Our office received a copy of a new book by John M. Clum (Professor of English and Professor of the Practice of Drama at Duke University) titled, "Something for the Boys: Musical Theatre and Gay Culture," which explores the "world of divas and brassy overtures." On the back cover of the tome (St. Martin's Press) is a note from that grand diva, Betty Buckley, who writes: "Any diva's best-loved audience is the gay one -- the guys and gals who adore us most. John Clum's analysis of the long love affair between musicals and gay culture is a fascinating read. I especially recommend pp. 170-172. Thank you, John, with all my heart. Love, Betty Buckley." Clum writes at length about Buckley's spectacular performance as Mama Rose in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Gypsy last summer. What follows are a few quotes from his section about Ms. B:
"I have not experienced an audience response like the one at Betty Buckley's Gypsy since the grand diva nights at the Met. Buckley is cheered wildly at her entrance, which stops the show for almost a minute. Every song is cheered wildly, and "Rose's Turn" gets a standing ovation. At Buckley's curtain call, the roar goes on and on. This is truly an evening of diva worship . . . A masterpiece cries out for fresh interpretation, and Buckley who, unlike her predecessors, has specialized in vulnerability more than indomitability gives this to Gypsy's Mama Rose. Buckley sings the part better than her predecessors, but this isn't enough any more than it is for a great "Norma." Rose is one of the great acting roles in the American theater, and every song gives us a different aspect of Rose's personality. More than any of her predecessors, Buckley has found a way to create a dynamic Mama Rose who begins as a determined, eccentric, but funny stage mother and grows before our eyes into something terrifying . . .For us old show queens at this great performance, for three hours musical theater was not nostalgia but a living art form, the communal worship of a woman with magical powers. Buckley never became a cartoon woman, a drag distillation. There was always both indomitability and vulnerability, terror and allure, fierceness and love . . ."
And, a reminder that Buckley will join Victor Garber, Julie Harris and Cherry Jones for A Joyous Christmas Concert on Dec. 13 and 14 at 7:30 PM. The concert, which will benefit both Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the social service programs of St. Bartholomew's Church, will feature carols, music and original material by playwright Terrence McNally. The evenings will be held at the aforementioned Church (Park Avenue at 51st Street), and tickets range from $35 to $150. Call the church concert office at (212) 378-0248 for the $35 and $75 seats or BC/EFA at (212) 840-0770 for the $150 VIP seats, which include a post-concert reception with the artists and a signed, pre-release copy of Buckley's latest CD, "Betty Buckley," a live recording of her first N.Y. concert appearance in 1984 .
I received several e-mails regarding Patti LuPone's Carnegie Hall concert, which I described in last week's column. Unfortunately, the stellar evening was not recorded, but let's hope La LuPone gets herself into a studio soon and records some of the evening's tunes. I thought you would enjoy reading an excerpt from another rave review about LuPone's solo debut in the famed hall. This excerpt is from Chip Deffaa's New York Post review:
"I have a hunch that henceforth Patti LuPone fans may be divided into two categories: the many unable to attend her first-ever solo Carnegie Hall concert, Friday, and the select few who did witness that unforgettable night and will forever be lording that fact over the rest.
You had to be there. This was a one-woman show with attitude. It was as magnificent a display as I've ever witnessed in years of the art of being a diva -- both the talent and the temperament . . .With great, grand style, LuPone bestrode the stage all night. She didn't just re-create striking musical moments from Broadway productions that had won her fame -- like "Evita," "The Baker's Wife," and "Anything Goes" -- she also sang every song she claimed, tongue-in-cheek, she should have been allowed to introduce on Broadway but had been unjustly denied the opportunity to do so. Even 'Ol' Man River'!
. . .The evening's biggest surprise was the stunning Act One closer, a new number called "I Was Here." This was the first-ever public performance of a song from the next musical by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, creators of the majestic 'Ragtime.' For the closer, LuPone lent her clarion voice to 'A Hundred Years From Today,' which she offered to us a capella, unmiked."
