DIVA TALK: Betty in the Village, Bernadette a Hero and Skinner on disc (twice!)

DIVA TALK: Betty in the Village, Bernadette a Hero and Skinner on disc (twice!) BETTY BUCKLEY

BETTY BUCKLEY

That Tony-winning dynamo, Betty Buckley, will perform two shows at New York’s Bottom Line on Friday, Dec. 29 at 7:30 and 10:30 PM. Doors will open at 6 PM for the early show and 10 PM for the second. Located at 15 West 4th Street on the corner of West 4th and Mercer, the Bottom Line has been a home-away-from-home for Buckley over the past decade, where she has consistently delivered exciting and impassioned concerts. Be sure to buy your tickets early (available in person at the box office; no telephone sales), as they will go fast! Speaking of Ms. B, the award-winning actress/singer recently performed a concert in Boston to a sold-out crowd with cabaret crooner Michael Feinstein. Buckley received raves for her performance, and this is what the Boston Herald’s Robert Nesti had to say about her work: “[Buckley] can still can belt with the stamina of an Ethel Merman. At one point she claimed she could sing in Symphony Hall without a microphone. Backed by a tight, jazzy combo, Buckley again showed why she remains a supreme interpreter of a lyric. Few singers can convey the subtlety of these ‘story songs,’ as she calls them, as well as Buckley can. Nowhere was this better shown than her superb version of Brown's ‘The Stars and the Moon,’ in which she captured perfectly the song's bittersweet irony. There were standards from the Great American Songbook, such as an up-tempo ‘Hello, Young Lovers’ and an exuberant ‘Come Rain or Come Shine.’ And the inevitable Andrew Lloyd Webber warhorses she has long been associated with: ‘With One Look’ (from Sunset Boulevard) and, of course, ‘Memory’ (from Cats). To her credit, she is able to make each interpretation seem fresh.”

BERNADETTE PETERS

That two-time Tony winner, Bernadette Peters, will receive the Heroes Award on Dec. 5 from NARAS, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Some of this year’s other esteemed recipients include Diana Ross, B. B. King and the late Tito Puente. And, two days later, Peters will be seen on the small screen co-hosting “Live with Regis” on ABC; Peters’ two-day hosting stint will conclude on Dec. 8. And, then, in January the former Song & Dance star will resume her critically appraised concert tour, which now includes several songs from the Irving Berlin classic that brought her a second Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, Annie Get Your Gun.

EMILY SKINNER Emily Skinner, who currently stars in the hit musical version of The Full Monty at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, will release a new CD on the fledgling Fynsworth Alley label next month. The singing actress has released two previous duet recordings with her former Side Show co-star, Alice Ripley, but this will mark her first solo effort. Ripley fans will be delighted to learn, however, that she has recorded three duets with Skinner, which are included on this 15-track disc. Simply titled “Emily Skinner,” this work can now be pre-ordered on the Fynsworth site (www.fynsworthalley.com), and CDs will ship on December 4. Those who order the recording through the website will receive a bonus track, “Maid of the Mist,” a song cut from The Full Monty. The complete track listing for “Emily Skinner” follows:

“Lazy Afternoon” from The Golden Apple (Moross/Latouche)
“You'll Never Get Away From Me”/“Together Wherever We Go” from Gypsy (Styne/Sondheim)
“I Never Said I Love You” from Dear World (Herman)
“Growing Boy” from Babe (Ashman/Menken)
“What Did I Have That I Don't Have?” from On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (Lerner/Lane)
“Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most” (Landesman/Wolf)
“I Could Always Go To You” from Personals (Menken/Crane, Friedman, Kauffman)
“Lonely House” from Street Scene (Weill/Hughes)
“Be Good Or Be Gone” from Pump Boys and Dinettes (Wann)
“The Money Tree” from The Act (Kander & Ebb)
“Ballyshannon” from James Joyce's The Dead (Davey)
“My Simple Christmas Wish” (Friedman)
“Secret Love” / “Is It Really Me?” from Calamity Jane/110 in the Shade (Livingston/Evans; Schmidt & Jones)
“My Brother Lived in San Francisco” from Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (Russell)
“The Long Way” (Ellison/Cole)
BONUS TRACK: “Maid of the Mist” cut from The Full Monty (Yazbek)

FOR THE RECORD: THE FULL MONTY

I think many in the theatre community were skeptical about turning the critically praised, low-budget film The Full Monty into a full fledged Broadway musical. When Terrence McNally signed on, the talk was a bit more positive, but who would have guessed that a Broadway unknown would provide such a great, toe-tapping score that would perfectly capture the right blend of comedy and drama? But that’s exactly what David Yazbek did, and just in time for the holidays comes the release of the original Broadway cast recording of The Full Monty. Listening to the disc is a delight; in fact, I’ve been playing it all week while on the dreaded treadmill, and it certainly has made the time go by faster. From the somewhat odd but upbeat “Overture” through the rousing finale, “Let It Go,” the recording features one melodic tune after the other, and Yazbek’s lyrics are mostly witty, funny and moving, often in the same song.

