DIVA TALK: Divas Sing in Cabarets

News   DIVA TALK: Divas Sing in Cabarets BETTY BUCKLEY

BETTY BUCKLEY

More rave reviews have come in for Betty Buckley’s current run at the Cafe Carlyle. Thought you would enjoy reading a few excerpts from the New York critics:

Stephen Holden in The New York Times:
“Sometimes all it takes for a cabaret performer to make a great leap forward is the decision to relax and let go. By dropping her normally imperious guard in her new act . . . Betty Buckley has shed several defensive barriers between herself and her audience . . . Letting go, for this steely-voiced Broadway diva, has meant shedding her stentorian impulses to sing softly and compellingly with a trio that on Friday included Bruce Barth on piano, Tony Marino on bass and Jamey Haddad, a gifted world-music percussionist, on drums. The group's fluent, delicately jazz-flavored accompaniments on songs like ‘Hello Young Lovers,’ ‘The Way You Look Tonight,’ ‘How Deep Is the Ocean’ and ‘Ruby’ gave Ms. Buckley room to stretch and dip in and out of speech-song as she turned each song into a quivering, intimate confession . . .Even ‘Memory,’ Ms. Buckley's signature song from ‘Cats,’ emerged refreshed when scaled-down from a piercing theatrical cry into a wretched feline's sigh of exhaustion and sorrow. Here and elsewhere, Ms. Buckley conveyed an unguarded intensity that suggested she has it in her to become a kind of Texan-American Edith Piaf, if such a thing is possible.”

Chip Deffaa in New York Post:
“Good songs eventually find ideal interpreters. At the Cafe Carlyle, a last minute addition to Betty Buckley’s act -- Jason Robert Brown’s ‘Stars and the Moon’ -- turns out to be a peak moment in her show. And Buckley’s near-conversational version of this inventive, meaningful song is the most effective I’ve heard yet. . . Buckley, at her best, is an unusually focused interpreter of lyrics. She compels you to pay close attention, whether offering the haunting ‘Ruby,’ the playful ‘Dreamin’’ or a pensive medley of her own ‘If I Remember You Right’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘I Had a King.’ And her poignant, emotionally concentrated interpretation of ‘Memory’ remains definitive. . .”

Liz Smith in Newsday:
“Rialto raves for the one and only Betty Buckley’s heartwarming new act, aptly called ‘Heart to Heart’ at the most romantic club in town, the Cafe Carlyle. There is no doubt that Betty Buckley is Broadway’s ultimate sweetheart, but sitting and sipping in the quiet comfort of the cafe makes one more aware of just how magical this musical actress really is. . .The surprise of the evening is Betty’s talent at songwriting. . . this is a perfect evening away from home. If you neglected your loved one on Valentine’s Day, make it up to them by booking your reservations between now and Ms. Buckley’s closing . . .” (Buckley and her trio will perform at the Carlyle through March 17, Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:45 and 10:45 PM. There is a $60 cover charge, and reservations may be made by calling 212-744-1600. The Cafe Carlyle is located at 35 East 76th Street.)

Also, BB will perform in Boston on May 13 at a benefit for the Huntington Theatre’s Education and Outreach program. Tickets start at $75 and may be purchased by calling (617) 266-0800.

KAREN AKERS

One of my very favorite singers, Karen Akers, will make her Algonquin debut on Tuesday, April 4. The statuesque singer, who starred on Broadway in Nine (Tony nomination) and Grand Hotel and who has brightened such cabarets as the now-defunct Ballroom and Rainbow & Stars, will premiere her latest cabaret act at the famed hotel’s Oak Room. Entitled “Haunted Heart,” Akers’ new show was inspired by Jo Stafford’s recording of that tune, and the woman who has been called “the most regal of cabaret singers” will continue her love affair with France in this upcoming act. You can expect to hear Akers wrap her velvety tones around “Paris Is a Lonely Town,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Paris in the Rain” as well as works by Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg, Stephen Schwartz, Randy Newman and even a song by Parade’s Jason Robert Brown. Show times for “Haunted Heart,” which runs through April 21, are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 9 PM and Friday and Saturday nights at 9 and 11:30 PM. There is a $50 cover charge and a $15 food/drink minimum. The Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel is located at 59 West 44th Street; call (212) 840-6800 for reservations.

THE WEST COAST CABARET CONVENTION

The third annual West Cost Cabaret Convention has been set for this June at the Leonore S. Gershwin Theatre (2350 Turk Boulevard in San Francisco). Sponsored by the Mabel Mercer Foundation, the convention will run from June 5 through June 11 and will feature some of the best of the Bay Area’s artists, as well as cabaret stars from New York and elsewhere.

