DIVA TALK: In The Company Of Divas

DIVA TALK: In The Company Of Divas Hello, diva lovers! . . . Okay, so it had nothing to do with musical theatre or fabulous singing, but wasn't "All My Children" star Susan Lucci's acceptance speech this past Friday night at the "Daytime Emmy Awards" one of the most exciting, stirring diva moments of the year? I watched "AMC" from second grade through high school and, like most of the soap-viewing public, have waited years to see the always engaging Lucci nab the Emmy for Best Actress. It may have taken her 19 years, but it was certainly worth the wait to watch both Lucci's reaction and the Madison Square Garden audience's response: a standing, cheering ovation that erupted as soon as Lucci's name was announced bringing many in the audience, particularly Broadway cheerleader Rosie O'Donnell, to tears. After struggling to fight back her own tears, Lucci delivered a heartfelt and extremely moving speech that began with a somewhat humorous nod to her 18 years of watching other people win the coveted award: "I truly never believed that this would happen . . . I want to thank each and every one of you in this room. This is a room full of such talented, hard-working people, and the fact that you have thought that my work was worthy of notice 19 times is something that I will treasure always." Lucci then went on to thank "God for the many, many blessings in my life," including her parents ("who have been in every audience of my entire life, including tonight"), "AMC" creator Agnes Nixon ("for changing the face of the medium we work in. . .thank you so much for creating the part of Erica Kane and for allowing me to be part of your writing full of such humanity, passion and vision"), the company of "AMC" ("who I have the privilege to play these scenes every day -- you inspire me), her children ("I wasn't meant to get this award before tonight because if I had I wouldn't have that collection of poems and letters and drawings and chocolate cakes you made me all this time to make me feel better") and her husband ("who has been with me every step of the way"). But, I must admit, my favorite part of Lucci's speech was a somewhat over-the-top, yet sincere nod to her fans: "I was only supposed to be on every other Tuesday, but thanks to you I'm here, and I promise I will try my best never to let you down. I'm going back to that studio on Monday, and I'm going to play Erica Kane for all she's worth! Thank you so much." . . . Congratulations, Ms. Lucci. Now that you've nabbed the Emmy, how about a stint on Broadway? . . .

Hello, diva lovers! . . . Okay, so it had nothing to do with musical theatre or fabulous singing, but wasn't "All My Children" star Susan Lucci's acceptance speech this past Friday night at the "Daytime Emmy Awards" one of the most exciting, stirring diva moments of the year? I watched "AMC" from second grade through high school and, like most of the soap-viewing public, have waited years to see the always engaging Lucci nab the Emmy for Best Actress. It may have taken her 19 years, but it was certainly worth the wait to watch both Lucci's reaction and the Madison Square Garden audience's response: a standing, cheering ovation that erupted as soon as Lucci's name was announced bringing many in the audience, particularly Broadway cheerleader Rosie O'Donnell, to tears. After struggling to fight back her own tears, Lucci delivered a heartfelt and extremely moving speech that began with a somewhat humorous nod to her 18 years of watching other people win the coveted award: "I truly never believed that this would happen . . . I want to thank each and every one of you in this room. This is a room full of such talented, hard-working people, and the fact that you have thought that my work was worthy of notice 19 times is something that I will treasure always." Lucci then went on to thank "God for the many, many blessings in my life," including her parents ("who have been in every audience of my entire life, including tonight"), "AMC" creator Agnes Nixon ("for changing the face of the medium we work in. . .thank you so much for creating the part of Erica Kane and for allowing me to be part of your writing full of such humanity, passion and vision"), the company of "AMC" ("who I have the privilege to play these scenes every day -- you inspire me), her children ("I wasn't meant to get this award before tonight because if I had I wouldn't have that collection of poems and letters and drawings and chocolate cakes you made me all this time to make me feel better") and her husband ("who has been with me every step of the way"). But, I must admit, my favorite part of Lucci's speech was a somewhat over-the-top, yet sincere nod to her fans: "I was only supposed to be on every other Tuesday, but thanks to you I'm here, and I promise I will try my best never to let you down. I'm going back to that studio on Monday, and I'm going to play Erica Kane for all she's worth! Thank you so much." . . . Congratulations, Ms. Lucci. Now that you've nabbed the Emmy, how about a stint on Broadway? . . .

