DIVA TALK: LuPone, Akers, Ebersole, Errico, Marcovicci, Moreno and More Head to the Cabaret; Webb in the "Limelight"

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: LuPone, Akers, Ebersole, Errico, Marcovicci, Moreno and More Head to the Cabaret; Webb in the "Limelight" News, views and reviews about the multi-talented women of the musical theatre and the concert/cabaret stage.
Christine Ebersole
Christine Ebersole

DIVAS AT THE ALGONQUIN and FEINSTEIN'S

The Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel recently announced its Centenary Cabaret schedule, which features a host of talented cabaret favorites.

Andrea Marcovicci, who is currently delving into the Cole Porter songbook through Jan. 24, will return to her home-away-from-home next fall. From Nov. 16, 2004-Jan. 1, 2005, the witty chanteuse will focus her attention on the songs made famous by the late dance legend Fred Astaire. Marcovicci is calling her latest act "Andrea Sings Fred Astaire," and cabaretgoers can expect to hear well-known Astaire tunes, several little-heard gems and a healthy dose of Astaire trivia.

Before that, however, Oak Room patrons can experience the vocals of two-time Grammy Award winner Sylvia McNair, Feb. 3-14. Melissa Errico, the actress/singer who brought her golden tones to last season's Amour, will make her Oak Room debut March 16 with an all-new program. Errico will reside at the Algonquin through April 3 before she headlines The Irish Repertory Theatre's concert version of Finian's Rainbow.

Errico will be followed by one of cabaret's finest, original Nine star Karen Akers. Akers, who possesses a deep, rich contralto, has found a new home at the Algonquin, where she has performed for the past few years. The dramatic singer will bring her new show to the famed Oak Room, April 6-May 15. We hear that Akers will offer a few tunes from her acclaimed Theater Songs program as well as songs by Maury Yeston and standards by Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Duke Ellington and Jule Styne. A jazz favorite, Jane Monheit, will sing for her supper, June 15-16, and she will precede a Stephen Sondheim salute that begins June 29. KT Sullivan, who starred in the short-lived revival of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, will join five-time MAC Award winner Mark Nadler for Sondheim on a Summer Night, which will play through July 17.

Autumn at the Algonquin will also feature the teaming of Sandy Stewart and Bill Charlap (Oct. 5-16) and a Cavalcade of Cabaret (Oct. 26-Nov. 13). For more information about the Algonquin, visit www.thealgonquin.net.

The upcoming season at Feinstein's at the Regency is equally stellar and offers some of the musical theatre's finest leading ladies.

Tony Award winner Christine Ebersole will perform her new show, In Your Dreams, Feb. 17-March 6. Ebersole, who boasts one of the more versatile voices around, will be joined on stage by her former 42nd Street co-star, jazz pianist-singer Billy Stritch.

Tony, Oscar, Emmy and Grammy Award winner Rita Moreno will bring her mix of sass, wit and charm to Feinstein's March 9-20. Moreno, of course, won the Academy Award for her role as Anita in the film version of West Side Story. She earned a Best Featured Actress in a Play Tony for her work in Broadway's The Ritz and nabbed two Emmys: one for a guest appearance on "The Muppet Show" and another for a stint on "The Rockford Files." She was awarded the Grammy for her performance on "The Electric Company" album for children.

With Ruth and Eileen Sherwood on Broadway in Wonderful Town, how appropriate that two Broadway siblings, Ann Hampton and Liz (Callaway, that is) will bring their latest sister act to Feinstein's March 23-April 3. The Callaways had a great success with their first show, Sibling Revelry (which was eventually recorded live on DRG), and they are calling their newest Relative Harmony.

And, as reported last week, Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone will head to Feinstein's this spring after she appears in the Encores! mounting of Can-Can. LuPone will perform "The Lady with the Torch" April 6-24. Although La LuPone has performed in concerts on Broadway, at Carnegie Hall and at Lincoln Center within the past decade, this marks her first extended cabaret engagement since her Evita days. It will certainly be a show not to be missed!

The Feinstein's season will also include James Naughton (Looking for the Heart of Saturday Night), April 27-May 9; Paul Williams with special guest Carol Welsman (Nice To Be Around), May 11-15; Keely Smith (Las Vegas '58), May 18-June 5; and The Pizzarelli Family, June 8-June 20.

