DIVA TALK: More Liza, More CDs, And More News!

DIVA TALK: More Liza, More CDs, And More News! LIZA MINNELLI
For those of you who were unable to attend Liza Minnelli's recent Broadway "comeback" (personally, "I hate that word"), Minnelli on Minnelli, you can enjoy the experience via the live recording of her performance on the new Angel Records release, "Minnelli on Minnelli." Now in stores, the single disc captures the excitement of Minnelli's solo performance, which features both song and the spoken work. Highlights of the recording include a slowed-down, silky reading of "Baubles, Bangles & Beads"; a belty, emotional version of "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?"; the comical "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore," which features new lyrics by the show's director, Fred Ebb; and a duet with her late mother, the legendary Judy Garland, in Meet Me in St. Louis's "The Trolley Song."

LIZA MINNELLI
For those of you who were unable to attend Liza Minnelli's recent Broadway "comeback" (personally, "I hate that word"), Minnelli on Minnelli, you can enjoy the experience via the live recording of her performance on the new Angel Records release, "Minnelli on Minnelli." Now in stores, the single disc captures the excitement of Minnelli's solo performance, which features both song and the spoken work. Highlights of the recording include a slowed-down, silky reading of "Baubles, Bangles & Beads"; a belty, emotional version of "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?"; the comical "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore," which features new lyrics by the show's director, Fred Ebb; and a duet with her late mother, the legendary Judy Garland, in Meet Me in St. Louis's "The Trolley Song."


The CD also boasts a 20-page booklet filled with several photos of Minnelli and her father, the late film director Vincente Minnelli, whose work was saluted in this program. There is also a touching introduction by critic Rex Reed who writes, "I have known Liza since she was 16 years old. I have watched her saga unfold and lived through every chapter. But I have not lost my perception. When I say she rises from the flames likes the Phoenix in Minnelli on Minnelli to fly higher than ever, I'm not kidding. But don't take my word for it. Listen, with humor and intelligence, and share my lust with your own ears. Liza singing the songs from the glorious musicals of Vincente Minnelli is the best way I can think of to begin a new decade, a new century, or a new millennium."


And more great news for Liza fans around the country as the tour dates of Minnelli on Minnelli were announced earlier this week. Both the tour dates and the track listings for the new CD follow:


Overture
If I Had You
Taking a Chance on Love
Love
Limehouse Blues
Meet Me in St. Louis
Under the Bamboo Tree
The Boy Next Door
Skip To My Lou
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
That's Entertainment
Guess I'll Have to Change My Plan
Triplets
Dancing in the Dark
Shine On Your Shoes
I Got Rhythm
Baubles, Bangles and Beads
The Night They Invented Champagne
I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore
What Did I Have That I Don't Have?
Thank Heaven for Little Girls
The Trolley Song
My Heart Belongs To Daddy
I Thank You


Tour Dates:
March 9-12 at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, CA
April 12-16 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
May 3-7 at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago, IL
June 7 & 8 at the Bryce Jordan Center at Stage College, PA
June 10 & 11 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, OH
September 13-17 at the Wharton Ctr. for the Perf. Arts in East Lansing, MI
October 6-22 at Masonic Temple in Detroit, MI
November 1-5 at the Wang Center in Boston, MA
March 7-11 at the Civic Theatre in San Diego, CA LAURIE BEECHMAN & JOSEPH
I hadn't listened to the music from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in a few years, so I put it on recently while I was reading the Sunday Times. I had forgotten how wonderful Laurie Beechman's singing was on this 1982 recording. The late singer sounds phenomenal on what I think is the finest rendition of this oft recorded musical. What was so special about this production -- aside from the top-notch company that also included Bill Hutton in the title role -- was the casting of a woman in the role of the Narrator. Until that time the role had always been portrayed by a man, and the simple switch in gender added a vocal explosion that had not been explored earlier. Just listen to the way Beechman belts the first full song of the piece, "Jacob and Sons" or the way she pours out her soul and voice on the line "Letting out a might roar, Potiphar burst through the door!" Her singing is truly exemplary throughout the entire recording, and for those of you who have never heard Beechman's superior vocals, this recording is a wonderful introduction. After listening to this recording, I decided to play one of the newer Joseph discs, and what is problematic about these works (the Jason Donovan, Michael Damian, Donny Osmond recordings) is the over orchestrated music and the (poor) decision to raise the keys so that the Narrators could no longer comfortably belt much of their music. Joseph worked so well in the Beechman/Hutton version because of its simplicity and tongue-in-cheek delivery, and although the newer recordings are enjoyable, they don't quite match the sheer vocal magic of the 1982 disc.

