DIVA TALK: Divas On Stage, In Concert & More

DIVA TALK: Divas On Stage, In Concert & More BETTY BUCKLEY
There was a wonderful interview with Betty Buckley in the Feb. 15 issue of In Theater Magazine. Buckley, who concludes her run in The Eros Trilogy this weekend, had this to say to writer Kathy Henderson about her non-musical stage work: "I think [the last play I did] was The Perfectionist, by Joyce Carol Oates, at the McCarter Theatre for [director] Emily Mann, just before I did Sunset Boulevard. I've done tons of readings at the Public Theater. This past year, I did a reading for Tony Kushner of a new play he's written called St. Cecilia's Music. I was offered three plays this winter, [including] one at the Kennedy Center about Georgia O'Keeffe; I was very interested in doing it, but I couldn't work it into my schedule. Then my agents called and said, 'We have a new Nicky Silver play.' I love his writing, and I'd been speaking to [Vineyard artistic director] Doug Aibel for some time because I love this space. It's nice and intimate." Buckley also spoke about some future projects. "My friend Kevin Duncan and I," Buckley explained, "are forming our own production and recording company this year, called KO Productions. My brother Norman and I are looking for a film project to do together; he's a great editor, and he should be directing. I feel really good about what I'm doing now. I spent a lot of years being pretty stressed all the time. And I think you reach a certain age when you go, 'I don't have the reserves to process this much stress anymore.' It's my mission to make choices for myself in personal and professional relationships where everybody has a good time. We're not here that long, and I've wasted too much time wading through stress and craziness. I don't have to do that anymore."

BETTY BUCKLEY
There was a wonderful interview with Betty Buckley in the Feb. 15 issue of In Theater Magazine. Buckley, who concludes her run in The Eros Trilogy this weekend, had this to say to writer Kathy Henderson about her non-musical stage work: "I think [the last play I did] was The Perfectionist, by Joyce Carol Oates, at the McCarter Theatre for [director] Emily Mann, just before I did Sunset Boulevard. I've done tons of readings at the Public Theater. This past year, I did a reading for Tony Kushner of a new play he's written called St. Cecilia's Music. I was offered three plays this winter, [including] one at the Kennedy Center about Georgia O'Keeffe; I was very interested in doing it, but I couldn't work it into my schedule. Then my agents called and said, 'We have a new Nicky Silver play.' I love his writing, and I'd been speaking to [Vineyard artistic director] Doug Aibel for some time because I love this space. It's nice and intimate." Buckley also spoke about some future projects. "My friend Kevin Duncan and I," Buckley explained, "are forming our own production and recording company this year, called KO Productions. My brother Norman and I are looking for a film project to do together; he's a great editor, and he should be directing. I feel really good about what I'm doing now. I spent a lot of years being pretty stressed all the time. And I think you reach a certain age when you go, 'I don't have the reserves to process this much stress anymore.' It's my mission to make choices for myself in personal and professional relationships where everybody has a good time. We're not here that long, and I've wasted too much time wading through stress and craziness. I don't have to do that anymore."


And, as reported last week, BB will begin her first major stand at the Cafe Carlyle, the cabaret room in the Carlyle Hotel, on March 16. The two-week engagement concludes on Saturday, March 27; call (212) 570-7189 for reservations . . . Also, rumor has it that Ms. B will head back into the recording studio sometime within the next month or two. . .

LINDA EDER
Linda Eder's eagerly awaited debut TV concert will begin airing on PBS stations across the country in March. To help promote the program, which is simply titled "Linda Eder in Concert, the statuesque diva with the superior vocals will host the concert live in several cities throughout the month (see listing below). "I'm a throwback," Eder recently admitted. "I can't help but get charged up when I hear a big band. There's something about that rhythm. I just love it more than anything." Eder fans can expect to hear such tunes as "Someone Like You," "It's Time," "Over the Rainbow," "Man of La Mancha," "I Want More," "Why Do People Fall in Love," "Something to Believe In" as well as "I Never Knew His Name," a tune from the upcoming Frank Wildhorn musical The Civil War. Check local PBS listings for time.
Houston: March 4
Detroit: March 5
Hartford: March 7
San Francisco: March 10
Boston: March 14
Philadelphia: March 15
Maryland: March 16
North Carolina: March 17
New York: March 18
Los Angeles: March 19
Miami: March 20

PATTI LuPONE
Although Patti LuPone won't make it to Broadway this season in the new play with music based on James Joyce's The Dead, you can catch a glimpse of this multi-talented gal tonight (Feb. 26) in a repeat broadcast of "Law & Order" -- which features LuPone as a no-nonsense attorney -- on the Arts & Entertainment Network. As for The Dead, LuPone is still interested in this James Joyce work, which has been adapted by playwright Richard Nelson and features music by Shaun Davey with lyrics by both Nelson and Davey. Let's hope La LuPone is back on Broadway soon.

