DIVA TALK: Marcovicci's Street Songs And More . . .

DIVA TALK: Marcovicci's Street Songs And More . . . BETTY BUCKLEY
We were disappointed to learn this week that Triumph of Love, the new romantic musical comedy in which Betty Buckley stars, has posted a closing notice. For those of you who have yet to catch Buckley, Susan Egan, F. Murray Abraham and the rest of the talented cast of Triumph, this could be your last chance if ticket sales do not quickly improve. So, get yourself to the Royale Theatre as soon as possible! Tickets may be purchased in person at the box office or by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.

BETTY BUCKLEY
We were disappointed to learn this week that Triumph of Love, the new romantic musical comedy in which Betty Buckley stars, has posted a closing notice. For those of you who have yet to catch Buckley, Susan Egan, F. Murray Abraham and the rest of the talented cast of Triumph, this could be your last chance if ticket sales do not quickly improve. So, get yourself to the Royale Theatre as soon as possible! Tickets may be purchased in person at the box office or by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.

In an article in Thursday's New York Times, Buckley spoke with writer Mel Gussow and informed him that she is currently recording a "hip-hop dance mix version" of her Triumph of Love show-stopper "Serenity," which at this point is not yet for sale. Buckley also spoke about the first time (at age 11) she performed for her school talent show back in Fort Worth, Texas: "I had on my little black suit and bow tie and derby. I'll never forget the moment. I finished my song and there was this stunned silence, and then the whole house came down. After that I was notorious, this little kid with this huge voice."

You can also get a dose of Betty B Saturday evening (Dec. 20) at 8 PM (ET) when the American Movie Classics channel rebroadcasts the "Remember WENN" episode in which Buckley made a guest appearance. Buckley performs two songs by Drood composer Rupert Holmes in the Christmas episode of this wonderful series.

JUDI CONNELLI
One of Australia's premiere musical theatre actresses, Judi Connelli, who has starred in productions of Chicago, Into the Woods and The Threepenny Opera, is scheduled to perform in concert in London next month. Connelli, who recently performed to an enthusiastic, sold-out audience at the Weill Recital Hall in New York, will present her one-woman show at The Talk of London cabaret room on Jan. 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23. The concerts will feature the music of such theatre composers as Jerry Herman, Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, Jule Styne, Andrew Lloyd Webber and more. The Talk of London is located on Drury Lane, and tickets for the performances can be purchased by calling Net-Tix at 0171-8367385 or Firstcall at 0171-420 0000.


LINDA EDER
The Jekyll & Hyde star will be a part of the 24-hour "Christmas Madness" celebration this Saturday evening (Dec. 20) at the Lincoln Center (NY) Barnes & Noble Bookstore (Broadway and 67th Street). Eder is scheduled to perform a few holiday songs at midnight on Dec. 20, and afterwards she will take part in a question and answer session. Additionally, Eder will also be on hand to sign copies of her solo album as well as the Jekyll & Hyde cast recording. (By the way, Barrie Ingham, who portrays Sir Danvers in J&H, will read from the new book Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this Monday, Dec. 22 at the same Barnes & Noble location. His reading is scheduled for 5 PM.)

ANDREA MARCOVICCI
I became a fan of Andrea Marcovicci during my freshman year of college when she released her first solo cabaret album entitled Marcovicci Sings Movies. I had just started to hear a lot about this singing actress, who had recently become the toast of New York's cabaret scene. At that time I hosted a college radio show, and I remember running to the station to listen to this new LP.

What I heard was a marvelous recording that blended intelligent reading of lyrics with a folk/theatre sound that was transfixing. In fact, this first disc, which was recorded live at San Francisco's Plush Room, remains my favorite of Marcovicci's many recordings. I became completely enchanted with this stunning performer, catching her many times in her intimate cabaret performances as well as her Town Hall concert, her Weill Recital Hall performance and her Carnegie Hall debut. Six years ago, I delighted in Street Songs I, an extremely moving evening at Symphony Space, and this past Monday I returned to Symphony Space for Street Songs II, which featured Marcovicci performing in concert with a handful of subway and street musicians whom she and Symphony Space artistic director Isaiah Scheffer have discovered in the past few months.

The nearly three-hour-long concert began with a brief introduction by Sheffer, who welcomed pianist/musical director Glenn Mehrbach and then the hostess and star of the evening, Andrea Marcovicci, to the stage. Marcovicci, dressed in black velvet overalls, opened with a medley of "For Free" and the Christmas carol "Silver Bells." "For Free," a haunting song by Joni Mitchell, illuminates the plight of the street musician, in this instance a man playing a clarinet on a street corner "For Free": "I meant to go over and ask for a song, maybe put on a harmony. I heard his refrain as the signal changed. He was playing real good for free."

After greeting the audience and delivering some remarks about the upcoming musical journey, Marcovicci invited the first guest performer of the night, guitarist/vocalist Wendy Sayvetz, whom Marcovicci said she discovered one day singing in Grand Central Station, and the two exchanged CDs. After the young soprano sang, the one returnee from Street Songs I, Joseph Jones (aka Mr. Spoons), was invited onstage, and he dazzled the audience with his intricate spoon playing. Marcovicci sang both "Tea for Two" and "Sunday in New York" while Jones "spooned" away. The interaction between the two musicians was very sweet, with Jones occasionally playing the spoons on Marcovicci's arms and back!

Marcovicci followed with a solo version of "Sam, the Accordion Man," a perfect introduction for the next street artist, accordion-player Wladyslaw Raczynski, who joined the chanteuse on the Piaf classic, "La Vie en Rose." Raczynski played solo on a Polish song and then joined Andrea for a duet of "Under Paris Skies." Jazz trumpeter Al Evans was the next person to take the stage, performing Duke Ellington's "C Jam Blues." Evans was a bit nervous, but eventually he hit his stride and provided colorful tones while Marcovicci delivered a beautiful rendition of "Willow Weep for Me" and the standard "All of Me."

The novelty act of Rumba dancer Julio Diaz and his life-size doll Lupita followed, an act that has to be seen to be believed. Admitting that she didn't know what she would sing with this twosome, Marcovicci launched into Irving Berlin's "Change Partners," a comic attempt to break the dancing duo apart.

Before intermission Marcovicci demonstrated why she has become one of, if not the leading female cabaret performer, delivering the retaliatory "Do You Miss Me?" and then following that with Christine Lavin's heartbreaking "The Kind of Love You Never Recover From," a song that can be found on Marcovicci's most recent solo album, New Words.

The second half of the evening featured performances by classical guitarist Calebe Arruda and flautist Muriel Vergnaud (who joined Marcovicci on "[I Long for] Home," a song from the play with music, Ghetto) and the Australian didjeridoos player Simon 7 (who played his one-note instrument while Marcovicci sang Paul Simon's "Train in the Distance" and then switched to a different five-note instrument while she moved the audience with "John Reilly"). The rest of Simon 7's group, Mecca Bodega, joined him for a solo offering, and vocalist Wendy Sayvetz then returned to the stage to perform a traditional English Christmas carol with Andrea. Marcovicci concluded the evening with a touching song by Julie Gold, entitled "Good night, New York." For an encore, all of the street performers joined Andrea for the upbeat "Sunny Side of the Street."

It was truly a moving experience to watch the many street and subway performers each get a chance to shine, and I really applaud Marcovicci's generosity both onstage and off: She is a true class act.


ALICE RIPLEY & EMILY SKINNER
Each season there is one show recording that probably receives more time in my CD player than any other. Last season, it was Maury Yeston's Titanic, a lush, almost operatic score featuring breathtaking choral numbers, which I played constantly throughout the summer. This year, the recording of the season may well turn out to be Side Show, which I have been enjoying since I received a copy of the CD (on Sony Records) two weeks ago.

Side Show boasts some terrific music by Dreamgirls composer Henry Krieger and a cast of sensational singers, including the two leading ladies, Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner. The show's first number, "Come Look at the Freaks" is captivating, with its eerie opening notes and the pleas of the side show attractions. Ripley and Skinner hit just the right emotional chords as the Siamese twins who are longing for normality in a number of duets, but are probably at their peak in the first-act finale "Who Will Love Me (As I Am)?" Norm Lewis, who stars as Jake, almost manages to steal the show from these talented women, shining on both "The Devil You Know" and "You Should Be Loved," in which his throbbing baritone is perfectly suited to this emotional ballad.


IN OTHER NEWS
This evening, Friday, Dec. 19 Marie Osmond will make her Broadway debut as Anna Leonowens in the Tony Award-winning revival of The King and I at the Neil Simon Theatre. . . Singer/actress Alix Korey will join cabaret performer Philip Officer this Monday evening, Dec. 22 at his Don't Tell Mama (West 46th Street) concert at 7pm . . . "I Have Confidence" and "Something Good," two songs that were added to the film score of The Sound of Music, will be heard in the upcoming stage revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, which will star Rebecca Luker.

DIVA OF THE WEEK
An easy choice this week . . .chanteuse Andrea Marcovicci, whose aforementioned concert with a group of talented street musicians epitomized the true meaning of the holiday season. Marcovicci recently commented to The New York Times, "As years have gone on, I have noticed more [musicians] in subways, and it haunts me that we don't have the time to give them what they would most enjoy: attention." Thanks to Marcovicci, attention has been paid.


REMINDERS:
PATTI LuPONE
La LuPone is currently wowing audience at the Booth Theatre in the new David Mamet trilogy, The Old Neighborhood. Tickets may be ordered by calling 212-239-6200.
ANDREA MARCOVICCI
Marcovicci is currently performing at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC through Saturday, Jan. 3; performances are Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 9pm and Friday and Saturday at 9pm and 11:30 PM. There is a $15 food and beverage minimum as well as a $35 music charge (on Friday and Saturday, the music charge is $40). Dinner is required at the early show, and reservations can be made by calling (212) 840-6800. The Algonquin is located at 59 West 44th Street.
KAREN MASON
Karen Mason will return to the cabaret stage of Los Angeles's Cinegrill on Dec. 31. Mason kicks off a two-week engagement on New Year's Eve, and reservations can be made by calling 213-466-7000.
ANNE RUNOLFSSON
Add Jan. 8, 15 and 22 to Runolfsson's previous New York cabaret dates at Eighty Eight's in the West Village. Runolfsson is scheduled to sing at 10:30pm on each of these Wednesday nights, and reservations can be made by calling 212-924-0088. The club is located at 228 West 10th Street; there is a $12 music charge plus a two-drink minimum. Runolfsson will also sing in L.A. at the famed The Cinegrill from February 10-14, 1998. That's all for now. Happy holidays, and happy diva-watching!

-- By Andrew Gans
e-mail me atandrew_gans@playbill.com