There is a wonderful interview with Audra McDonald -- the three-time Tony winner currently burning up the Vivian Beaumont stage in the new Michael John LaChiusa musical Marie Christine -- in Southwest Airline's Spirit Magazine. Written by Porter Anderson, the singing actress discusses her training at Juilliard, her Broadway work and her infamous fainting spell at a Rosie O'Donnell celebration a few months back. A few of McDonald's choice quotes follow:
about the "new music" that comprises her Way Back to Paradise CD:
"Let's say [new CD buyers] see somebody like me who they knew is in musical theatre. They know I'm a nice girl. They know I was in Carousel. So they buy the album. And then they're hugely disappointed. But. But. The point is that they've heard it. They've heard this new music. . .I mean, this is ridiculous, I know. But I find that this is the way to do it. At least the music has gotten out there. Maybe somebody will say, 'Well this is strange stuff -- I'd better listen to this again.' However you can infiltrate society with it, that's the way to go. If it takes my face on an album to get them to hear these guys, then that's what it takes."
about auditioning for Juilliard:
"My audition was ridiculous. I mean, I offered Samuel Barber songs for mezzo. I didn't do an aria and an art song like I was supposed to . . .It was ridiculous. Ridiculous. And then I did some crazy ending. And they laughed at me at my audition. They laughed at me. And then they called me back. And they laughed at me again. They said, 'How old are you?' I said, 'I'm 17.' And they laughed at me again. I walked out of there saying, 'Well, I didn't get that.' Laughing at me. They were laughing. But they accepted me."
about her fainting mid-performance
"I fell off the stage onto the floor. Fractured part of the bottom wall of the bones in my eye socket. Lacerated my skin here. Cut open my chin. I was so embarrassed, I had to apologize to Rosie [O'Donnell]. It was her night. Andrea Martin was about to come on to do some comedy right after me. And I stole her thunder . . . [it turns out that supplementing McDonald's sodium level has put an end to her stage-faints]."
BENEFITING DIVAS Comedian, writer and musician Seth Rudetsky will inaugurate a new live Broadway Talk show, "The Seth Rudetsky Show," on Thursday, Dec. 9 (6 PM) at Don't Tell Mama on West 46th Street. The programs will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and the first evening will include interviews and performances from three stars of Saturday Night Fever: Orfeh, Paige Price and Paul Castree. Guests for Rudetsky's second program (at 6 PM on Thursday, Dec. 16) include Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth and the velvet-voiced Norm Lewis. There is a $10 cover charge and a two-drink minimum; call (212) 757-4788 for reservations.
IN OTHER NEWS On the re-release of Betty Buckley's first solo album, which was simply titled "Betty Buckley," there will be three bonus tracks. Two of the tracks were penned by Buckley herself: "Tender Mercies" and "Eternal Fix." Buckley's newest CD, "Heart to Heart," is now scheduled for a February release . . . Two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters will be honored by the Police Athletic League on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at its annual Women of the Year luncheon. This year's other honorees include Patricia Cornwell, Sue Simmons and Abby Joseph Cohen . . . The always-busy Karen Mason will perform songs from her new Christmas CD, "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas" (Zeveley Records) on Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 12:30 PM at Macy's in Herald's Square. And, as reported earlier, Mason will perform her entire Christmas show at Arci's Place on Dec. 12 and 19 at 7 PM. For the Arci's shows, there is a $25 cover and a $15 minimum; call (212) 532-4370 . . . Nanette Fabray, Margaret Illman, Ann Magnuson, Billy Dee Williams, Jerry Hadley, Mark Linn-Baker, George de la Pena, Dick Van Patten and host Jerry Orbach are just some of the names lined up for the Brooklyn Academy of Music's February 10 centenary gala celebration of the music of Kurt Weill. Tickets for Weill Style range from $50 to $600 and may be ordered by called BAM at (718) 636-4182 . . . Save the date: the next annual "Nothing Like a Dame Concert" will be held on March 6, 2000, at the St. James Theatre . . . And, finally, some diva moments from this year's annual "Gypsy of the Year Competition," which benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA, or as Dame Edna Everage phonetically put it, "bihsehfah"): Sandy Duncan mocked her Peter Pan/somewhat ditzy Wheat Thin image in a skit for the Chicago company entitled "We Want Sandy"; Dame Edna mocked just about everyone else in her inimitable manner (by the way, get yourself to the "tucked away Booth Theatre" as soon as you can if you've set to see the Dame in action); Marin Mazzie dragged her Kiss Me, Kate castmate, Eric Michael Gillett, off the stage after his delicious skewering of certain film actresses who -- though they cannot sing -- insist on appearing in Broadway musicals (i.e., Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, etc.); and Bernadette Peters, who announced that this year's "Gypsy" competition had raised in excess of two million dollars, a record for this always moving production. . .
