DIVA TALK: Buckley Speaks & Ruthie Sings

News   DIVA TALK: Buckley Speaks & Ruthie Sings BETTY BUCKLEY
The latest recording by Betty Buckley is a spoken one, one that the actress calls "a work of the heart," and it is now available from amazon.com and should soon be available from The Borders chain of bookstores. The Fair Oaks Audio recording -- on two tapes or two CDs -- is titled "The Diaries of Adam & Eve: Translated by Mark Twain" and features Mark Twain's most personal writings, imagined diaries of Adam and Eve. The recording also boasts a performance from Mandy Patinkin, and this marks the first occasion the two Tony winners have worked opposite each other. Luckily for listeners, both are innately musical and find the 'music' in Twain's lyrical work, which mirrors his and his wife's personalities. Former newsman Walter Cronkite can also be heard on the two discs/cassettes; in fact, producer Don Roberts says Cronkite "has that 'voice of God,' which is perfect for the narration of this sort of story. [Buckley, Patinkin and Cronkite] were our first (and only) choices, and their readings exceeded our expectations in every way." Original music by Lester Seigel provides a sense of time and place and is performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony. For more information, contact Fair Oaks Audio at (415) 252-0977.

BETTY BUCKLEY
The latest recording by Betty Buckley is a spoken one, one that the actress calls "a work of the heart," and it is now available from amazon.com and should soon be available from The Borders chain of bookstores. The Fair Oaks Audio recording -- on two tapes or two CDs -- is titled "The Diaries of Adam & Eve: Translated by Mark Twain" and features Mark Twain's most personal writings, imagined diaries of Adam and Eve. The recording also boasts a performance from Mandy Patinkin, and this marks the first occasion the two Tony winners have worked opposite each other. Luckily for listeners, both are innately musical and find the 'music' in Twain's lyrical work, which mirrors his and his wife's personalities. Former newsman Walter Cronkite can also be heard on the two discs/cassettes; in fact, producer Don Roberts says Cronkite "has that 'voice of God,' which is perfect for the narration of this sort of story. [Buckley, Patinkin and Cronkite] were our first (and only) choices, and their readings exceeded our expectations in every way." Original music by Lester Seigel provides a sense of time and place and is performed by members of the San Francisco Symphony. For more information, contact Fair Oaks Audio at (415) 252-0977.


I recently moved to a larger office and while I was packing (and unpacking), I had the chance to sort through several files of newspaper clippings. I came across one of my favorite reviews of Betty Buckley, written by the late cabaret critic Bob Harrington. Harrington reviewed one of Buckley's Rainbow & Stars performances in the beginning of the decade. I thought you might enjoy reading his review in its entirety:


"From 'Cats' to 'Drood' to 'Carrie,' Betty Buckley was one of the best things to happen to Broadway in the 80's. An actress/singer in the fullest sense of the term, she epitomizes the modern musical theatre in her show at Rainbow & Stars.


This is truly one of the great voices of our day, rich with the tones of a violin and buttressed by a superb, disciplined belt. It's as ideally suited for the lavish emotional excess of Lloyd Webber's 'Memory' as it is to the carefully expressed sensitivity of Sondheim's 'Not a Day Goes By,' and is as much at home rocking with Bonnie Raitt's 'Wild For You Baby' as it is softly crooning the country-tinged 'Wind Beneath My Wings.'


A meticulous actress, Buckley gives an amazing performance, even when she tends to be too obviously acting. There's an architectural beauty to much of her work: it's as precise, symmetrical and thoughtfully crafted as a Gothic cathedral and filled with just as many interesting flourishes. Buckley, the actress, shines throughout the show.
Yet here and there we get a peek at Buckley the woman as well, not so much performing a song as feeling it. Her perky 'You Made Me Love You' connects her to her roots in Texas, and there's a special sparkle in that rendition. Singing 'My Old Friend,' she reveals a poignant corner of herself that speaks louder than her biggest belt. It is in those moments that she crosses over from musical theater to true cabaret."


**And, of course, Buckley opened in the Hartford Stage Company's production of Camino Real this week. The Tennessee Williams work, which also stars Rip Torn, plays through October 10. Call (860) 527-5151 for tickets.

