Even though it's a limited engagement — nine performances only beginning March 2 — it will be great to have the multi-talented Tony Award winner back in a musical evening. Entitled Elegies, A Song Cycle, the musical revue features all new songs by composer William Finn, creator of one of my very favorite musicals, Falsettos, which was recently revived for a series of special, thrilling mostly-original-cast concerts at Playwrights Horizons. Buckley, who, as far as I can recall, has never recorded any of Finn's tunes, will be joined onstage at the Mitzi E. Newhouse by a stellar group of actors: Carolee Carmello, Michael Rupert, Keith Byron Kirk and Christian Borle.
Elegies will play Sunday and Monday nights (7:30 PM) at the Newhouse through March 20. Tickets are priced at $20 and will be available beginning Feb. 21 by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. Don't miss your chance to see one of the theatre's most exciting performers live onstage! (And, don't forget, Ms. B will return to her favorite downtown haunt, The Bottom Line, tonight (Feb. 14) for two concerts. Show times are 7:30 and 10:30 PM; doors will open at 7 PM for the first concert and at 10 PM for the second. The Bottom Line is located on the corner of West 4th and Mercer Streets.)
I also discovered this week that Elaine Paige — another wonderful Norma Desmond — will return to the London stage this spring. Paige will head a production of Georges Feydeau's Where There's a Will for Theatre Royal Bath Productions and The Peter Hall Company this spring.
The production will kick off at the Guildford Yvonne Arnaud Theatre April 28 before arriving in the West End the week of June 23. Paige will stay with the company through September 2003. Perhaps after this engagement ends, Paige will star in a London production of Gypsy should Bernadette Peters not choose to bring her Mama Rose — another performance I can't wait to see! — to the West End. I think Paige would be a magnificent Rose as well.
Falsettos Tony nominee Barbara Walsh will perform a series of concerts at the Connelly Theatre Feb. 17, 18, 24 and 25.
I recently received a copy of Walsh's concert program, which is an eclectic mix of tunes by such composers as Joni Mitchell, Jacques Brel, and, of course, Falsettos composer William Finn. Part of the Dark Night Series, Walsh's song list follows:
"White Bird" (music and lyrics by David LaFlamme and Linda LaFlamme)
"The Song Remembers When" (music and lyrics by Hugh Prestwood)
"I Won’t Mind" (music by Jeff Blumencrantz, lyrics by Annie Kessler and Libby Saines, from The Other Franklin)
"Tom" (music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa, from Hello Again)
"Thank You, Jacques Brel" (music and lyrics by Pat Cook)
"Sons of" (music and lyrics by Jacques Brel, English lyrics by Mort Shuman and Eric Blau)
"I Saw Her Standing There" (music and lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)
"In My Life" (music and lyrics by John Lennon and Paul McCartney)
"Holding to the Ground" (music and lyrics by William Finn, from Falsettos)
"Out of Africa" (music by Stephen Sondheim and other composers who made Barbra Streisand famous, lyrics by Barbara Walsh)
"Old House" (music and lyrics by Ellen Weiss)
"I Have a Garden" (music by Kim Oler, lyrics by Alison Hubbard, from Little Women)
"Song to a Seagull" (music and lyrics by Joni Mitchell)
"Both Sides Now" (music and lyrics by Joni Mitchell)
"Breaking Down" (music and lyrics by William Finn, from Falsettos)
Tickets for Walsh's concerts are priced at $25 and are available by calling (212) 560-4372. The Connelly Theatre is located at 220 East 4th Street (between Avenues A & B).
Limelight Editions has released a new tome that spotlights Academy Award winner Sam Mendes and the Donmar Warehouse.
Simply titled "Sam Mendes at the Donmar: Stepping Into Freedom," the 186-page soft-cover book was written by London theatre critic Matt Wolf and concerns the rise of the Donmar Warehouse under the direction of Mendes, who is currently in rehearsals for the aforementioned Bernadette Peters revival of Gypsy. The book details how Mendes discovered the boarded-up Donmar Warehouse in 1989, and only three years later, presented the theatre's first production, the London premiere of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins. Under his direction, the theatre also instituted the now-defunct Divas at the Donmar series, which presented such theatre greats as Betty Buckley, Barbara Cook, Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald.
Wolf's book chronicles Mendes' decade at the Donmar, which included productions of Cabaret, Into the Woods, Orpheus Descending, The Real Thing, Proof, Company and The Blue Room. Several of those productions found their way to Broadway, including the thrilling, shocking and ultimately moving revival of Cabaret, which is still going strong at Studio 54.