THE VARIETY SHOW
Comedian/writer/musician Seth Rudetsky hopes to bring the variety show back to television. To that end, he's pitched an idea to network television, and this Monday, March 13, he will present a show entitled "Seth's Sassy Friends" at NBC's space at HERE (145 Avenue of the Americas between Spring and Dominick Streets) at 7:30 PM. Admission is free, and those interested should call (212) 647-0202 (press 0 to make a reservation). The space is used to develop new project, so who knows? Perhaps next season TV audiences might be watching Broadway performers strut their stuff. By the way, Monday's show will open with a big production number staged by Chris Gattelli, and the list of performers for the evening include comic Jack Plotnick plus singer/actors Kristine Zbornik and Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth. Each performer will also, says Rudetsky, "be forced to show a mortifying video clip from their past."

THE "A. B. C."s of MUSICALS
New from LML music is "A. B. C.," a two-CD set of the 15th Annual S.T.A.G.E (Southland Theater Artists Goodwill Event) benefit for several AIDS charities, which was recorded live in Los Angeles on February 27, 1999. The star-studded evening salutes the work of Richard (A)dler, Jerry (B)ock and Cy (C)oleman, hence the title "A. B. C." For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the work of these men, the discs are a wonderful introduction to the composers responsible for such musicals as The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Kwamina, A Mother's Kiss, Music Is (all by Richard Adler); Mr. Wonderful, The Body Beautiful, Fiorello!, Tenderloin, She Loves Me, Fiddler on the Roof, The Apple Tree, The Rothschilds (all by Jerry Bock); and Wildcat; Little Me; Sweet Charity; Seesaw; I Love My Wife; On the Twentieth Century; Home Again, Home Again; Barnum; Welcome to the Club; City of Angels; The Will Rogers Follies; and The Life (all by Cy Coleman).


Notable tracks on the first disc include Betty Garrett's amusing rendering of "No Soap Blues"; the big-voiced Sean McDermott singing "Hey There"; a touching medley of "Do You Love Me" and "Sunrise, Sunset" performed by friends Charlotte Rae and Sheldon Harnick; Tyne Daly's lively take on "If I Were a Rich Man"; a belty version of the title song from She Loves Me, ably sung by Kathy Garrick; and Lucie Arnaz's high-voltage "The Best Is Yet To Come." And, the second half has even more highlights, including Linda Purl's emotional "With Every Breath I Take," in which she displays a surprisingly strong, Broadway voice; a lush, uptempo "Witchcraft" from Dorian Harewood; Lillias White's always exciting tones on her The Life show-stopper, "The Oldest Profession"; the supreme musicianship of Maureen McGovern, which she displays in "I'm a Brass Band"; the humorous exchange between Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly in a rewritten lyric to "You're Nothing Without Me"; a pairing of "You Can Always Count On Me" and "Nobody Does It Like Me" that Carole Cook throws herself into with fervor; Michele Lee's bellowing tones in "I'm Way Ahead"; and an intense "Where Am I Going?" by the full-voiced Davis Gaines.


What follows is the complete track listing for "A. B. C." (The CDs can be ordered on-line at www.LMLMusic.com or by calling 1-888-856-9202.):

DISC ONE
Tradition/To Life (Malcolm Gets)
Hey, Look Me Over (Marcia Mitzman Gaven)
Gorgeous (Cindy Benson)
Mr. Wonderful (Jennifer Paz)
Artificial Flowers (Gregory Harrison & Siri Miller)
Never (Linda Michele)
Too Close for Comfort (Alan Campbell)
If My Friends Could See Me Now (Susie Misner)
No Soap Blues (Betty Garrett)
If You Win You Lose/Hey There/There Once Was a Man (Colleen Fitzpatrick & Sean McDermott)
Do You Love Me?/Sunrise, Sunset (Charlotte Rae & Sheldon Harnick)
If I Were a Rich Man (Tyne Daly)
She Loves Me (Kathy Garrick)
The Best Is Yet To Come (Lucie Arnaz)


