DIVA TALK: Elaine Paige's Homeland Reports on Her B'way Debut

DIVA TALK: Elaine Paige's Homeland Reports on Her B'way Debut ELAINE PAIGE

ELAINE PAIGE

A friend from Edinburgh sent a few articles that appeared in papers there after Elaine's New York opening.

One article appeared in the September 14 edition of the Edinburgh Evening News. Titled "Paige has her day," the article said: "Singer Elaine Paige has made her triumphant Broadway debut more than 20 years after she was first promised a role in New York's legendary theatreland. Paige (45) received rapturous applause and rave reviews when she starred as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard last night. . .Miss Paige said last night: "I'm a fatalist and I kept believing that eventually everything would come right."

Another article about EP appeared in the London Mail. Tony Gallagher's article was titled "Broadway dazzled by Elaine's Sunset," and in the short piece, Elaine is quoted after her opening-night performance, "I've had my setbacks and disappointments but perhaps the timing was right in the end. This is the most fantastic night of my life."

And, a reminder, that Elaine will be vacationing from the Boulevard from October 28-November 6. During this time, Karen Mason will assume the role of Norma Desmond. BETTY BUCKLEY

A plethora of stars including Tom Selleck, Lou Diamond Phillips and Lorraine Bracco turned out to celebrate Betty Buckley's new recording, An Evening at Carnegie Hall, on Wednesday night, Oct. 16. The party, held in the cabaret room at Maxim's in NY, even boasted a performance by Buckley herself. BB wowed the crowd with three tunes: her upbeat "Unexpected Song" from Song and Dance, Kurt Weill's "September Song" and her show-stopping "With One Look" from Sunset Boulevard. Buckley reminded the guests that a portion of all the proceeds from the album will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and that the CD would make a great Christmas present!

DIVAS SHINE AT TRIBUTE
BETTY, BERNADETTE & LAURIE

Three of the theatre's greatest ladies performed moving renditions of signature tunes at the recent tribute to the late president of the Shubert Organization, Bernard B. Jacobs. Laurie Beechman, Betty Buckley and Bernadette Peters each spoke from the heart about Jacobs and his influence on their careers before launching into song.

Beechman was the first to sing during the afternoon memorial at the Majestic Theatre. She remembered Jacobs encouraging her to take the role of Grizabella in the Boston production of Cats. Beechman, who later replaced Betty Buckley in the New York production, said that this decision was the most important one of her career. That said, she delivered a slowed-down, goose-bump inducing version of "Memory."

Betty Buckley was next, delivering a heartfelt rendition of her Sunset aria, "As If We Never Said Goodbye." Before she moved the packed house of the Majestic Theatre with her newest signature tune, Betty spoke about her fondest memory of Jacobs.

During her run in the Tony-winning Cats, a Shubert production, there was a mishap with the machinery that lifted Betty (as Grizabella) to the Heavyside Layer. A bit shaken by the accident, Betty said she would not ride the cherry crane picker until director Trevor Nunn rode it with her. When Betty arrived at the Winter Garden Theatre the next day, Nunn was not to be found. Instead, a smiling Bernard Jacobs was present: he wanted to make sure his star felt safe in her theatrical home. Buckley recalled that Jacobs grinned the entire time he rode the equipment with her back and forth numerous times. She said he was like "a good father" to her.

Bernadette Peters was the last diva to sing. Dressed in all-black, BP discussed Jacob's love for Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George and his leading her by the hand to see her name in lights for the marquee for Song and Dance. She then sang a beautifully nuanced version of "Some Other Time" from the Bernstein/Comden and Green musical On the Town (BP had starred in the revival of this show).

Each lady sang beautifully, truly a wonderful tribute to a man who gave his all to the theatre and its community.

**For a complete description of all of the speakers, read Blair Glaser's great article posted on 10/16 on PBOL.

RITA MORENO

I was very happy to receive an article from a fellow diva lover about Rita Moreno. The article, which was distributed by the Associated Press, was written by Matt Wolf, who writes for Variety.

In his interview with Moreno, she speaks about portraying Norma Desmond. Moreno is filling in for the vacationing Petula Clark in the London production; she began her stint as ND on September 9 and will conclude her run on November 4. Most likely, she will return to the show either in London or New York, the second in a trend started by Elaine Paige (Paige filled in for Betty Buckley and then replaced her in the London cast and recently in New York.)

Here are some of Moreno's choice quotes:

About her take on Norma Desmond:
"I'm the oldest. . .I bring with me a world of experience and disappointments and years of not being asked to do anything. . .After I won the Oscar, I didn't work for seven years. That doesn't match Norma's 20-25 years, but it's good enough."

About the physical difficulty of the role:
"My husband said, 'You're heroic or crazy or both,' The costumes are extremely difficult. They weigh a ton; there are trains you have to kick out of the way and big, long sleeves you have to learn to manipulate. . .There are 400 steps to climb every performance; that's 800 on matinee days."

About her career after her triumph in West Side Story:
What happened after West Side Story was that I was offered more of the same roles in lesser films. Not musicals, just gang films, and I had higher ambitions than that. . .I went to Hollywood thinking foolishly I would be the next Lana Turner; well, they showed me.

About her decision to take the role in Sunset:
"There just aren't that many roles in any medium for women my age, especially in musicals. . .[and] I'm working my butt off!"

SMOKEY JOE'S DIVAS

A Smokin' Party is the title of a fundraiser to benefit Leading Ladies Just for Teens, a teen empowerment program that enables teenagers to take a personal look at their dreams and discover new roads to explore them.

The benefit, which will be held on Sunday, October 27 at 8PM at the new Village Gate (52nd Street), includes a special performance from the stars of Smokey Joe's Cafe. Brenda Braxton, who stars in the musical, is a co-presenter of the evening, one of her many efforts to help this program. Braxton explains, "Teens need outlets where they can express themselves, talk about their dreams, build goals and truly discover the greatness within. The LLJFT fundraiser will truly be a celebration to help our teens."

There is a charge of $20 for the evening. For more information, call (212) 926-1650.

Also, don't forget to check Betty Buckley's website, now in its permanent home on PBOL. Items are added to the site regularly. Check the "Latest News" column of her site for the newest updates.

That's all for now. Happy diva-watching!

-- By Andrew Gans
(My e-mail address is andrew_gans@playbill.com.)