 1 for the Nov. 9 concert starring Peters and members of the original Broadway company.

LIZ CALLAWAY
I received a great article about Liz Callaway this week that was written by Michael J. Bandler and is currently running in the Sept. issue of America West, the Airlines Magazine. In Bandler's informative article, entitled "Top Cat," Callaway speaks candidly about her career, her recordings and the upcoming animated film Anastasia. Following are some of Callaway's choice quotes from the article: * about portraying Grizabella in Cats:
"Grizabella's heart is on her sleeve. She's giving it her last chance to come out and say, 'Hey, here I am, I need you.' It's wonderful to get to play that necessary emotion and vulnerability. Sometimes, after my worst days, I do some of my better shows because of her passion. I'm not very aware of the audience much when I do a show, but sometimes, I look out and see people weeping. I'm not aware that I'm making them weep, yet I do."

* about lending her voice to the title character in Anastasia:
"[Anya] has no memory, and wants desperately to find out about her past. It's really about that journey, about finding out who she is, where she comes from, and then coming to grips with it. There's a real yearning in songs like 'Once Upon a Dec.' and 'Journey to the Past.'"

* about singing the works of composers old and new:
"It's ten times harder singing 'Memory' than singing an hour and a half of Gershwin [she recently performed in a regional tryout of a Gershwin revue entitled Fascinating Rhythm], who wrote his songs for the human voice. The ranges the older composers employed were much smaller. Ethel Merman never belted higher than a C, as far as I know. Mary Martin sang very low, as I found out whenever I tried something from South Pacific. Now women are expected to belt E-flat and D. I don't belt that high, but I fake it, and mix it. I'm really lucky that I can. It's like showing off, and I don't think it's necessarily any more emotionally satisfying than singing a song from Show Boat. But as a singer, although I enjoy doing Gershwin for its timelessness, intellectually it's so satisfying to do Sondheim."

* about the ups and downs of a theatre career:
"I've been around long enough to know you can have your moments, but then you still are going to have to go get the next job. Or the next show may come along and it'll be horrible. There are no guarantees. My goal has always been to be in interesting shows, working with good people. I wanted to be in a hit just for some security, and I have been, but I much prefer a smaller show with its 'I think I can, I think I can,' process. . . having a good enough life to sustain you, because all work, no matter how great it is, is temporary. If you only live to work, and you're at the mercy of the material out there, you're in big trouble."


MELISSA ERRICO and RANDY GRAFF
Two of my favorite ladies, Melissa Errico and Randy Graff, currently star in the A. C. T. presentation of High Society, the musical with a Cole Porter score and book by Arthur Kopit, based on Philip Barry's The Philadelphia Story. I was happy to receive--from a loyal pair of diva watchers--a copy of the program for the Christopher Renshaw-directed musical and to see what Porter tunes we can expect to hear, when and if the musical comes to Broadway.

Errico, who was wonderful opposite Richard Chamberlain in the most recent My Fair Lady revival and even more splendid in Encores!'s Call Me Madam and One Touch of Venus, has the lead role of Tracy Lord, and received all-around glowing reviews for her performance. One reviewer exclaimed, "In her metamorphosis from haughty porcelain perfection to scarred and warm-blooded life, this glowing young Broadway actress gives High Society its lyrical heart and insouciant comic soul. . .Her heart shaped face can shatter and reassemble itself in a single, panic-stricken glance. The mastery of her performance comes in the way she's able to keep two powerful and contrary emotions in play at once, whether in speech or song." This reviewer also commented that Graff's second-act ballad, "He's a Right Guy" is "an understated heartbreaker."

Following is the lead cast and song list (songs with an asterisk include additional lyrics by Susan Birkenhead) for the current production of High Society:

Melissa Errico as Tracy Lord
Lisbeth Zelle as Dinah Lord
Lisa Banes as Mother Lord
John McMartin as Uncle Willie
Daniel McDonald as C. K. Dexter Haven
Jere Shea as Mike Connor
Randy Graff as Liz Imbrie
Michael Goodwin as Seth Lord
Marc Kudisch as George Kittredge

"High Society"* sung by the Ensemble
"I Am Loved" sung by Tracy and Ensemble
"Ridin' High" sung by Dexter
"Little One" sung by Dexter and Dinah
"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" sung by Mike and Liz
"I Love Paris" sung by Dinah and Tracy
"She's Got That Thing" sung by Uncle Willie and Company
"Once Upon a Time"* sung by Dexter
"I Worship You" sung by George
"True Love" sung by Dexter and Tracy
"I'm Getting Myself Ready for You"* sung by Uncle Willie and Liz
"Just One of Those Things" sung by Dexter
"Let's Misbehave" sung by Tracy, Uncle Willie and Company
"You're Sensational" sung by Mike
Midsummer Madness Montage: "Well, Did You Evah!," "Say It with Gin!," "Nobody's Chasing Me!," and "Why Don't We Try Staying Home?" sung by Company
"It's All Right with Me" sung by Tracy
"He's a Right Guy" sung by Liz
"Samantha" sung by Dexter


CABARET:
AMANDA McBROOM
Singer/songwriter Amanda McBroom, best known for composing the award-winning song "The Rose," has returned to the elegant cabaret room of Rainbow & Stars. My favorite McBroom song is actually "Ship in a Bottle," which has been recorded beautifully by both Betty Buckley and Barbara Cook. McBroom's engagement coincides with the release of her latest CD, A Waiting Heart, and she will perform Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:30 and 11 pm. With musical direction by Joel Silberman, McBroom will entertain in this plush cabaret room until Oct. 11. Call 212 632-5000 for information and reservations.

