I spoke with Betty Buckley's assistant this week to check on how one of our favorite ladies is doing: Buckley's back surgery went well and is slated to leave the hospital this Saturday, Sept. 6, and then she will require a few week's rest before heading back to The Great White Way in Triumph of Love.
A reminder: Triumph of Love begins previews Sept. 23 at the Royale Theatre and officially opens Oct. 23. Tickets are available by phone by calling (212) 432-7250 or (1-800) 447-7400 and may be purchased at the box office of the Royale Theatre starting this Monday, Sept. 8.
In this month's Emmy Magazine: The Magazine of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, writer Libby Slate discusses the upcoming remake of the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein TV musical Cinderella. Bernadette Peters, who portrays the wicked Stepmother--in a cast that also features Brandy, Whitney Houston, Whoopi Goldberg and Jason Alexander--was interviewed for the article. Following are some quotes from BP:
* about the contemporary quality of the score:
"The songs work great. They have the most wonderful, creative orchestrations in the business. In 'A Lovely Night,' Brandy goes out and looks at the sky, and the music sounds like stars in the sky. It's magical."
* about the addition of "Falling in Love with Love" to the score for her character to sing:
"It could be a stodgy, old-fashioned waltz. But they've orchestrated it with a drive behind it, so it doesn't sound out-of-date."
Cinderella airs November 2 on ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney. (Also, many of you have e-mailed me about the much-anticipated Into the Woods reunion concert on Nov. 9, which will find Bernadette reprising her role as the wickedly wise witch in the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical. At this point, the phone number for tickets has yet to be announced, and final casting is still impending. I will post all the information as soon as I receive it, which should be within the next two weeks. Stay tuned for more info!)
I have long wondered why Karen Akers, one of the most enjoyable singers on the cabaret scene (as well as a stunning presence on Broadway in Nine and Grand Hotel), has never recorded a live album. I've long admitted that my favorite solo albums are those that have been recorded live: Witness Betty Buckley's self-titled album for Rizzoli Records or her Carnegie Hall disk on Sterling Records; Bernadette Peters' Sondheim Etc., also recorded live at the famed hall; or Patti LuPone Live on RCA. There is something about live recordings that appeals to me an intensity that comes across when a performer is recorded live that is often missing when that same singer goes into the recording studio. This is especially true for cabaret, an experience that is largely based on the interaction between a performer and his or her audience. For example, take a look or a listen to cabaret chanteuse Andrea Marcovicci's many recordings. Although I have enjoyed all of her albums, it is her first live album that I think stands out among her work: Marcovicci Sings Movies, recorded live at the Plush Room in San Francisco.
Well, I'm happy to announce that Karen Akers has just released her first live solo album for DRG Records. Simply titled Karen Akers Live, the CD was recorded this past May during Akers's stint at Rainbow & Stars, and the singer has never sounded better. There is an ease to her singing now and a palpable sense of joy that has, at times, eluded the statuesque diva. From the moment she begins, with a wonderful medley of "Fun To Be Fooled" and "How Little We Know," it's clear that Akers is at the top of her form, in great vocal shape, and one of the best interpreters around. My favorite selections of the eclectic program, which finds the singer performing in English, French and Italian, are the little-heard "Chanson" from The Baker's Wife. Here, Akers takes Stephen Schwartz's charming song and turns it into a highly-moving experience about finding different shades in everyday life. She also delivers a stirring ode to losing a loved one in "My Brother Lived in San Francisco," a beautiful tune from the London musical Angels, Punks and Ranging Queens that explores the aftermath of losing a brother to AIDS. Other highlights: the longing "Whatever Happened to Melody," three comic "Torch Songs" from the Off Broadway hit When Pigs Fly, and, what has become Akers' signature tune, "Non Je Ne Regrette Rien" (No Regrets). . . Following is the song list for Karen Akers Live:
1. Fun To Be Fooled (Ira Gershwin/Harburg/Harold Arlen)
How Little We Know (Johnny Mercer/Hoagy Carmichael)
How Little We Know (Carolyn Leigh/Philip Springer)
2. Planes (Peter Allen/Carole Bayer Sager)
3. How Do You Say Auf Wiedersehen? (Mercer/Tony Scibetta)
4. Newt: Torch Song 1 (Dick Gallagher/Mark Waldrop from When Pigs Fly)
5. There's a Lull in My Life (Mack Gordon/Harry Revel)
I Don't Want to Walk Without You Baby (Frank Loesser/Jule Styne)
My Melancholy Baby (George A. Norton/Ernie Burnett)
6. Whatever Happened to Melody (Ray Jessel/Cynthia Thompson)
