Betty Buckley's latest CD, "Heart to Heart," a recital for piano and voice, is perfectly titled. It's as intimate a recording as a singer could possibly deliver, one that showers the listener with a plethora of almost-raw emotion. Those expecting a parade of belty theatre tunes -- which the actress/singer can bring to life like very few others -- may be disappointed at first, but I would suggest a second listening to this KO Productions recording to fully appreciate the beauty that lies within each track. Buckley uses her belt voice sparingly on the CD, relying more on her sweet, almost ethereal head tones, painting portraits of love with nuanced colors. In fact, "Heart to Heart" is a profoundly personal exploration of love, which examines love lost, found and longed for. Many of the songs are achingly beautiful, and the 12-track recording reaches its peak with a stirring combination of "If I Remember You Right," which Buckley penned while she was in college, and Joni Mitchell's "I Had a King." Listen to the heartbreak in Buckley's voice as she sings, "I can't go back there anymore. You know my keys won't fit the door. You know my thoughts don't fit the man. They never can. They never can."
Other highlights include a striking medley of "Where's That Rainbow," "Spring Is Here" and Rodgers and Hart's "Falling in Love with Love"; a powerfully sung take on "Danny Boy"; and two pop tunes, James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" and Mary Chapin Carpenter's "I Am a Town," both of which Buckley mines for their dramatic value. Those who missed the actress' stunning performance last season in the Hartford Stage production of Tennessee Williams' Camino Real get a glimpse of her portrayal of Marguerite as the CD boasts two songs from that production, "Bide-a While" and "Violets," which both feature Blaise James on guitar. "Heart to Heart" hits stores around the country on March 28. The disc can also be ordered by calling KO Productions at (212) 358-5200, and autographed copies are available through Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS at (212) 840-0770. (By the way, Buckley's first solo disc, simply titled "Betty Buckley," will be re-released on the KO Productions label in June. This live concert, which features astounding vocals by Buckley, includes her first recording of "Meadowlark" as well as three previously unreleased tracks: "Over You" and two written by the singer/actress/composer -- "Eternal Fix" and "Tender Mercies.")
At the Cafe Carlyle, Buckley sailed through a similarly intimate program, drawing on songs from the new CD (which is available for sale at the plush cabaret throughout BB's run) as well as some of her personal favorites. Tuesday evening's show began with an optimistic version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Hello, Young Lovers," which was followed by a lilting rendering of Dorothy Fields and Jerome Kern's "Just the Way You Look Tonight." Buckley then welcomed the audience to her first lengthy "official engagement" at the famed boite, explaining that the evening would examine love from several vantage points. Buckley's haunting rendition of "Ruby" followed as did a passionate medley of "You're Nearer," "If Ever I Would Leave You" and "My Funny Valentine." The Tony-winning actress then offered a "Suite of Dreams," which combined Peter Pan's "Never, Never Land" with an extremely moving delivery of Amanda McBroom's nod to disillusionment, "Dreamin'."
My favorite portion of the evening followed, with the aforementioned wrenching pairing of Buckley's "If I Remember You Right" with Joni Mitchell's "I Had a King." This ode to lost love was utterly compelling and Buckley followed with a wonderful version of Jason Robert Brown's "Stars and the Moon." Although Buckley admitted she had just added Brown's tune to her repertoire, she had already mastered the subtext of the song and found great meaning in his words. Let's hope this tune finds its way to BB's next recording. A gentle version of Stephen Sondheim's "Anyone Can Whistle" was next, and Buckley concluded the evening with a heartfelt take on "How Deep Is the Ocean," gently caressing the notes of this Irving Berlin classic. And, of course, her unbeatable version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Memory" was the encore of the program: As tears streamed down Buckley's face, the actress inhabited the character of Cats' Grizabella before the audience's eyes, bringing an emotional intensity to her signature song. The tune was especially poignant at Tuesday's show, as the closing of the Broadway production of Cats (on June 25) had just been announced over the weekend. (More Cats info: In Wednesday's New York Post Ms. B had this to say to writer Michael Riedel about the show: "It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I wouldn't mind going back a few times before it closes . . . On the subliminal level, there is a beautiful theme about rebirth and acceptance of all beings. I'm sad that the show is closing. When they said, 'Now and Forever,' I believed them.")