The score, unlike most any Broadway score to date, does remind me a bit of Richard Maltby and David Shire’s work for Baby, which also boasted an array of catchy, melodic tunes. Tunes like Monty’s “Michael Jordan’s Ball” and “It’s a Woman’s World” are reminiscent of Baby’s “Fatherhood Blues” and “I Want It All.” If the ballads of Monty don’t quite reach the heights of Baby’s “I Chose Right” and “The Story Goes On,” several of the tunes are quite pretty. Especially moving are Patrick Wilson’s “Breeze Off the Air” and the second-act duet between the two gay characters, “You Walk With Me.” Also memorable are “Scrap,” “Big-Ass Rock,” and Emily Skinner’s “Life with Harold.” Skinner’s warmth emanates out of the speaker just as it does over the audience at the Eugene O’Neill. The single disc, which comes with a 35 page booklet with lyrics and many color photos, is due in stores on Dec. 12 and would make a great stocking stuffer for any Broadway fan on your holiday list.

QUOTABLE QUOTES:

Susan Egan discusses her recent turn as Sally Bowles in the Broadway production of Cabaret, answering the question “Did [the creative team] ask you not to sing well, or did they let you just do your own thing?” (from an interview on the Fynsworth Alley website):
“No, they never did ask me that. I started doing the show that way. I didn’t want to sound good -- I wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, because I consider myself an actress first. An actor who learned to sing. I can hit the notes, but I don’t have a particularly interesting or unique voice, I don’t think. I think it’s my acting that makes me unique. So I was reveling in the opportunity to play somebody a little more complicated, a little more earthy and dirty and all of that. But also Sally’s never been trained. So I went in trying to be Janis Joplin eight shows a week, and I got in trouble because you can’t really do that and sing eight shows a week and have your voice stand up to it. What’s interesting is that once I realized I needed to get through the show eight times a week and not ruin my voice, I made the choice to sing correctly but try to sound untrained. I got rid of some of my vibrato. My choice was to never be off-pitch, but don’t sound ‘professional.’ The moment I started singing ‘correctly’ and stop trying to sound horrible, the musical director was relieved. He loved that. He loved that I could sing. The way he said it was that the other women didn’t have a choice -- they sang the best they could. And they sounded terrific, by the way; Natasha sounded great. She didn’t sound trained, and that was totally right for the role. She never sang down. She was trying as hard as she could. I didn’t end up having that ‘studio sound’ that I can do, but I also didn’t try and sound horrible either. And I think that was probably the best choice.”

Patricia O’Haire reviews Judy Kaye’s cabaret act at Arci’s Place (from Daily News):
“Kaye has a delightful sense of humor, and it's put to good use on Stephen Sondheim's ‘I Never Do Anything Twice’ and on two numbers associated with Fanny Brice. One, ‘The Sheik of Avenue B,’ comes complete with Yiddish accent. The other, ‘Weren't We Fools,’ was written by Cole Porter for Brice but never sung by her. Kaye also performs a lovely ballad by Kurt Weill, ‘It Never Was You.’ It is a beautiful show, full of numbers that Kaye obviously loves doing, and she wraps her voice neatly around each note.”

IN OTHER NEWS

Daisy Eagan, Judy Kaye, Paige Price, Kim Cea, Spider Saloff, James Beaman, Mario Cantone, Sal Viviano and several others will perform “A Holiday Cabaret” to benefit Operation Santa Claus, a grassroots holiday charity that was started by Postal Service Workers. Presented by Jamie deRoy & friends, the festive evening will be held at the West Bank Cafe’s Laurie Beechman Theater (407 W. 42nd Street) at 8 PM on Monday, Dec. 4. There is a $25 cover and a one-drink minimum; call (212) 695-6909 . . . Some of the stuffed bears up for auction at this year’s Broadway Bears include The Life’s Lillias White, Dancin’’s Ann Reinking, Can-Can’s Gwen Verdon and several others; each bear is dressed in original, handmade costumes representing some of the theatre’s most legendary characters. The annual fundraising event for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will be held at The Hudson Theatre at Millennium Broadway (145 W. 44th Street) beginning at 6 PM. Call (212) 840-0770, ext. 245 for more details or visit www.broadwaycares.org. As Bernadette Peters exclaimed, “The only ‘bear’ necessity is that you be there, and you should -- it is fabulous!” . . . That Barbra Streisand impersonator, Steven Brinberg, will be back at Don't Tell Mama tomorrow, Dec. 2, with his acclaimed cabaret act, Simply Barbra, which he recently performed in Cancun! . . . On Jan. 9, 2001, the recording of the national touring company of Godspell will be available on CD from DRG Theater. The Stephen Schwartz musical will tour the U.S. through June 2001. January dates include stops in Boston, MA; Bowling Green, KY; Cambridge, OH; South Bend, IN; Columbia, SC; Macon, GA; Lubbock, TX; and Peoria, IL.