BETTY BUCKLEY
Betty Buckley will once again lend her many talents to help raise funds for a great and worthy organization. On June 23 and 24 the Tony-winning star will appear in "Heart to Heart" -- a concert with her accompanist Kenny Werner --in the intimate setting of the U.C.L.A. Freud Playhouse Theatre to benefit PAWS/LA, a non-profit organization "dedicated to enriching the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS by empowering them to care for their pets." PAWS/LA is currently celebrating its tenth anniversary providing veterinary care, pet food and supplies to thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS.


Tickets to the concerts, which are priced between $50 and $150, will go on sale June 1 and may be purchased by calling the U.C.L.A. box office at (310) 825-2101. All ticket holders on June 23 are invited to attend a pre concert reception at 6:30 PM, with the concert beginning at 7:30 PM; on June 24, there will be a concert only (7:30 p.m.). This special event is being sponsored, in part, by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and American Airlines.

UTE LEMPER
It's a bit difficult to describe Ute Lemper's cabaret performance at Joe's Pub other than to say that you've seen nothing like it. It's perhaps the most in-your-face act I've seen in New York, and Lemper is never less than captivating, sailing through a repertoire of songs by Weill, Brecht and Spoliansky as well as songs made famous by Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaf. Lemper throws herself into her material completely, and actually throws herself into the audience as well, falling into the laps of both men and women. Her performance reminded me a bit of Alan Cumming's in Cabaret; both want to make audience members just a tad uncomfortable, forcing them to rethink some of their views about life, love and politics.


Lemper began her set with "Life's a Swindle" and concluded the evening with a German-language version of "Mack the Knife." In between she offered both comic and dramatic numbers, including "I Am a Vamp," "Bilbao Song," "Ich bin von Kopf bis Fuss, "Lilli Marlene," "Masculinum/Femininum" and many others. If the statuesque performer was, at times, less moving than I expected, that may have been due to the fact that she sings at least half of her material in French and German, neither of which I speak. That said, however, she offered stunning versions of "L'Accordeoniste," "Surabaya Johnny" and a song about wanting to believe in lies and illusions. Overall, it's a brilliant performance, and one you should not miss. Trust me, you've experienced nothing like Lemper before. Her remaining shows at the Public Theater's Joe's Pub are June 3, 4, 5 and 7 at 8:30 p.m. Call (212) 239-6200 or (212) 539-8777 for reservations.

PATTI LuPONE
As recently reported in this column, Patti LuPone will perform her new one-woman show, "Matters of the Heart," on July 1 and 2 backed by the San Francisco Symphony. Tickets are available through the San Francisco Symphony Ticket Service -- (415) 864-6000 -- or by visiting the symphony's website at www.sfsymphony.org. What I just learned is La LuPone will sit down with writer Sheryl Flatow in front of a live audience to discuss her stellar career. "A Conversation with Patti LuPone" is being presented by the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum (PALM) on Wednesday, June 30 from 6 PM to 7 PM at PALM, 401 Van Ness Ave., 4th Floor. For ticket prices and other info, call PALM at (415) 255-4800.

COMPANY
I was contacted this week by Mary Claire Giannelli, the dedicated publicist for the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, New York. Mary Claire wanted to share with me the stellar cast for the theatre's upcoming production of Stephen Sondheim's Company. Heading the company of Company is Side Show's Norm Lewis, who has, perhaps, the greatest male voice on Broadway, a rich baritone that can soar. Equally exciting is the casting of Donna McKechnie, a star of the original Broadway production of the Tony winning musical, as Joanne ("The Ladies Who Lunch") and that huge-voiced gal, Alix Korey, as Amy. It should be a laughfest to hear Korey belt out "Not Getting Married." The remaining cast includes Joel Blum as Paul, Dick Decareau as Larry, Tom Demenkoff as Harry, Susann Fletcher as Susan, Sara Gettelfinger as April, Nancy Johnston as Sarah, Jay Montgomery as Peter, Beverly Ward as Jenny and Kirby Ward as David.


