FOR THE RECORD: "Broadway Romances Manhattan"
A host of divas — including Mamma Mia!'s three leading ladies — will be part of a new recording from Rock-It Science Records to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Entitled "Broadway Romances Manhattan," the new CD is scheduled for a mid-September release. Produced by singer-actress Lynn Pinto and sound engineer George Huckins, the duo who launched the successful holiday CDs for BC/EFA ("Carols for a Cure"), the recording will feature several Broadway performers singing new and classic New York-themed tunes.
I recently had the chance to speak with Pinto, an operatically trained singer who made her Broadway debut in the recent Rebecca Luker revival of The Sound of Music. Pinto explained the genesis of Rock-It Records and her annual Christmas CDs, which began during her Sound of Music run. "We started by putting together a CD of the nuns of The Sound of Music. It started as a gift for our families for Christmas; then I started doing research into duplicating CDs, and we were able to sell them as a fundraiser [for BC/EFA]. That was our first release for Broadway Cares," Pinto continued. "We just sold it at the theatres, and it was really successful. Broadway Cares has been very happy with [the annual recordings], and we have a blast doing them, and it's become, six months out of the year, a full-time job."
The new recording, however, is not a seasonal one. "This is going to be in stores year-round," Pinto said. "The difference is it's not a show-by-show recording. Different Broadway performers, individual performers, are each contributing a song, and the theme is romance in Manhattan." Although ideas about a tribute to the events of September 11 were discussed, Pinto and partner decided they "wanted to have something in the stores nationwide that represented New York as a wonderful, unique place. We're hoping that it is a nice representation of New York in a really positive, warm light."
As of now, twelve tracks have been recorded. In fact, Pinto was in the recording studio July 30 with Mamma Mia!'s Pitre, who belted out the Billy Joel standard "New York State of Mind." "It's phenomenal," Pinto commented. "It was really amazing at the recording studio yesterday." Pinto also plans to record a track herself, although she has yet to decide upon a song; Broadway veteran B. J. Crosby may record one, too. The track listing thus far, follows: "New York State of Mind" (Louise Pitre)
"What More Do I Need?" (Judy Kaye)
"Autumn in New York" (Karen Mason)
"I Happen to Like New York" (Bryan Batt)
"Seventh Street and Avenue A" (Ann Hampton Callaway)
"Don't Sleep in the Subway" (Eric Michael Gillett)
"Lullabye of Broadway" (Marc Kudisch & Gavin Creel)
"There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon for New York" (Jose Llana)
"I Can't Help But Fall in Love" (Sam Piperato)
"Mona Lisa & Mad Hatters" (Manley Pope)
"Manhattan" (Christopher Sieber)
"Harlem Waltz" (Martine Allard)
Pinto, who has performed at Nyack's Helen Hayes and with the Bronx Opera, also said that she plans to record another Broadway Christmas CD for the 2002 season. "We're going to start that up as soon as this wraps up. It's going to be a busy time until about February. Then I can sleep," she laughed.
I have to admit that I hadn't been all that excited about the upcoming "Chicago" film. After the screen debut of "Evita," which — considering how thrilling a musical it is — was surprisingly lackluster, I had begun to think that, perhaps, the movie musical was a thing of the past. However, after seeing the trailer for "Chicago" this week on "Entertainment Tonight," it looks like we may have a winner. Granted, one cannot judge a movie based solely on its trailer — there have been plenty of horrible films that looked great during the two-minute preview. That said, though, there were several exciting aspects to the "Chicago" clip. It seems like the characters' stories have been fleshed out — the trailer previewed the scene where Roxie shoots her lover, and it is played much more realistically than onstage. Both women — Renée Zellweger as Roxie and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma — look wonderful, and Zeta-Jones sounds like she has quite a good voice. Though heard only briefly singing "All That Jazz," Zeta-Jones seems to possess a focused, vibrato-filled, powerful belt. I did wonder how many of the musical's numbers remain in the film, as "All that Jazz" was the only tune heard. Most of the trailer focused on dialogue scenes, although it's understandable why Miramax may be underplaying that the movie is a musical. All I know is, having seen the trailer, I'm now anxious to view the entire film, which is scheduled for a Christmas release.
As previously reported, the cast for "Chicago" (the movie) features Renée Zellweger (Roxie Hart), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma Kelly), Richard Gere (Billy Flynn), Queen Latifah (Matron 'Mama' Morton), John C. Reilly (Amos Hart), Christine Baranski (Mary Sunshine), Taye Diggs (The Band Leader), Dominic West (Fred Casely), Lucy Liu (Go-To-Hell Kitty), Deirdre Goodwin (June), Denise Faye (Annie), Mya (Mona), Susan Misner (Liz), Colm Feore (Martin Harrison), Sebastian Lacause (Wilbur, June's Husband), Marc Calamia (Hunyak's Husband), Mary Ann Lamb (Razzle-Dazzle Dancer), Tara Nicole (Razzle-Dazzle Dancer), Patrick Salvagna (Newsboy), Mike Haddad (Courtroom Observer), Joseph Scoren (Harry) and a cameo appearance from original Chicago star Chita Rivera.
IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK The one-and-only Betty Buckley, who recently completed filming the final season of HBO's jailhouse series "Oz," has joined the Fynsworth Alley family. The Tony winning Buckley will release her latest solo album — due in Sept. — on the Fynsworth Alley label, which has also acquired two previous Buckley recordings, "Heart to Heart," originally released on the KO label and featuring Kenny Werner on piano; and my personal favorite, "Betty Buckley," the 15th anniversary re release of her debut solo album, recorded live in New York and first released on the now-defunct Rizzoli label. The latter preserves Buckley's sensational versions of "Meadowlark," "Wind Beneath My Wings" and a tune BB co-wrote, "Dark Blue-Eyed Blues." . . . I received a copy of Heather Headley's debut solo CD — "This Is Who I Am" (RCA Records) — in the mail this week and will have my review for next week's column. I thought you'd enjoy reading the track list, however, which includes three tunes co-written by the Tony winning Aida star. Here are the song titles for the disc, due in stores in Oct.: "He Is," "Nature of a Man," "Fallin' for You," "I Wish I Wasn't," "Fulltime," "Like Ya Use To," "Always Been Your Girl," "Sunday," "Four Words from a Heartbreak," "Sista Girl," "Why Should I Cry" and "If It Wasn't for Your Love." . . . Another Tony winner will release a new recording shortly, Liza Minnelli. A spokesman for J Records said Minnelli's upcoming release is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 22 and will be a two CD set. Entitled "Liza's Back!," the CD is based on Minnelli's recent "comeback" concerts in London and New York. It was also reported earlier this week that Minnelli will perform two concerts at New York's Town Hall this December. The singer-actress dancer will belt out signature tunes on Dec. 5 and 6, and the concerts will be taped for an upcoming television special . . . Tony and Golden Globe Award nominee Jane Krakowski joins piano sensation Jim Brickman on his newest recording, "Love Songs & Lullabies," which will be released on the Windham Hill label on Aug. 6. Krakowski is featured on Brickman's romantic song "You," and she will also be part of an upcoming concert special for PBS, also titled "Love Songs & Lullabies." Taped at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford, Conn., the concert is scheduled for an August debut and also includes performances from All-4-One, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Kevin Spirtas and Joshua Payne. Word is that Krakowski will be part of the upcoming revival of Nine as well . . . . And, finally, congratulations to Broadway legend Chita Rivera, who is one of this year's Kennedy Center Honorees. Born Dolores Conchita Figueroa del Rivero in 1933, Rivera has become one of the theatre's most acclaimed performers. She won Tonys for her performances in two Kander and Ebb musicals, The Rink and Kiss of the Spider Woman, and was also nominated for her work in Bye Bye Birdie, Chicago, Bring Back Birdie, Merlin and Jerry's Girls. Rivera's other Broadway credits include the musical Seventh Heaven, her Broadway debut; Mr. Wonderful; the original production of West Side Story; and Bajour. Rivera appeared in the film version of "Sweet Charity," starred in the world premiere of Kander and Ebb's The Visit, and currently headlines Bernarda Alba at the Mark Taper Forum.
Betty Buckley in Concert:
Sept. 20 and 21 in Brisbane, Australia
Sept. 28 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
Oct. 3-6 at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX
Oct. 22-Nov. 9 at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York, NY
Nov. 16 at the Performing Arts Center of SUNY-Purchase in Purchase, NY
Dec. 6 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC
Liz Callaway in Concert
August 2 in "Stephen Schwartz and Friends" in Bethlehem, PA
August 16 & 17 at the Stackner Cabaret Theatre in Milwaukee, WI
August 18-23 in workshop of The Mistress Cycle at Barrington Stage Co.
September 1 at U.S. Open Tennis Tournament
September 23 at the 100th Anniversary of Macy's Herald Square in New York, NY
September 30 in the Merrily We Roll Along Reunion Concert in New York, NY
October 5 with the Westchester Philharmonic concert of Richard Rodgers music
May 16, 2003 in "Broadway Showstoppers" with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA
Barbara Cook in Concert:
Now through Aug. 26 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY (Mostly Sondheim)
August 14-18 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
Oct. 19 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA
Nov. 2 at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts in Brooklyn, NY
Nov. 17 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN
Linda Eder in Concert
Aug. 15 at Pier 62 (with Burt Bacharach) in Seattle, WA
Aug. 16 at City Lights Amphitheatre (with Burt Bacharach) in Denver, CO
Aug. 17 at the Mountain Winery (with Burt Bacharach) in Saratoga, CA
Sept. 19 at Humphrey's By the Bay in San Diego, CA
Sept. 21 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA
Oct. 25 & 26 at the Ovens Auditorium in Charlotte, NC
Nov. 1 & 3 at the Kimmel Theatre in the Verizon Center (with Peter Nero and Philly Pops) in Philadelphia, PA
Nov. 2 at the War Memorial (with Peter Nero and Philly Pops) in Trenton, NJ
Dec. 1 at the Bass Hall in Austin, TX
Dec. 20 & 21 at the Symphony Hall (with Atlanta Symphony) in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 3 & 4 at the Meyeroff Hall (with Baltimore Symphony) in Baltimore, MD
Maureen McGovern in Concert:
August 11 with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake city, UT
Sept. 1-2 MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon in Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 20-22 with the Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, MI
Sept. 26 - 29 with the North Carolina Symphony at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh, NC
Oct. 24 at the annual Cabaret Convention in New York, NY
Oct. 30-Nov. 3 at the American Music Therapy Association Conf. in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 2 at the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 9 at the Landmark Theatre Gala in Port Washington, NY
Nov. 10 at the Hanford Civic Auditorium in Hanford, CA
Nov. 19-Dec. 1 at the Plush Room in San Francisco, CA
Dec. 6 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Dec. 8 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA
Dec. 9 Laurie Strauss Leukemia Benefit at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Dec. 14 at the Boca Pops Big Band Series in Boca Raton, FL
Bernadette Peters in Concert:
Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the Morton H. Meyerson Hall in Dallas, TX
Sept. 28 at the Weidner Center in Green Bay, WI
Oct. 5 Sundome Center in Sun City West, AZ
Oct. 24 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis, IN
Oct. 26 at the Kleinhans Auditorium in Buffalo, NY
Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!
—By Andrew Gans