DIVA TALK: Divas on Record and in Concert

DIVA TALK: Divas on Record and in Concert BETTY BUCKLEY
Those who missed Betty Buckley's two-week engagement at New York's famed Cafe Carlyle last month will have another chance this weekend to see the woman New York Magazine recently acclaimed as "The Voice of Broadway." The Tony Award-winning actress will take to the stage of the Bronx's Lehman Center for the Performing Arts this Saturday, April 17, at 8 PM, where she will be backed by her quartet of musicians, including Kenny Werner on piano, Jamey Haddad on percussion, Tony Marino on the bass and Billy Drewes on horns and reeds; Terry Gabis is the sound engineer for the evening.

BETTY BUCKLEY
Those who missed Betty Buckley's two-week engagement at New York's famed Cafe Carlyle last month will have another chance this weekend to see the woman New York Magazine recently acclaimed as "The Voice of Broadway." The Tony Award-winning actress will take to the stage of the Bronx's Lehman Center for the Performing Arts this Saturday, April 17, at 8 PM, where she will be backed by her quartet of musicians, including Kenny Werner on piano, Jamey Haddad on percussion, Tony Marino on the bass and Billy Drewes on horns and reeds; Terry Gabis is the sound engineer for the evening.


Buckley is expected to perform several of the newer songs she added for her Carlyle run as well as such signature tunes as Stephen Schwartz's "Meadowlark," Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Memory" and "With One Look" plus the beautiful ballad from her last Broadway outing, Triumph of Love's "Serenity." Buckley recently wowed the sold-out crowd at the MAC (Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs) Awards with her emotionally intense rendition of this Susan Birkenhead/Jeffrey Stock tune.


Tickets for Saturday's concert are priced between $20 and $30, and reservations may be made by calling the Lehman box office at (718) 960 8833 or TicketMaster at (212) 307-7171. The Lehman Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall, which is accessible by car, train or bus, is located at 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West. Be sure to catch Buckley in concert this Saturday evening. As the New York Post's Chip Deffaa recently wrote, Buckley is a "singing actress of the highest caliber; her full voice [cuts] through us powerfully."


** Also, the "American Masters" presentation of "The Women of Tin Pan Alley," which features Buckley singing a handful of classic tunes, will be broadcast on PBS stations around the country beginning Aug. 18 at 9:30 PM.

BERNADETTE PETERS
Bernadette Peters and Irving Berlin fans will be equally delighted with the soon-to-be-released cast recording of Annie Get Your Gun on the Broadway Angel label. Peters is in wonderful voice and further establishes her reputation as one of the musical theatre's all-time great performers. My suggestion: Pour yourself a glass of wine (or moonshine, as the case may be), sit back and enjoy 52 minutes of recorded bliss.


Like the show at the Marquis Theatre, the recording opens with Tom Wopat's solo version of "There's No Business Like Show Business." Wopat's easy-going vocal style is even more appealing on disc than in the theatre, and he and Peters' chemistry is apparent throughout the recording as well. After Frank Butler's entrance, there are few spoken words from Colonel Buffalo Bill (Ron Holgate), and then the chorus joins Wopat for a spirit raising conclusion of Berlin's famous show-business anthem.


The star of the recording is first heard on the CD's second track, singing the tongue-in-cheek "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly." Wopat offers a romantic "The Girl That I Marry," and Peters counters with her own beautiful tones on the song's reprise. One of the disc's highlights follows, Peters' flawless rendition of "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun," where she mines the song for all its comic value. She also tackles the high passages with skill, providing exciting vocals: Listen to the force of her belt when she sings "You can't shoot a male in the tail like a quail." She is equally delightful on a gentle and appropriately soothing "Moonshine Lullaby"; I particularly like her vocal trill/slide on the phrase "Mamma's singin' you to sleep."


Other high points of the 19-track recording include Peters and Wopat's tender first-act love song, "They Say It's Wonderful," and Peters' gorgeous rendition of "I Got Lost in His Arms." On the latter, the Tony winner builds the song with both strength and skill, pouring out her voice in the lines "How I felt as I fell/I just can't recall/But his arms held me fast/and he broke the fall/And I said to heart..." Irving Berlin's mastery of lyrical simplicity is never more evident than in this song, where he writes, "I got lost, but look what I found." Peters and Wopat's two second-act duets are also gems; in fact, the two have an audible sense of fun on both "Old Fashioned Wedding" and "Anything You Can Do."Annie Get Your Gun is this season's must-have recording, with a generous supply of beautiful songs thrillingly sung. The CD/cassette is due in stores this Tuesday, April 20.

