DIVA TALK: Betty On Stage, Patti on Screen and Bernadette in the Woods

DIVA TALK: Betty On Stage, Patti on Screen and Bernadette in the Woods Hello diva lovers! A lot of exciting news this week. Enjoy!

BETTY BUCKLEY
It's a very exciting time for the multitude of Betty Buckley fans, as Buckley returns to the Broadway stage tomorrow night for the first preview performance of the new musical comedy Triumph of Love. Triumph will be Buckley's eighth Broadway musical, following her acclaimed work in 1776, Pippin, Cats, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Song and Dance, Carrie and Sunset Boulevard. In Triumph Buckley portrays Hesione, the philosopher aunt of Agis (Christopher Sieber) and brother of F. Murray Abraham (Hemocrates), who is also a philosopher. Beauty and the Beast's Susan Egan is cast as Leonide, the beautiful princess who tries to win the heart of Agis despite the protestations of his aunt and uncle. Nancy Opel, Roger Bart and Kevin Chamberlin round out the cast of the James Magruder/Jeffrey Stock/Susan Birkenhead work, which features choreography by Doug Varone and direction by Michael Mayer.

Hello diva lovers! A lot of exciting news this week. Enjoy!

BETTY BUCKLEY
It's a very exciting time for the multitude of Betty Buckley fans, as Buckley returns to the Broadway stage tomorrow night for the first preview performance of the new musical comedy Triumph of Love. Triumph will be Buckley's eighth Broadway musical, following her acclaimed work in 1776, Pippin, Cats, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Song and Dance, Carrie and Sunset Boulevard. In Triumph Buckley portrays Hesione, the philosopher aunt of Agis (Christopher Sieber) and brother of F. Murray Abraham (Hemocrates), who is also a philosopher. Beauty and the Beast's Susan Egan is cast as Leonide, the beautiful princess who tries to win the heart of Agis despite the protestations of his aunt and uncle. Nancy Opel, Roger Bart and Kevin Chamberlin round out the cast of the James Magruder/Jeffrey Stock/Susan Birkenhead work, which features choreography by Doug Varone and direction by Michael Mayer.

Buckley will have a big solo in each act: Her song in the first half is titled "Serenity," and her second-act tune is "If I Cannot Love." Ms. B will also be featured in a few duets and group numbers, including "This Day of Days," "You May Call Me Phocion," "The Tree" and "Love Won't Take No for an Answer."

Triumph of Love's official opening at the Royale Theatre will take place on October 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.



PATTI LuPONE
A ton o' Patti news this week. . . First, you probably realized on Thursday night that the episode of "Law & Order" starring La LuPone did not air. The episode in which LuPone reprises her role as defense attorney Ruthie Miller has been rescheduled for a later date, and I will post the information as soon as I receive it.

It was also confirmed earlier this week that our Evita gal will indeed return to Broadway to star in the upcoming David Mamet play, The Old Neighborhood. Mamet's newest work is a trilogy of plays focusing on the character of Bobby, who visits the neighborhood of his youth, where he encounters his childhood best friend; his sister (Patti LuPone) and her husband; and an old girlfriend. Performances will begin on November 11 at the Booth Theatre, and an official opening-night date is still pending. Tickets will be available at the end of October (date to be announced) through Tele-charge (212) 239-6200.

And, even more news: LuPone is currently filming a featured role in the upcoming independent film 24 Hour Woman, which is being directed by Nancy Savoca (True Lies, Household Saints). The movie also stars Academy Award nominee Rosie Perez and Marie Jean-Baptiste.

ELAINE PAIGE
Our favorite Brit is in the process of recording for posterity one of the many theatre roles she created on the London stage, Grizabella in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats. Paige, who stepped into the role for an ailing Judi Dench in the original production, will receive star billing when the video taped version of the musical reaches stores at holiday time. It is also rumored that one of the major American TV networks will air the production as well. Interestingly, the video is being taped at the Adelphi Theatre, home of Elaine's last London triumph, Sunset Boulevard, a theatre deemed more suitable for filming than the New London, the home of the London Cats. Others who will star in the taped version include Ken Page (Old Deuteronomy) and Sir John Mills (Asparagus/Growltiger).

Paige is also in the process of reviewing many theatrical offers while she plans her latest album. . .more news as it becomes available. Let's hope she returns to Broadway soon!