Company will run June 19 through July 4, and dates/times/prices follow: Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8 PM, except for Tuesday, June 29 at 7 PM. Matinees are Wednesdays and Sundays at 2 PM with an additional 2 PM matinee on Tuesday, June 29. Additional dates and times are Saturday, June 26 at 2 PM and Sunday, June 27 at 7 PM. Ticket prices: Saturday evenings - $32 & $37; Friday evenings and Sunday matinees - $27 & $32; All other performances - $22 & $27. Tickets can be purchased by calling the box office at (914) 358-6333. Tickets can also be purchased at the Helen Hayes remote box office on the first floor of the Palisades Center. Group sales: (914) 358-2847, ext. 22.

DIVAS AT THEATREFEST
Two grand ladies of the theatre and concert stage, Betty Buckley and Melba Moore will perform solo concerts next month at TheatreFest, the Equity theatre-in-residence at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey. Betty Buckley will deliver four concerts from June 10 to June 13, and recent Les Miz star, Moore, will sing on June 25 and 26. Buckley's show will include generous selections from the musical theatre, jazz and country worlds, while Moore's will tell the story of her climb to success despite many obstacles. Tickets are priced between $35 and $45 for each performance; however, concertgoers can save 20 if they buy tickets to both concerts ($56 $72 for both evenings). Call Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 for tickets.

IN OTHER NEWS Hope you caught the wonderful hour-long tribute to Ethel Merman on A&E's "Biography" series last night (May 27). Speaking of the indomitable Merman, the following is a quote from actor Ronn Carroll who currently stars as Pawnee Bill and Mr. Wilson in the hit revival of Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis Theatre. (Carroll, who also starred in the 1966 Merman revival of AGYG, will be profiled by writer Harry Haun in the July issue of Playbill.) Says Carroll: "Ethel Merman was the best, and only, Ethel Merman there ever was. Bernadette [Peters] plays the character. I've never seen the character Annie until now. There's no comparison between the two other than the fact that both women occupy the same position in theatre at different times. When I worked with Merm, she was American theatre, and I think Bernadette [Peters] is that right now." . . . Rehearsals began this past Monday for the upcoming production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. Deborah Gibson, who starred in Paper Mill's recent production of Gypsy opposite the Rose of Betty Buckley, will portray the Narrator, and Patrick Cassidy will star in the title role. The production, which runs from June 9 through July 25, also includes four members of the "Osmonds 2nd Generation," Jon, Michael, Nathan and Scott Osmond, in the roles of Joseph's brothers. Tickets, which are priced between $25 and $55, are available by calling (973) 376-4343 . . . Some of this season's biggest stars -- including Matthew Broderick, Bernadette Peters, Cathy Rigby, Kevin Spacey and Tom Wopat -- will appear at the "Stars in the Alley" concert on Wednesday, June 2. The annual free concert will include performances from such Broadway shows as Footloose, Peter Pan, The Civil War and Annie Get Your Gun, and will begin at 11:30 AM in Shubert Alley (west of Broadway between 44th and 45th Streets) . . . On Monday, June 7 at 8 PM at the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse (68th Street between Park and Lexington), some of Broadway's hottest talent will gather to salute AIDS activist Mary Fisher. Those scheduled to appear at A Celebration of Mary -- an evening written and directed by Lee Tannen and David Zippel -- include Judy Blazer, Stephen Bogardus, Carolee Carmello, Barbara Cook, Gregg Edelman, David Garrison, Randy Graff, Janis Ian, Judy Kaye, Judith Light, Michele Pawk, Billy Porter, Des Richardson, Tim Shew, Mary Testa and the cast of Fosse. Tickets for the evening are priced at $50 and $100 and may be purchased by calling (212) 772-4448. All proceeds will benefit the Family AIDS Network.

REMINDERS:

SARAH BRIGHTMAN
Following is Brightman's "One Night in Eden" U.S. concert tour schedule:
June 2 Temple Buell Theatre in Denver
June 3 Delta Center in Salt Lake City
June 5 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas
June 6 Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles
June 7 The Orpheum in San Francisco
June 12 Chateau Ste. Michelle in Seattle
June 15 Chicago Theatre in Chicago
June 16 Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI
June 22 and 23 City Center in New York City
June 25 N.J. Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ
June 27 Mann Music Center in Philadelphia
June 28 Symphony Hall in Boston
June 29 Center for the Performing Arts in Providence, RI
July 1 Wolf Trap in Washington, D.C.
June 2 and 3 Sands Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ

BETTY BUCKLEY
A host of new concert dates follows. The list is continually growing, so check the Betty Buckley website on PBOL for the latest changes.


