DIVA TALK: Divas Galore in Cinderella; Buckley on Leave from Triumph

DIVA TALK: Divas Galore in Cinderella; Buckley on Leave from Triumph BERNADETTE PETERS
Production has concluded on the upcoming ABC presentation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Cinderella. As previously announced, the TV musical will star Bernadette Peters as the "absurdly imperious Stepmother"; Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother; Brandy in the title role; Whoopi Goldberg as the sophisticated Queen Constantina; Victor Garber as Constantina's husband King Maximilian; Paolo Montalban as the Prince; Jason Alexander as Lionel, the Prince's ever-loyal valet; and Natalie Desselle and Veanne Cox as Cinderella's stepsisters, Minerva and Calliope.

The production was produced by Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Whitney Houston and Debra Martin Chase. Chase recently said, "My dream is that this Cinderella will touch every child and the child in every adult. I sincerely hope that it reinforces the art of dreaming--having a vision and understanding that everyone has the power within to make that vision come true." Be sure to catch Cinderella when it airs on November 2, from 7-9 p.m. on ABC as part of "The Wonderful World of Disney."

In other news, the wonderful BP has been invited to be a guest at the White House on October 25, when Al Pacino will be honored. Peters seems to be a favorite of the White House, having performed for the President and the First Lady twice last year, including the inaugural ceremonies where she sang the Alan Menken tune, "These Are the Good Times." Also, add the Mishler Theatre in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on December 4 to the growing list of upcoming concert appearances.

BERNADETTE PETERS
Production has concluded on the upcoming ABC presentation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Cinderella. As previously announced, the TV musical will star Bernadette Peters as the "absurdly imperious Stepmother"; Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother; Brandy in the title role; Whoopi Goldberg as the sophisticated Queen Constantina; Victor Garber as Constantina's husband King Maximilian; Paolo Montalban as the Prince; Jason Alexander as Lionel, the Prince's ever-loyal valet; and Natalie Desselle and Veanne Cox as Cinderella's stepsisters, Minerva and Calliope.

The production was produced by Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Whitney Houston and Debra Martin Chase. Chase recently said, "My dream is that this Cinderella will touch every child and the child in every adult. I sincerely hope that it reinforces the art of dreaming--having a vision and understanding that everyone has the power within to make that vision come true." Be sure to catch Cinderella when it airs on November 2, from 7-9 p.m. on ABC as part of "The Wonderful World of Disney."

In other news, the wonderful BP has been invited to be a guest at the White House on October 25, when Al Pacino will be honored. Peters seems to be a favorite of the White House, having performed for the President and the First Lady twice last year, including the inaugural ceremonies where she sang the Alan Menken tune, "These Are the Good Times." Also, add the Mishler Theatre in Altoona, Pennsylvania, on December 4 to the growing list of upcoming concert appearances.

BETTY BUCKLEY
We were upset to hear this week that one of our favorite ladies, Betty B, will be taking a brief medical leave-of-absence from rehearsals of Triumph of Love for impending back surgery. Ms. B recently injured her back while on a hiking trip and will be required to have some corrective surgery. "God saw fit to give me a little kick in the butt. . .some kind of wake up call," Buckley recently explained. "I don't know to what," she added, "but I can't wait to get back to work. The show is going to be fabulous." After her surgery next week, Buckley will be confined to bed rest for two or three weeks, but she will return in time for Triumph's opening. The situation is eerily similar to BB's London Sunset opening, when she was sidelined with a lung infection just prior to her opening night. But, the professional she is, Buckley returned to that show just in time to triumph as Norma Desmond, where reviewers exclaimed, "Betty Buckley strode into town brandishing her million dollar voice. . .we are in a very special presence and very privileged to be there." We're sure her Triumph opening will be just as successful!

Speaking of Triumph, I thought you would be interested to read the plot synopsis of the upcoming Broadway musical, which in addition to starring Buckley features F. Murray Abraham, Susan Egan and Nancy Opel (Elayne Boosler has withdrawn from the cast and has been replaced by Opel, a former matinee Evita). The synopsis, provided by the show's press agent, reads: "In a garden in Sparta (a Spartan garden if you will) a great philosopher and his iron-maiden sister live by one simple rule: love is ruinous! With this credo clutched close to their chilly hearts, they shelter their young nephew, Prince Agis, from all things alluring and amorous. And rational thought does indeed rule the day until the brainy and beautiful Princess Leonide arrive to quip, trip and zip the gorgeous but guileless Prince down the aisle. Aided by her wisecracking maid, Corine, and two willing henchmen, Leonide breaks a few rules, assumes several identities, and even bends her gender to land her prince. Three seductions, four disguises and fifteen original musical numbers unlock every heart, as one and all discover that love just won't take no for an answer."

For those of you who are planning special trips to see Buckley in Triumph of Love, following are the dates that BB will be absent from the production due to prior concert commitments:
Friday, October 3 at 8pm
Saturday, October 4 at 2 and 8pm
Friday, October 10 at 8pm
Saturday, October 11 at 2 and 8pm
Saturday, October 25 at 2 and 8pm
Tuesday, October 28 at 8pm
Friday, November 7 at 8pm
Saturday, November 15 at 2 and 8pm
Tuesday, November 18 at 8pm

Triumph of Love begins previews September 23 at the Royale Theatre and officially opens on October 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 Monday, September 8.

