DIVA TALK: Divas on Disc and on the Road, Plus A Grammy for Betty?

DIVA TALK: Divas on Disc and on the Road, Plus A Grammy for Betty? BETTY BUCKLEY
Congratulations to Betty Buckley who received a Grammy nomination last week for her newest CD, “Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar” (Concord Records). Buckley’s recording was nominated as one of the best traditional pop albums in a category that also includes Rosemary Clooney’s “Sentimental Journey — The Girl Singer and Her New Big Band,” Harry Connick Jr.’s “Songs I Heard,” Michael Feinstein’s “Romance on Film, Romance on Broadway,” and Keely Smith’s “Keely Sings Sinatra.” The Grammy Awards are scheduled for Feb. 27, and CBS is scheduled to broadcast the annual event beginning at 8 PM. My review of Buckley’s new recording, which features highlights from her Donmar Warehouse run, follows:

BETTY BUCKLEY
Congratulations to Betty Buckley who received a Grammy nomination last week for her newest CD, “Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar” (Concord Records). Buckley’s recording was nominated as one of the best traditional pop albums in a category that also includes Rosemary Clooney’s “Sentimental Journey — The Girl Singer and Her New Big Band,” Harry Connick Jr.’s “Songs I Heard,” Michael Feinstein’s “Romance on Film, Romance on Broadway,” and Keely Smith’s “Keely Sings Sinatra.” The Grammy Awards are scheduled for Feb. 27, and CBS is scheduled to broadcast the annual event beginning at 8 PM. My review of Buckley’s new recording, which features highlights from her Donmar Warehouse run, follows:


While listening to Betty Buckley’s latest solo CD, “Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar,” I was struck more than ever by the textures of her voice. I’ve been a fan of the talented actress/singer for years, but more than ever, she possesses the power to make her voice weep with emotion. Just listen to the array of colors in her voice as she sings the opening stanzas of James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain”: “Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone. Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you. I walked out this morning, and I wrote down this song. I just can’t remember who to send it to.” It is truly moving.


Buckley begins her eclectic program with a lovely, gentle reading of Stephen Sondheim’s “Not a Day Goes By.” It’s interesting to note that Buckley is one of the few singers who performs the more upbeat version of the song, focusing on a love that grows “better and stronger and deeper and nearer, simpler and freer and richer and clearer,” and it’s a perfect prelude to her lilting version of the Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern standard, “Just the Way You Look Tonight.” The disc’s title tune follows, Jason Robert Brown’s “Stars and the Moon.” In Buckley’s hands, Brown’s haunting work is at once comedic and shattering, the nuances of the song completely expressed. Other highlights include Tina Landau and Ricky Ian Gordon’s sweet tune, “Finding Home”; the aforementioned “Fire and Rain”; an upbeat take on Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford’s wonderful song about the uncertainties of love, “Old Friend”; and Buckley’s encore, “Amazing Grace.” One minor quibble: Kenny Werner’s arrangement of “Send in the Clowns” is a bit fussy and dissonant and ultimately distracting from Buckley’s distinguished delivery of the Sondheim classic. But, all in all, “Stars and the Moon: Betty Buckley Live at the Donmar” is another masterful blend of singer and song. (Buckley’s full performance at the Donmar Warehouse is available on DVD and VHS.) The CD’s complete track listing follows:
“Not a Day Goes By”
“Just the Way You Look Tonight”
“Stars and the Moon”
“Finding Home”
“Answer Me My Love”
“Migratory V”/ “A Horse with Wings”
“Fire and Rain”
Poet’s Medley: “Red Dress”/“Souvenir”/“Will There Really Be a Morning?”
“Old Friend”
“Send in the Clowns”
“Close to Home”
“Amazing Grace”