DISC TWO
Welcome To Holiday Inn (Jolie Fisher with David Engel & Paul Green)
I Love a Cop (Carrie Hamilton with Blue Blake)
Whatever Lola Wants (April Nixon with Paul Green)
Near to You (Bill Hutton)
Tonight At Eight (Nancy Dussault)
It's a Nice Face/I'm in Love Again (Rex Reed)
I've Got Your Number (Michael K. Lee)
With Every Breath I Take (Linda Purl)
Witchcraft (Dorian Harewood)
When Did I Fall in Love?/Dear Friend (Dale Kristien)
The Oldest Profession (Lillias White)
In My Own Lifetime (Hal Linden)
I'm a Brass Band (Maureen McGovern)
You're Nothing Without Me (Sharon Gless & Tyne Daly)
You Can Always Count On Me/Nobody Does It Like Me (Carole Cook)
I'm Way Ahead (Michele Lee)
Where Am I Going? (Davis Gaines)
Heart (The Orchestra)

IN OTHER NEWS The one-and-only Bernadette Peters will demonstrate her cooking skills (!) on March 16 on the "Ainsley Harriott Show," which airs in New York at 11 AM on Channel 4. Be sure to set those VCRS! . . . To celebrate John Mauceri's 200th concert with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, two grand ladies of the theatre will join the conductor in concert on Saturday, July 8: Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald. The two Tony-winning actresses/singers will lead an evening of song to honor the dynamic combination of John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra . . . Congratulations to Karen Mason and Paul Rolnick, who are perhaps the first husband and wife team to be nominated for MAC Awards; Mason received a nomination for Major Female Vocalist and Rolnick for Best New Song. In fact, Mason's entire "team" was nominated, from musical director Chris Denny and director Barry Kleinbort to technical director Matt Berman. The 14th Annual MAC Awards will be held on Sunday, April 9 at 7:30 pm at Town Hall (123 W. 43rd Street). Those scheduled to perform include Mason, Robert Cuccioli, Alix Korey, Faith Prince and Julie Wilson. Call (212) 307-4100 for tickets, which range from $25 to $125 . . . Linda Eder is on a roll these days: Her solo Carnegie Hall debut was a smash hit, she triumphed on "The David Letterman Show" with her belty version of "Vienna," and word this week is her upcoming concert at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, on April 25th is completely sold out . . . Saturdays at 10 PM, after the evening performance of The Fantasticks, singer/actress Rita Gardner presents her new cabaret act, Try to Remember -- A Look at Off-Broadway. It's fitting that Gardner is performing at the Sullivan Street Playhouse since she created the role of "The Girl" in The Fantasticks at that very theatre 40 years ago! The new act celebrates the 40th anniversary of the landmark musical as well as the 40 years of Off-Broadway musicals since . . . Divas Do the Dishes, well so to speak: Fabulous dinner plates have been designed and autographed by some of Broadway's top stars, and these plates will be auctioned to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The dishes are on display at the International Artexpo New York at the Jacob Javits Center through March 13. Some of the stars who have created "Diva Dishes" include Betty Buckley, Carol Burnett, Nell Carter, Sandy Duncan, Dame Edna, Marin Mazzie, Andrea McArdle, Liza Minnelli, Bebe Neuwirth, Bernadette Peters, Alice Ripley, Chita Rivera, Emily Skinner and Gwen Verdon. Admission to the Expo is $15; for more information call 1-800-331-5706 or visit the show's website at www.artexpos.com . . . Debbie Reynolds will perform at the aforementioned Paper Mill Playhouse on July 11 at 8 PM. Call (973) 376 4343 for tickets . . . Amanda Green returns to the West Bank Cafe's Laurie Beechman Theatre on March 23 and 30. Green will reprise her hit one-woman show, Take It Like Amanda, and tickets are available by calling (212) 695-6909. The West Bank Cafe is located at 407 West 42nd Street . . . And, finally, I received a note from a loyal diva-watcher about a recent party/benefit at Roseland in N.Y.C. It seems those talented Side Show gals, Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, made a guest appearance and sang two tunes from their second duets recording, "The Last Duet" and "Old Friend." As usual, their performances were nothing less than sparkling.

