DIVA TALK: LuPone's 'the top,' Peters is '#1' and More. . .

DIVA TALK: LuPone's 'the top,' Peters is '#1' and More. . . As mentioned last week, "Diva Talk" now runs every Friday... Enjoy!

As mentioned last week, "Diva Talk" now runs every Friday... Enjoy!

PATTI LuPONE

The big diva news of the week was the confirmation that Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone — who received a Drama Desk Award for her work in the 1987 Tony-winning revival of Anything Goes — will reunite with two of that production's stars, Howard McGillin and Linda Hart, for a one-night-only Lincoln Center benefit performance of the Cole Porter musical on April 1. The gala performance, which also boasts a cast including John Cunningham, Boyd Gaines, Kaitlin Hopkins, Elizabeth Hubbard, John Jellison and Michael McGrath, will honor Joe Cullman, a great friend of Lincoln Center, on his 90th birthday.

The Anything Goes concert will be performed at the Vivian Beaumont Theater — where the smash revival played — on Monday, April 1 at 6:45 PM. Featuring direction and choreography by Side Show's Robert Longbottom, the evening will also include musical direction by David Chase. The performance, which is the centerpiece of the Lincoln Center's 2002 Spring Gala, will be followed by dinner at Tavern on the Green at Central Park West and 67th Street. Tickets to the performance only (in the loge section), priced at $50 and $100, are now available at the theatre's box office (150 W. 65th Street) or by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. Tickets for the performance (orchestra seats) and dinner are priced at $600, $1,000 and $2,500 and are available by calling Karin Schall at (212) 501-3251.

Flashback: About her performance in Anything Goes, former New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich had this to say about La LuPone: "Forget about the Coliseum, the Louvre museum, a melody from a symphony by Strauss—Patti LuPone is the top. As Reno Sweeney, the sassy nightclub singer in the Lincoln Center revival of Anything Goes, Ms. LuPone has her first sensational New York role since Evita in 1979, and, given that Cole Porter is the evening's buoyant guiding spirit, you don't have to fear that she'll succumb to death scenes in the second act. With her burst of Lucille Ball red hair, a trumpet's blare in her voice, and lips so insinuatingly protruded they could make the Pledge of Allegiance sound lewd, Ms. LuPone's Reno is a mature, uninhibited jazz dame: loose, trashy, funny, sexy." LuPone currently stars in the hit revival of Michael Frayn's comedy, Noises Off at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

BERNADETTE PETERS

How exciting to walk inside the Virgin Megastore in Times Square and see that Bernadette Peters' new recording, "Bernadette Peters Loves Rodgers & Hammerstein" is loved by all! In fact, the CD is the number one seller in that store, a true rarity for a Broadway performer, even one of the caliber of Peters. But, it seems, talent occasionally wins out. As was already reported, Peters will perform an entire evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein — with a few surprises, no doubt — when she makes her Radio City Music Hall concert debut on June 19 . . . When I was sent the CD, the press kit also included some glowing reviews of recent BP concerts, and I thought you would enjoy reading a few select quotes, which follow:

Nancy Stetson in the Naples Daily News (Florida; 1/8/2002):
"Peters sang a few numbers from Rodgers and Hammerstein . . . One of the more surprising selections was 'There Is Nothin' Like a Dame' from South Pacific, which is traditionally sung by men. But in Peters' interpretation, the tune became a song celebrating her own womanliness. 'They don't do it exactly like that in the show,' she said when she finished. 'But that's the way I do it.' . . . When she sang 'I'm Flying' from Peter Pan, she sang it with such conviction and wonder, moving her arms fluidly through the air, that it wouldn't have been surprising to see her hover above the audience . . . Peters seems to recreate herself with each song, being vampish for one, sophisticated for another, then wistful for the next. She exudes sexiness but also sweetness, confidence and vulnerability. And though she's on stage, performing, there seems to be nothing pretentious or artificial about her."