KAREN MASON
Fans of Karen Mason, who recently tied the knot to Paul Rolnick, will be happy to learn of the many upcoming engagements for this talented chanteuse. From Feb. 27 through March 10, Mason will perform on the Theatre Guild Cruise up the Amazon River, and on March 11, the former Sunset Boulevard standby will make an appearance on the Jamie deRoy & Friends program at the Laurie Beechman Theatre (at the West Bank Cafe, located at 407 West 42nd Street; call (212) 695-6900). March 12 brings a concert performance at Tilles Hall at Long Island University; for reservations to that evening call (516) 299-3100. From March 20 until March 23 the songstress will perform on a Broadway cruise to the Caribbean, and March 24 brings Mason back to Davenports Cabaret in Chicago, where she will reside through April 11; call Davenports at (773) 278-1830. One final date: Mason will perform at the Bradstan Inn in White Lake New York on June 20. Stay tuned for more Mason engagements!

DIVA BENEFITS

DIVAS (and more) SALUTE FRANK LOESSER
A host of Broadway and cabaret's finest will be on hand on Saturday, March 20 to salute the work of the late composer Frank Loesser. Loesser, who created such Broadway hits as Guys and Dolls, How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, The Most Happy Fella, Where's Charley? and Greenwillow, also contributed songs to such films as Hans Christian Anderson, Destry Rides Again, Thank Your Lucky Stars and Neptune's Daughter. Highlights of the event promise to be the cast of Broadway's Titanic singing "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" plus performances from Loesser's wife and daughter, Jo Sullivan Loesser and Emily Loesser.


Others scheduled to perform at the event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 11 PM at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street), include Liz Callaway, Betty Comden, Debbie Gravitte, Josie de Guzman, Mary Cleere Haran, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Melba Joyce, Linda Lavin, Rebecca Luker, Michele Lee, Rita Moreno, Sarah Jessica Parker, Marilyn Sokol, KT Sullivan and Margaret Whiting, as well as Matthew Broderick, Adolph Green, Joe Grifasi, Jonathan Hadary, Richard Muenz, James Naughton, Lee Roy Reams, Steve Ross, John Rubinstein, Don Stephenson, Billy Stritch and more. Admission is free to the event, and Loesser fans are invited to stay as long as they wish or for the entire 12-hour extravaganza. For those of you unable to make it to the hall, the concert will be broadcast live on WNYC-AM 820 from 6 PM to 11 PM. For more information, call (212) 864 1414 ext. 403 or visit the Symphony Space website at www.symphonyspace.org.

TRU DIVAS
Theater Resources Unlimited (TRU), a supportive network of theatre producers--for both not-for-profit and commercial theatre -- who do support, networking and educational services for the theatre community, is having its first cabaret benefit. Titled "True Love," the benefit will be hosted by Judy Garland impersonator Tommy Femia, and proceeds will help to underwrite future co-operative producing ventures, including a New Musicals Concert Series scheduled for fall 1999. Other scheduled to perform include Heather MacRae, Jeanne Lehman, Jennifer Piech, Annie Hughes, Barbara Lea, Vickie Phillips, Suzanna Bowling, Dottie Burman, Mary Barto, Lisa Gold plus Bryan Batt, James Bohanek, Edward Hibbert, Dan Jenkins and David Sabella.


The TRU benefit will take place on Monday, March 8 (buffet and wine at 7 PM, show at 8 PM, with a raffle and a silent auction) at the Jan Hus Theater, 351 East 74th Street. Tickets are priced at $40 (purchased before 3/3) or $50 at door. Send check or money order to: Theater Resources Unlimited, 309 West 104th Street, Apt. 1D, NY, NY 10025 or call (212) 714-7628.

RECORDINGS

THE CIVIL WAR
Next month, The Civil War, a new work from the composer of Jekyll & Hyde and The Scarlet Pimpernel, begins previews on Broadway at the St. James Theatre. Already in stores is an ambitious concept recording of the musical entitled The Civil War: The Complete Work and available from Atlantic Records. Boasting a parade of stars from every genre of music -- country, pop, rock, gospel, R&B, opera and musical theatre -- the two-CD set is an easy, enjoyable listen, offering an abundance of melody.


Highlights of the first disc include the driving force of "By the Sword," sung by the Broadway All Stars; Kevin Sharp's emotional "Tell My Father," in which a dying soldier begs his friend to inform his father that he upheld the family name; an impassioned "Freedom's Child," thrillingly sung by Hootie & the Blowfish; and "If Prayin' Were Horses," an extremely moving tune about a slave couple's final moments together after they learn they have been sold separately. Listen to the way Michel Bell and Cheryl Freeman's voices soar on this beautiful melody.


The best of the second disc include Linda Eder's usual luscious tones on "A Candle in the Window"; Patti LaBelle's stentorian, gospel-tinged "Someday"; Betty Buckley's heartbreaking "Five Boys," a mother's ode to her five sons, who all lost their lives on the battlefield; Carl Anderson's pledge of eternal love to his wife "Sarah" on the eve of battle; Trisha Yearwood's melodic "The Honor of Your Name"; and Michael Lanning, Gene Miller and Linda Eder's stirring finale, "The Glory," also featuring a back up chorus that provides a stirring conclusion. There are also spoken passages by such notables as Dr. Maya Angelou, Danny Glover, James Garner, Charlie Daniels and Ellen Burstyn.