Tickets are only $20 per performance, and those scheduled to entertain include Karen Akers, Lisa Asher, Judy Barnett, Joyce Breach, Barbara Brussell, Barbara Carroll, Claiborne Cary, Charles Cermele, Baby Jane Dexter, Tovah Feldshuh, Ann Kerry Ford, Rita Gardner, Jeff Harnar, Shauna Hicks, Celeste Holm, Alix Korey, Lee Lessack, Marcia Lewis, Andrea Marcovicci, Susannah Mars, Karen Mason, Sharon McKnight, Liliane Montevecchi, Rita Moreno, Sidney Myer, Phillip Officer, Georga Osborne, Tom Postilio, Lee Roy Reams, Steve Ross, Joan Ryan, Marian Seldes, Cybill Shepherd, Billy Stritch, K.T. Sullivan, Paula West, Wesla Whitfield, Julie Wilson and many, many others. For more information, contact the Mabel Mercer Foundation at (212) 980-3026/3109 or e-mail at mmfmabel@earthlink.net).

IN OTHER NEWS

Alice Ripley and Jessica Molaskey were the highlights of this week’s tribute to the music of Jerome Moross (The Golden Apple) at the Public Theater’s Joe’s Pub. Molaskey scored with an intense version of “Lazy Afternoon” and Ripley displayed her soaring belt and head tones with great aplomb in three songs: “Windflowers,” “Some Day” and the tongue-in-cheek “I’ve Even Been in Love.” The evening also featured the voices of Philip Chaffin, Richard Muenz and Jenny Giering, and those interested in catching the hour-long program have two more chances: March 6 and 13 at 8:30 PM. Call Joe’s Pub at (212) 539-8778 for reservations. On a related note: I recently heard Ripley perform the second-act Evita show stopper “Rainbow High,” and I cannot begin to describe how thrillingly she sang this Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice tune. Her delivery of “To make me fantastic, I have to be Raaaaaainbooooow Hiiiiiiiiigh, in magical colouuuuuuuurs!” was pure belter’s heaven. Hopefully this musical will be revived on Broadway soon, and I can think of no one better than Ripley to take on the challenging role. Should a Broadway revival not happen, how about an Evita in Concert benefit? My casting: Ripley as Eva, Norm Lewis as Peron, Brian d’Arcy James as Che, John Barrowman (in a cameo role) as Magaldi, and Angela Covington (who played the role in the recent national tour) as the Mistress. Are there any producers out there listening?! . . . Speaking of magnificent belters, I was thrilled that Alix Korey received such glowing notices for her current role in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of The Wild Party. Even The New York Times’s Ben Brantley said, “And Alix Korey, as the party's token lesbian (she wears a man's suit, of course), hijacks the production for the few minutes it takes her to sing her big solo. The number is a George M. Cohan-ish paean to the "soft-hearted, old fashioned lesbian love story." Korey delivers it with show-stopping brassiness as her character cruises the room for receptive female flesh. It's a shameless, vulgarly rendered song, but it has that shimmer of real personality that is lifeblood to musicals.” . . . Exciting news for Lillias White fans. The phenomenal, Tony-winning singer-actress will begin a three-week run at Arci’s Place (450 Park Avenue South) on Tuesday, March 14. Entitled “Lillias White and Friends,” the show will be performed Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 9 PM and Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 and 11 PM. There is a $25 cover charge and a $15 minimum; call (212) 532-4370 for reservations . . . A few weeks ago I wrote about the upcoming release of The Fantasticks on video. The filmed version of the Tom Jones-Harvey Schmidt work, the longest running musical in theatre history, stars Joel Grey and Joe McIntyre. Unfortunately, due to legal matters, the video will not be released on April 4 as originally announced. No new release date has been given, so stay tuned for an update . . . On Friday, April 28, Chicago star Ute Lemper will perform in concert at New York’s Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street). Tickets range from $25 to $45 and may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100 . . . On March 10 the glorious-voiced Christine Andreas, she of The Scarlet Pimpernel Version I.0, will open a three-week run at New York’s Algonquin Hotel. Performances are Tuesday-Thursday evenings at 9 PM and Friday and Saturday nights at 9 and 11:30 PM. Call (212) 840-6800 for reservations . . . Theatrical legend Barbara Cook returns to the Cafe Carlyle -- her home away from home -- with another enchanting act from March 21 through April 29. Call (212) 744-1600 to book seats . . . WNYC-FM (93.9) in New York will broadcast Wall to Wall Kurt Weill throughout the weekend of March 25 and 26. The free event, which will take place at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street) on Saturday, March 25 from 11 AM to 11PM, will feature hundreds of singers and musicians who will perform the works of the late Weill. Some of the many names scheduled to appear include Kitty Carlisle Hart, Judy Kaye, Linda Lavin, Ute Lemper, Howard McGillin, Rita Moreno, David Staller, KT Sullivan and a plethora of others. For more information, call (212) 864-1414, ext. 403 or visit www.symphonyspace.org.

REMINDERS

BETTY BUCKLEY

Betty Buckley returned to the famed Cafe Carlyle this week for a five week stint. The Tony winner will perform two shows nightly at the plush boite, at 8:45 PM and 10:45 PM, Tuesday through Saturday evenings. There is a $60 cover charge but no food/beverage minimum. The cabaret room of the Carlyle Hotel is located at 35 East 76th Street; for reservations, call (212) 744-1600. Be sure to make your reservations now. Seating is limited.

