DIVA TALK: Divas All Around

DIVA TALK: Divas All Around B>DIVA NEWS: Tony winner Betty Buckley will open this year’s annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade by singing a version of “America the Beautiful” orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick. NBC will broadcast the parade live, which begins at 9 A.M. Be sure to set those VCRs! . . . Another former Sunset Boulevard star, Alice Ripley, has several concerts lined up this month. You can catch the talented songstress on Nov. 18 at Zig’s in Alexandria, VA (703-823-2777); on Nov. 19 at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, DC (202-467-4600); and on Nov. 23 at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, NY (631-267-3117).

DIVA NEWS: Tony winner Betty Buckley will open this year’s annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade by singing a version of “America the Beautiful” orchestrated by Jonathan Tunick. NBC will broadcast the parade live, which begins at 9 A.M. Be sure to set those VCRs! . . . Another former Sunset Boulevard star, Alice Ripley, has several concerts lined up this month. You can catch the talented songstress on Nov. 18 at Zig’s in Alexandria, VA (703-823-2777); on Nov. 19 at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, DC (202-467-4600); and on Nov. 23 at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, NY (631-267-3117).

That belter of belters, Linda Eder, will celebrate the holiday season with a series of concerts from Dec. 26 through Dec. 30 at the Gershwin Theatre. Eder, who stunned Broadway with her tremendous vocals in the Frank Wildhorn musical Jekyll & Hyde, will perform many of her trademark tunes — “Vienna,” “Someone Like You” — as well as a host of holiday favorites from her “Christmas Stays the Same” CD. James M. Nederlander, chairman of Nederlander Presentations, recently commented, “Linda Eder has been a friend of the family for over ten years, and we are thrilled to present her at the Gershwin in our tradition of presenting great concert artists on Broadway like Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Shirley MacLaine and Bette Midler.” Tickets are currently available by calling Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100.

This weekend, Judy Kuhn headlines a concert version of The Baker’s Wife for Boston’s Overture Productions Series. About the Stephen Schwartz score, Kuhn had this to say to the Boston Herald’s Terry Byrne: “[The show] has a great score. And musicals with great scores tend to hang around . . . it's [also] a great opportunity to dig into a character. The story is really about people searching for love. That's something everyone can relate to.” The Baker’s Wife is being performed at John Hancock Hall, 180 Berkeley Street in Boston; tickets are available by calling (617) 931-2787.

One of cabaret’s finest, Karen Akers, concludes her run at San Francisco’s Plush Room (in the York Hotel) this weekend. Reservations can be made by calling (415) 885-2800 . . . Actress, singer and comedienne Marilyn Sokol will return to the stage of Arci’s Place (450 Park Avenue South, N.Y.C.) with a new show humorously titled “Me and My Fanny.” During her tribute to Fanny Brice, you can expect Sokol to sing familiar favorites — “Rose of Washington Square,” “Second Hand Rose” as well as lesser-known ditties like “Allay Up,” “Quainty Dainty Me,” “I’m an Indian” and others. “Me and My Fanny” will play Tuesday through Thursdays at 9 PM and Friday and Saturdays at 8:30 and 11 PM. Tickets are priced at $30 with a $15 food drink/minimum; call (212) 532-4370 for reservations. Sokol will perform from Nov. 27 through Dec. 8 . . . Others scheduled to perform at Arci’s Place in December include Christine Ebersole (Dec. 3, 10 and 17), Paige Price (Dec. 19 and 20 at 7PM), Carol Woods (Dec. 9), Priscilla Lopez (Dec. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) and Baby Jane Dexter (Dec. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28 and 29).

On Nov. 18 and 19 a host of Broadway favorites will perform a special City Center Encores! concert entitled “Broadway Bash: Lost and Found in Concert — Great Discoveries from Broadway Musicals.” Those scheduled to perform at 7:30 PM each night include Kristin Chenoweth, Melissa Errico, Randy Graff, Alix Korey, Donna Murphy, Vanessa L. Williams, Carol Woods, Karen Ziemba plus Gary Beach, Jason Danieley, Howard McGillin and others. Rob Fisher and the Coffee Club Orchestra will back the singing actors, and the evenings will feature staging by Kathleen Marshall. City Center is located on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Call (212) 581-1212 for tickets. Liz Callaway is the special guest of Jimmy Webb and Paul Williams, who are currently performing at Feinstein’s at the Regency (through Nov. 24). Their act is entitled “Sing Webb & Williams,” and reservations can be made by calling (212) 339-4095 . . . “Tru Love Cabaret Benefit” is the title of this Monday night’s event honoring Frederic Vogel of the Commercial Theater Institute at the John Houseman Theatre (450 W. 42nd Street). At press time, the performers include Kathleen Chalfant, Robert Cuccioli, Sandi Durell, Eileen Fulton, Suzanne Ishee, Pamela Lynn, Heather Mac Rae, Kristopher McDowell, Anne Meara, Mark Nadler, Vickie Phillips, Stephanie Pope, Ken Prymus, Jana Robbins, Libra Sene, Mary Stout, K. T. Sullivan, Jane Summerhays and The Broadway Blessings Choir. Tickets range from $40 to $125, and reservations can be made for the Nov. 19 event by calling (212) 714-7628.