REMINDERS: BETTY BUCKLEY
Dec. 31: The Cuillo Center for the Arts in West Palm Beach, FL
Jan. 5, 2001: Koger Center for the Arts (Univ. of SC) in Columbia, SC
Jan. 6: Georgia Institute of Technology Center for the Arts in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 19-29: Florida Condo Tour in Florida
March 3: Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
May 12: College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
June 17: Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA

BARBARA COOK
Cook’s concert itinerary follows:
Dec. 5: at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ
Jan. 12, 2001: at Alice Tully Hall in New York, NY (“The Music of Arthur Schwartz” with Maureen McGovern, John Pizzarelli and more)
Feb. 2: at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Feb. 23 and 24: with Michael Feinstein at the Cerritos Center for the Perf. Arts in Cerritos, CA

LINDA EDER
Eder in concert:
Dec. 6: at the Ordway Center for the Perf. Arts in St. Paul, MN (651) 224 4222
Jan. 12 & 13, 2001: in Charlotte, NC at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; (704) 372-1000
Jan. 20, 2001: with the Boca Pops at Florida Atlantic Univ in Boca Raton, FL; go to: www.bocapops.org
Jan. 21: in Naples, FL at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts; (941) 597 1900
Feb. 1 & 2: in Phoenix, AZ at the Orpheum Theatre
Feb. 3: at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek, CO; (888) 920 2787
Feb. 15-17: in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; (202) 467-4600
Feb. 23: at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, NY; call (516) 334 0800
Feb. 24: at the Community Theatre in Morristown, NJ; (973) 539-8008
March 8: in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd Hall; (727) 791-7400
March 9: in Sarasota, FL at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; www.vanwezel.org
March 10: in Melbourne, FL at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts; (407) 242-2219
May 31-June 3: in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392-4900

PATTI LUPONE
Several concert dates have been added to Patti LuPone’s ever-growing schedule. What follows are La LuPone’s confirmed concert appearances as of this week:
Now through Dec. 17: (“Matters of the Heart”; Sunday and Monday evenings only) at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY; (212) 239-6200
April 8: ("Matters Of The Heart") at Duke University’s Page Auditorium in Durham, North Carolina; (919) 684-4444
Jan. 5-7, 2001: at the Morton J. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX (214) 871-4000

KAREN MASON
What follows is Mason’s up-to-date performance schedule:
Dec. 6-10: Karen performs her Christmas Show at Davenports in Chicago, IL (773) 278-1830
Dec. 15-17, 22-23: Karen celebrates Christmas with conductor John McDaniel and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, MO
March 17: Appearance at 92nd Street Y with Craig Carnelia in New York, NY

MAUREEN McGOVERN
Dec. 8-11: Holiday concert with the Oregon Symphony in Portland, OR
Dec. 12: Holiday concert with the Oregon Symphony in Salem, OR

CHRISTIANE NOLL
Former star of Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde, Christiane Noll will be hitting the concert circuit, performing throughout the USA. Noll will join other Broadway names in this concert tour, backed by some of the world’s greatest orchestras. Her complete schedule follows:
Dec. 2: with Doug LaBrecque and Michael Maguire and the New London Symphony in New London, CT
Dec. 7-17: The Magic of Christmas with the Portland Symphony in Portland, ME; (207) 842-0800

BERNADETTE PETERS
The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
Jan. 5, 2001: at PAC in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with symphony)
Jan. 11: at the Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee
Jan. 13: at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater
March 29: at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, NY
April 6: at the Bass Perf. Hall in Fort Worth, TX (with symphony)
April 7-8: at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX
April 19: at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto (with symphony)
April 28: at the Pasquerilla PAC in Johnstown, PA
May 11-12: at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN (with symphony)
May 18-20: at the Myerson Hall in Dallas, TX (with symphony)

Well, that’s all for now. Have a wonderful holiday!