A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
February 15-March 17: Cafe Carlyle in New York, NY
March 18: Folly Theatre in Kansas City, MO
March 19: Macomb Center for the Perf. Arts in Detroit, MI
April 24: Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance in Fort Worth, TX
April 26: Coronation 2000 in San Antonio, TX
May 4: Poway Center in Poway, CA
May 5-6: Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Cerritos, CA
May 7: Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
May 8: Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
August 29: Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL

BARBARA COOK

I recently received a few new concert dates for theatre/cabaret legend Barbara Cook, which follow:
March 21 - April 29: Cafe Carlyle, NYC (212) 744-1600
June 13: Playhouse Theatre, Hotel Dupont in Wilmington, Del. (302) 656 4401
September 14: Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA (619) 748-0505
September 21 & 22: Sydney Opera House (in concert with David Campbell) in Sydney, Australia 011-61-2-9250-7777
September 28-October 1: Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA (714) 556-2787

LINDA EDER Eder in concert:
March 4: Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ (609) 449-5150
March 14-25: Feinstein’s at the Regency in NY, NY (212) 339-4095
March 17: an appearance on “The Rosie O’Donnell Show”
April 13: Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, MA (617) 562-4111
April 15: Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT (203) 562-5666
April 25: Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ (973) 376-4343
May 6: Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Benefit in the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston, TX (713) 334-4400
August 5: Wildflower Music Festival in White Mills, PA
August 8: With Michael Feinstein at the Mann Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA (215) 336-2000
August 19: John Drew Theater of Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY (631) 324 4050

PATTI LUPONE

Several concert dates have been added to Patti LuPone’s ever-growing schedule. What follows are La LuPone’s confirmed concert appearances as of this week:
May 4-6: Sweeney Todd at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) New York, NY; (212) 875-5656
May 12: Union County Arts Center in Rahway, NJ; (732) 499-0441
May 13: Staller Center for the Arts in Stonybrook, NY; (516) 632-ARTS
June 8-11: Theatrefest/Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ; (973) 655-5112

AUDRA McDONALD

McDonald will also begin her first concert tour next month. Scheduled dates include the following:
March 4: Palace Theatre in Columbus, OH
March 5: University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI
March 11: University of California in Irvine, CA
March 12: Saroyan Theater in Fresno, CA
March 18: McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ
March 19: New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ
April 25-29: Atlanta Symphony (Kurt Weill/ “Seven Deadly Sins”)
May 12: Harvard University’s Sanders Theater in Boston, MA
May 14: the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

And, McDonald’s one-woman concert, which was taped last summer during her sold-out performances at London’s Donmar Warehouse, will begin airing in the New York area on Friday, March 10 at 9 PM. Check local listings for other times and dates.

MAUREEN McGOVERN

Already announced McGovern concert dates:
March 5 & 6, 19 & 20: with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA
March 17: "An Evening with Maureen McGovern featuring pianist Lee Musiker" at Purchase College-SUNY in Purchase, NY
March 24 & 25: "An Evening with Maureen McGovern" with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Rose Hall Stage in Oklahoma City, OK

NOTHING LIKE A DAME

Nothing Like a Dame 2000, the annual fundraiser for The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative of the Actors’ Fund of America is scheduled for Monday, March 6 at the St. James Theatre. Those scheduled to appear include Lucie Arnaz, Lauren Bacall, Joy Behar, Ann Hampton Callaway, Caitlin Carter, Illeana Douglas, Sandy Duncan, Melissa Errico, Dame Edna Everage, Lauren Flanigan, Amanda Green, Uta Hagen, Heather Headley, Dee Hoty, Susan Marshall & Company, Marin Mazzie, Rita Moreno, Bebe Neuwirth, Nancy Opel, Jane Powell, Chita Rivera, Joan Rivers, Elaine Stritch plus the women of Fosse, the Radio City Rockettes and more. Tickets range from $50 to $1,000 and are available by calling (212) 921-1227. Show time is 8 PM.

S.T.A.G.E. BENEFIT

The 16th annual S.T.A.G.E benefit -- on March 3, 4 and 5 at California State University’s Luckman Theater -- will honor composers Charles Strouse, Arthur Schwartz and Stephen Schwartz and will feature tunes from Pippin, Godspell, Applause, Annie, Working, The Baker’s Wife, Bandwagon, Children of Eden and more. The Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.) is the nation's longest-running AIDS benefit, and since its inception in 1984, the organization has raised millions for HIV/AIDS services and charities throughout Southern California. This year’s benefit concerts will feature direction by David Galligan and musical direction by Ron Abel. For a complete list of stars who will be performing, go to www.stagela.com. Call (323) 665-0857 to order tickets by phone or visit the aforementioned website to order on-line.

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

-- By Andrew Gans