DIVA TALK: Buckley's Website Coming to Playbill On-Line

DIVA TALK: Buckley's Website Coming to Playbill On-Line BETTY BUCKLEY

BETTY BUCKLEY

It's official. The new home of Betty Buckley's website is Playbill On-Line, and BB will come home "at last" to PBOL October 1. To celebrate that grand lady's arrival on PBOL will be "A Night in the Day of Betty Buckley," a story I wrote when I followed BB backstage through a production of Sunset. Accompanying the article will be photos of Betty as she transforms into Norma D.

Also, Betty triumphed in her first few concert engagements, and she will next perform in the Concert Hall at Kennedy Center for a one-night-only performance. Appearing at the Kennedy Center is part of a whirlwind week for BB in Washington, D.C. She will begin the week by singing at the AIDS Walk Washington (October 6). On Friday, October 11 she is scheduled to perform at the NAMES Project Foundation benefit dinner at the National Building Museum. The following evening (October 12) Ms B will sing at the Whitman Walker National Candlelight March at 8:30pm, and then she will make a brief statement on behalf of BC/EFA before the Dancers Responding to AIDS.

Tickets for Betty Buckley in Concert range from $15 to $45 and may be purchased at the Kennedy Center box office or by calling Instant-Charge at (202) 467-4600.

PATTI LuPONE Newsday and New York Post's Liz Smith had this to say about La LuPone on Thursday, 9/26:

"Patti LuPone's acclaimed Broadway run as Maria Callas in Master Class has been extended through January 4. She was originally supposed to depart Terrence McNally's play in early November, but that SRO sign hasn't come down since LuPone joined the production! When Patti finally does leave the Great White Way, she'll have London to look forward to. She has been offered the West End version of Master Class, which producer Robert Fox plans to mount in the spring.

And just think, if Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber hadn't ousted Patti from Sunset Boulevard prior to its London opening, she'd still be doing Norma Desmond; balancing that turban and negotiating those damn stairs! Instead, she is uttering McNally's divine dialogue, saving her feet and opening herself up to new career vistas."

If Patti does bring her wonderful performance of Maria Callas to London, this will be her fourth role on London stages: Moll in The Cradle Will Rock, Fantine in Les Miserables, Norma in Sunset Boulevard. And perhaps while she's there, she'll perform her thrilling "Patti LuPone Live" concerts. BERNADETTE PETERS

I recently had the chance to watch the televised concert Bernadette gave at the Hollywood Bowl in the beginning of September. Peters never fails to impress me. She is so at ease and in total command when she is onstage. Most of her act was familiar material, songs she has long included in her night-club act, but she always manages to make them sound fresh in her completely honest interpretations.

Some of the new additions to her show include a haunting "Faithless Love," which is on her new CD, I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. She also has fun with the lyrics of "Glow Worm" and delivers a touching "The Way You Look Tonight." Her version of Sondheim's "Not a Day Goes By" is still a joy to the senses. The rundown of her act was:

Opening: We're in the Money/Pennies from Heaven
If You Were the Only Boy in the World
Broadway Baby
No One Is Alone
Sooner or Later
Unexpected Song
My Romance/The Way You Look Tonight
Faithless Love
Glow Worm
Not a Day Goes By
Harold Arlen Medley (including "Accentuate the Positive," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Get Happy," "Over the Rainbow" and others)
Encore: I'll Be Seeing You

There was a review of this concert in The Hollywood Reporter that I thought you might like to read. In his review Tony Gieske writes:

"Strapless and backless but not feckless, Bernadette Peters made her entrance stage left and got a gasp that turned into a cheer from the 10,186 listeners she was about to wring out.

"She had not uttered a sound, so the noise must have been for the gown and the figure in it. So far, so good.

"A bumptious "We're in the Money" opened the show, nothing too frightening except that the second chorus was in pig Latin as flawless as the flesh from which it emerged. "Everybody!" she cried wickedly, and then advanced into the audience at stage right, still singing in pig Latin and now tossing generous handfuls of pennies that glittered in the beam of the spotlight that fell on her glistening red hair.

"This was no bimbo.

"No, this was a singer, a showbiz veteran from the age of 4, and a lady who knows how to follow the information superhighway into the heart of an audience.

"This she did immediately with a 1929 ditty by Nat Ayer, "If You Were the Only Boy in the World," a thing Rudy Vallee made famous.

"The notes flowed as sweetly as the boughs of a willow; the voice was intimate and devastating. Never has the subjunctive case been so heartbreaking. From this moment on, her Bowl debut was a success. And that was particularly true with the evening's love ballads, many of which were from the pen of Stephen Sondheim, a fragmentary and discursive mind who benefits greatly from Peters' exemplary sense of architecture.

