Although its Broadway run was relatively brief -- it opened in December 1993 and closed July 1984 -- Baby possessed one of my favorite scores of the eighties, and it was also the show that introduced me to the vocal delights of Liz Callaway (I think I drove my family crazy playing "I Want It All" too many times to count). So, I was thrilled when I learned that Jay Records was planning to reissue the recording on CD, and I'm happy to report that the single disc is now available in stores. The extremely hummable score boasted a cast that included, as mentioned, Miss Saigon's Callaway plus Beauty and the Beast's Beth Fowler, Footloose's Catherine Cox and Guys and Dolls' Martin Vidnovic. With music by David Shire and lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., the musical was based on a story developed by Susan Yankowitz concerning the intertwining lives of three couples of various ages who were either trying to conceive or were surprised by a pregnancy. Highlights of the single disc include the opening number, "We Start Today"; Callaway's silky, belty tones on "The Story Goes On" and "The Ladies Singin' Their Song"; the show-stopping anthem "I Want It All," thrillingly sung by Callaway, Cox and Fowler; two charming duets between Callaway and Graff, "What Could Be Better?" and "Two People in Love"; and Fowler and Congdon's stirring look at their years of married life, "And What If We Had Loved Like That?" The CD also includes "Patterns," a song cut from the musical (it would eventually find its way into the hit Off-Broadway revue of Maltby & Shire tunes, Closer Than Ever), here sung gloriously by Beth Fowler.
Sandy Duncan offers a stellar performance in the current Broadway company of Kander and Ebb's Chicago. From the moment she steps onto the stage of the Shubert Theatre, Duncan is completely in control of the character she portrays. As good as Ann Reinking was in the role, Duncan brings a depth to the character that has heretofore not been seen. Just watch her face in the moments before she shoots her lover in the musical's opening scene: Duncan goes through a panoply of emotions before she kills the man who sets the storyline in motion. The former Peter Pan star also dances superbly, sings with force and turns what could be a cartoon character into a real person. She relishes her time on stage, making the most of every line, lyric or dance step. In fact, you haven't seen the monologue "Roxie" until you've seen Ms. Duncan in action. Ruthie Henshall is similarly impressive, bringing a fine voice and intensity to the role of Velma Kelly. Can't wait to see Henshall in Putting It Together; she will surely bring Stephen Sondheim's tunes to life. But, if you can, get yourself to the Shubert now and see two dynamic performances. By the way, Marcia Lewis remains superlative as Mama Morton, her laugh seemingly more maniacal than it was when she entered the show. Brent Barrett, too, charms as Billy Flynn, sings exquisitely and holds a show-stopping note at the end of "Reached for the Gun." Chicago, gladly, remains a must-see on every theatregoer's list.
LINCOLN CENTER'S AMERICAN SONGBOOK
The second season of Lincoln Center's American Songbook series begins this month on Friday, Oct. 15 (and Oct. 16) with "Come Fly With Me: The Music of Jimmy Van Heusen" at 8 PM in Alice Tully Hall. Tickets are priced at $55, and artists scheduled to appear include Eric Comstock, Lea DeLaria, Gregg Edelman, Christopher Gines, Dick Hyman, Jackie and Roy, Jack Jones, Hilary Kole, Maureen McGovern, Jessica Molaskey, Carol Sloane, Leslie Uggams and Scott Wise. "Always: Celebrating 100 Years of American Song" is up next and features such theatrical luminaries as Patti LuPone, Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin, Alton White, cabaret's Mary Cleere Haran and Susanah McCorkle and more. This program is set for Dec. 3 and 4 at 8 PM, also at Alice Tully Hall. Other titles in the series include "Who Wrote That Song," on March 23, 24 and 25 (cast to be announced) at the Kaplan Penthouse and "Round About: Dawn Upshaw," which features the gifted soprano singing the songs of Vernon Duke, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Sondheim and more. Upshaw will perform on May 17, 19 and 20 at 8:30 PM at the John Jay College Auditorium . . . Call (212) 721-6500 for tickets.
DIVA TIDBITS You can expect to hear "How Deep Is the Ocean," "I Had a King," "Ruby," "Spring Is Here" and several others on Betty Buckley's upcoming CD, "Heart to Heart," due in Nov. from KO Records . . . Rumor has it that Patti LuPone's eagerly-awaited Carnegie Hall concert on Nov. 19 to benefit GMHC will consist of Broadway ballads originally written for men. Speaking of La LuPone, her new website at pattilupone.net is now up and running. On this easy-to-use site, you can find upcoming tour dates, production photos from several LuPone shows as well as the Olivier Award winner's favorite books and recordings. By the way, LuPone's recent CD signing at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at the Lincoln Triangle was the most heavily attended signing in that store's history (actually, she shares that distinction with a previous signing for Renata Tebaldi). And, her recent CD, "Matters of the Heart," completely sold out during its premiere week at the Tower Records at Broadway and 66th Street. The store now has a new supply, so you can make the trek there or simply visit LuPone's aforementioned website and order over the internet . . . Screenings of Snow Days, a new independent film from the Marcus Bros. that stars Bernadette Peters, will be held at the end of this month during AFI's Los Angeles International Film Festival. Two showings -- one on Sunday, Oct 24 at 7:30 PM and the other on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 10:30 AM -- will take place at the Vogue Theatre at 6675 Hollywood Blvd. Tickets are priced at $6.50 and are now available by calling (323) 520 2000 . . . And, speaking of the two-time Tony winner, Peters is scheduled for a vacation from Annie Get Your Gun from Dec. 23 through Jan. 16. As you may already know, during that time, Emmy winner Susan Lucci of "All My Children" fame will assume the role of Annie Oakley at the Marquis Theatre. Lucci was a guest on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" this past Wednesday and had this to say about singing and her upcoming Broadway debut: "The last time I sang in public was about ten years ago. I did a concert version of One Touch of Venus and a couple of other small things, but it's been a long time. I was so thrilled when I was asked to step in for Bernadette Peters when she takes a vacation, and I wanted to do it, but I needed to know if I could do it because I'd gotten away from singing . . . but I did go see my vocal coach and they were very encouraging. They felt I should do it, and then I auditioned for the producers. It was so scary . . . Bernadette Peters is someone I admire so much, and I got to meet the entire company a few nights ago. I went to see the show for the second time and met Bernadette Peters afterwards who was just delightful and spectacular. And Tom Wopat, who plays Frank Butler, is still going to be in the production while I'm doing it. And he is just worth the price of admission all by himself. . ."