June 5 Myerson Symphony Center--Obelisk Awards in Dallas, TX
June 7 PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ
June 10-13 Theatrefest in Montclair, NJ
June 29 Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA
July 20 Point Lookout in Camden, ME
July 27 Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, PA
October 9 Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY
October 22 (class); October 23 (concert) Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; Foellinger Great Hall in Champaign-Urbana, IL
October 24 Sangamon Stage University Auditorium; Springfield, IL
November 6 State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
November 14 Cincinnati, OH (venue to come)
December 6-7 St. Barths Church in New York, NY
December 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
December 18 Atlantic University Auditorium in Boca Raton, FL
December 31 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT

FLORENCE LACEY
Florence Lacey will star in the Connecticut Repertory Theatre's production of A Little Night Music, which will be directed by Gary M. English and begin performances at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Stage on June 4. This production of Night Music will run through June 19, the first of three musicals being offered during the 44th Nutmeg Summer Series. Following Night Music will be Once On This Island and Forever Plaid. Performances for each production are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 PM, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. with matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $22, with a $3 discount for students and seniors. (The entire series may be purchased for $48 or $54). Call the box office at (860) 486-4226.

PATTI LuPONE
LuPone will join opera star Bryn Terfel for a concert version of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. The performers will be backed by the New York Philharmonic, and the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday.

KAREN MASON
Mason will appear at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater on Sunday, June 13 and Monday, June 14 at 8:30 PM. The Public Theater is located at 425 Lafayette Street (between East 4th Street and Astor Place). The songstress will also perform at the Bradstan Inn in White Lake New York on June 20, and on Sept. 25 KM will perform in concert to benefit Dallas Children's Theatre Fairmont Hotel, Dallas.

ELAINE PAIGE
Following are a a handful of upcoming Paige concert dates in Sweden, which are listed below:
June 10 Ulriksdal (as part of the Royal Ulriksdal Palace Festival) in Stockholm, Sweden
June 12 Finspang Palace in Finspang (outside of Norrkoping), Sweden
June 17 Sofiero Palce in Helsingborg, Sweden
June 19 Tradgardsforeningen Botanical Gardens in Gothenburg, Sweden


Paige will also appear as the special guest of Cliff Richards at his concerts in Hyde Park, London, on July 16, 17 and 18. Tickets are available from First Call: 0171 420 1000. And, don't forget, EP will make a special appearance in New York City in May when she will perform at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's spring gala on Wednesday, May 5 at the New Christie's Auction House in the city. The event is being hosted by Barbara Walters, and Paige -- who is expected to sing a handful of her biggest hits -- will be accompanied on the piano by Tony Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch. For more information about this worthy event, contact The Breast Cancer Research Foundation at (212) 572-4249.

BERNADETTE PETERS
Bernadette Peters currently stars on Broadway as Annie Oakley in the revival of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun. The show's cast recording was recently released from Broadway Angel.

DIVAS AT THE DONMAR
Patti LuPone is the first diva at the Donmar Warehouse, performing her new concert act, "Matters of the Heart," from August 9 through August 21. Audra McDonald's reign runs from August 23 to August 28, and Sam Brown will open on August 31 and close September 4. The performance schedule is Monday through Saturday at 8pm with matinees on Saturday at 4pm. Tickets go on sale Monday, May 17; call 011 44 171 637 9041 for reservations.

DIVAS IN SAN FRANCISCO
This summer's San Francisco Pops series will include appearances from Patti LuPone and Marin Mazzie. La LuPone will perform her new one-woman show, "Matters of the Heart," on July 1 and 2 with Rob Fisher as musical director. On July 10, an evening entitled "Rodgers and Hammerstein and Friends" will feature performances by the husband-and wife team of Marin Mazzie and Jason Danieley. Tickets are available through the San Francisco Symphony Ticket Service ((415) 864 6000) or by visiting the symphony's website at www.sfsymphony.org. . . . Also, two of cabaret's finest performers, Andrea Marcovicci and David Campbell, will appear together on June 11 and 12 at the Alcazar Theatre (650 Geary Street). Tickets, which are priced at $35, are available by calling Star Classics (415) 552-1110.

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

by Andrew Gans
e-mail me at agans@playbill.com

Diva Talk is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Shepard, 1976- 1998.