Feinstein's at the Regency is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street in Manhattan. For ticket reservations and club information all (212) 339-4095, or log on to www.ticketweb.com.

FOR THE RECORD Marti Webb's "Limelight"
Now that Marti Webb has replaced Denise van Outen in the revised version of "Tell Me On a Sunday" at London's Gielgud Theatre, I thought it would be a good time to examine her newest solo recording, "Limelight." Webb, of course, created the role for the original recording, BBC television production and eventual West End staging of the one-woman "Tell Me On a Sunday" song cycle. Her new 12-track recording — perhaps her finest vocal recording since that original "Tell Me On a Sunday" LP — features a mix of tunes from Webb's stage and recording career.

Her U.K. chart toppers — "Take That Look Off Your Face," "Ben" and "Always There" — all featured lyrics by Don Black, and Webb, years later, continues to do them justice. Though she still possesses a rangy belt, there is a sweeter, more gentle quality about Webb's voice that is very engaging and makes for pleasant listening.

Webb also offers several theatre tunes, from shows in which she has starred (Oliver!, Good Companions, The King and I) and from those in which she has not (Aida, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Sunset Boulevard). It's on the theatre tunes where the singing actress is most effective. She delivers a lovely rendition of The King and I's "Hello Young Lovers" and brings a full-throated urgency to Oliver!'s "As Long As He Needs Me." Webb's softer tones are a perfect match for Chitty's "Hush-a-Bye Mountain," and she is joined by Robert Meadmore for a terrific rendition of Elton John and Tim Rice's "Elaborate Lives" from Aida.

I was actually most excited to hear Webb's version of Sunset Boulevard's "With One Look" — I can't seem to pass on any recording that features the Norma arias "With One Look" or "As If We Never Said Goodbye" — and I'm happy to report that she delivers a dazzling take of the Lloyd Webber/Black ballad. Webb begins with the little-heard verse ("They don't want me anymore/They all say I'm through/Well, it's time they knew") and builds the song to a belty finale, claiming, "This time I'm staying/I'm staying for good/I'll be back where I was born to be/With one look/I'll beeeee meeeeeee!"

"Limelight" is available at import record stores or on-line at Dress Circle, www.dresscircle.co.uk.

IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK: Jennifer Westfeldt — currently starring opposite Donna Murphy in Wonderful Town — will kick off the 2004 Harold Clurman Lecture Series. On Jan. 26 Westfeldt will take part in the series, which offers lectures from some of the theatre's leading actors, writers, directors, musicians and visual artists. A project of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, previous participants include Edward Albee, Betty Comden, Alan Bates, Olympia Dukakis, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cherry Jones, Ming Cho Lee, Lloyd Richards, Sidney Poitier, Roy Scheider, Herb Gardner and Lynn Redgrave. Westfeldt will speak about her experiences in theatre, television and film, and a question-and-answer session will follow. The lecture will be held at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting (31 West 27th Street) at 6:30 PM; reservations may be made by calling (212) 689-0087. . . . Dee Hoty, Matt Bogart, William Michals and Tony Award winners Donna McKechnie and Sutton Foster will team for a series of Broadway Showstoppers concerts Jan. 28-Feb. 1 at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The five Broadway actors will appear with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops for four performances featuring songs from some of Broadway's most famous musicals. The concerts — Jan. 28 and 30 at 8 PM, Jan. 31 at 2 PM and Feb. 1 at 3 PM — will also boast the Pops' professional chorus, The Voices of the Pops, and will be held in Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Tickets, priced $19-$82, are available by calling (215) 893-1999. For more information, visit www.phillypops.com. . . . A host of theatre favorites — including Little Shop of Horrors' Kerry Butler, Side Show's Emily Skinner, Saturday Night Fever's Paige Price and veteran actress Marian Seldes — can be heard on a new CD produced by Jamie deRoy and Lanny Meyers. "Jamie deRoy & friends: Animal Tracks," which hits stores this month on the Harbinger Records label, pays tribute to the animal kingdom and will benefit The Humane Society of New York. The 16-track disc features an eclectic mix of tunes by composers ranging from Broadway's Richard Rodgers, Frank Loesser, Kander and Ebb and Stephen Sondheim to jazz master Duke Ellington and pop icons John Lennon and Paul McCartney. In addition to the many songs, there is also a bit of storytelling on the recording. Marian Seldes explains the tale of a fleet-footed feline in the poem "The Cat Who Wasn't There," and George Wurzbach offers the tale of "A Snake Named Larue." The liner notes also include personal animal-related reminiscences from each of the performers. . . . Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman has landed the role of Ulla in the upcoming film of the Broadway musical "The Producers." Variety reported earlier this week that the actress, currently on screens in "Cold Mountain," will play the role originated on stage by Tony winner Cady Huffman. Susan Stroman, who directed the Broadway musical and who will direct the film, told the industry paper, "I'm so excited, [Kidman's] so versatile." Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan are currently writing the film's script, and shooting is scheduled to begin next February. The motion picture — starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick — is scheduled for Christmas 2005. . . . Tony Award winner Leslie Uggams is the latest celeb lined up for a Fynsworth Alley live chat. Uggams, who is currently starring as Muzzy in Thoroughly Modern Millie, will chat with her fans Sunday, Jan. 25. The chat — moderated by Robert Armin — will be held from 6:30-8 PM ET. Upcoming chat-room guests include Jekyll & Hyde's Christiane Noll on Monday, Feb. 2 and 42nd Street's Jonathan Freeman on Monday, Feb. 9. . . . Jan Neuberger, who portrays the Midwife in the hit new musical Wicked, will perform her one-woman show next month at Mama Rose's Cabaret. On Feb. 1, 8, 22 and 23 the singer-actress will offer Boomer Girl: A One (Middle-Aged) Woman Show, which features music by Ben Cohn. Conceived, written and performed by Neuberger, the show is "a lively combination of original songs and comic insight about the realities and fantasies of being middle-aged — from high school reunions, ex-husbands and bone density to motherhood, rock stars and flannel underwear." Boomer Girl will be performed at 9 PM (Feb. 1, 8 and 22) and at 7 PM (Feb. 23). There is a $12 cover charge and a two-drink minimum. Mama Rose's Cabaret is located at 219 Second Avenue, between 13th and 14th Street. Call (212) 533-0558 for reservations.

REMINDERS

Liz Callaway in Concert:

Jan. 31 in Sibling Revelry in Boston, MA
Feb. 7 in Sibling Revelry in Riverfront, IL
Feb. 13 with Jason Graae in Salt Lake City, UT
Feb. 14 with Jason Graae in Palm Springs, CA
Feb. 26-28 with Jason Graae in West Palm Beach, FL
Feb. 29 with Stephen Schwartz and Friends in Wilton, CT
April 23 with Jason Graae in Sutter Creek, CA
April 24-25 with Jason Graae in San Rafael, CA
May 1 in Sibling Revelry in Orono, ME
May 8 in Sibling Revelry in Purchase, NY

Patti LuPone in Concert:

Jan. 23, 2004 at the Eissey Campus Theatre in Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Jan. 24, 2004 at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL
Feb. 27-29, 2004 at the Myerhoff Hall in Baltimore, MD
March 12, 2004 at the New Jersey PAC in Newark, NJ
March 13 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ

Louise Pitre in Concert:

Jan. 31, 2004-Feb. 8 in Sweeney Todd with the Calgary Opera Company at the Jubilee Auditorium in Canada
February 13 at the Capitol Theatre in Windsor, ON
February 28 at the Sanderson Performing Arts in Brantford, ON
February 29 at the Silverthorn C.I. Auditorium in Toronto, ON
November 4 at the Brock Centre for the Arts in St. Catherines, ON
November 5 at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts in Oakville, ON
November 6 at the Dr. J.M. Ennis Auditorium in Welland, ON
November 11 at the Heritage Theatre in Brampton, ON
November 12 at the Imperial Oil Centre in Sarnia, ON
November 17 at the Markham Theatre in Markham, ON
November 20 at the Stockey Centre in Parry Sound, ON
November 21 at The Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, ON


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

This week's column is dedicated to the memory of the legendary Ann Miller, 1923-2004.