Pat Craig in the Contra Costa Times (1/22/2001)
"Quite fittingly, the show opens with Peters singing 'There's No Business Like Show Business,' which leads quickly into a rousing 'Can't Get a Man With a Gun,' two Berlin tunes from the revival of Annie Get Your Gun, which earned Peters her most recent Tony Award. She gives it just the right theatrical touch by donning a battered cowboy hat and brandishing a rifle . . . Quickly, she moves into Sondheim territory, with 'No One Is Alone,' from Into the Woods. It is the first of a number of Sondheim songs, from 'Children Will Listen' to 'Some People' from Gypsy, Peters' first touring show when she was a teen, and a musical revival she's scheduled to launch next year. The tune, a show stopper by the Mama Rose character, gave plenty of evidence that Peters will be stunning in the role that was created by Ethel Merman in 1959 . . . [Peters'] most memorable material was from her latest fling with Rodgers and Hammerstein . . . The songs were excellent additions to the Peters catalog, primarily because they have strong stories, like much of the other material she performs. And that may be the key to the diva's appeal. She is very much an actress as well as a singer, so even fairly contemporary ballads, which are often sung in that stentorian anthem style, become intimate and emotional when Peters wraps her voice around them."

ELAINE STRITCH

I've received a few letters asking what songs — other than "The Ladies Who Lunch" and "Zip" — that Elaine Stritch performs in her one-woman show at the Neil Simon Theatre. So, I thought I'd list all of the songs that are mentioned in the show's Playbill, which says, "The following songs may or may not be performed in Elaine Stritch At Liberty." ! And, as I've written before, don't miss your chance to see this legend onstage. You will not regret it . . . but you may regret it if you don't go!

"All In Fun" music: Jerome Kern; lyrics: Oscar Hammerstein II
"Broadway Baby" music & lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
"But Not For Me" music: George Gershwin; lyrics: Ira Gershwin
"If Love Were All" music & lyrics: Noel Coward
"Can You Use Any Money Today?" music & lyrics: Irving Berlin
"Civilization" music: Carl Sigman lyrics: Bob Hilliard
"Hooray For Hollywood" music: Richard A. Whiting lyrics: Johnny Mercer
"I’m Still Here" music & lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
"I’ve Been To A Marvelous Party" music & lyrics: Noel Coward
"I Want A Long Time Daddy" music & lyrics: Porter Grainger
"The Little Things You Do Together" music & lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
"Something Good" music & lyrics: Richard Rodgers
"The Ladies Who Lunch" music & lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
"The Party’s Over" music: Jule Styne lyrics: Betty Comden and Adolph Green
"There Never Was A Baby Like My Baby" music: Jule Styne lyrics: Betty Comden and Adolph Green
"There’s No Business Like Show Business" music & lyrics: Irving Berlin
"This Is All Very New To Me" music: Albert Hague lyrics: Arnold B. Horwitt
"Why Do The Wrong People Travel?" music & lyrics: Noel Coward
"Zip" music: Richard Rodgers lyrics: Lorenz Hart

NANCY LaMOTT

Two weeks ago I included quotes from an interview that was conducted with the late, great Nancy LaMott just weeks before her tragic death. I also noted that LaMott's recordings are, unfortunately, out of print, although they do occasionally pop up on ebay. A loyal diva watcher and LaMott fan sent me a note to let me know that fans can order LaMott recordings directly from Midder Music (the company that produced her CDs) until supplies last. I contacted David Friedman, the talented composer who ran the now-defunct company, and he confirmed that LaMott's CDs can be purchased through Midder. There are six Nancy LaMott albums available: her debut disc, "Beautiful Baby"; "Come Rain or Come Shine: The songs of Johnny Mercer" "My Foolish Heart," "Just In Time For Christmas," "Listen to My Heart" and "What's Good About Goodbye?" (released posthumously). Here is the info for those interested: CDs are $15 each, plus $2.50 per item shipping and handling. Cassettes are $10 each, plus $2.50 per item shipping and handling. In New York add 8.25% sales tax. On orders of seven or more CDs, shipping is free (except on foreign orders). You can order by emailing MIDDER2000@aol.com with your name, address, phone number, credit card number and expiration date (Visa, Mastercard & Amex only), and your order will be sent right out. Orders may also be placed by phone at (212) 663 3656, by fax at (212) 663-3657 or by mail: MIDDER Music Records, 275 W. 96th St., #30A, New York, N.Y. 10025.