7. Strom: Torch Song 2 from When Pigs Fly
8. Ricorda (Labati Donida-Julio Rapetti)
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (Pino Donaggio/ Italian Lyric: V. Pallavacini; English lyric: Vicki Wickham and Simon Napier-Bell)
9. Rush: Torch Song 3 from When Pigs Fly
10. Laughing Matters from When Pigs Fly
11. Chanson (Stephen Schwartz from The Baker's Wife)
12. It's Time for a Love Song (Lerner/Lane from Carmelina)
E L'amore Che Fa Amare? (Piaf/Monnot; Italian lyric: C. da Vinci)
13. My Brother Lived in San Francisco (Bill Russell-Janet Hood)
14.Around the World (Victor Young-Harold Adamson) from Around the World in 80 Days
15. Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Michel Vaucaire/Charles Dumont)
The Tony-winning star of Bring in 'Da Noise/Bring in 'Da Funk is currently making her New York cabaret debut at Rainbow & Stars, high atop Rockefeller Plaza. Duquesnay's act is divided into two sections: For the first half, she pays tribute to Billie Holiday, singing and speaking as the legendary singer. In the second half of her show, Duquesnay sings as herself, offering her unique vocal style on a selection of her favorite tunes. Thought you might be interested in the song list for her show, which follows:
As Billie Holliday:
Them There Eyes (Pinkard/Tracey/Tauber)
Gimme a Pigfoot (Wilson)
My Man/Billie's Blues (Pollack/Yvain)
I Can't Give You Anything But Love (Fields/McHugh)
You've Changed (Carey/Fischer)
Don't Explain (Holliday)
I'm a Fool to Want You (Wolf/Herron/Sinatra)
'T'ain't Nobody's Business (Grainger/Robbins)
Good Morning Heartache (Higginbotham/Drake/Fisher)
All of Me (Simons/Marks)
Strange Fruit (Allan)
When You're Smiling (Fisher/Goodwin/Shay)
That Old Black Magic (Mercer/Arlen)
Send in the Clowns (Sondheim)
If I Can't Sell It (Hill/Razaf)
Here's To Life (Butler/Molinari)
Duquesnay performers through Sept. 13, Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8:30 and 11:30 PM. There is a $40 cover, and dinner is required at the early performances. For reservations or more information, call (212) 632-5000.
THE CLASS OF CABARET
Hope you were able to catch "Cabaret Thirteen" two Sundays ago on WNET Channel 13. Although none of my favorite cabaret performers, who include Andrea Marcovicci, Karen Akers, Alix Korey and Anne Runolfsson (and the late Nancy LaMott), was part of the live cabaret program, I would like to applaud PBS for its spotlight on this long-ignored entertainment medium. Although cabaret, by nature, is best experienced live, hopefully the TV exposure will bring in new, heretofore untapped audiences into one or more of the many cabaret rooms in New York and across the country. Let's hope PBS will continue its endeavor into cabaret.
For those of you interested in learning more about cabaret as well as experiencing some of the field's first-rate performers, you might enjoy a six-session class that is being offered at Marymount College. Cabaret critic Lesley Alexander will offer a program that will teach you "all you need to know about [cabaret's] history, composers and best of all, songs from musical comedy to classic torch." Alexander will lead lively discussions, which will feature performers the likes of Margaret Whiting, Julie Wilson, Mary Cleere Haran, Richard Rodney Bennett, Julie Gold and others. The course, which costs $155 ($135 for seniors) begins on Monday, September 29 and runs through November 10. Call 212-517-0564 for more information and to reserve a seat in what promises to be an informative and entertaining program. The School of Continuing Education at Marymount College is located at 221 East 71st Street between Second and Third Avenues.
OK, SO HE'S NOT A DIVA. . .
. . .but Paul Gemignani has conducted some of our favorite ladies, including Bernadette Peters, Betty Buckley and Angela Lansbury. As you may recall, while in San Francisco recently, Buckley took part in the ever-growing "Conversation" series, which is sponsored by the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum (PALM). On Monday, September 22 at 6:30 p.m. Paul Gemignani, the musical director most associated with the works of Stephen Sondheim, will be the focus of the latest "Conversation," and he will answer questions by arts writer Sheryl Flatow and members of the audience. Tickets for "Conversation"-- held at 399 Grove Street-- are $5 for PALM members, $10 for the general public and $6 for seniors/students. Call 415-255-4800 for more information.
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)
September 4, 5, 6 in Hollywood, CA at the Hollywood Bowl (with Rebecca Luker and Davis Gaines)
A host of singing dates are lined up for the multi-talented McGovern. MM will take part in a benefit at Carnegie Hall on September 29, sing with the Arkansas Symphony on October 4 and then return to Carnegie Hall on October 24 for the New York Pop's season opener. . .
September 19-20 in Charlotte, NC at the Blumenthal Center
October 11 in Milwaukee, WI at the Bruce Hall
October 17-18 in Atlanta, GA (venue to come)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org