MARY CLEERE HARAN
On her jazz-flavored tribute to the works of George Gershwin, cabaret singer Mary Cleere Haran brings a quiet elegance to the songs this legendary composer wrote for both Broadway and Hollywood. Mixing oft recorded standards (" 'S Wonderful," "They All Laughed") with a handful of rarities ("Nashville Nightingale," "Wake Up, Brother, and Dance"), Haran stakes her claim as one of cabaret's finest artists. Anyone who has ever witnessed a Haran performance live can easily recognize that she is a highly intelligent performer who carefully builds a song, finding all of its dramatic and/or comic possibilities. Highlights of Haran's new recording, "The Memory of All That," include a striking, period-voiced take on the ballad "The Man I Love"; an upbeat medley of "Sweet and Low Down," "Fidgety Feet" and "Fascinatin' Rhythm," in which she is joined by her musical director Richard Rodney Bennett; and the disc's final offering, a love-affirming "Somebody Loves Me." The complete track listing for the CD follows:


"The Real American Folk Song"
"'S Wonderful"
"Do It Again"
"Nashville Nightingales"
"The Man I Love"
"I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise"
"I'd Rather Charleston"
"Funny Face"
Medley: "Sweet & Low Down"/ "Fidgety Feet"/ "Fascinatin' Rhythm"
"Someone to Watch Over Me"
"They All Laughed"
Medley: "I Can't Be Bothered Now"/ "They Can't Take That Away From Me" / "Wake Up, Brother, and Dance"/ "Shall We Dance?"
"Love Walked In"
"Who Cares?"
"Lady, Be Good"/ "Somebody Loves Me"

TWO DIVAS (AND ONE COMPOSER) AT TOWN HALL
Exciting news on the concert front. Nonesuch Records is teaming up with The Public Theater to present three special evenings at New York's Town Hall. The concerts will celebrate songs of the past and standards of the future, written and performed by a new generation of talent. Two grand ladies -- one from the musical theatre (Audra McDonald) and one from the world of opera (Dawn Upshaw) -- and one composer (Adam Guettel) will each perform solo shows at the legendary hall in May and June.


First up will be Audra McDonald on May 5 (8 PM), who will perform songs from her recent Nonesuch release, "Way Back to Paradise," plus the songs of such composers as Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington. McDonald will be joined onstage by singer Theresa McCarthy and the aforementioned Adam Guettel. Guettel's own show follows on May 12 (8 PM) with selections from his recent Nonesuch release, "Myths and Hymns," and tunes from his critically-hailed debut piece, "Floyd Collins." And, on June 9 (8 PM) Dawn Upshaw will offer tunes from her latest recording, "Dawn Upshaw Sings Vernon Duke," as well as works from such composers as Rodgers and Hart, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Ticket prices for the women's shows are $35 and $45, while those for Mr. Guettel's performance are $25 and $35. Tickets are now on sale and may be purchased at the Town Hall Box office (123 W. 43rd St) or by calling (212) 840-2824 or Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100.

