DIVA TALK: Flo Conquers Europe; Bernadette on the Tube

DIVA TALK: Flo Conquers Europe; Bernadette on the Tube FLORENCE LACEY
I had a great conversation with Florence Lacey earlier in the week. She's currently wowing audiences in Zurich, Switzerland with her portrayal of Eva Peron in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Evita.

FLORENCE LACEY
I had a great conversation with Florence Lacey earlier in the week. She's currently wowing audiences in Zurich, Switzerland with her portrayal of Eva Peron in the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Evita.

Lacey heads an all-American cast, which features Ronald Brown as Peron and Scott Hayword as Magaldi, and commented how surprised she was that the score and the staging came back to her so easily, despite having been away from the role for nearly six years. Arguably one of the most demanding women's roles in all of musical theatre, Lacey commented that she had forgotten how draining the role can be, adding with a laugh, "It's difficult to die every night."

Lacey holds the record for playing the Argentinean legend the most times, over 3,000, and has been greeted by wildly enthusiastic audiences (sending gifts and flowers to her hotel) who have been bowled over by her portrayal and her thrilling vocalisms. Lacey and company will next head to the Schiller Theatre in Berlin from Oct. 15 through Nov. 23, and then it's on to Vienna from Nov. 25 through Jan. 4. Lacey said that she is particularly excited about performing in Berlin, since "the theatre is one of the most beautiful in the city. It's a very old theatre, built in 1907."

Due to the tour's success, there is even talk of extending its run with another stop in Milan, and Lacey is toying with the idea of staying on for Milan as well.

I am planning to catch Lacey in action during the show's stay in Vienna, and am very excited to see one of the original Evitas strut her stuff. Just to listen to her recording of the musical is a thrill in itself, so to see her perform the role live is an exciting prospect. For those of you who have never heard her recording of Evita, take a listen--hear the way her voice soars in "Rainbow High" and "A New Argentina," the chilling way she delivers the speech to her descamisados after "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," or the stirring emotion she brings to the deathbed scene, "Eva's Lament."

BERNADETTE PETERS
It's an exciting year for the multi-talented Bernadette Peters, who will conquer stage, film and the small screen with a featured part as the wicked stepmother in the upcoming TV production of Cinderella (Nov. 2 on ABC), a role in the soon-to-be-released animated film Anastasia and the eagerly-awaited Into the Woods reunion concert (Nov. 9 at the Broadway Theatre). To that impressive list, you can now add a featured role in another made-for-television movie. In fact, Peters is currently in Dallas to film "Holiday in My Heart" for ABC television, which will be aired as a highlight of the Dec. holiday season. Peters is cast as a country singer in this TV film, which will chronicle the life of the young country performer LeAnn Rimes. In order to film Holiday in My Heart, BP has had to cancel a few of her upcoming concert engagements, including her stints in Milwaukee, WI; Atlanta, GA; Wilmington, DE; Akron, OH; and Clinton Township, MI. Many of these dates may be rescheduled, so stay tuned for more information. Bernadette's concert line-up through the end of this year includes the following stops:

Nov. 9 Into the Woods reunion concert
Broadway Theatre; 212-239-6200

Nov. 14-15 Honolulu, HI
Neil Blaisdell Concert Hall; 1-808-524-0815

Nov. 21-22 in Tulsa, OK
Tulsa Performing Arts Center; 918-747-7473

Dec. 6 in Pittsburgh, PA
Heinz Hall; 412-392-4900

**Bernadette's concert with the Milwaukee Symphony, originally slated for Saturday, Oct. 11 has been rescheduled for 8 PM on Tuesday, Feb. 24 in the Wisconsin Center Arena.

WHITNEY HOUSTON
Of all the pop divas, I have always felt that Whitney Houston has the most remarkable vocal instrument, one that is as smooth and creamy as it is crystal clear. I am always amazed by the range of her voice, although I am at times frustrated by her choice of material, which rarely challenges her interpretatively (wouldn't she sound wonderful singing Stephen Schwartz's "Meadowlark"?). So, I was glad to hear that her much-touted HBO concert (this Sunday, Oct. 5 at 9 PM) would include a medley of songs from George and Ira Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. Hopefully this will be the start of Houston's delving into the songbook of some of the great American standards--and I wouldn't mind some Andrew Lloyd Webber as well.



MELBA MOORE
Tony winner Melba Moore was last seen on Broadway in a brief stint in Les Miserables, where she gave a moving performance as the doomed Fantine. I'm glad to report that Moore will make another return to the New York stage, albeit a brief one, from Oct. 9-12 when she takes part in A Swell Party: The Cole Porter Songbook. The four performances will be held at the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse (695 Park Avenue at 68th Street) prior to a national tour. Moore will be joined onstage by two grand pianos and three other actors, including Jerry Christakos, Jennifer Lee Andrews and Abe Sylvia. The four singers will perform an array of classic Porter tunes including "Night and Day," "Anything Goes," "Too Darn Hot" and "Love for Sale." Tickets range from $25-$40 and may be purchased by calling 212 772-4448.

REMEMBERING NANCY LaMOTT
I spent a good deal of this past Sunday listening to the recordings of the late Nancy LaMott. Every time I listen to LaMott sing, I am struck not only by the beauty of her voice but also by the honesty of her interpretations. If you've never heard Nancy LaMott sing, do yourself a favor and get one of her six recordings--each of them is a gem, but I would particularly suggest either Listen to My Heart or Come Rain or Come Shine: The Songs of Johnny Mercer for a first purchase. I would be surprised if any diva lover out there is not completely enthralled by her singing.

LaMott's death nearly two years ago was a true loss to the entertainment world, and that tragedy is explored in greater depth in the premiere issue of MAMM Magazine, a new bi-monthly magazine for those who have been impacted by breast and reproductive cancers. LaMott, who died at age 43 of uterine cancer, is the subject of an insightful article by Amy Pagnozzi, which is entitled "What's Good About Goodbye," also the title of the first of a line of posthumous albums of Nancy's being released by Midder Music.

REMINDERS:
Betty Buckley is currently lighting up the stage at the Royale Theatre in the new musical comedy Triumph of Love, which officially opens on Oct. 23. Tickets are available by calling 212-432-7250 or 1-800-447-7400 and may also be purchased in person at the box office of the Royale.
Patti LuPone will return to the Broadway stage in the new David Mamet play The Old Neighborhood. Performances will begin on Nov. 11 at the Booth Theatre, and an official opening-night date is still pending. Tickets will be available at the end of October through Tele-charge (212) 239 6200.

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

-- By Andrew Gans
e-mail me at andrew_gans@playbill.com