(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.) ELAINE STRITCH
In the March 2000 issue of Cabaret Scenes magazine, there is an interesting interview with actress Elaine Stritch. I thought you would enjoy reading some quotes from Peter Haas' article, which is entitled "The Challenge of Being Elaine Stritch."
about her Broadway run in Goldilocks:
"It was my first big show with my name above the title. Only it didn't start out that way. It was going to be Goldilocks with Elaine Stritch and that's the way I liked it. I wasn't ready for this! [Before the show reached N.Y., Don Ameche joined the company and] Ameche wouldn't go below the title, so he went above the title, and I went there with him."
about her versatility, portraying a wide range of roles:
"It stops one from being a star -- or at least slows the process down. When you're versatile and go back and forth, your fame takes a lot longer to come. When you do a Noel Coward Sail Away and the following year you do Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, you confuse people. It's great, it's more interesting for yourself but you pay a price. For one thing, you don't make as much money as fast as you'd like to. I do wonderful things and I get a living wage but -- big news from Winetka, folks! -- that's it!"
about Noel Coward and being right:
"The other problem I had that Noel recognized is that a lot of the time, I'm right! And people don't usually like that. I'm very, very talented. There isn't any question in my mind about that. I don't doubt that it's there. And if you are talented, you automatically live a dangerous life, psychologically, because people are mad as hell at talent. Or, with a person like Noel, they're thrilled to death with it. He always said to me, 'Never work for anybody that knows less.' I said, 'That's so hard because if you work for people and they don't know as much as you do, you learn nothing and you make them so goddamn mad that they don't want to go on working with you.' But you can't pay the rent if you just work for people who know more than you do. There just aren't that many of 'em around! I don't mean this egotistically at all. A director once told me something to do on the stage and I didn't believe in it. I told him, 'It's not that I won't do it for you, I can't! Because it's wrong! [And, how did that matter resolve itself?] Simple! I got sacked!"
IN OTHER NEWS It was an early birthday present for Bernadette Peters (BP celebrates her b'day on Monday) and the cast of Annie Get Your Gun, who received the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album this past Wednesday night. Peters announced the win at the curtain call of Wednesday's evening's AGYG performance. Others in the Show Album category included Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Footloose, Fosse and You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown . . . A devoted Patti LuPone fan sent me a copy of the November issue of Opera News magazine, which included a candid interview with the award winning actress. LuPone and writer F. Paul Driscoll attended the Metropolitan Opera premiere of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah and afterwards, the two discussed the performance. LuPone had this to say about opera singing and acting: "I wish directors would take more time with the actor/singer. It is distracting when they are acting away on stage, and the music isn't the focus. That was more prevalent tonight in Act II, where there was a lot of very old-fashioned emoting. That sounds harsh, I know. Maybe I wouldn't be able to do it any better if I were up there, but directors should get actor/singers to stop all the physical activity -- the 'Look at me I'm acting business' -- and let the music speak. . . Opera singing -- just plain old singing, really -- is difficult enough without putting acting on top of it. I don't mean acting on top of singing, I mean acting on top of the moment. Putting an emotion on top of a moment, as if it were a decoration of some kind, rather than letting the music have its own emotional life. If you leave the acting alone, if you stop imitating the moment, imitating the emotion, things start to open up and resonate more deeply. In opera, the composer does so much of the work for the singer/actor -- why not take advantage of that? I would love to see people on the opera stage stand still and let the music move them, which, in turn, would move us." . . . The New Dramatists 51st Annual Luncheon will honor stage and screen legend Angela Lansbury on Tuesday, May 16 at the Broadway Ballroom of the New York Marriott Marquis (1535 Broadway). The luncheon begins at 11:15 AM, and tickets are priced at $175; call (212) 757-6960 for tickets . . . Andrea McArdle will join comedian/musician/writer Seth Rudetsky for Seth's Broadway Chatterbox, an often hilarious evening of song and discussion, on Thursday, March 2 at Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street). There