"Every song became a miniature drama, almost a classic, the way she uttered the words in that extraordinary voice of hers, now talking baby talk and lisping, now soaring toward the moon above. She made every syllable count.

"The comic numbers were welcome and unique, from Sondheim's "Sooner or Later," sung from atop the piano, to "Glow, Little Glow Worm," whose quaint wording she delighted in contagiously."

Bernadette also graces the pages of this month's In Style magazine in a feature about a dinner party Joel Grey threw for BP for her new CD.
A sidebar to the article had this description:

"the event: A twilight supper in honor of Bernadette Peters' new album and her engagement
the setting: Grey's Manhattan penthouse terrace
the guests: Guest of honor Bernadette Peters and fiance Michael Wittenberg, Mary Tyler Moore, Tommy Tune, Donna Karan
the decor: Papier mache lanterns, mismatched candles on a picnic-style table. The table was also adorned with fresh tomatoes and small sculptures that Grey has collected over the years
the flowers: Garden roses, hybrid delphiniums and hydrangeas, by Walter Hubert of Silver Birches in Los Angeles

the menu:
the chef: David Bruce Kron, of David Bruce Kron Catering, Manhattan
the hors d'oeuvres: Radishes dipped in salt and sesame seeds, mini BLTS
the dinner: Fried green tomato salad with roasted garlic vinaigrette and sizzled leeks, pan-roasted lobster with a saffron succotash
the dessert: Toasted-almond angel food cake with lemon curd
the party favor: Copies of Peters' CD I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"

and some quotes:

Joel Grey about BP: "I've never seen her happier than now. . .Bernadette is the real thing. She's a true artist and a true person, and I wanted to do something special for her." Husband Michael Wittenberg about BP: "What makes her a goddess to me is her totally genuine kindness."

Mary Tyler Moore in her toast to BP: "Bernadette has brought a presence to my life. I'm not a person with a lot friends, and she has become one of my best."

ELAINE PAIGE

There was another rave for Elaine Paige's star turn as Norma Desmond in last week's Time Out Magazine.

Eric Myers wrote:

"Think you've seen Sunset Boulevard? Think again. Elaine Paige is making her long-overdue American debut as Norma Desmond, and it's as if the show has been crying out for her all along. . .she clamps her jaws on this role and shakes it up good and hard. ". . .Paige even matches Swanson's facial expressions; she is all flashing eyes and curled lips. At just about five-foot-nothing, she is Swanson's height and she uses this to great advantage. Her Norma is quite visibly doomed to an eternal fight against a bigger, oppressive world.

But above and beyond this is her voice a huge, commanding instrument that floods the cavernous Minskoff without any sign of straining or vulgar belting techniques. During her two biggest number, WOL and AIWNSG, her voice is a force of nature as powerful as anything that comes pouring out of Brigit Nilsson or Montserrat Caballe. Needless to say, the audience goes nuts. A performance of this stature revivifies the entire show, spurring the other cast members to give their best as well. Sunset Boulevard has never been in better shape, thanks to a pint-size British dynamo diva."

Time Out also ran a short feature on EP a few weeks ago. Some of her choice quotes: * About the British tabloids:
"I shan't miss the British press. But England is rather odd in that sense. If you're an entertainer whom a wide cross-section of the British public enjoys, then they like to have a little bit of a dig."

* About her friendship with the late Freddie Mercury:
"He came down to the studio when I was making the [Queen] album. Of course, he couldn't bear to see anybody else singing. He's got to get up and do it. You can see him sort of twitching in his seat. He said, 'Oh darling, darling! Just let me go in and sing it once!' I said, 'But Freddie, it's not in your key. It's far too high!' 'Oh, no, no, I'll do it. Let me have a go. I love the track.' . . .Very Norma Desmond, actually. Maybe that's what I based the character on: Freddie. Oh, God!"

* On her theatrical roles thus far:
"They're all kamikaze parts. They're all either drugged, or dying, or going mad. You've got to throw yourself in at the deep end, and by the time you're done, you kind of feel like you've been dragged through a hedge backward."

On a personal note. . .

Thanks for all your e-mails about my upcoming cabaret act at Don't Tell Mama, in New York. If any of you do get the chance to come, please make sure you introduce yourself afterward--I would really like to meet all the other diva lovers. The shows are October 3 at 7pm and October 10, 17 and 24 at 9pm (757-0788), and I'll be doing a mix of songs by Sondheim, Webber, Cole Porter, David Friedman, Maury Yeston and others.

That's all for now. Happy diva-watching!

-- By Andrew Gans
(My e-mail address is andrew_gans@playbill.com.)