BERNADETTE PETERS
As Bernadette Peters fans eagerly await the release of her upcoming recording, the two-time Tony winner has just issued a new slate of concert dates. Be sure to catch the former Annie Get Your Gun star live--you will not regret it.
Jan. 4, 2002 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, FL
Jan. 6 at the Barbara Mann Hall in Ft. Myers, FL
Jan. 7 at Van Wezel Hall in Sarasota, FL
Jan. 9 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, FL
Jan. 10 at the City Center in Coral Springs, FL
Feb. 19 at the Grand Floridian in Lake Buena Vista, FL
April 5-6 at the Orange County Perf. Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA
April 13 at the Providence Perf. Arts Center in Providence, RI
April 20 at Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis, MO
May 18 at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA
Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the Morton H. Meyerson Hall in Dallas, TX
Aug. 26 at the Hilbert Circle in Indianapolis, IN
LINDA EDER
During her recent, thrilling concerts on Broadway, Linda Eder announced that her newest recording, “Gold,” will be released on Feb. 12 on the Atlantic Records label. The track listing for Eder’s new recording, which features mostly Frank Wildhorn tunes, follows:
“Here Comes the Sun”-George Harrison
“How Little We Know”-Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy
“Until I Don't Love You Anymore”-Frank Wildhorn/Robin Lerner
“Son of a Preacher Man”-John Hurley & Ronnie Wilkins
“If I Should Lose My Way”-Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy
“Gently Break My Heart”-Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy
“Everything That's Wrong”-Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy
“Drift Away”-Mentor Williams
“Across the Water”-Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy
“Her Gypsy Heart”-Frank Wildhorn/Robin Lerner
“How in the World”-Frank Wildhorn/David Zippel
“We're All Alone”-Boz Scaggs
“Gold”-Frank Wildhorn/Nan Knighton
“If I Had My Way”-Frank Wildhorn/Jack Murphy

MAUREEN McGOVERN
Maureen McGovern, she of the multi-octave range, has also released a new concert schedule. Performance dates and venues follow:
Jan. 12 at the Newberry Opera house in Newberry, SC
Jan. 15 and 16 at the Spanish River Center in Boca Raton, FL
Jan. 24 at the Barns of Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA
Jan. 25, 26 and 27 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA
Jan. 30 at the Gordon Center for the Performing Arts in Owings Mills, MD
Feb. 1, 2 and 3 at the San Diego Museum of Art in San Diego, CA
Feb. 16 and 17 at the Hilbert Circle Theater in Indianapolis, IN
March 6-11 and 13-18 at the Cinegrill Grand reopening in Hollywood, CA
March 24 as part of the Guest Artist Series with the U.S. Air Force Band at Constitutional Hall in Washington, D.C

QUOTABLE QUOTES
This past Sunday’s New York Times “Arts & Leisure” section should have been subtitled “The Diva Edition,” since it contained interesting articles about three grand women: the inimitable Barbara Cook and the late Ethel Merman and Mabel Mercer. What follows are some choice quotes from each of these articles:


Barbara Cook comments on using a microphone in Anthony Tommasini’s article, “Sounding Better As Time Goes By”:
“I wouldn’t think of trying to be heard without it. I’d rip myself to pieces. I sing rather softly these days. When I was really hitting it on Broadway, I found singing pianissimos difficult. Now I find them easy.”


Barry Singer discusses Ethel Merman in his article, “Ethel Merman: The Clarion Call”:
“Listen to [Merman] as Annie Oakley in ‘Annie Get Your Gun.’ The voice is brassy, jaunty, clarion, yet unexpectedly lilting. It is a sound that seems to embody much of what has been lost in our musical life over the last quarter century; a quality of unapologetic, all-American moxie that our culture as a whole has largely abandoned since the 60’s.”


Terry Teachout has this to say about the late cabaret singer Mabel Mercer in his article, “Mabel Mercer: The Subtle Truth”:
“In fact, Mercer sang like a first-class actress -- but one who was also intensely musical. Few singers, whether popular or classical, have had her ability to loosen up the written rhythms of a melody so as to make them accord with the natural rhythms of speech.”

IN OTHER NEWS The Acting Company will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a one-night-only benefit performance of A Very Special Evening with Marian Seldes on Monday, Jan. 14 at 7PM. The Tony, Drama Desk and Obie award-winning actress will perform readings from some of her most memorable roles as well as relate stories of her remarkable career. Seldes, who was most recently on Broadway in Neil Simon’s 45 Seconds From Broadway has also appeared on The Great White Way in Medea, Father’s Day, Ondine, Crime and Punishment and many other plays. Tickets for the evening range from $50-$100 and can be ordered by calling The Acting Company at (212) 944-5517. . . On this Sunday’s broadcast of “Everything Old Is New Again” (9-11 PM over WBAI 99.5 FM and on the internet at www.2600.com/offthehook/hot2.ram), you can expect to hear recent recordings from Betty Buckley, Barbara Cook, Lea DeLaria, Karen Mason, Heather MacRae, Kristin Chenoweth, Howard McGillin, Jeff Harnar and others. Two listeners will also win pairs of tickets to “An Evening with Margaret Whiting,” which will take place on January 25 at 8:00 PM at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Next week’s radio broadcast will feature an interview with Karen Mason as well as excerpts from her new recording, “When the Sun Comes Out.” Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!

By Andrew Gans