DIVA TALK: Gypsy At Last!, Divas in Cabaret PLUS Heather Headley's New CD

DIVA TALK: Gypsy At Last!, Divas in Cabaret PLUS Heather Headley's New CD Hello, diva lovers! Well, the most exciting news of the week has to be that the long-awaited Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters has finally set its Broadway dates. Although the theatre has yet to be announced, the Sam Mendes-directed production of the Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents musical will begin previews on March 24, 2003. The official Broadway opening will happen exactly one month later on April 24. There's still no word yet on Peters' co-stars, although Tammy Blanchard — who starred as the young Judy Garland in the recent TV film "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" — remains a strong possibility for the title role. I can hardly wait to hear Peters belt out that score! And, for those of you who can't wait until March to see Peters, you can catch the two-time Tony Award winner this Wednesday, Aug. 14, when she co-hosts "Live with Regis and Kelly" on ABC-TV. Peters will fill in for a vacationing Kelly Ripa; unfortunately, the former Song & Dance star is not scheduled to sing, but a non-singing BP is better than no BP at all, so be sure to set those VCRs!

Hello, diva lovers! Well, the most exciting news of the week has to be that the long-awaited Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters has finally set its Broadway dates. Although the theatre has yet to be announced, the Sam Mendes-directed production of the Jule Styne-Stephen Sondheim-Arthur Laurents musical will begin previews on March 24, 2003. The official Broadway opening will happen exactly one month later on April 24. There's still no word yet on Peters' co-stars, although Tammy Blanchard — who starred as the young Judy Garland in the recent TV film "Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows" — remains a strong possibility for the title role. I can hardly wait to hear Peters belt out that score! And, for those of you who can't wait until March to see Peters, you can catch the two-time Tony Award winner this Wednesday, Aug. 14, when she co-hosts "Live with Regis and Kelly" on ABC-TV. Peters will fill in for a vacationing Kelly Ripa; unfortunately, the former Song & Dance star is not scheduled to sing, but a non-singing BP is better than no BP at all, so be sure to set those VCRs!

THE CABARET SCENE

I receive a lot of e-mails from those about to vacation in New York, asking for cabaret recommendations. Diva lovers planning to come to the city this season will have the chance to see some of the finest performers in the intimate setting of a New York cabaret. Highlights of the season to come include Betty Buckley's stint at Feinstein's at the Regency, which is scheduled for Oct. 22 through Nov. 9. The Tony Award winner's run will coincide with the release of her new recording, scheduled for a fall release on the Fynsworth Alley label. One of Buckley's co-stars in the cult classic musical Carrie, Darlene Love, will also play Feinstein's. Love will join jazz vocalist Freda Payne for an act dubbed Love & Payne, and the duo will open the Feinstein's season on Sept. 17 (through Oct. 5). Swing! star Ann Hampton Callaway is also scheduled to play Feinstein's this fall, from Oct. 8-19. Two of cabaret's most renowned vocalists, Karen Akers and Andrea Marcovicci, are also returning to New York this season for lengthy stints at the Algonquin's Oak Room. Marcovicci has played the famed Oak Room every season for the past decade, and she is scheduled to perform her new Cole Porter act, At Long Last, Cole, from Nov. 19-Jan. 11, 2003. Akers, a star of Nine and Grand Hotel, will offer songs from her eclectic repertoire from April 15 to May 24, 2003. And, finally, Christine Ebersole, who recently left her Tony Award-winning role as Dorothy Brock in the hit revival of 42nd Street, will open the cabaret season at New York's Cafe Carlyle this fall. Ebersole will perform five nights a week at the upscale cabaret beginning Sept. 10 and will run through Oct. 2.