is a $10 cover charge, which benefits BC/EFA, and a two-drink minimum. Call (212) 757-0788 for reservations. Upcoming guests include Karen Ziemba on March 9 and Terrence Mann and Charlotte d'Amboise on March 16 . . . Karen Mason returns to The Cinegrill in Los Angeles on March 22, 23 and 26. Those in the L.A. area shouldn't miss their chance to see this fine cabaret artist live . . . From LML Music comes "A.B.C.," the live concert recording of the 15th annual S.T.A.G.E. (Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event) benefit. The two-CD set celebrates the classic Broadway music of Richard Adler, Jerry Bock and Cy Coleman and features performances by Lucie Arnaz, Cindy Benson, Blue Blake, Alan Campbell, Carole Cook, Tyne Daly, Nancy Dussault, Joely Fisher, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Davis Gaines, Betty Garrett, Kathy Garrick, Malcolm Gets, Sharon Gless, Paul Green, Carrie Hamilton, Dorian Harewood, Sheldon Harnick, Gregory Harrison, Bill Hutton, Dale Kristien, Michael K. Lee, Michele Lee, Hal Linden, Sean McDermott, Maureen McGovern, Marcia Mitzman Gaven, April Nixon, Jennifer Paz, Linda Purl, Charlotte Rae, Rex Reed and Lillias White. The CD will be released in stores on March 21 but is now available on-line at www.LMLMusic.com. To order by mail, send check or money order for $29.95 (includes shipping and handling) payable to LML Music, Post Office Box 48081, Los Angeles, CA 90048 . . . Judy Kreston and David Lahm will perform the songs of Dorothy Fields and David Lahm at Judy's (169 Eighth Avenue, Chelsea) Saturdays in March and April. There is a $15 cover and $10 minimum; call (212) 929 5410 for reservations.
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 at the 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
I recently received a few new concert dates for theatre/cabaret legend Barbara Cook, which follow:
March 21 - April 29 at the Cafe Carlyle, NYC (212) 744-1600
June 13 at the Playhouse Theatre, Hotel Dupont in Wilmington, Del. (302) 656-4401
September 14 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA (619) 748-0505
September 21 & 22 at the Sydney Opera House (in concert with David Campbell) in Sydney, Australia 011-61-2-9250-7777
September 28-October 1 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA (714) 556-2787 LINDA EDER
Eder in concert:
March 4 at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ (609) 449-5150
March 14-25 at Feinstein's at the Regency in NY, NY (212) 339-4095
March 17 an appearance on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show"
April 13 at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, MA (617) 562-4111
April 15 at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT (203) 562-5666
April 25 at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ (973) 376-4343
May 6 at the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Benefit in the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston, TX (713) 334-4400
August 5 at the 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 at the John Drew Theater of Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY (631) 324-4050
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 in Sweeney Todd at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) New York, NY; (212) 875-5656
May 12 at the Union County Arts Center in Rahway, NJ; (732) 499-0441
May 13 at the Staller Center for the Arts in Stonybrook, NY; (516) 632 ARTS
June 8-11 at Theatrefest/Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ; (973) 655-5112
McDonald will also begin her first concert tour next month. Scheduled dates include the following:
March 4 at the Palace Theatre in Columbus, OH
March 5 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI
March 11 at the University of California in Irvine, CA
March 12 at the Saroyan Theater in Fresno, CA
March 18 at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ
March 19 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ
April 25-29 with the Atlanta Symphony (Kurt Weill/ "Seven Deadly Sins")
May 12 at Harvard University's Sanders Theater in Boston, MA
May 14 at 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.
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
JOE'S PUB SONGBOOK SERIES The Songbook Series continues: Alice Ripley, Jessica Molaskey, Philip Chaffin and Richard Muenz will take part in a tribute to composer Jerome Moross at the Pub on February 28, March 6 and March 13 at 8:30 PM. Moross, a child prodigy, went on to compose music for film, TV, ballet, and most notably, Broadway's The Golden Apple. The evening of Moross songs was conceived by Tommy Krasker with music director Eric Stern. Joe's Pub is located within the Public Theater on Lafayette Street; for tickets to all future performances, call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 or Joe's Pub at (212) 539-8777.
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.
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