WESLIA WHITFIELD
Recently I had written about some of my favorite cabaret performers- Karen Akers, Andrea Marcovicci, Alix Korey, Anne Runolfsson, the late Nancy LaMott--and unfortunately omitted Weslia Whitfield's name from that list. Whitfield, who made a name for herself on the West Coast before garnering raves in New York, has one of the purer tones around and delivers straightforward, honest interpretations of the standards. Whitfield has a few solo albums available, including Lucky To Be Me and Live in San Francisco, and for those of you who receive WLIW (Channel 21 in New York), you are in for a real treat. One of Whitfield's recent cabaret acts has been recorded as part of the Brownville Concert series (so far, club acts of Jeff Harnar and Chip Zien have been broadcast), and her concert will air this Saturday, Sept. 20 at 8pm on WLIW. Be sure to set your VCRs for an evening of classic songs by a wonderful singer.


BROADWAY CARES
There are many diva-related items being auctioned on Sept. 27 at the Eleventh Annual Flea Market to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Grand Auction will be held in Shubert Alley (between 44th and 45th Streets) at 4:30 PM, and what follows are some of the items I thought you would be interested in:

(1) "There's Never Been an Auction Lot Like Her" From the private collection of Betty Buckley, here is the sweater she wore as Mrs. White in the Broadway production of Carrie. It comes with a note from Ms. Buckley verifying its authenticity. This lot also includes a front of theatre houseboard from the Virginia Theatre with the logo from the original production, reading "There's never been a musical like her."

(2) "The Sun Sets on Sunset" This is your final chance to grab some wonderful mementos from the Tony Award-winning Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard (to be auctioned separately):
a) An original opening-night acting edition script, signed by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and wrapped in a lovely leopard print fabric sleeve.
b) An elegant, framed collage featuring fabrics from the costumes worn by Elaine Paige as Norma Desmond and production photos of Ms. Paige as Norma. It is signed by Ms. Paige with a certificate of authenticity from designer Anthony Powell.
c) Three framed versions of the Broadway poster, featuring Glenn Close, Betty Buckley and Elaine Paige as Norma Desmond, each signed by the leading lady.

(3) "Still on Vinyl"
a) A copy of the soundtrack to the movie The Road to Hong Kong, signed by its star Bing Crosby.
b) A copy of Jerome Robbin's Broadway signed by Jule Styne, Sheldon Harnick, Adolph Green, Charlotte d'Amboise, Faith Prince, Debbie Shapiro, Scott Wise, Joey McKneeley and others.
c) A copy of Into the Woods, signed by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, as well as members of the cast including Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien and many others.
TITANIC CARES
Cable network NY1 recently named the cast of the Broadway musical Titanic as its "New Yorkers of the Week" for their generosity in writing and recording "Christina," a "song of love" composed for Christina Ann Rodriguez, an ill six-year-old from Brooklyn. Songs of Love is a nationally recognized charity that has composed more than 500 uplifting personalized songs for children who are chronically or terminally ill. "Christina" was co-written by Titanic cast members Sean McCourt and Matthew Bennett, and the entire cast of Titanic presented the song to Christina Ann on Sept. 3 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where Titanic plays. For more information about this worthy organization, call Songs of Love at 718-997-8482.

CONCERT REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
Oct. 3 in Cincinnati, OH at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Oct. 10-11 in Dallas, TX at the Myerson Symphony Center
Nov. 7 in Purchase, NY at the Performing Arts Center
Nov. 15 in Brooklyn, NY at the Walt Whitman Hall
May 8, 1998 in New York, NY at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops
May 29-31 in Fort Worth, TX (venue to come)

MAUREEN McGOVERN
A host of singing dates are lined up for the multi-talented McGovern. MM will take part in a benefit at Carnegie Hall on Sept. 29, sing with the Arkansas Symphony on Oct. 4 and then return to Carnegie Hall on Oct. 24 for the New York Pop's season opener. . .

BERNADETTE PETERS
Sept. 19-20 in Charlotte, NC at the Blumenthal Center
Oct. 11 in Milwaukee, WI at the Bruce Hall
Oct. 17-18 in Atlanta, GA at the Georgia State University
Oct. 30 in Wilmington, DE at the Playhouse Theatre
Nov. 1 in Akron, OH at the E.J. Thomas Hall
Nov. 2 in Clinton Township, MI at the Macomb Center
Nov. 9 Into the Woods reunion concert (ticket info to come)
Nov. 14-15 Honolulu, HI at the Neil Blaisdell Concert Hall
Nov. 21-22 in Tulsa, OK at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center
Dec. 6 in Pittsburgh, PA at the Heinz Hall

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

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