IN OTHER NEWS I was thrilled to learn that Florence Lacey has joined the many great women who will take part in the upcoming Kennedy Center Stephen Sondheim Celebration. It was announced this week that Lacey, one of the finest Evitas, will play Yvonne in the upcoming production of Sunday in the Park with George, which co stars Melissa Errico as Dot and Raul Esparza as George. Lacey is also currently appearing in another Sondheim production, a concert version of A Little Night Music at Portland's Merrill Theatre on April 6 and 7. Lacey will play opposite Mark Jacoby, and both will be backed by the Portland Symphony Orchestra. . . . "Petula Clark—A Sign of the Times," a concert by the famed British singer, will be released on VHS and DVD on March 26. Taped at the Virginia Arts Festival and recently aired on PBS, the concert features Clark singing a host of her hit tunes as well as several Broadway favorites. The VHS/DVD from MPI Home Video will feature Clark singing such tunes as "I Know a Place," "Don't Sleep in the Subway," the aforementioned "Downtown," "A Sign of the Times," "Color My World," "Who Am I," "Call Me," "The Wedding Song" and "I Couldn't Live Without Your Love." Of interest to diva fans are her renditions of Les Miz's "I Dreamed a Dream," Blood Brothers' "Tell Me It's Not True" and Sunset Boulevard's "With One Look." The DVD/VHS will be available in stores and can also be purchased by calling (800) 777 2223 or by visiting the MPI Home Video website at www.mpihomevideo.com. . . . Three-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald will make her solo Carnegie Hall concert debut this fall on November 2, replacing Barbara Cook, who has had to withdraw due to scheduling conflicts. The former Ragtime star will perform an evening of songs scored for big bands, including tunes from such composers as Harold Arlen, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin. Stay tuned for ticket information. . . . Broadway actress/singer Lillias White, who scored a Tony Award for her work in Cy Coleman's The Life, will make her Feinstein's at the Regency debut in April. In a show entitled "From Shubert Alley to Jazz Alley," the award-winning performer will belt her heart out at the plush New York cabaret room from April 2 to April 20. You can expect to hear that belter-of-belters wrap her golden vocals around "Old Devil Moon," "The Way He Makes Me Feel," "The Nearness of You," "The Waters of March," "It Started With a Dream" and Oklahoma!'s "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'". White, who can be heard on the new double-CD "Dreamgirls," will play Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:30 PM with late shows on Friday and Saturday nights at 11 PM. Feinstein's is located at 540 Park Avenue at 61st Street in New York City; call (212) 339-4095 for reservations or log on to Ticketmaster.com . . . In honor of Richard Rodgers' centennial, Symphony Space (2537 Broadway at 95th Street) will offer its 32nd annual "Wall to Wall" concert featuring the work of the late composer of South Pacific, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, The Boys from Syracuse and many other classics. Wall to Wall Richard Rodgers will begin at 11 AM on March 23 at the New York landmark and will continue until 11 PM that evening. A host of Broadway and cabaret performers are scheduled to take to the stage of the vast auditorium including Loni Ackerman, Richard Rodney Bennett, Barbara Carroll, Victoria Clark, Betty Comden, John Cullum, Lea DeLaria, Melissa Errico, Raul Esparza, Tovah Feldshuh, Debbie Gravitte, Adolph Green, Jonathan Hadary, Sheldon Harnick, Mary Cleere Haran, Celeste Holm, Spencer Kayden, Judy Kaye, Emily Loesser, Jo Sullivan Loesser, Garrett Long, Rebecca Luker, John Mauceri, Maureen McGovern, James Naughton, Christiane Noll, Patrick Quinn, Steve Ross, David Staller, Billy Stritch, KT Sullivan and David Yazbek. Admission to the concert is free, and patrons may sample a few moments or stay several hours. The entire program can also be heard on WNYC radio with portions broadcast live on the day of the event and other segments broadcast the following day. Wall to Wall Richard Rodgers, which will explore the six-decade career of the composer of over 900 songs, is being staged by Symphony Space Artistic Director Isaiah Sheffer. Highlights of the 12-hour marathon include selections from Rodgers' award-winning collaborations with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II; the premiere of the "newly discovered" Rodgers and Hart musical, Manhattan Madcaps of 1924; a full orchestra that will play overtures from Rodgers' many works; and a "Broadway Salutes" segment that will feature current Broadway actors performing their favorite Rodgers' tunes between the matinee and evening performance of their respective shows. . . . And, finally, this weekend's broadcast of Everything Old Is New Again (March 24, 9-11PM over WBAI 99.5 FM and on the Internet at http://www.2600.com/offthehook/hot2.ram*) will feature the music of Mabel Mercer as well as four renditions of Richard Rodgers' "I'll Tell the Man On the Street" — those by Barbra Streisand, Howard McGillin, David Gurland and Kristin Chenoweth.

REMINDERS

Betty Buckley in Concert:
March 30 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA
April 8 Benefit Concert at the Studio Arena Theater in Buffalo, NY
May 4 Benefit Concert at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, IL

Barbara Cook in Concert:
April 3 at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA (Mostly Sondheim)
April 9 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY (June Lebell series: The Sound Of Broadway)
April 12-13 Marilyn Horne and Barbara Cook at the Warton Center at Michigan State University in MI
April 18-28 at the Mohegan Sun in CT
May 14 Cook receives the New Dramatists’ Lifetime Achievement Award at the Marriot Marquis Hotel in New York, NY
May 19-20 with the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA
June 5-9 and June 12-16 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
June 23-Aug. 26 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY (Mostly Sondheim)
July 5 at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts in Long Island
August 14-18 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
Oct. 19 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA
Nov. 17 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ

Maureen McGovern in Concert:
March 22 at Scullers Jazz Club Boston, MA
March 23 Wall to Wall Richard Rodgers at Symphony Space, New York
March 24 Airmen of Note Guest Artist Series - DAR Constitution Hall, Washington, DC
April 30-May 6 & May 8-May 13 Cinegrill Grand Re-Opening, Los Angeles, CA
May 17-18 "Works of Heart" Seminar - New York, NY
June 22 "Music by the Lake," Lake Geneva, WI
June 29-Aug. 17 Dear World at Sundance Theater, Sundance, UT
July 4 at the Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts at the Venetian Theater, Katonah, NY
Sept. 1-2 MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon, Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 20 - 22 Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, MI
Sept 26-29 North Carolina Symphony, Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh, NC
Oct. 30-Nov. 3 American Music Therapy Association Conference in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 19-Dec. 1 at the Plush Room in San Francisco, CA
Dec. 6 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Dec. 8 at Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA
Dec. 9 Laurie Strauss Leukemia Benefit, Carnegie Hall in New York City
Dec. 12 - 14 at Orange County Performing Arts Center Founders Hall in Costa Mesa, CA

Bernadette Peters in Concert:
April 5-6 at the Orange County Perf. Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA
April 13 at the Providence Perf. Arts Center in Providence, RI
April 20 at Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis, MO
April 26 at the Hilbert Circle in Indianapolis, IN
May 18 at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA
Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the Morton H. Meyerson Hall in Dallas, TX
Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!


—By Andrew Gans