DIVA TALK: Latest on Betty, Elaine -- Even Ethel!

DIVA TALK: Latest on Betty, Elaine -- Even Ethel! BETTY BUCKLEY
Betty B is set to perform with the San Francisco Symphony tonight, July 18 at 8 PM at Davies Symphony Hall. For those of you in the San Francisco area who have yet to buy your tickets, call 415-864-6000. Buckley was also the recent subject of an interview for the "Datebook" section of the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle. Following are some choice quotes from Blake Green's article, entitled Betty Buckley, Now and Forever:

about turning 50:
"I don't feel any different. . .Fortunately the human voice can [grow], and I guess I'm lucky there's space in the world for a singer who continues to mature. . ."

BETTY BUCKLEY
Betty B is set to perform with the San Francisco Symphony tonight, July 18 at 8 PM at Davies Symphony Hall. For those of you in the San Francisco area who have yet to buy your tickets, call 415-864-6000. Buckley was also the recent subject of an interview for the "Datebook" section of the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle. Following are some choice quotes from Blake Green's article, entitled Betty Buckley, Now and Forever:

about turning 50:
"I don't feel any different. . .Fortunately the human voice can [grow], and I guess I'm lucky there's space in the world for a singer who continues to mature. . ."

about her divadom:
"A diva is a lady who can go onstage and be grand, so I'm flattered. I think of myself as a simple working girl who can be relied upon to do a supporting role or a huge one."<

about relationships:
"I don't want a conventional marriage. I want an interesting one. I had a lot of things to work through. I'm still very conscious of working on my problems. I figure God must have some nifty dudes up his sleeve, and he's just been holding them back until I got myself together."



ELAINE PAIGE
I received a rare recording in the mail this week, one that was originally released on LP in 1972 and then re-released on CD in 1995. The recording, entitled Sparrow Hatching Out, was made during the West End run of Hair and featured four of that show's cast members: Elaine Paige, Mickey Keen, Diane Langton and Jonathan Bergman.
In the liner notes, producer and guitarist Keen has this to say about Ms. Paige: "Elaine's voice on 'Dreamsong' still sends shivers down my back. The beautiful pure tone in her voice is also caught on 'Many Things Are Clear' and 'Rainsun Song' and manages to give them an almost fairy-tale quality. . .The back-track for 'Hello Goodbye' was as you can probably hear, recorded in totally the wrong key for Elaine to sing in, but we were so pushed for time to get the track recorded that she went for it...and just about made it!" It's an interesting recording that has a pop/rock feel to it, and for those Paige fans out there, myself included, it is a welcome addition to the EP recording collection.

Regarding more current Elaine projects, I had a great conversation, as usual, with Elaine's U.S. press rep, who informed me that EP has just returned from Denmark where she was a smash in a concert version of Chess that co-starred Tommy Korberg. Paige is also still negotiating bringing her critically-hailed performance in Piaf to the U.S., and it looks more likely as each week passes. . . . And, don't forget, the Evening at Pops series that features Paige singing six of her hit theatre tunes ("As If We Never Said Goodbye," "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "The Ballad of Poor Old John," "If You Love Me," "No Regrets" and "Memory") will air on PBS stations throughout the country on July 28.

BERNADETTE PETERS
Hope you caught Bernadette this past week on the "RuPaul Show," looking enchanting in all red and delivering a sultry version of Stephen Sondheim's "Sooner or Later." BP also chatted a bit with the statuesque host(ess) with whom she sang a few bars from Sunday in the Park with George. . . . A release date has just been set for the upcoming animated film, Anastasia, for which Peters lends her voice--look for the film November 21.


FLORENCE LACEY
One of our favorite Evitas, Florence Lacey, begins her six-week tour of An Evening with Jerry Herman Monday, July 21 at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT. Lacey will be joined onstage by Lee Roy Reams (who recently directed the acclaimed revival of Hello, Dolly!) and the Tony-winning composer of such classics as Mame, La Cage aux Folles, Mack and Mabel and Hello, Dolly!, Jerry Herman. For those of you who've never heard Lacey's powerful singing, you might want to purchase the video, Jerry Herman's Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl, which has just been released by Varese Sarabande Video. The star-studded tribute to Herman also includes performances by such musical theatre stars as Bea Arthur, Carol Channing, Davis Gaines, George Hearn, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Leslie Uggams and more.
The other tour dates for An Evening with Jerry Herman follow:
August 4-16 at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, ME
August 18-30 at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, MA


ANNE RUNOLFSSON
If you missed Anne Runolfsson's recent cabaret act, here's another chance to catch the wonderful singer in action. Runolfsson will return to the cabaret stage of the West Village's Eighty-Eights next Thursday night, July 24. Runolfsson, who has been the standby for all three leading ladies of Victor/Victoria--Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli and Raquel Welch--has one of the most beautiful voices in the business and perhaps the highest belting range of anyone currently on Broadway. Two of the women who Runolfsson stood by for in V/V have offered quotes for her latest cabaret flyer. Says Julie Andrews about Runolfsson: "Anne's lovely voice weaves magic. Her truth makes me cry." And, Liza adds, "Besides having one of the most extraordinary voices in the world, Anne sings with a beauty and depth that is absolutely remarkable." Eighty-Eights is located at 228 W. 10th Street; call 212-924-0088 for reservations. There is a $12 cover and a two-drink minimum.