RUTHIE HENSHALL
There's a lovely, full-page color photo of British diva Ruthie Henshall in the September 13 issue of New York magazine. The current star of Chicago, who finishes her run in that show on October 24, will also light up the stage this season in the eagerly-anticipated Stephen Sondheim revue Putting It Together, which bows on October 30 at the Barrymore Theatre. Henshall, who received an Olivier Award for her work in the West End production of She Loves Me, was interviewed by Joanne Kaufman, and I thought you would enjoy reading a few of Henshall's remarks:


about finding her way to the musical theatre:
"I wanted to be a ballerina for a long while, and my teacher said to me, 'I think that it would be too stifling for you. I think you should go to a college that does musical theater, because you're much freer than that.' I think basically she was saying I had no bloody technique but I had a lot of feeling."


about being misidentified as actress Parker Posey:
"A friend of mine says, 'Wouldn't it be fabulous if someone was going up to Parker Posey right now and saying, 'Are you Ruthie Henshall?'"


a quote from producer Cameron Mackintosh about his PIT star:
"[Ruthie will] add color. With a revue, the audience has to immediately say, 'I know that person and I'm going to enjoy what she's going to do,' and Ruthie brings a tremendous warmth."

QUOTABLE QUOTES


Bernadette Peters discusses what productions she's eager to see this season (from Andrea Stevens' New York Times article on 9/12/99):
"A lot of great things are happening this season with a whole bunch of people I want to see. If I'm lucky enough to be invited to a Monday night opening, maybe I can go to some of them. I'm very excited about Wise Guys by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman, with the great Nathan Lane and Victor Garber. Another is Give Me Your Answer, Do! by Brian Friel. I loved his Dancing at Lughnasa so much it made me cry. My friend Joel Grey is in it, so I'll want to go to that. And The Dead by James Joyce has some cast. That's going to be terrific. Waiting in the Wings with Lauren Bacall is going to be hysterical. Woody Harrelson is coming to Broadway. And the wonderful Dame Edna. Maybe she'll do a Thursday matinee so I can go."


Graciela Daniele discusses the talents of Audra McDonald, the star of her new show, Marie Christine (from an upcoming article by Harry Haun for the October issue of Playbill):
"Before I started with Audra, I'd have thought, 'Oh, maybe she's too young for this role,' but then I worked with her -- in Ragtime -- and realized she's a very old soul. She's a young woman, but she's an old soul. She brings so much to a scene as an actress. She's a tragedienne, which is different than being an actress. She understands tragedy."


Carolee Carmello discusses the latest version of The Scarlet Pimpernel (from Kathy Henderson's In Theater article in the 9/20/99 issue):
"The biggest difference is that it's at the Neil Simon and not the Minskoff, which is going to help the show a lot. The Minskoff is stark and has no period flavor; the Neil Simon has a lot more charm. A show is always different with different personalities in the part. Douglas [Sills] was brilliant; he brought a lot of farcical comedy to the role, and the show sort of tilted that way. Ron is also a brilliant comedian, but he has a depth of emotion and his heroic scenes are very strong. I think the show leans in a more romantic, heroic way now. The three of us have good chemistry, so it's a really fun triangle to be in the middle of."