Betty Buckley and Ben Vereen will be the guest singers for an upcoming NBC ice-skating program on Nov. 28 (from 4-6 p.m.). The two Tony winners will take part in the "StarSkates on Broadway" program, which will be a broadcast of an event taped on Nov. 20.
A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
December 13-14 St. Barth's Church in New York, NY
December 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
December 18 Atlantic University Aud. in Boca Raton, FL
December 31 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT
February 5, 2000 Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
February 6 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
February 8-9 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
February 11 Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
February 12 Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY
February 14 Keith Albec Theatre in Huntington, WV
February 15-17 The Iridium Room is New York, NY (guest of Kenny Werner)
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
Here is Cook's upcoming concert schedule:
December 31 at The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, PA; call (215) 893 1956 or (215) 893-1999
January 27-30 at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA (with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony); call (412) 392-4900
From February 1 through February 14, our Evita gal will perform on the stage of the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; February 18 will bring her to the Phil. Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida, and on February 19, LuPone will take to the stage of the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida . . .Tickets are also now on sale for the upcoming New York Philharmonic production of Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. Starring LuPone and opera singer Bryn Terfel, the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday. Tickets range from $75 to $250 and may be purchased by calling (212) 721-6500 . . .
Marcovicci continues her Algonquin run through Friday, Dec. 24. Performances of "Our Songs. . .1965-1985" are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 9 PM, with dinner arrival at 7 PM (dinner is required at the 9 PM show). There is a $15 minimum and $45 cover charge. For her late show -- 11 PM Friday and Saturday evenings -- Marcovicci will perform songs of the 40's, a return to the world of music that this artist loves, including such nostalgic tunes as "We'll Meet Again," "Moonlight Serenade" and "As Time Goes By." For reservations, call the Algonquin (59 West 44th Street) at (212) 840-6800.
Already announced McGovern concert dates:
Dec. 11 & 12 Holiday performance with the U.S. Army Band Orchestra, Army Chorale and Army Chorus at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
December 17 - 18 "Holiday Pops" at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, OH
December 30 - 31 "New Year's Eve Millennium Gala" with the Detroit Symphony at the Orchestra Hall in Detroit, MI
Jan. 22 "Sondheim & Jazz: Side by Side" at the UCLA Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA
Jan. 23 at the Mentor Performing Arts Center in Mentor, OH
Feb. 11 & 12 "Valentine Pops" with the Baton Rouge Symphony at the Centroplex Theatre for Performing Arts in Baton Rouge, LA
Feb 18 & 19 at the La Mirada Theatre for Performing Arts in La Mirada, CA
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
What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:
January 21 and 22, 2000 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah
The two-time Tony winner currently stars as the gun-toting Annie Oakley in the acclaimed revival of Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis Theatre.
LINCOLN CENTER'S AMERICAN SONGBOOK
"Always: Celebrating 100 Years of American Song" is up next in this series and features such theatrical luminaries as Patti LuPone, Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin, Alton White, cabaret's Mary Cleere Haran and Susanah McCorkle and more. This program is set for Dec. 3 and 4 at 8 p.m., also at Alice Tully Hall. Other titles in the series include "Who Wrote That Song," on March 23, 24 and 25 (cast to be announced) at the Kaplan Penthouse and "Round About: Dawn Upshaw," which features the gifted soprano singing the songs of Vernon Duke, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Sondheim and more. Upshaw will perform on May 17, 19 and 20 at 8:30 p.m. at the John Jay College Auditorium . . . Call (212) 721-6500 for tickets.
Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching!
by Andrew Gans
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