DIVA TALK: Lots O' Diva Quotes! And More...

DIVA TALK: Lots O' Diva Quotes! And More... BETTY BUCKLEY
There was a wonderful interview with Tony winner Betty Buckley in a recent edition of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune. Buckley will perform in concert in New Orleans this Sunday, June 17 at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre (616 St. Peter Street). Tickets, which are priced at $100, are available by calling 522-2081, and the performance, featuring Kenny Werner on piano, begins at 8 PM. What follows are a few of Buckley’s choice quotes from David Cuthbert’s article.

BETTY BUCKLEY
There was a wonderful interview with Tony winner Betty Buckley in a recent edition of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune. Buckley will perform in concert in New Orleans this Sunday, June 17 at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre (616 St. Peter Street). Tickets, which are priced at $100, are available by calling 522-2081, and the performance, featuring Kenny Werner on piano, begins at 8 PM. What follows are a few of Buckley’s choice quotes from David Cuthbert’s article.


Buckley discusses the role her dog Bridget played in The Mystery of Edwin Drood:
“My dog was in that show, you know -- Bridget. My little Shih Tzu, and a great actress. That dog got the biggest laugh in the play. Alice Nutting had a moment where she made an exit and the exit really wasn't working, had never worked. It needed something. My dresser first suggested we put Bridget in it, but I said, ‘Oh, no, I think George Rose would be very upset by that’ and I did not want that. Well, one day, I came in to rehearsal, all breathless after having walked Bridget, and she was about 6 months old and just beautiful, and the director, Wilford Leach said, ‘Do you think she would walk across the stage with you?’ Well, not only would she walk across the stage, but she loved it, and now the exit got a laugh and the costumer made her a little outfit with a feathered hat. Audiences loved her, and sometimes she'd add little things, like nip at George Rose's heels. . . . Well, several weeks into the show, it occurred to me that Bridget should be paid. I mean, the dog and trainer in Annie got paid, why shouldn't we? But they said, ‘Oh, no, that's a professional dog. This is your dog.’ And I said, ‘Yes, but she was cast by the director!’ But they were adamant: ‘No, we're not paying you.’ OK, so I got the flu and was out of the show. Judy Kuhn was my understudy and went on for me. I called and asked, ‘Do you want Bridget to come do the show?’ and the stage manager said no. But I knew that Judy wouldn't get a laugh on that exit without her. I called the next day: ‘Did she get the laugh?’ The stage manager said, ‘No, but it was her first performance, maybe tomorrow. . . .’ I said, ‘I'm telling you, it has nothing to do with the actor, it's the dog's laugh!’ The next day, the same thing; no laugh. The third day, the stage manager calls me: ‘Can Bridget come to work?’ She did three or four performances without me and got her laugh every time. When I came back, I got a check for $1,500 for Bridget Buckley, who thereafter was paid $100 a week. And (producer) Joe Papp started sending her presents, little gift baskets of doggy toys and treats and things.”


about the songs Buckley likes to sing:
“I like story songs, and almost visual lyrics. I want people to be able to see the thing you sing about. The songs I sing are like movies I run in my mind’s eye, and I share the film with the audience. Sometimes, I'll do a song like a painting. I will show a painting to my musical director, Kenny Werner, and say, ‘I want this song to sound like this texture, these colors.’ And he does it! He did a beautiful arrangement of ‘The Very Thought of You’ that we based on Monet’s paintings of water lilies. I had visited the Monet house and gardens in Giverny where he did the paintings. And I told this story at a concert at the University of Las Vegas and Steve Winn, the Vegas impresario was there, and after the concert, he took us to his gallery and there was the painting! The actual Monet! It just stunned us.”


about how she scored a role on HBO’s “Oz”:
“Do you know how I got the part? It's so funny -- I basically made up my part myself. It wouldn't have happened, except that Tom Fontana, who produces and writes ‘Oz,’ really likes and respects actors. Anyway, I watched this show and just loved it -- all the good actors, and it's beautifully shot. There's a lot of brutality, but it's really good, and I thought, ‘Boy, I wish I could be on this show.’ Of course, it's men in prison, and for me to get on, it's just not happening. But I called Tom Fontana anyway and said, ‘Can I take you to dinner and pitch you on my doing “Oz”?’ So we go out and he said, ‘What do you see yourself doing on the show?’ And I said, ‘Oh, maybe an attorney, a judge,’ and he said, ‘I don't see you doing that.’ So Dean Winters joins us for dinner, and we both have the same kind of cheekbones. I'm really kind of smitten with him, and I said, ‘I could play his mother!’ But Tom said, ‘No, it's already been established that his mother is dead.’ And I said, ‘No, I'm his real mother. I've been in hiding.’ Tom says, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Uhh, I was a terrorist.’ Three months later, Tom comes up with this storyline that I've been on the lam for 32 years, hooked up with this militant terrorist, abandoned my son, and now I've turned myself in. I did some short scenes and was barely in the last episode, but what's happened is the courts give her probation and she does community service in Oz! They film now at this old warehouse in Bayonne, New Jersey, with all these extremely talented actors who, you know, look like the parts they play, but they're actually lovely guys. It's a dream for a girl.”