Mendes has supplied a foreword to Wolf's book, and in his two-page introduction, the talented director writes, "When Carol Newling and I began our regime at the newly formed Donmar in 1992 . . . we followed our tastes, trusted our instincts, and tried to persuade the best directors and actors to come to us. . . So the new Donmar gradually emerged out of the mist: eclectic, entertaining, brazen, unapologetic in its pop-art aspirations and, consequently, mostly unfunded."
"Sam Mendes at the Donmar" features dozens of black-and-white production photos, program covers and marquee pictures as well as a complete chronology of Donmar shows. The seven chapters are titled Getting Started, Something Is Stirring, Willkommen, Lit By Lightning, I'm a Believer, Viagra, and To Illyria and 'Beyond.'
The book also includes interviews with many of the performers who have taken part in the Donmar's first decade. A few quotable quotes are below. By the way, "Sam Mendes at the Donmar: Stepping Into Freedom" has a list price of $22.50.
Jane Horrocks, who starred as Sally Bowles in the Donmar's Cabaret:
"I was excited about the prospect of opening Cabaret in that production, so close to the audience, though I seem to recall the acoustics weren't that amazing: a lot of people at the top couldn't hear. That and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice were, I think, sort of the highlights of my theatre life. I used to see so much at the Donmar; I don't see anything anymore."
Jenny Galloway, who starred in Nine, Electra and How I Learned to Drive, all at the Donmar:
"I actually think it's a deceptive space in that it's bigger than you think; when watching as an audience member, you think you couldn't get any closer if you tried, but being on stage it's a much bigger space than you think it is. Certainly vocally you have to be careful to get to the back upstairs because the space goes right up, and you have to be aware of this higher level. You have to get the voice up and the eyes up. It is a small space, if you like. The size takes away that kind of fear — if you ever have it — of the audience member breathing down your neck because you know the space is quite big enough to handle it. At the same time, you can reach out to people: you can pick them and look at them and use that. The other thing is when a show there is working, you do actually physically feel it; you know you have given people that experience, and it's immensely satisfying. I've worked there three times. How lucky am I?"
IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK: Fans of Flower Drum Song can do something for themselves and for charity at the same time. Ten show posters from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical — starring Lea Salonga — were recently signed by the entire cast and are available from DRG Records. The $100 price will benefit Lifebeat, which "mobilizes the talents and resources of the music industry to raise awareness and to provide support to the AIDS community." All of the proceeds from the posters will go directly to the AIDS organization; for more information, go to the DRG website at www.drgrecords.com . . . . Baby Jane Dexter will return to the Duplex Cabaret Theatre with her new show, Another Spring, on March 1, 15, 29 and April 5, 12, 19 and 26. With musical direction by Ross Patterson, Dexter's new program will include songs by Randy Newman, Abbey Lincoln, Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn, Michael Kamen, Vernon Duke and The Beatles. There is a $15 cover charge and a two-drink minimum. The Duplex is located in New York City at 61 Christopher Street; call (212) 255-5438 for reservations. . . . Dame Judi Dench will host this year's The Night of 1000 Voices benefit concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Celebrating the award-winning productions of director Trevor Nunn, concertgoers can expect to hear tunes from Les Misérables, Aspects of Love, Cats, Chess, My Fair Lady, Porgy and Bess, Sunset Boulevard, Anything Goes, Starlight Express, South Pacific, The Baker's Wife, Nicholas Nickleby and Oklahoma! Hugh Wooldridge will direct the evening, which will also feature musical direction by David Firman. In a statement, Wooldridge said, "This evening is a must for all who love musicals. Come along again and join in the fun. Come and raise the roof of The Royal Albert Hall." Those scheduled to perform at the May 4 evening (8 PM) include Judy Kuhn, who will sing "Someone Else's Story," which she premiered in the Broadway production of Chess; Philip Quast, who will offer Les Miz's "Stars"; Sally Ann Triplett, who will belt out Cole Porter's Anything Goes showstopper, "Blow Gabriel Blow"; Alan Campbell, who will deliver the title song from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard; Alex Jennings, who will admit that "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face"; Kelli James, who will sing the Cats anthem, "Memory"; and Lauren Kennedy, who will explain that she's a girl who "Cain't Say No." Others expected to take part in the one-night-only event include Aled Jones, Teri Bibb, Leigh Constantine, Tiffany Graves, Alexis Owen Hobbs, Alexandra Jay, Annette McLaughlin, Rebecca Thornhill, Michael McCarthy and original Chess star Tommy Korberg. The Night of 1000 Voices will benefit the Alan Jay