QUOTABLE QUOTES


In Stephane Ly-Cuong's interview with Lea Salonga (on the Tony Awards website), who is currently reprising her acclaimed title role in Miss Saigon at the Broadway Theatre, the Tony winner discusses her casting choices for a Miss Saigon all-star concert performance should one be produced:
"I'd like to work with Jonathan Pryce again. He was so much fun to work with the first time. For Chris, I'd love Will Chase. I've seen a lot of Chrises and so far, he's one of the most impressive and real. And he's a very humble person to work with. For John, I liked Hinton Battle. He was so dynamic. When he's on stage, all this energy comes to him. It's so emotional when he does it. For Ellen... Ruthie Henshall... We were in the show together when it first opened in London. She understudied Ellen, so we've done it a few times together."

Rebecca Luker discusses her first theatrical experience in a recent TDF "Kids Night on Broadway" mailer:
"I was absolutely fascinated with a children's theatre production of Treasure Island when I was eight or nine. I took away with me the thrill one gets when the curtain goes up and there are all the costumes, sets and actors. Theatre was scarce where I grew up, and not many people thought about it as being important. But it was magical to me."


Ute Lemper on the same topic:
"How old was I when I was taken to my first theatre production? Six years old, a Christmas production of Cinderella. [I remember] the songs, the costumes, the magic."


La Chanze, Ragtime's new Sarah on Broadway, discusses the role in an In Theater article by Marc Miller:
". . .every single night, after a year and a half, I'll find something new -- and it surprises me! Just the other night, in the picnic scene, for the first time, I found Sarah was actually nervous. She's never been in this situation before, and she's a little embarrassed by what she's done, not speaking to Coalhouse for five months."


Ben Brantley's New York Times review of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown:
". . .Watching [Kristen Chenoweth] here is what it must have been like to catch a novice named Bernadette Peters lighting up a musical spoof called 'Dames at Sea' 30 years ago. Ms. Chenoweth has appeared in New York before, most notably in 'Steel Pier' and Encores' concert version of 'Strike Up the Band,' but this is the part that should seal her reputation."

REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
BB concert line-up:
April 17 at the Lehman Center for the Perf. Arts in Bronx, NY
April 23 at the College of New Jersey in Erwing, NJ
May 3 at the Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center in Chicago, Ill.


PATTI LuPONE
On March 5, 6, and 7 Patti LuPone will bring her new concert act-- Matters of the Heart -- to Baltimore, where she will appear with the Baltimore Symphony; call (410) 783-8000 for tickets. (Also, La 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.)

BERNADETTE PETERS
Peters, who is currently starring on Broadway in the revival of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun, will appear on "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" on Tuesday, March 23 on ABC. She will join the ladies of "The View" (ABC) sometime in April. Stay tuned for that air date.

ALICE RIPLEY and EMILY SKINNER
Those super Side Show stars, Alice Ripely and Emily Skinner, will be on hand at the New Voices Theatre Ensemble's benefit on Monday, March 1 to sing selections from their acclaimed new CD, "Duets." The benefit, which will include cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, the women's performance and a silent auction, will be held in the Penthouse Suite of the Royalton Hotel on West 44th Street in NYC. Tickets are priced between $50 and $1,000 and may be purchased by calling (212) 539-4525. The New Voices Theatre Ensemble is a not-for-profit company that produces original and classic works at Synchronicity Space in Soho . . . Ripley will also perform her cabaret act at the West Bank Cafe (42nd St. and 9th Avenue) on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 9:30 pm. There is a $15 cover; call (212) 695-6909 for reservations.

MAC AWARDS
The 13th annual MAC Awards, the Oscars of the New York cabaret scene, will honor Barbara Cook and her musical director, Wally Harper, with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday, April 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall. Betty Buckley, another MAC Award winner, will perform as well. And, Liza Minnelli, who will receive the MAC Board of Directors Award, is expected to perform with Billy Stritch. Tickets range from $20-$100 and will be available at the Town Hall box office and through TicketMaster, beginning about March 1. For more information about MAC, call (212) 465-2662.

NOTHING LIKE A DAME
This annual concert to benefit the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of The Actors' Fund of America will be held on Monday, March 1 at 7 p.m. at the Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street). At this point, the remarkable one-night-only event will feature these "dames": Loni Ackerman, Joy Behar, Kate Burton, Ayodele Casel, Lea DeLaria, Dorothy Delay, Patricia Elliott, Melissa Errico, Amanda Green, Uta Hagen, Joan Hamburg, Dee Hoty, Anne Jackson, Marcia Lewis, Tisidii Le Loka, Nancy Lemanger, Anna Manahan, Saeka Matsuyama, Sally Mayes, Anne Meara, Donna Murphy, Bebe Neuwirth, Phyllis Newman, Christiane Noll, Nancy Opel, Christine Pedi, Daisy Prince, Faith Prince, Denise Roberts, Mary Testa, Marisa Tomei, Rachel York and female cast members from virtually every show. For tickets, call the DAME LINE at 1-888-DAME-TIX (1-888-326-3849); tickets range from $40 to $1,000.

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.