Several MAC Award-winning divas — Baby Jane Dexter, Claiborne Cary and Audrey Lavine — flocked to the Nov. 4 opening of Tom Andersen's new show, “My Songs,” at New York’s Don't Tell Mama. All three gals were cheering from the sidelines as was John McDaniel from “The Rosie O'Donnell Show.” Andersen, a five-time MAC Award-winning singer and songwriter, also wrote “I'm Here,” a peppy opening song that he says would be perfect for the character of Karen on TV’s “Will & Grace.” For those interested in checking out Andersen’s act, there are two remaining shows, Sundays, Nov. 18 and 25 at 5:30 p.m; call (212) 757 0788 for reservations.

Performances began this week for the latest musical from Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, authors of The Fantasticks, 110 in the Shade and I Do! I Do!. Entitled Roadside, the mythical love story is set in the old west. Jones recently explained, “We set out to create a tentshow entertainment like those of our youth in Texas. We took an idea we had played around with years ago and recently expanded it to make a full-blown celebration of the wry humor and rugged spirit of the old west.” Starring Jennifer Allen, Julie Johnson, G. W. Bailey, Kurt Domoney, Tom Flagg and others, the musical will run through Dec. 23 at the York Theatre at St. Peter’s in the Citigroup Center.

A 20-week national tour of Claudia Shear’s Dirty Blonde will begin on Dec. 13 at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater in Washington, D.C. under the direction of James Lapine. Playwright/actress Shear will headline the cast through the end of January. At that time, former She Loves Me star Sally Mayes will take over the role of the late Mae West for the completion of the tour.

I’ve never been a huge fan of drag performances; for me, seeing men dressed as women loses its humor very quickly. That said, I did have quite a good time at Dragapella, a musical entertainment that is now playing Upstairs at 54, the new cabaret space located directly above the hit revival of Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret. If I wasn’t knocked out by the show, I did have several good laughs, and those who are fans of drag will have a ball. My favorite moment was actually a song delivered in Yiddish by Winnie (Irwin Keller) that was quite touching. A bit long, the show could use a few good edits, but the talented foursome, aka The Kinsey Sicks (Ben Schatz, Chris Dilley, Maurice Kelly and the aforementioned Keller), seem to be having a grand time onstage, and their energy is often contagious. Reservations can be made by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.

Quotable Quotes: Elaine Stritch on self-examination: “I think I wanted people to understand what really is in the mix of a funny girl, and that sometimes is tragedy.” Stritch on relationships with men: “I began to realize that the real thing that made me drink was the opposite sex — that’s what terrified me.” Stritch on putting together her one-woman show, Elaine Stritch at Liberty: “Barbara Cook told me I could get [the show] up in a couple of weeks. This took me two years.” [Quotes from Peter Marks’ New York Times article, “Got Time? Elaine Stritch Has a Few Things to Say.”]

REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
That Tony-winning dynamo, Betty Buckley, has just released a new slate of concert performances, which follows:
Now through Nov. 18 at the Mohegan Sun Cabaret in Uncasville, CT
November 24 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
December 6 at Abravenal Hall with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, UT (Xmas program)
December 7 at the Ellen Eccles Theatre in Logan, UT
December 27 at the Verizon Regional Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA (with Michael Feinstein)
January 4 & 5, 2002 at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford, CT
March 15 & 16, 2002 with the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh, NC
March 30 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA

BARBARA COOK
April 12 and 13 with Marilyn Horne at Michigan State University’s Warton Center in MI
April 26 at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA
June 5-9 and June 12-16 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC

LINDA EDER
Eder in concert:
Nov. 16 and 17 at Jacobs Symphony Hall in Jacksonville, FL, (877) 662 6731
Dec. 1 at the State Theatre in Easton, PA (610-252-3132)
Dec. 5 at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, (973) 376-4343
Dec. 11 at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA, (617) 266-1492
Dec. 14 and 15 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, (800) 444-1324

PATTI LuPONE
The Tony and Olivier Award-winning actress has also just released a whole new slew of concert dates, which follow:
February 9, 2002 at the Tilles Center with the Long Island Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
February 22-23, 2002 at the Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY with the Buffalo Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)

February 28 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY (“Coulda Woulda Shoulda”) BERNADETTE PETERS
Nov. 21-25 at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco
Jan. 4, 2002 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater
Jan. 6 at the Barbara Mann Hall in Ft. Myers
Jan. 7 at Van Wezel Hall in Sarasota
Jan. 9 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach
Jan. 10 at the City Center in Coral Springs
Apr. 5-6 at the OCPAC in Costa Mesa

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

—By Andrew Gans