IN OTHER NEWS Two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters will be a guest on "The Martin Short Show" on Monday, October 18 at 4 PM on CBS. Peters and Short, of course, starred together in the Broadway musical The Goodbye Girl. Be sure to set those VCRs! . . . Tickets to Patti LuPone's upcoming Carnegie Hall concert on November 19 are already on sale at the Carnegie Hall box office: (212) 247-7800. Tickets for the concert only range from $35-$75. Be sure to book your seats early for what promises to be a thrilling evening . . . I received a nice note from Alice Ripley earlier in the week informing me that she and Emily Skinner are actually not playing sisters in the Playwrights Horizons' production of James Joyce's The Dead, which begins previews on October 1 with an official opening on October 28. Skinner portrays Mary Jane, the niece of the two older aunts in the show, and Ripley plays Molly Ivors, Gabriel's (Christopher Walken) colleague. Ripley also said that she and her Side Show co-star are having a great time rehearsing together, and for those of you who want to catch this star-studded production -- Blair Brown, Stephen Spinella, Sally Ann Howes, Marni Nixon and Daisy Eagan also star -- call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 . . . Tony winner Lillias White and Grammy winner Stephanie Mills will showcase their numerous talents in a one-night-only special performance of The Princess and the Black-Eyed Pea on Saturday, September 25 at 8 PM at The China Club. The joyous musical tale written and composed by Karole Foreman and Andrew Chukerman will benefit The Actors' Fund of American and AMAS Musical Theatre. Tickets for the production, which will also star Cats' Ken Prymus, are priced between $20 and $45 and can be obtained by calling 1-800-386-3849, ext. 133/134. The China Club is located at 268 West 47th Street in Manhattan . . . On Sept. 21, Universal Classics Group will release (in the U.S.) the London cast recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical, Whistle Down the Wind. Starring Marcus Lovett and Lottie Mayor, the two disc set features such songs as "No Matter What" (already a hit for Boyzone), "The Vaults of Heaven," "When Children Rule the World," the sweet title tune and several more . . . Jennifer Holliday received rave reviews for her latest concert act, which she recently performed at Chicago's newest cabaret, The Black Orchid. In his Chicago Tribune review, critic Howard Reich had this to say about the former Dreamgirls star: "Judging by her opening set on Saturday night, Holliday not only has maintained the remarkable range and church-influenced technique that made her famous but also has pushed well beyond the Broadway and gospel idioms of her early career . . . Like [Dinah] Washington, Holliday owns a bright, super-charged alto that has as much power as precision. Even in ballads, Holliday -- like Washington -- sends every note to the farthest reaches of a room, not through mere volume but with a tightly focused sound that nails every pitch dead-on. Yet within this framework, Holliday provided signature turns of phrase that rendered standard tunes unmistakably her own. The shattering falsetto and sweeping glissandos she unleashed in 'A-Tisket, A-Tasket' ([Ella] Fitzgerald's first big hit), the voluptuousness of sound she produced in 'Night and Day' and the exquisite vocal arabesques she created in 'The Nearness of You' announced Holliday as a potentially major interpreter of the classic American songbook. But Holliday didn't stop there. In honoring the memory of the late Dusty Springfield, Holliday brought characteristic dramatic urgency to tunes such as 'The Look of Love,' 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' and 'I Only Want to Be With You.'" . . .
At this year's Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, you can expect to find rare theatrical memorabilia signed by such leading ladies as Julie Andrews, Betty Buckley, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Rosie O'Donnell and Natasha Richardson. Those musical theatre gals expected to make personal appearances include Bernadette Peters, Loni Ackerman, Catherine Cox, Rebecca Luker, Valerie Wright, Judy Kaye and many, many others. The 13th Annual Flea Market will be held on Sunday, September 26 from 10 a.m. to 7 pm on West 44th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, including Shubert Alley. . .

UPCOMING CABARET PERFORMANCES Joan Ryan and Lee Lessack will perform their new show, "Together Again...For the First Time," in New York on Saturday, Oct. 2 and Sunday, Oct. 3 at Judy's (169 Eighth Avenue, Chelsea). Reservations may be made by calling (212) 929 5410 . . . Joyce Breach will perform two shows at Danny's Skylight Room (346 West 46th Street), one on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 9:15 PM and the other on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 9:15 pm. Entitled "Reel Songs," the jazz singer will be accompanied by Tex Arnold on the piano; call (212) 265 8133 for more information . . . Back Stage Bistro Award winners Marilyn Volpe and Scott Coulter will perform in the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel (59 West 44th Street) on Friday, Oct. 1 at 11:30 p.m. Part of the "Cavalcade of Cabaret" series, the evening will include material by songwriters David Friedman, Stephen Schwartz, Francesca Blumenthal and many others. Composer/lyricist Craig Carnelia, whose upcoming musical The Sweet Smell of Success (written with Marvin Hamlisch and John Guare) is headed for Broadway next season, will be a special guest of the two singers. There is a $40 music charge and no minimum; call (212) 840-6800 for reservations . . . Singer Amy Schmidt will premiere "Something Else," her latest cabaret act, at Judy's (169 Eighth Avenue) next month. The evening will include many songs from emerging musical theatre writers who are part of the esteemed BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. Schmidt, who is a lyricist as well as a performer, recently explained: "This year in the workshop, we were given songwriting assignments and presented them to the other writers...I was often asked to perform the new pieces. It was thrilling for me to be the first person to sing these songs and to work so closely with the composers and lyricists. The experience inspired me to put together a show which would enable these gifted writers to be heard by a larger audience." In addition to works by Sam Holtzapple, Gerald Stockstill, David Cornue, Elaine Chelton and Donna Kaz, you can expect to hear Schmidt sing two pieces from the upcoming musical Time and Again by Skip Kennon. Performances are at 8:30 pm on October 7, 14, 18 and 25. There is a $12 cover and a $10 food/drink minimum, and reservations are strongly recommended: (212) 929-5410.

REMINDERS


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


September 17 in Portland, OR at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall
September 19 in Sacramento, CA at the ARCO Arena
September 21 in Denver, CO at the Temple Buell Theater
September 23 in Chicago, IL at the Chicago Theatre
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 p.m.

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 on 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.

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

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