Lerner Fund for Cancer Research at The Royal Marsden Hospital and the Variety Club Children's Charity. The Royal Albert Hall is located in London at Kensington Gore. Tickets, priced between £17.50 and £49.50, are available by calling 011 44 020 8398 5513 or by visiting the Royal Albert Hall's website at www.royalalberthall.com. . . . Rebecca Luker and Patrick Cassidy will headline the Reprise! staging of She Loves Me in Los Angeles. The Harnick and Bock musical will be presented March 18-30 at UCLA's Freud Playhouse and will feature Cassidy re-creating the role of Steven Kodaly that won his father — Jack Cassidy — a 1964 Tony Award. Luker will take on her second Barbara Cook role — she, of course, also starred in the Broadway revival of The Music Man as Marian the Librarian — playing Parfumerie worker Amalia Balash. The musical will be directed by Gordon Hunt with choreography by Dan Mojica. Tickets are available by calling (310) 825-2101. . . . Angela Lansbury, Blythe Danner and Victor Garber are just some of the celebrities who will take part in a one-night-only reading of "All About Eve" March 30. The 4 PM benefit for the Actors' Fund of America will feature a reading of Joseph Mankiewicz's original screenplay for 20th Century Fox. Based on Mary Orr's "The Wisdom of Eve," the classic film concerns a young aspiring actress (Eve) who insinuates her way into the life (and career) of Broadway star Margo Channing. Those actors lined up for the reading include Lansbury as Birdie, Danner and Garber as Karen and Lloyd Richards, Tim Curry as Addison de Witt, Carl Reiner as Max Fabian and Melissa Manchester as the pianist. Casting is still in progress. "All About Eve" will be held at the Ahmanson Music Center of L.A. County, located at 135 North Grand Avenue. Tickets, ranging from $40 to $1,000, are available by calling (800) 221-7303, ext. 133. . . . Lauren Kennedy, who is currently starring as Fantine in the Broadway production of Les Misérables, will celebrate the release of her new CD of Jason Robert Brown songs with three concerts in March. Kennedy's "Songs of Jason Robert Brown" will be released March 4 on the PS Classics label, and on March 16, 23 and 30, she and composer Brown will offer concerts at New York's Triad Theatre. The evenings will include songs from the new recording, which boasts the premiere recordings of three new songs, "And I Will Follow," "Letting Go" and "If I Told You Now." The Triad Theatre is located in New York City at 158 West 72nd Street. Reservations may be made by calling (212) 362-2590.
Betty Buckley in Concert:
Feb. 14 at the Bottom Line in New York, NY
May 31 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA
Liz Callaway in Concert:
Feb. 14-15 Stephen Schwartz and Friends at the Edison Theatre at Washington University in St. Louis, MO
March 3 at the Wintergarden in the NYC World Financial Center in New York, NY
May 16 Broadway Showstoppers in Philadelphia, PA
Barbara Cook in Concert:
Feb. 14-15 at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, PA
Feb. 28 and March 1, 2, 6-9 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, CA
March 21 at the Flynn Center in Flynn, MI
March 28 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ
Sept. 7-8 at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL
Sept. 13 at the Tulsa Opera House in Tulsa, OK
Sept. 20 in Bethlehem, PA; concert with Marilyn Horne
Oct. 3 at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA; concert with Marilyn Horne
Nov. 22 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Patti LuPone in Concert:
March 27 at the East County Performing Arts Center in El Cajon, CA ("Matters of the Heart")
March 28-29 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA ("Matters of the Heart")
March 30 at the Ham Auditorium at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, NV ("Matters of the Heart")
April 5 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda")
Aug. 5 at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda")
Nov. 7-9 with the Houston Symphony ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda")
Maureen McGovern in Concert
Feb. 14-16 at the Marcus Center with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee, WI
March 4-15 at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York City
April 12-13 at Center Stage—Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, CA
April 14-19 at Founder's Hall, Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA
May 30 - 31 at the Palmer Events Center with the Austin Symphony Orchestra in Austin, TX
June 7 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN
Christiane Noll in Concert
Feb. 14 Fort Meyers, FL Southwest Florida Symphony with Doug Webster
Feb. 15 Fort Meyers, FL Southwest Florida Symphony with Doug Webster
Feb. 20 Carnegie Mellon Alumni Event in NYC with David Budway
April 5 Springfield, MA with Springfield Symphony
April 9 Florida Philharmonic with Peter Nero
April 21 Florida Philharmonic with Peter Nero
May 24 Williamsburg, VA with the Virginia Arts Festival
Aug. 28 San Diego, CA with San Diego Symphony
Aug. 29 San Diego, CA with San Diego Symphony
Aug. 30 San Diego, CA with San Diego Symphony
Oct. 11 Chattanooga, TN with Don Pippin
Dec. 31 Des Moines, IA with Des Moines Symphony & Brad Little
Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!