DIVA TALK: Buckley's Poignant "Doorway," McGovern in Concert & Diva News!

News   DIVA TALK: Buckley's Poignant "Doorway," McGovern in Concert & Diva News! BETTY BUCKLEY

BETTY BUCKLEY

Although Betty Buckley wasn't able to record her Lincoln Center "American Songbook" concerts live — and, coming just a week after the September 11 World Trade Center attacks, that was probably the last concern on anyone's mind — she has preserved many of the songs that comprised the memorable evenings on her new (and first) CD for the Fynsworth Alley label, "The Doorway."

Like the concerts, the CD has an air of sheltering warmth — taking listeners away from the harsh realities of present-day life and bathing them in a gentle glow of yesteryear. The recording begins with the disc's title track, "The Doorway," a tune penned by Buckley herself (with Allen Farnham). It's great to have a new tune from Buckley, whose debut solo album, simply titled "Betty Buckley," featured a host of songs composed by the Tony Award winner, including the touching ballad "Dark Blue-Eyed Blues." Buckley’s newest effort is equally stirring and seems to speak her heart:

Let me sing to your heart's content
Of the songs that we knew but we never sent
On their way.
Let me tell you of the story
Of a soul who has knelt in the cold
Of a dark night
And regained her sight.
Take a part
Let these chords inspire
Form the colors of the morning
And your heart's desire
In your mind.
Come with me to the part of the heart
That we know beyond our reaching
And we all share--
Let me sing you past your despair.
This time will pass
And you'll grow to the point
That you know who you are.
You won't go there,
To this place that you've been,
Till the next time
But this song will remind you that
You've been there before.
It's a doorway.
Let me sing,
Let me sing,
Let me sing you past the yearning
For the things that you sought
To the fraction of a second
When a heartbeat stops
And begins again.
Take a breath and then another
Like you had a choice.
Hear the voice of a mother,
Or a sister or a brother,
A sparrow or a cat or a dog,
A beloved friend.
Hear the rain outside your window
When you're cozy in your bed
It is all of your dreams
Not a one.
Come a little closer
You could lean upon my shoulder
And I'll hold you here.
You could come a little closer
And then lean upon my shoulder
And I'll hold you here.
Let me sing.
Let me sing.
Let me sing.
Sing away your tears.

Come a little closer
You could lean upon my shoulder
And I'll hold you here.
This song will remind you that
You've been there before.
It's a doorway.
You could come a little closer
And then lean upon my shoulder
And I'll hold you here.
Let me sing
Let me sing
Let me sing.
Let me sing.
Sing away your tears.
Let me sing away your fears.
Let me sing away your tears.
Let me sing. As Buckley ages, her voice continues to gain depth; her vibrato contains the joys, the struggles, the sorrows and the successes that comprise a life. It's all there in that powerful instrument, which is part of what makes her singing compelling and ultimately so moving.

Highlights of the 11-track recording include the aforementioned title song, a belty version of the standard "With a Song in My Heart," a tender reading of "Autumn Leaves" — in both English and French — and a beautiful medley of "America the Beautiful" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." It's actually the disc's final track — a pairing of "For the Beauty of the Earth" and John Lennon's "Imagine" — that is most stirring. John Lennon’s lyrics are all-too poignant today: “Imagine there's no countries/ It isn't hard to do/ Nothing to kill or die for/ No religion too/Imagine all the people living life in peace.”

Betty Buckley's "The Doorway" is available in stores and on the web at www.fynsworthalley.com. It's a perfect stocking stuffer for the holidays.

MAUREEN McGOVERN:

Multi-octave vocalist Maureen McGovern has just released a slew of new concert dates for 2003. As of press time, the dates and venues follow:

Jan. 30-Feb. 2 at Orchestra Hall with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in Detroit , MI
Feb. 7-9 at the San Diego Museum of Art in San Diego, CA
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

QUOTABLE QUOTES:

David Rooney's "Chicago" Review in Variety:
"While she's no match for the sexy, robotic precision of Bebe Neuwirth, who originated the role in the 1996 revival, Zeta-Jones reveals herself to be a full-voiced belter and a more-than-creditable hoofer, making Velma a savvy, conniving but sympathetic temptress untroubled by moral scruples. Zellweger also measures up well enough in the song-and-dance department, but convinces more in Roxie's initial persona as a borderline innocent than later, as she becomes more calculating and cold-hearted. As the character whose dreams bring much of the action to life, she remains a somewhat pallid figure . . . Making the Matron a sharp exploiter with her eye firmly on the dollar but not completely without loyalty, Latifah socks across the saucy 'When You're Good to Mama.' . . . Christine Baranski is arch and amusing as bleeding-heart radio reporter Mary Sunshine. Lucy Liu appears briefly as a socialite hellcat, and Chita Rivera, who played Velma in the original Fosse production alongside Gwen Verdon, cameos as a prison habitue."