SCHONBERG’S DIVAS
Claude-Michel Schonberg, creator (with Alain Boublil) of Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and Martin Guerre, recently spoke to my friend, writer and French film director Stephane Ly-Cuong. During their conversation, Schonberg discussed some of the women he has been fortunate to work with throughout the past two decades. What follows are some of Mr. Schonberg’s quotes, courtesy of Stephane:


Ruthie Henshall
“I’m so happy that she has been able to perform on Broadway because she has been dreaming of it for such a long time. She is very ambitious and is aware of her talent . . . Just watch the tenth anniversary video of Les Miz. She has such a way to sing the notes. She is one of the great musical theatre performers, which is very different from the pop singers: When she sings, you listen to the story she’s telling.”


Judy Kuhn
“I sent her a note once after I saw her in Chess and Metropolis. And I wrote, ‘I saw you in two bad shows, but still, you were outstanding.’ She has a soprano technique without being some kind of ‘operetta nightingale.’ In Les Miz, at the end, when she sings, ‘You will live, Papa, you’re going to live,’ I don’t think I have heard anything as beautiful, and it’s in the best part of her vocal range.”


Patti LuPone
“She’s such a great actress. Acting-wise, her Fantine was fantastic. She is a monster on stage with her originality, her big personality, her enthusiasm, her ability to listen to people. I have a lot of tenderness for her.”


Frances Ruffelle
“When you listen to her, you think, ‘This is talent.’ She is less reasonable in life than Lea [Salonga, more instinctive]. She’s more versatile, passionate. The first time I saw her was in Starlight Express. She already had that kind of Cyndi Lauper voice, and I thought she had to be our Eponine. I always listen to her sing with great pleasure.”


Lea Salonga
“Lea is one of the most talented persons I’ve ever met. She wrote me a note once, when I went to see her in Les Miz, saying that each time she knew I was in the audience, she was singing especially for me, and she was seeking me in the dark. When Lea says hello to you, you feel that you’re the most important person on earth to her and that she’s so happy to see you. And she does it sincerely. She’s a person I love deeply, and she’s excessively talented. She’s already an outstanding artist, but she is going to grow to a level she doesn’t even suspect.”

DIVAS AT THE PAPER MILL
A host of divas will be performing in concert this season at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. Those scheduled to sing for their supper include Barbara Cook (Sept. 25), Donna McKechnie (Oct. 2), Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway (Nov. 6) and Linda Eder (Dec. 5). Tickets are now on sale and are available by calling the theatre’s box office at (973) 376-4343. The Paper Mill Playhouse, one of New Jersey’s finest theatres, is located on Brookside Drive in Millburn, New Jersey (exit 142 off the Garden State Parkway, exit 14 off the NJ Turnpike, exit 7 off route 280).

FOR THE RECORD: “JULIAN LLOYD WEBBER PLAYS ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER”
Over the past three decades Andrew Lloyd Webber has written some of the greatest diva roles -- Eva Peron in Evita, Grizabella in Cats, Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard -- for many of this column’s favorite gals. If Webber has failed to find a lyricist that matches Tim Rice’s wit and skill (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita), his melodies continue to soar. And, if anyone doubts the beauty of his music, I would suggest he/she pick up the rerelease of “Julian Lloyd Webber Plays Andrew Lloyd Webber” (Philips Records), which now includes six additional tracks from ALW’s three newest shows, Sunset Boulevard, Whistle Down the Wind and Beautiful Game. Just listen to Our Kind of Love from Beautiful Game, and I guarantee you will be humming this luscious tune for the next week.


Julian Lloyd Webber, the younger brother of the Cats composer, is an accomplished cellist, who first released a selection of ALW tunes in 1989 under the title “Lloyd Webber Plays Lloyd Webber.” In the liner notes for the rerelease, his older brother has this to say, “When I composed Variations for Julian way back in 1977 it was my first full-length piece without lyrics. Julian’s cello did all the singing. Nearly a quarter of a century later his cello still does the singing on songs that originally had words.” Highlights of the CD, which also features the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, include a haunting version of the Phantom’s anthem, “Music of the Night”; a slowed-down take of “I Don’t Know How To Love Him”; the gentle, melodic tones of Sunset Boulevard’s “The Perfect Year”; “All I Ask of You,” which seems a perfect fit for the lush sound of a cello; “Tell Me On a Sunday,” one of my favorite ALW tunes; the title track from Whistle Down the Wind; and, of course, the first four variations from Song and Dance, which the elder Lloyd Webber wrote for his brother after losing a bet.