IN OTHER NEWS That Side Show gal, Alice Ripley, begins a limited run on CBS-TV's "Guiding Light" on April 23. Ripley will portray a preschool teacher who gets involved with one of her student's fathers, Fletcher Reade. "Guiding Light" airs in New York at 10 AM . . . The Public Theater's Joe's Pub celebrates the best of Broadway and cabaret in a new series devoted to the women who scat, swing, belt and croon. Lea DeLaria is currently up at bat at the new cabaret space (April 19, 26 and May 3), and she will be followed by Mary Cleere Haran (May 10 and 11), Ann Hampton Callaway (May 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22) and -- most exciting of all -- Ute Lemper (May 26, 27, 28, June 3, 4, 5 and 7). All shows are at 8:30pm . . . On Monday, May 17 at Merkin Concert Hall (129 W. 67th Street) Heather MacRae will perform "Songs for My Father," her award-winning tribute to her father Gordon MacRae. The evening will benefit the Colleagues Theatre Company, and tickets are priced between $35 and $150. For the concert only ($35 or $50), call the Merkin Concert Hall box office at (212) 501-3330. To purchase tickets for the concert and reception ($75 and $150), call (212) 352-0312 . . . "Return? I'd thought not. It's always better not to go back to things; it's better to move on. But as a treat to myself, I might. As a way of saying goodbye to it -- 'cause I was cheated of that -- maybe I might sneak back for a month next winter. That's not a definite, but I like the idea of it." So says Natasha Richardson in the April 5 issue of In Theater magazine, about the possibility of returning to the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Richardson is, of course, currently starring in the scintillating new play Closer by Patrick Marber. . . Paula West, a cabaret singer who has been enchanting audiences on both coasts, returns to the cabaret stage of the Firebird Cafe (363 West 46th Street) from April 27 through May 15. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday at 9pm and Friday and Saturday at 11 pm. The New York Times' Stephen Holden had this to say about West: "[She possesses] a strong medium dark alto [that] she wields with impressive agility. . .into a calm, warm-hearted pop delivery that conveys a steady undercurrent of playful sensuality." Call (212) 586-0244 for reservations. . . On Monday, April 26 the former Jekyll & Hyde star Christiane Noll will perform her cabaret act at Peaches at 206 E. 63rd Street. Call (212) 355-9100 for reservations . . . Tony winner Faith Prince is in the process of confirming several concert dates. Prince will also soon record her debut solo album . . .

REMINDERS:

SARAH BRIGHTMAN
On June 22 and 23, admirers of The Phantom of the Opera star will get a chance to see the singer in concert at City Center in New York City.

BETTY BUCKLEY
A host of new concert dates follows. The list is continually growing, so check the Betty Buckley website on PBOL for the latest changes.


April 23 College of New Jersey, Kendall Hall in Ewing, NJ
April 24 Phoenician Hotel in Scottsdale, AZ
May 3 Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center in Chicago, IL
June 5 Myerson Symphony Center--Obelisk Awards in Dallas, TX
June 7 PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ
June 10-13 Theatrefest in Montclair, NJ
June 29 Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA
July 20 Point Lookout in Camden, ME
July 27 Main Music Center in Philadelphia, PA
Oct. 9 Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY
Oct. 22 (class); October 23 (concert) Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; Foellinger Great Hall in Champaign-Urbana, IL
Oct. 24 Sangamon Stage University Auditorium; Springfield, IL
Nov. 6 State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
Nov. 14 Cincinnati, OH (venue to come)
Dec. 6-7 St. Barths Church in New York, NY
Dec. 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
Dec. 18 Atlantic University Auditorium in Boca Raton, FL
Dec. 31 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT

PATTI LuPONE
LuPone will join opera star Bryn Terfel for a concert version of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. The performers will be backed by the New York Philharmonic, and the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday.

KAREN MASON
The songstress will perform at the Bradstan Inn in White Lake New York on June 20, and on September 25 KM will perform in concert to benefit Dallas Children's Theatre Fairmont Hotel, Dallas.

ELAINE PAIGE
Following are a a handful of upcoming Paige concert dates in Sweden, which are listed below:
June 10 Ulriksdal (as part of the Royal Ulriksdal Palace Festival) in Stockholm, Sweden
June 12 Finspang Palace in Finspang (outside of Norrkoping), Sweden
June 17 Sofiero Palce in Helsingborg, Sweden
June 19 Tradgardsforeningen Botanical Gardens in Gothenburg, Sweden


Paige will also appear as the special guest of Cliff Richards at his concerts in Hyde Park, London, on July 16, 17 and 18. Tickets are available from First Call: 0171 420 1000. And, don't forget, EP will make a special appearance in New York City in May when she will perform at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's spring gala on Wednesday, May 5 at the New Christie's Auction House in the city. The event is being hosted by Barbara Walters, and Paige--who is expected to sing a handful of her biggest hits -will be accompanied on the piano by Tony Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch. For more information about this worthy event, contact The Breast Cancer Research Foundation at (212) 572-4249.

BERNADETTE PETERS
To celebrate the release on April 20 of the Annie Get Your Gun cast recording, that show's stars, Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat will be part of a CD signing at the Virgin Records Megastore in Times Square on Friday, April 23. The signing will take place at 1 PM.

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

by Andrew Gans
e-mail me at agans@playbill.com

Diva Talk is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Shepard, 1976 1998.