FOR THE RECORD: Heather Headley

Heather Headley makes a surprisingly easy transition from Broadway belter to rhythm-and-blues diva on her debut solo disc, "This Is Who I Am" (RCA Records). How much you enjoy the recording, however, will probably depend on your love for similar pop-style R&B recordings, as it contains, unfortunately, not a single Broadway tune. No Sondheim, no Lloyd Webber, no nothin'. Although Headley sounds her usual wonderful self on the 12 track recording, the songs rarely give the young singer-actress the chance to allow her voice to truly soar. What’s so remarkable about Headley’s voice — her powerful, high belt and her ability to sustain a note for eons — is barely in evidence on the recording. Headley, who won a Tony Award for her powerful work in the title role of Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida and who also starred on Broadway as Nala in The Lion King, co-wrote three of the disc’s tracks, “Fallin’ for You,” “Sunday” and “Sista Girl.” Many of the disc's songs sound very similar, but there are a few high points, including “I Wish I Wasn’t [in Love with You],” which has a gentle, lilting quality and an appealing melody; and the CD’s final tune, the sweet ballad “If It Wasn’t for Your Love.” Let’s hope the record is a huge success, so that Headley can then produce her own Broadway recording and show us just what she can do with songs by Sondheim, Lloyd Webber, Kander and Ebb, Weill, Porter, et al. "This Is Who I Am" is tentatively scheduled for an October 8 release prior to a Headley concert tour. Stay tuned for more. IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK: A host of Broadway favorites and one newcomer have been added to the Broadway Spotlight Series, which presents concert evenings with stars of the Broadway stage. Upcoming performers include Hairspray's Shoshana Bean on Sept. 9, Idina Menzel and Matt Bogart on Oct. 7, Lauren Kennedy on Nov. 4 and Billy Porter on Dec. 2. Concerts will be held at the Ars Nova Theater, which is located at 511 W. 54th Street in New York City. Tickets are priced at $12 and are available, cash only, at the door. For reservations and information, call (212) 977-1700 . . . Rachel York and Brent Barrett — who currently star on the London stage in Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate — will team up again for the L.A. Reprise! production of another Porter musical, Anything Goes. Like City Center's acclaimed Encores! series, Reprise! presents classic Broadway musicals with stellar casts for limited runs. Under the direction of Glenn Casale, Anything Goes will play the 500-seat Freud Playhouse from Sept. 17 to Sept. 29. The complete Anything Goes cast comprises Brent Barrett (Billy Crocker), Rachel York (Reno Sweeney), Anastasia Barzee (Hope Harcourt), Sally Struthers (Evangeline Harcourt), Larry Cedar (Lord Evelyn Oakleigh), Fred Willard (Elisha Whitney), Jason Graae (Moonface Martin), Delee Lively (Erma), Colin Kim (Luke), Glenn Shiroma (John), Brendan Ford (Ship’s Captain), Austin Miller (Ship’s Purser), Christa Jackson (Purity), Kim Arnet (Chastity), Carmen Parks (Charity), Natalie Nucci (Virtue), Joe Hart (Henry T. Dobson), Barbara Chiofalo (Passenger #1), Julie Kenyan (Passenger #2) and Biff Ingenthorn (Sailor #4). Tickets are available by calling (310) 825-2101. The Freud Playhouse is located within Macgowan Hall at UCLA . . . While at the Kennedy Center to reprise her acclaimed Mostly Sondheim concert (Aug. 14-18), Tony Award winner Barbara Cook will offer a master class in the art of singing on Tuesday, Aug. 13. Held at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater, "A Master Class with Barbara Cook" will consist of Cook and six singers, whom the legendary actress singer will work with in front of a live audience. Cook's classes have become somewhat legendary themselves; in a recent interview, Cook explained, "The main thrust of what I do in these classes is attempt to have each person get in touch with his or her 'emotional well' so to speak. I want them not to 'perform' for us, but to have the courage to 'be' for us — to learn to trust whatever is unique in them." Tickets to the 2:30 PM class, which is open to the public, are priced at $5 and are available by calling (800) 444-1324 or by going on-line to www.kennedy-center.org. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is located in Washington, D.C. at 2700 F Street, NW . . . Lincoln Center's American Songbook series — the acclaimed program devoted to the popular American song — will begin its fifth season with Tony Award-winning actress-singer Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth, who won her Tony for her role as Sally in the revival of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, will perform in concert on Oct. 11 and 12 at the John Jay College Theatre (899 10th Avenue). Show time is 8 PM. For ticket reservations and performance information to American Songbook concerts, call CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500. For more information, go to www.lincolncenter.org.

REMINDERS

Betty Buckley in Concert:

Sept. 20 and 21 in Brisbane, Australia
Sept. 28 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
Oct. 3-6 at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX
Oct. 22-Nov. 9 at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York, NY
Nov. 16 at the Performing Arts Center of SUNY-Purchase in Purchase, NY
Dec. 6 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC

Liz Callaway in Concert

August 16 & 17 at the Stackner Cabaret Theatre in Milwaukee, WI
August 18-23 in workshop of The Mistress Cycle at Barrington Stage Co.
September 1 at U.S. Open Tennis Tournament
September 23 at the 100th Anniversary of Macy's Herald Square in New York, NY
September 30 in the Merrily We Roll Along Reunion Concert in New York, NY
October 5 with the Westchester Philharmonic concert of Richard Rodgers music
May 16, 2003 in "Broadway Showstoppers" with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA

Barbara Cook in Concert: Now through Aug. 26 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY (Mostly Sondheim)
August 14-18 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
Oct. 19 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA
Nov. 2 at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts in Brooklyn, NY
Nov. 17 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN

Linda Eder in Concert

Aug. 15 at Pier 62 (with Burt Bacharach) in Seattle, WA
Aug. 16 at City Lights Amphitheatre (with Burt Bacharach) in Denver, CO
Aug. 17 at the Mountain Winery (with Burt Bacharach) in Saratoga, CA
Sept. 19 at Humphrey's By the Bay in San Diego, CA
Sept. 21 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA
Oct. 25 & 26 at the Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, NC
Nov. 1 & 3 at the Kimmel Theatre in the Verizon Center (with Peter Nero and Philly Pops) in Philadelphia, PA
Nov. 2 at the War Memorial (with Peter Nero and Philly Pops) in Trenton, NJ
Dec. 1 at the Bass Hall in Austin, TX
Dec. 20 & 21 at the Symphony Hall (with Atlanta Symphony) in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 3 & 4 at the Meyeroff Hall (with Baltimore Symphony) in Baltimore, MD

Maureen McGovern in Concert:

August 11 with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake city, UT
Sept. 1-2 MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon in Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 20-22 with the Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, MI
Sept. 26 - 29 with the North Carolina Symphony at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh, NC
Oct. 24 at the annual Cabaret Convention in New York, NY
Oct. 30-Nov. 3 at the American Music Therapy Association Conf. in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 2 at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 9 at the Landmark Theatre Gala in Port Washington, NY
Nov. 10 at the Hanford Civic Auditorium in Hanford, CA
Nov. 19-Dec. 1 at the Plush Room in San Francisco, CA
Dec. 6 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Dec. 8 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA
Dec. 9 Laurie Strauss Leukemia Benefit at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Dec. 14 at the Boca Pops Big Band Series in Boca Raton, FL

Bernadette Peters in Concert:

Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the Morton H. Meyerson Hall in Dallas, TX
Sept. 28 at the Weidner Center in Green Bay, WI
Oct. 5 Sundome Center in Sun City West, AZ
Oct. 24 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis, IN
Oct. 26 at the Kleinhans Auditorium in Buffalo, NY

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

—By Andrew Gans