ELAINE PAIGE
The Bravo cable network is presenting a series of specials about theatre performers and writers throughout September. Included in the "Bravo Profiles" series are hour-long documentaries about Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, Cameron Mackintosh, Angela Lansbury and our favorite English diva, Elaine Paige. The Paige profile will be a re-edited version of the Southbank Show that was aired last year on American television. The original special about the multi-talented Paige was 90 minutes in length, and this new 60-minute version will air on Sunday, September 7 at 8 p.m. and 1 a.m. and again on Thursday, September 11 at 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. It's a great chance to see why Paige has become London's leading musical theatre actress, having triumphed in Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Chess, Anything Goes and

Cats.

While on the subject of Cats, EP will return to the London cast of the show during the second week of September for a special performance that will be taped for worldwide distribution for a holiday release. Paige will get the chance to re-create the role of Grizabella and once again send "Memory" soaring to the rafters. The video-taping of Cats is the second Andrew Lloyd Webber musical to ever be taped for sale, following Sarah Brightman and Wayne Sleep in Song and Dance. Lloyd Webber recently announced that he plans to tape a few more of his musicals for video sale. . .let's hope Evita and Sunset Boulevard will be among them.

LINDA EDER
There was an interesting interview with Jekyll & Hyde's Linda Eder in last Friday's New York Post. Following are some of Eder's choice quotes from this interview with writer Lisa Robinson:

* about being compared to Barbra Streisand:
"People ask me if it bothers me, but I was such a huge fan of hers and she was a big influence on me early on. I admire her talent tremendously, so I couldn't possibly take it any negative way."

* about working on Broadway vs. in concert:
"I like all of it, but only because I get bored doing one thing too long. Obviously I'm most comfortable doing concerts, because that's what I've done most of my life. Basically, I see myself first and foremost as a musician, so sometimes I don't feel like I'm creating when I'm doing theater; I'm just re-creating what I did the night before."

* about future plans:
"I'm committed to doing the show for a year, so at the end of April I'll be finished with 'Jekyll & Hyde,' then I'll do a concert tour. And after nine years of being together, Frank and I are going to get married on May 3."

A FINAL SUNSET
Well, it's finally arrived. What will probably be the last Sunset Boulevard recording (at least until a revival) is now available from Sound of Music, a record store in Germany. Daniela Ziegler, who replaced Helen Schneider in the German production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, has released a CD single of three of Norma's songs ("With One Look," "As If We Never Said Goodbye" and "The Perfect Year"). Ziegler, a German theatre and TV star, has appeared onstage in A Little Night Music and Follies, and she also portrayed the title role in Evita. Check out the Sound of Music website at http://members.aol.com/SoundOM/SoundOfMusic/

BROADWAY ON TV
There are a host of television specials airing in the next month that I thought you would be interested to watch, and many of them contain some fine diva action! The first one, a tribute to the music of George Gershwin, airs tonight, August 29, on WNET (Channel 13 in New York) at 9 p.m. The Happy Birthday, George Gershwin special will be hosted by Tony Award winner Tommy Tune and supreme vocalist Maureen McGovern and will also feature baritone Jubilant Sykes and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. . .Be sure to set your VCRs on September 13 for Jerry Herman's Broadway at the Bowl, which will be shown on the Bravo Network beginning at 7 p.m. The salute to the Tony and Grammy Award-winning composer features songs from many of his stage musicals, including Mack and Mabel, Mame, Dear World and Hello, Dolly! The evening of song boasts an incredible roster of performers: Bea Arthur, Rita Moreno, Carol Channing, Michael Feinstein, Karen Morrow, Davis Gaines and one of my favorites, Florence Lacey, who sings a penetrating version of "It Only Takes a Moment." For those of you who do not receive Bravo, you can purchase this tribute to Jerry Herman from Varese Sarabande, their first video release. . .On Sunday, September 14 at 8p.m. Bravo will air a 90-minute salute to the legendary pop songwriters Mike Leiber and Jerry Stoller, whose Smokey Joe's Cafe is still running strong on Broadway. The tribute will include footage from the Broadway production as well as archival photographs and clips, plus interviews with Leiber and Stoller and other musicians. . .On September 20, The Irving Berlin Story makes its debut on American television, also on the Bravo Network (at 7 p.m). The biography will detail the incredible life of one of America's most successful composers who fled Siberia in 1892 to avoid persecution, came to America and penned such enduring classic musicals as Annie Get Your Gun and Call Me Madam, the holiday tune "White Christmas" and the national anthem "God Bless America.". . .And, lastly, Bravo is also presenting a peek into the life of Tony Award-winning actor Nathan Lane (Guys and Dolls, Love! Valour! Compassion!) on Sunday, September 21 at 9 p.m. when it airs its latest edition of Inside the Actors Studio. (An encore presentation of Inside the Actors Studio: Stephen Sondheim will air on this network on September 7.)

CONCERT REMINDERS:
BETTY BUCKLEY
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)

PATTI LuPONE
September 4, 5, 6 in Hollywood, CA at the Hollywood Bowl (with Rebecca Luker and Davis Gaines) FLORENCE LACEY
Florence Lacey, Lee Roy Reams and Jerry Herman in An Evening with Jerry Herman continues at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, MA through this Saturday, August 30.

MAUREEN McGOVERN
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. . .

BERNADETTE PETERS
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 andrew_gans@playbill.com