REMINDERS


KAREN AKERS
Karen Akers, will make her Algonquin debut on Tuesday, April 4. The statuesque singer will premiere her latest cabaret act, "Haunted Heart," at the famed hotel's Oak Room. Show times for "Haunted Heart," which runs through April 21, are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 9 PM and Friday and Saturday nights at 9 and 11:30 PM. There is a $50 cover charge and a $15 food/drink minimum. The Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel is located at 59 West 44th Street; call (212) 840-6800 for reservations.

BETTY BUCKLEY
Betty Buckley returned to the famed Cafe Carlyle this week for a five week stint. The Tony winner will perform two shows nightly at the plush boîte, at 8:45 PM and 10:45 PM, Tuesday through Saturday evenings. There is a $60 cover charge but no food/beverage minimum. The cabaret room of the Carlyle Hotel is located at 35 East 76th Street; for reservations, call (212) 744-1600. Be sure to make your reservations now. Seating is limited. A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
February 15-March 17 at the Cafe Carlyle in New York, NY
March 18 Folly Theatre in Kansas City, MO
March 19 Macomb Center for the Perf. Arts in Detroit, MI
April 24 Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance in Fort Worth, TX
April 26 Coronation 2000 in San Antonio, TX
May 4 Poway Center in Poway, CA
May 5-6 Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Cerritos, CA
May 7 Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
May 8 Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
August 29 Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL

BARBARA COOK
I recently received a few new concert dates for theatre/cabaret legend Barbara Cook, which follow:
March 21 - April 29 at the Cafe Carlyle, NYC (212) 744-1600
June 13 at the Playhouse Theatre, Hotel Dupont in Wilmington, Del. (302) 656-4401
September 14 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA (619) 748-0505
September 21 & 22 at the Sydney Opera House (in concert with David Campbell) in Sydney, Australia 011-61-2-9250-7777
September 28-October 1 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA (714) 556-2787

LINDA EDER
Eder in concert:
March 14-25 at Feinstein's at the Regency in NY, NY (212) 339-4095
April 13 at Scullers Jazz Club in Boston, MA (617) 562-4111
April 14 at the Copley Theatre in Boston, MA (617) 536-8800
April 15 at the Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT (203) 562-5666
April 25 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ (973) 376-4343
May 6 at the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Benefit in the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston, TX (713) 334-4400
August 5 at the Wildflower Music Festival in White Mills, PA
August 8 (with Michael Feinstein) at the Mann Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA (215) 336-2000
August 19 at the John Drew Theater of Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY (631) 324-4050

PATTI LUPONE
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:
May 4-6 in Sweeney Todd at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) New York, NY; (212) 875-5656
May 12 at the Union County Arts Center in Rahway, NJ; (732) 499-0441
May 13 at the Staller Center for the Arts in Stonybrook, NY; (516) 632 ARTS
June 8-11 at Theatrefest/Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ; (973) 655-5112

AUDRA McDONALD

McDonald will also begin her first concert tour next month. Scheduled dates include the following:
March 11 at the University of California in Irvine, CA
March 12 at the Saroyan Theater in Fresno, CA
March 18 at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ
March 19 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ
April 25-29 with the Atlanta Symphony (Kurt Weill/ "Seven Deadly Sins")
May 12 at Harvard University's Sanders Theater in Boston, MA
May 14 at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

MAUREEN McGOVERN
Already announced McGovern concert dates:


March 17 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern featuring pianist Lee Musiker" at Purchase College-SUNY in Purchase, NY
March 19 & 20 with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA
March 24 & 25 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern" with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Rose Hall Stage in Oklahoma City, OK

LILLIAS WHITE
Exciting news for Lillias White fans. The phenomenal, Tony winning singer/actress will begin a three-week run at Arci's Place (450 Park Avenue South) on Tuesday, March 14. Entitled "Lillias White and Friends," the show will be performed Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 9 PM and Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 and 11 PM. There is a $25 cover charge and a $15 minimum; call (212) 532-4370 for reservations.

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

By Andrew Gans