Dorothy Loudon — who recently left the cast of Dinner at Eight — speaks about her segue from dancer to actor in Harry Haun's Playbill article:
"I used to walk around with a turban and tap shoes, and I took tap-dancing lessons. Then, for some reason, when I went to college, I thought, 'Dancers are very disciplined, and I don't want to live that hard life,' so I got a drama scholarship to Syracuse and did a lot of acting there. I was just crazy about it. That's really all I wanted to do from that point on."

IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK: A host of celebrated divas, including Bernadette Peters, Carol Channing, Angela Lansbury, Tyne Daly, Rita Moreno, Leslie Uggams, Karen Morrow, Carole Cook and many others can be heard on a new live recording honoring veteran theatre composer Jerry Herman. Taped live in Los Angeles on Nov. 10, 2001, "Tap Your Troubles Away!" features 29 Herman tunes on a two-disc set. For a complete song listing, go to www.lmlmusic.com . . . Three divas for one! A host of family and friends turned out for a surprise birthday celebration for composer Rusty Magee, including wife (and one of this column's favorite gals) Alison (Romance/Romance) Fraser, Rebecca (The Music Man) Luker and Mary (42nd Street) Testa. Hosted by Lewis Black, the evening at the West Bank Cafe included performances of Magee songs by all three women, as well as an impromptu set by Magee himself. The evening was recorded live and was recently released by SixFootPlus Music. Entitled "Sweet Appreciation," the 18-track disc includes such Magee works as “The Green Heart” and “Coming Apart,” both sung beautifully by Luker, and Fraser’s definitive take on “New York Romance.” . . . Lisa Viggiano, one of the rising performers on the cabaret scene, will make a rare New York appearance on Dec. 22 at Don't Tell Mama. The 5 PM performance, titled "Just in Time for Christmas," will feature Christopher Marlowe on piano with special guest Marianne Challis. Don't Tell Mama is located in New York City at 343 West 46th Street; call (212) 757-0788 for reservations. . . Recent Mamma Mia! star Karen Mason is currently performing her acclaimed "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" cabaret act at Chicago's Davenport's cabaret through Dec. 16. A long-time favorite at the Chicago nightspot, Mason will also perform Christmas carols on the Emmy-winning CBS serial "The Guiding Light" on Dec. 24 (the program will air in New York Dec. 26). Davenport's is located in Chicago, Ill., at 1383 N. Milwaukee Road. Call (773) 278-1830 for reservations.

REMINDERS

Betty Buckley in Concert:

Dec. 20 at the Sunoco Performance Theater in Harrisburg, PA
May 31, 2003 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA

Liz Callaway in Concert:

Jan. 4-6, 2003 The Songs of Frank Loesser at the 92nd Street Y in New York, NY
Feb. 14-15 Stephen Schwartz and Friends at the Edison Theatre at Washington University in St. Louis, MO
Feb. 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:

Now through Dec. 16 at the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach, FL
Dec. 20 at the Robert Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 31, 2003 at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Long Island, NY
Feb. 14-16 at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, PA

Linda Eder in Concert:

Dec. 16 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach, FL
Dec. 17 at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL
Dec. 18 at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, FL
Dec. 20 and 21 with the Atlanta Symphony at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 3 and 4, 2003 with the Baltimore Symphony in Baltimore, MD
Jan. 25 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT
Jan. 30 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks, CA
Feb. 1 at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek, CO
Feb. 14 at the Proctor's Theatre in Albany, NY

Patti LuPone in Concert

Jan. 8-12, 2003 at the Mohegan Sun Cabaret in Uncasville, CT March 27 at the East County Performing Arts Center in 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 University of Nevada in Las Vegas, NV ("Matters of the Heart")
April 5 at the State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda")

Maureen McGovern in Concert:

Dec. 6 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Dec. 8 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA
Dec. 9 Laurie Strauss Leukemia Benefit at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Dec. 14 at the Boca Pops Big Band Series in Boca Raton, FL

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

—By Andrew Gans