Carol Burnett in Harry Haun's upcoming Playbill article discusses the Stephen Sondheim revue, Putting It Together:
" "Cameron [producer Mackintosh] and Stevie insisted it's more of a revue, but I kept saying, 'No, there really is a story going on here, something for audiences to follow where they get involved with these characters.' Even though we are singing, there is a thin little storyline, which I find intriguing. Whether it exists onstage or not, it's certainly in my mind - and it helps me in doing the songs."
Susan Egan discusses joining the Broadway company of Cabaret in Kathy Henderson's In Theater article:
"I'm a fool -- I wasn't scared at all. This show has been the portals of freedom for me. I have spent such a long time as an ingenue, acting in a little box -- as the straight man, as the eyes of the audience, as the girl who's good and strong and courageous and . . . not me! I've felt constricted in everything I've done up to this point. With this show, my arms stretched out wide, and I'm so happy. I think that that's inherent in the role, but Sam's [director Mendes] conception is so amazing so solid that every Sally has been extremely different."
Marin Mazzie in Sheryl Flatow's upcoming Playbill article discusses the play upon which Kiss Me, Kate is based:
"I think of Taming of the Shrew as the coming of age of this woman, of this girl. Kate probably would have been about 14 years old. Women got married at 14 in Shakespeare's time. I believe that the first time she and Petruchio see each other, they fall madly in love. But she's a strong spirit, and she's being forced to marry, so the battle begins."
IN OTHER NEWS Liz Larsen, Tim Shew, Bob Walton, Jim Walton, Danny Gurwin and Lisa Datz will showcase new songs from lyricist Eddie Sugarman on Monday, Oct. 18 at 2:30 and 7:00 PM at the Studio Theatre (416 W. 42nd Street). Entitled "Lyrics By Me," the performance will include cabaret tunes, specialty songs and works from three new musicals; composer Andrew Gerle will serve as musical director. There is a $10 charge, and reservations may be made by calling (212) 279-4200 . . . The current tour of Sunset Boulevard plays Oct. 13 through Nov. 7 at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. The star of this Sunset version, Petula Clark, recently had this to say to the San Francisco Chronicle's Octavio Roca when asked about another stage role, Maria in the West End company of The Sound of Music: "Maria von Trapp came to see me backstage after a show and she told me this was the greatest performance of Maria she had ever seen. I will never forget that." . . . Up-n-coming theatre talent Angela Covington -- who drew the best notices (as Peron's Mistress) in the recent Evita tour -- will be singing part of an opera (in German!) on an upcoming episode of the critically acclaimed HBO series, "The Sopranos."
Sarah Brightman's complete U.S. tour listing follows:
Oct. 8 in Boston, MA at the Wang Center
Oct. 10 in State College, PA at the Bryce Jordan Center
Oct. 12 in Washington, DC at the Constitution Hall
Oct. 13 in Greensboro, NC at the War Memorial Auditorium
Oct. 15 in W. Palm Beach, FL at the Kravis Center
Oct. 16 in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd
Oct. 17 in Miami, FL at the Jackie Gleason Theater
Betty Buckley currently stars in Camino Real through Oct. 10 at the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Connecticut. Call 860-527-5151 for tickets.
A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
Oct. 9 Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY
Oct. 23 Foellinger Great Hall in Urbana, IL
Oct. 24 Sangamon State University Aud. in Springfield, IL
Oct. 27 Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, NY (Benefit dinner)
Nov. 6 State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
Nov. 12 Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE
Nov. 14 Music Hall in Cincinnati, OH
Dec. 13-14 St. Barth's Church in New York, NY
Dec. 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
Dec. 18 Atlantic University Aud. in Boca Raton, FL
Dec. 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 Nov. 1 at 10 PM
The multi-talented actress will make her solo Carnegie Hall debut on Nov. 19. The GMHC benefit will feature an all-new act created for this special evening by LuPone and director Scott Wittman. Call the Carnegie Hall box office at (212) 247-7800. Tickets for the concert only range from $35 $75. Higher-priced tickets, some of which include a post-party reception with the star, can be obtained by calling (212) 367-1514. Be sure to book your seats early for what promises to be a thrilling evening! . . .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 . . .
Mason will open a brand-new night-club space in New York City on Nov. 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 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.
What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:
Oct. 30 and 31, 1999 at the Sun City Superbowl in South Africa
Nov. 5, 1999 at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town, South Africa
Jan. 21 and 22, 2000 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah
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. Peters will also be a guest on The Martin Short Show on Monday, Oct. 18 at 4 PM on CBS.
Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching!