DIVA TALK: More from BB, EP, SB plus Merman AND the Cabaret Convention
FOR THE RECORD:
It’s hard to pick a favorite Betty Buckley recording, but if pressed, I would have to choose her very first solo effort, which was simply titled “Betty Buckley.” Originally released on the Rizzoli Records label, the disc has just been reissued on Buckley’s own new label, KO Productions, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of this exciting work, which was recorded live in 1984 in front of a packed house at St. Bartholomew’s Church. Unique to this Buckley recording is the inclusion of several pieces the former Cats and Sunset Boulevard star wrote either entirely herself or with another composer. And, one of the highlights of the disc is a song entitled “Dark Blue-Eyed Blues,” which Buckley once said she created after the end of a difficult relationship. The song has a beautiful melodic line as well as touching and intriguing lyrics, and both her singing and interpretation are flawless. Other highlights include perhaps the finest rendition of Amanda McBroom’s “Ship in a Bottle”; a knockout, belty version of “Wind Beneath My Wings”; and Buckley’s original recording of “Meadowlark,” jam-packed with emotion and nuance. Buckley is in incredible voice on this recording, and the re-release boasts three previously unreleased tracks: two penned by the Tony-winning actress (“Eternal Fix” and “Tender Mercy”) and “Over You,” which Buckley delivered thrillingly in the film "Tender Mercies." Be sure to add this disc to your ever-growing BB collection.
Next month, Bernadette Peters leaves the Tony-winning revival of Annie Get Your Gun (available on Angel Records) to begin a U.S. concert tour. Recently, Decca Broadway released a completely remastered and re-packaged version of that show’s original recording starring the legendary Ethel Merman. Not only does the CD include four bonus songs -- “I’m a Bad, Bad Man,” “Colonel Buffalo Bill” and “An Old-Fashioned Wedding” -- from a 1973 studio recording that have never before appeared on CD, but the disc also features a 16-page booklet featuring rare production photos and a comprehensive historical essay. It’s a thrill to hear the inimitable Merman belt out some of Irving Berlin’s finest tunes: “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly,” “Anything You Can Do,” “You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun,” “I Got the Sun in the Morning” and more. Merman is also joined by Ray Middleton as Frank Butler.
This week I booked tickets to see Britain’s First Lady of the Musical Theatre in the hit revival of The King and I at London’s Palladium Theatre. I will catch Ms. Paige’s performance on Tuesday, August 22 and will report back to all you diva lovers the following week. I’ve already arranged seats for Betty Buckley’s solo concert at the Donmar Warehouse as well as The Witches of Eastwick and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind, so I’ll have lots of news and reviews when I return! Speaking of Ms. Paige, a loyal diva watcher forwarded an interview with the award-winning actress that recently ran in You Magazine. I thought you would enjoy reading excerpts from Richard Barber’s brief Q&A with the former Evita star:
Q. Were you always going to have a career in show business?
A. I think so. I’ve been like this ever since I was 12 or 13. I loved to sing hymns in morning assembly at school. All my friends would be nudging each other or gossiping. I didn’t care, singing made me feel alive.
Q. You were 30 before you landed the role in Evita
A. And it was tough. I was forever getting down to the last two or three for a part and then losing out. My father used to say, ‘Don’t worry, love. Talent will out,’ then I failed to get the role of Miss Hannigan in Annie. ‘Never mind darling,’ said Dad. ‘There’s always Evita.’ And the whole family groaned.
Q. What was your reaction when you got the good news?
A. My agent rang the doorbell at midnight. I couldn’t think who it was. She walked in, swathed in a huge cape. She spun it out as long as she could, wicked woman, and then told me I’d won the role of Evita. From out of her cape, she produced a bottle of champagne. Even now, my eyes fill up when I remember that moment. But it was life-changing you see.
Q. When did the enormity of it sink in?
A. About 48 hours later. I remember bursting into tears and telling my mother I wanted the part, but not all the other stuff that went with it.
Q. Are you still in contact with Andrew Lloyd Webber?
A. Oh yes. Funnily enough, I was just reading about him buying the Palladium when the telephone rang. It was Andrew. He’d heard that I’d agreed to play Anna [in The King and I] and he’d called to congratulate me. ‘Hello,’ he said, ‘this is your landlord speaking.’ So sweet.
Q. Did you see the production of The King and I in New York?
A. No, I was appearing in Sunset Boulevard on Broadway at the same time. In fact, I’ve only seen the film with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. I’m rather pleased about that now because I come to it with no preconceptions.
Q. Playing Anna eight times a week will be very demanding.
A. Particularly with the huge, hooped crinolines I have to wear. But then I’m used to heavy costumes. As Norma Desmond [Sunset Boulevard], I had to run up and down 879 stairs a night and double that on matinee days. I know, I counted! Forget housemaid’s knee, with the weight of those beaded costumes, I developed a little known complaint called Norma’s knee.
Q. Would you like to have been a movie star?
A. Would I like to have played Evita on film, you mean? Yes, of course. But I’m a pragmatist. Madonna, via her music and videos, had more clout at the box office.
Q. What did you think of her performance?
A. I’ve never seen the film. Maybe one day. But I’m not a great one for going back. I like to live in the present
Q. How do you indulge yourself?
A. With clothes and travel. I like all the top designers -- Miyake, Gucci, Armani. And it’s lovely to be able to see the world in style. I took my family on a fabulous three-week cruise last year. And no, I don’t feel guilty about it. I’ve worked pretty hard for the past 22 years so, if I can’t spoil myself, it’s a poor show.
Earlier this week, I received the updated information for the U.S. leg of Sarah Brightman’s current concert tour. And, a reminder, that Brightman’s newest recording, “La Luna,” hits U.S. stores on August 29 on the Angel Records label. The track listing follows: “La Lune”
“Winter in July”
“Whiter Shade of Pale”
“He Doesn’t See Me”
“How Fair This Place”
“Hijo De La Luna”
“Here With Me”
“Solo Con Te”
U.S. Concert Schedule:
Sept. 19 in Portland, ME
Sept. 20 in Rochester, NY at the Auditorium Centre
Sept. 22 in New York, NY at the Theatre @ MSG
Sept. 23 in Atlantic City, NJ at the Mark G. Etess Arena
Sept. 24 in Hartford, CT at the Oakdale Theater
Sept. 26 in Providence, RI at the PAC
Sept. 27 in Lowell, MA at the Memorial Auditorium
Sept. 29 in Philadelphia, PA at the Mann Center
Sept. 30 in Washington, DC at the Patriot Center
Oct. 2 in Norfolk, VA at the Scope Arena
Oct. 4 in Miami, FL at the AA Arena /Nat. Car Rental Arena
Oct. 5 in Tampa, FL at the Ice Palace
Oct. 6 in Atlanta, GA at the Civic Center
Oct. 8 in New Orleans, LA at the Saenger Theatre
Oct. 9 in Dallas, TX at the Reunion Arena/Starplex Amph.
Oct. 10 in Houston, TX at the Aerial Theatre
Oct. 13 in Columbus, OH at the Nationwide Arena
Oct. 14 in Detroit, MI at the Palace
Oct. 15 in Cleveland, OH at the CSU Convocation Centre
Oct. 17 in St. Paul, MN at the Minn. Wild Arena
Oct. 20 in Las Vegas, NV at the MGM Grand
Oct. 21 in Santa Barbara, CA at the Santa Barbara Bowl
Oct. 22 in San Diego, CA at the SDSU Open Air Theatre
Oct. 24 in Los Angeles, CA at the Universal Amphitheatre
Oct. 26 in Sacramento, CA at the Arco Arena
Oct. 27 in San Jose, CA at the San Jose Arena
Oct. 29 in Portland, OR at the Rose Garden
Oct. 31 in Seattle, WA at the Paramount/Key Arena
Nov. 5 in Spokane, WA at the Arena
Nov. 7 in Salt Lake City, UT at the Delta Center
Nov. 8 in Denver, CO at the Magness Arena
Nov. 11 in Chicago, IL at the Chicago Theatre
Nov. 13 in St. Louis, MO
Nov. 14 in Grand Rapids, MI at the Van Andel Arena
Nov. 15 in Milwaukee, WI at the Riverside Theatre
One of the best bargains every fall is the annual Cabaret Convention, which benefits the Mabel Mercer Foundation. Each year, the week-long event at Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street) boasts a stellar array of cabaret performers at very reasonable prices. This year’s event begins on Monday, October 16 and concludes on Sunday, October 22. The Monday through Saturday performances begin at 6 PM and will run approximately three hours, while the Sunday performance, which begins at 3 PM, will run about two-and-a-quarter hours.
Tickets for Monday’s performance range from $25-$40, while tickets for the Tuesday through Saturday shows cost only $20 (a few center orchestra and loge seats will be available for $40), and tickets to Sunday’s performance are $25. A highlight of the convention will be the premiere of Andrea Marcovicci’s newest act, “Kurt Weill in America,” which is planned for the second half of the Saturday show. What follows is the complete schedule for the Eleventh Annual Cabaret Convention (for ticket information, go to www.mabelmercer.org or call 212-980-3026, ext. 3109). Don’t miss your chance to catch some of the cabaret world’s finest talents:
Monday, October 16, 6PM
The Gala Opening Night Benefit stars cabaret greats Karen Akers, James Alexander, D.C. Anderson, Chris Calloway, Claiborne Cary, Judi Connelli, Emma Dears, Mary Cleere Haran, Jeff Harnar, Shauna Hicks, Suzanne Johnston, Karen Mason, Malcom McNeill, Rita Moreno, Donna Murphy, Sally Ann Triplett and Wesla Whitfield.
Tuesday, October 17, 6 PM
”Moon River”: The Magic of Johnny Mercer stars Tom Andersen, Judy Barnett, Alan Bergman, Michele Brourman, John Bucchino, Ann Hampton Callaway, Craig Carnelia, Mark Coffin, David Friedman, Jason Graae, Babbie Green, Jeff Harnar, Lee Lessack, Steven Lutvak, Karen Mason, Amanda McBroom, Christian Nova, David Raksin, Steve Ross, Jim Wann, Margaret Whiting and Carol Woods.
Wednesday, October 18, 6 PM
Cabaret Parade stars Lisa Asher, Barbara Brussell, Rhonda Burchmore, Baby Jane Dexter, Tim Draxl, Sammy Goldstein, Shane Kelly, Laurie Krauz, Audrey Lavine, Sydney Myer, Karen Saunders, Daryl Sherman and Billy Stritch.
Thursday, October 19, 6 PM
“Funny Lady”: A Tribute to Late Great Anne Francine stars Barbara Andreas, Klea Blackhurst, Tovah Feldshuh, Kitty Carlisle Hart, Cory Jamison, Alix Korey, Angela La Greca, Marcia Lewis, Jeanne MacDonald, Peg Murray, Georga Osborne, Erv Raible and Paul Trueblood.
Friday, October 20, 6 PM
Remembering Mabel: A Centennial Celebration stars Polly Bergen, Joyce Breach, Barbara Carroll, Eric Comstock, Paula Laurence, Steve Ross, KT Sullivan, Lumiri Tubo, Paula West, Ronny Whyte, Faith Winthrop, special guest stars and a special guest appearance by Elaine Stritch.
Saturday, October 21, 6 PM
The Art of Performance: Act I stars Mary Foster Conklin, Jack Donahue, Alexandra Haas, Tom Michael, Liliane Montevecchi, Lainie Nelson, Phillip Officer and Joan Ryan. Act II stars Andrea Marcovicci performing “Kurt Weill in America.”
Sunday, October 22, 3 PM
Grand Finale stars Kane Alexander, Christine Andreas, Brent Barrett, Rita Gardner, Toni Lamond, Kim Nalley, Tom Postilio, Lee Roy Reams, Abe Reynbold, Steve Ross and Julie Wilson
IN OTHER NEWS The glorious-voiced Maureen McGovern will open a six-week stint at New York’s Algonquin Hotel on Friday, Sept. 8. McGovern, who is the voice of Rachel in the upcoming DreamWorks animated version of Joseph, is also working on a new solo recording. I will be interviewing the talented singer/actress soon, so if you have a question you’d like to pose, please e-mail me at email@example.com by this Monday, August 7 . . . It was recently announced that Barbara Cook will perform three concerts at the Kennedy Center this fall. On Oct. 20 (at 1:30 PM and 8:30 PM) and Oct. 21 (at 8:30 PM), the Tony-winning Music Man star will perform a mix of Broadway tunes backed by the Center’s world-class orchestra under the direction of Marvin Hamlisch, who begins his first season as NSO Principal Pops Conductor . . . Audra McDonald just wrapped filming of The Last Debate, which is tentatively scheduled to air Nov. 5 on Showtime. The cast also stars Donna Murphy, James Garner and Peter Gallagher and concerns four journalists who get involved investigating a presidential candidate. McDonald, by the way, will perform in concert this Sunday, August 6 at the Meadowbrook Festival in Detroit, MI. Call (313) 576-5111 for ticket information. Next week, I’ll have more McDonald concert dates! . . . Hope you caught Linda Eder on “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” last week, delivering a poignant version of “Anything Can Happen” in honor of her friend, the departing co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford. And, speaking of “Live with Regis,” Cabaret’s newest Sally Bowles, Lea Thompson, will co-host that ABC talk show this Monday, August 7 . . .
Several new concert dates have been added to BB’s always-growing schedule:
Aug. 5 Edgewood Country Club in Rivervale, NJ
Aug. 21-Sept. 3 Donmar Warehouse in London, UK
Sept. 9 & 10 Robert Park Auditorium in Taunton, MA
Sept. 15 Southern Theater in Columbus, OH
Sept. 16 Stranahan Theatre in Toledo, OH
Oct. 6 & 7 Scottsdale Center for the Arts Theatre in Scottsdale, AZ
Oct. 28 Univ. of Texas Cowan Fine & Perf. Arts Center in Tyler, TX
Nov. 10 & 11 University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT
Jan. 5, 2001 Koger Center for the Arts (Univ. of SC) in Columbia, SC
Jan. 6 Georgia Institute of Technology Center for the Arts in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 19-28 Florida Condo Tour in Florida
March 3 at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
May 12 at the College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
June 17 at the Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA BARBARA COOK
Cook’s concert itinerary follows:
Sept. 14 at the Poway Center for the Perf. Arts in Poway, CA
Sept. 21 & 22 at the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia
Sept. 28 - Oct. 1 at the Orange County Perf. Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA
Feb. 2, 2001 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Feb. 23 and 24 with Michael Feinstein at the Cerritos Center for the Perf. Arts in Cerritos, CA
Eder in concert:
August 5 at the Wildflower Music Festival in White Mills, PA
Aug. 6 with Feinstein at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ; (732) 335-0400
Aug. 8 with Feinstein at the Mann Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA (215) 336-2000
Aug. 9 with Feinstein at the Wolf Trap Filene Center in Vienna, VA; (703) 218-6500 or 1-800-955-5566
Aug. 19 at the John Drew Theater of Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY (631) 324-4050
Aug. 25 with Feinstein at The Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL; go to www.ravinia.org
Aug. 26 Boys & Girls Club Fundraiser at The River Center w/ Michael Feinstein in Minneapolis, MN
Sept. 26 at the Jones Hall w/Houston Symphony in Houston, TX; call (713) 224-7575
Nov. 4 at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, NY; call (516) 334 0800
Nov. 17 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ; call (732) 246 SHOW
Nov. 18 at the State Theatre in Easton, PA; call (610) 252-3132
Nov. 19 at the Strand-Capitol Theatre in York, Penn.
Jan. 12 & 13, 2001 in Charlotte, NC at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; (704) 372-1000
Jan. 21 in Naples, FL at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts; (941) 597-1900
Feb. 1 & 2 in Phoenix, AZ at the Orpheum Theatre
Feb. 15-17 in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; (202) 467-4600
March 8 in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd Hall; (727) 791-7400
March 9 in Sarasota, FL at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; www.vanwezel.org
March 10 in Melbourne, FL at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts; (407) 242-2219
May 31-June 3 in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392-4900
Several concert dates have been added to Patti LuPone’s ever-growing schedule. What follows are La LuPone’s confirmed concert appearances as of this week:
Sept. 9 ("Matters of the Heart") at the Valentine Theatre in Toledo, Ohio; (419) 242-2787
Sept. 23 at the University of Maine in Orono; (800) 622-8499
Oct. 7 ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda") with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham, Alabama; (205) 458-8401
Nov. 3 ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda") with the Louisville Symphony Orchestra in Louisville, Kentucky (502) 583-4555
April 8 ("Matters Of The Heart") at Duke University’s Page Auditorium in Durham, North Carolina; (919) 684-4444
Jan. 5-7, 2001 at the Morton J. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX (214) 871-4000
Aug. 18-19 Returns to the DeSisto cabaret in Stockbridge, MA
Sept. 6 - Oct. 15 Returns to Arci’s Place, 450 Park Avenue South; NYC; (212) 532-4370
Oct. 17 Appearance at ASCAP evening at the Cabaret Convention at Town Hall, NYC
Nov. 1-12 Appearance at The Plush Room in San Francisco’s York Hotel; (415) 885-2800
Dec. 6-10 Karen performs her Christmas Show at Davenports in Chicago, IL (773) 278-1830
Aug. 6 in Detroit, MI at the Meadowbrook Festival/Detroit Symphony; (313) 576-5111
August 16 in Chicago, IL at the Ravinia Festival; (847) 266-5100
Sept. 28-30 with the National Symphony Orchestra
The two-time Tony winner will conclude her run in Annie Get Your Gun on September 2, when she will begin a U.S. concert tour:
Sept. 15 at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City (with symphony)
Sept. 22 at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia
Oct. 6 at the Einsenhower Hall Theatre in West Point, NY
Oct. 7 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ
Oct. 13 at the OnCenter War Memorial in Syracuse, NY
Jan. 5, 2001 at PAC in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with symphony)
Jan. 11 at the Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee
Jan. 13 at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater
March 29 at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, NY
April 6 at the Bass Perf. Hall in Fort Worth, TX (with symphony)
April 7-8 at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX
April 19 at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto (with symphony)
April 28 at the Pasquerilla PAC in Johnstown, PA
May 11-12 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN (with symphony)
May 18-20 at the Myerson Hall in Dallas, TX (with symphony)
Former star of Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde, Christiane Noll will be hitting the concert circuit, performing throughout the USA. Noll will join other Broadway names in this concert tour, backed by some of the world’s greatest orchestras. Her complete schedule follows:
Sept. 22 with the Nashua Symphony in Nashua, NH; (800) 639-3101
Oct. 14 with the Cape Symphony Orchestra at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center in Hyannis, MA (508) 362-1111
Dec. 2 with Doug LaBrecque and Michael Maguire and the New London Symphony in New London, CT
Dec. 7-17 The Magic of Christmas with the Portland Symphony in Portland, ME; (207) 842-0800
Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!
By Andrew Gans