BERNADETTE PETERS (INTO THE WOODS)
Well, it was finally confirmed this week that Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason, Chip Zien, Tom Aldredge and the rest of the original Broadway company of Into the Woods will unite for a tenth-anniversary reunion concert on November 9. There will actually be two concerts of the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine classic, one at 3:00 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m., both at the Broadway Theatre, home of the hit musical Miss Saigon.

The concerts will benefit Friends in Deed, which provides emotional support to anyone affected by life-threatening diseases (primarily HIV/AIDS), and God's Love We Deliver, which is dedicated to enhancing and prolonging the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS through nutrition services.

This column had reported the Into the Woods story earlier in the summer, and since that time I've received innumerable e-mails requesting the ticket information for the musical, which Time Magazine called "the best show yet from the most creative mind in musical theater today." According to the press rep for the show, tickets are available now by calling Friends in Deed at 1-800-996-LIFE (5433). Tickets range from $55 to $1,000, and the top ticket prices ($500 and $1,000) will include an invitation to the post-performance party after the evening show.

The original production of Into the Woods ran for a total of 764 performances and 43 previews and was filmed for PBS with the original Broadway company, which is available on home video. Woods boasts some of Sondheim's most beautiful songs, including "Stay With Me," "Children Will Listen" and "No One Is Alone." In today's New York Times book writer/director Lapine commented, "We had a similar 10th-anniversary reunion for the cast of Sunday in the Park with George in 1995, and it was really wonderful. You do these shows and develop these really close relationships with people, and then they go off and do other things."

It will be a highlight of the theatre-going season to have Ms. Peters back on a Broadway stage, even if it is for only two performances. Sondheim & Peters: a perfect theatrical combo.


LIZ CALLAWAY
Liz Callaway returned to the Broadway company of Cats this week, set to belt out the show's signature tune, "Memory," eight times a week. Callaway has also become one of the brighter lights on the cabaret scene these past few years, in her own solo shows and on a double bill with her sister, singer Ann Hampton Callaway. The sister act, which is lovingly titled Sibling Revelry, debuted to much acclaim at Rainbow & Stars last year and was even recorded live on DRG Records, the highlight of which is a wonderful, slightly comic medley of Broadway tunes ranging from West Side Story to Miss Saigon. This Sunday evening, the sisters Callaway will reprise their show in a benefit performance for the Jewish Community Center in West Orange, New Jersey. Because it is a benefit, the tickets are a bit pricey, but for those of you interested, a few seats are still available by calling 201-428-9300 (ext. 403; ask for Vicky Goldstein). The community center is located at 760 Northfield Avenue in West Orange, N.J. Tickets begin at $275, including cocktails, dinner and $100 worth of tickets towards future shows.


MAUREEN McGOVERN
I've received many requests in the past few weeks for upcoming concert dates for Maureen McGovern, she of the multi-octave singing voice. So, here they are. . .

September 29 Lauri Strauss Benefit at Carnegie Hall
October 4 with the Arkansas Symphony in Little Rock, Arkansas
October 17-18 with the Buffalo Symphony in Buffalo, N.Y.
October 24 with the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall in New York, N.Y.
October 25 a Gershwin special with Marvin Hamlisch in Long Island, N.Y.
November 14-15at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Los Cerritos, CA
November 29 at the Boulder Station Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada


LILLIAS WHITE
Tony Award winner Lillias (The Life) White will be one of a plethora of singers who will unite this Sunday, September 28 at Symphony Space to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The benefit performance, scheduled to begin at 8:30 pm, is entitled Gospel: The 4th Celebration and will also include performances by such Broadway names as Brian d'Arcy James, Billy Porter, Kelli Rabke and Jekyll & Hyde's Christiane Noll. Tickets are $35 and may be purchased at the box office of Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street) or by calling 212-864 5400.


CONCERT REMINDERS:
BETTY BUCKLEY
October 3 in Cincinnati, OH at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
October 10-11 in Dallas, TX at the Myerson Symphony Center
November 7 in Purchase, NY at the Performing Arts Center
November 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)


BERNADETTE PETERS
October 11 in Milwaukee, WI at the Bruce Hall
October 17-18 in Atlanta, GA at the Georgia State University
October 30 in Wilmington, DE at the Playhouse Theatre
November 1 in Akron, OH at the E.J. Thomas Hall
November 2 in Clinton Township, MI at the Macomb Center
November 9 Into the Woods reunion concert (ticket info to come)
November 14-15 Honolulu, HI at the Neil Blaisdell Concert Hall
November 21-22 in Tulsa, OK at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center
December 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