You can also catch Runolfsson on "The Marta Sanders Show," a radio program that airs on WLIR, 1300 AM. The singing actress will guest on Sanders' show this Saturday, July 19 from 11am until noon.


ETHEL MERMAN
For those of you newer diva fans who have yet to be exposed to the delights of that dearly-departed diva Ethel Merman, you might want to obtain the just-released recording There's No Business Like Show Business: The Ethel Merman Collection. Available on the Razor & Tie Showbiz label, the compilation is a perfect sampling of Merman tunes, including songs from such hit Merman shows as Anything Goes and Gypsy. The 21 tracks included are as follows:
I Got Rhythm
Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries
Eadie Was a Lady, Parts 1 & 2
You're the Top
I Get a Kick Out of You
Blow, Gabriel, Blow
It's De-Lovely
Make It Another Old-Fashioned, Please
I've Still Got My Health
Doin' What Comes Naturally
I Got the Sun in the Morning
Anything You Can Do
You Can't Get a Man With a Gun
Dearie
If I Knew You Were Comin I'd've Baked a Cake
The Hostess with the Mostes' On the Ball
You're Just in Love
There's No Business Like Show Business
Some People
Everything's Coming Up Roses
Rose's Turn

DIVA CHALLENGE II
Which diva (or divas) fits the description given?

Choose from the following ladies (you may have multiple answers):
(A) Betty Buckley (B) Patti LuPone (C) Elaine Paige (D) Bernadette Peters

(1) Real last name is Lazarra
(2) Middle name is Lynn
(3) Tony winner for Best Actress in a Musical
(4) Has an album titled "Now Playing"
(5) Broadway debut in 1776
(6) First to record "Memory"
(7) Star of Cats and Sunset Boulevard
(8) Star of Evita and Sunset Boulevard
(9) Star of Anything Goes and Evita
(10) Star of Anything Goes, Evita and Sunset Boulevard
(11) Recorded "Wind Beneath My Wings" before Bette Midler
(12) "Eight is Enough" star
(13) Sang "Over You" in a film
(14) "All's Fair" star
(15) Real last name is Bickerstaff
(16) Her brother starred in A Chorus Line
(17) Sang much of a musical in French
(18) In one show she dated Chuck, Sheldon, Joe and Paul
(19) Portrayed a silent movie star
(20) Sang at Sondheim Carnegie Hall Celebration
(21) Uncredited singer on the soundtrack for the Hair film
(22) Locked daughter in the cellar in one show
(23) Starred opposite Mandy Patinkin in a musical
(24) Was a professional chess player in a musical
(25) Married to a bread maker in a musical
(26) Journeyed to the heavyside layer in a musical
(27) Starred opposite Robert Preston in a musical
(28) Has a dog named "Tugger"
(29) Starred with Howard McGillin in a musical
(30) Composed a song titled "Dark Blue-Eyed Blues"
(31) Was killed by her onstage daughter in a musical
(32) Marti Webb took over for this actress in Evita
(33) Julie Covington created on album a role this actress would play onstage
(34) Made her Broadway debut within the last 12 months
(35) Recorded the song "Supermarket in Old Peking"
(36) Recorded the song "Chico's Girl"
(37) Has a little boy named Josh
(38) Her Evita alternate was recently in the Off-Broadway musical Bed and Sofa
(39) "Life Goes On" star
(40) Backup singer on a Roberta Flack album
(41) Miss Fort Worth 1966
(42) "Carol Burnett Show" regular guest
(43) Got married on a Broadway stage

Answers in next week's column!


REMINDERS:
PATTI LuPONE
Patti's LuPone's dynamic one-woman show, An Evening with Patti LuPone, will be broadcast on PBS stations beginning on August 20.
DEBBIE GRAVITTE/KAREN MASON are two of the performers who will take part in the fourth volume of Maryann Lopinto's Cabaret On the Record, benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS on Thursday, July 24 at 8pm at the Triad. The Triad is located in New York City at 158 West 72nd Street. There is a $15 cover and a $10 food/drink minimum; call 212-799-4599 for reservations.

Next week: A review of Florence Lacey in An Evening with Jerry Herman.

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

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