The complete track listing for “Julian Lloyd Webber plays Andrew Lloyd Webber” follows:
“No Matter What”
“The Phantom of the Opera”
“Music of the Night”
“Memory”
“Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”
“Our Kind of Love”
“With One Look”
“I Don’t Know How To Love Him”
“Starlight Express”
“Buenos Aires”
“Love Changes Everything”
“The Perfect Year”
“All I Ask of You”
“God’s Own Country”
“Tell Me On a Sunday”
“Variations 1-4”
“Close Every Door”
“John 19:41”
“Pie Jesu”
“Whistle Down the Wind”

QUOTABLE QUOTES:


Randy Graff discusses the lessons of the now closed A Class Act in Robert Simonson’s New York Times article:
“The lesson that Ed [Kleban] learns on his deathbed in A Class Act is it’s not about fame or stardom. It’s about doing what you love, working and creating. There have been times in this business where I’ve done work and I’ve thought, ‘Nobody’s really paying any attention to this work and I think it’s pretty darn good.’ The thing that I’ve learned is that the people who count, the people who remember what you do, aren’t the ones who necessarily write the big exclamation-point reviews. This may sound like I’m full of it, but the respect of my peers means everything to me. If you feel good about your work, that’s everything. The rest is fleeting.”


In an upcoming Playbill article by Harry Haun, The Full Monty’s Kathleen Freeman discusses the start of her stage career:
“[Vaudeville] was a system that no longer existed so [my family and I] kept right on going, which was typical, and finally made our strange way to Los Angeles. . . Then, a terrible thing happened. I got in a play at UCLA. I came onstage and opened my mouth and got a laugh, and the whole thing was over.”

IN OTHER NEWS On Saturday, June 23 Barbara Cook will make a rare New Jersey concert appearance when she performs at the John Harms Center for the Arts in Englewood, NJ. Tickets are available by calling the box office at (201) 567-3600 . . . Former Miss Saigon and Cats star Liz Callaway will perform in New Hope, PA at Odette’s from June 21 through June 24. Seats are still available by calling (215) 862-3000 . . . A few more concert dates have been added to Linda Eder’s ever-growing schedule: Sept. 14 at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA, (215) 893-1999; Dec. 5 at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ, (973) 376-4343; Dec. 11 at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA, (617) 266-1492; Dec. 14 and 15 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, (800) 444-1324 . . . That divine singer Anne Runolfsson, who stoodby for Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria, will perform in concert on July 28 and 29 in Cincinnati with the Cincinnati Pops. Jack Everly will conduct . . . One of my favorite “new voices” belongs to cabaret singer Lisa Viggiano, who will make a few rare New York appearances in July at Don’t Tell Mama. Viggiano, who will be accompanied on piano by Christopher Marlowe, will perform July 19, 20, 21, 22, 27 and 28 at the New York City cabaret on West 46th Street; call (212) 757-0788 for reservations . . . And, you can finally catch Bernadette Peters’ latest film, Let It Snow, which is now playing an exclusive engagement at the Angelika Film Center (Houston and Mercer) in New York City. The romantic comedy’s Los Angeles premiere takes place on June 22, and then it will open across the country throughout the summer.

REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
That Tony-winning dynamo, Betty Buckley, has just released a new slate of concert performances, which follows:


June 17 at the Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA
July 27 and 28 at the Bottom Line in New York, NY
July 29 at the Provincetown Town Hall in Provincetown, MA (Fund raiser for Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater)
August 25 at the Great Waters Music Festival in Wolfeboro, NH
October 6 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
November 10 at the Naperville North Central College Performing Arts Center in Naperville, IL (with Michael Feinstein)
November 24 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
December 6 at Abravenal Hall with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, UT (Xmas program)
December 7 in Logan, UT (Venue to be announced)
December 27 at the Academy Theatre in Philadelphia, PA (with Michael Feinstein)
January 4 & 5, 2002 at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford, CT
March 15 & 16, 2002 with the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh, NC
March 30 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA

BARBARA COOK
July 9 at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL LINDA EDER
Eder in concert:
Now through June 3 in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392 4900
July 7 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion at the Woodlands in Houston, TX, (713) 629-3700
Sept. 15 at the Eisenhower Hall Theatre at West Point, (845) 938 4159
Oct. 19 and 20 at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, go to www.atlantasymphony.org
Nov. 3 at the Youngstown Symphony Center in Youngstown, OH, (330) 744 4269
Nov. 16 and 17 at Jacobs Symphony Hall in Jacksonville, FL, (877) 662 6731

PATTI LuPONE
The Tony and Olivier Award-winning actress has also just released a whole new slew of concert dates, which follow:


July 7 at the Performing Arts Center in Westhampton Beach, NY (“Matters of the Heart”)
July 19-21 in Sweeney Todd at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, CA
August 3-4 at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Los Angeles, CA (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
September 15 at the Rialto Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia (“Matters of the Heart”)
September 20-23 at Bass Hall with the Ft. Worth Symphony in Ft. Worth, Texas (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
November 10 at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts (“Matters of the Heart”)
February 9, 2002 at the Tilles Center with the Long Island Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
February 22-23, 2002 at the Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY with the Buffalo Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)

February 28 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY

BERNADETTE PETERS
The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
June 23 in Johnston, PA

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

By Andrew Gans