DIVA TALK News of Bernadette plus Lea, Klea & more!

News   DIVA TALK News of Bernadette plus Lea, Klea & more! BERNADETTE PETERS
Two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters has been cast in an upcoming film for Showtime that will begin shooting in Ireland later this month; in Bobbie’s Girl, Peters will co-star with Rachel Ward and Jonathan Silverman. Due to filming, Peters has canceled a few of her upcoming concert dates, including those in Toronto, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas. The former Song & Dance star has, however, rescheduled her Minneapolis, MN, performances for June 8 and 9 and her Johnstown, PA, performance for June 23. . . The dazzling performer will also make another guest appearance on FOX TV’s “Ally McBeal” on Monday, April 16, and the independent film in which she stars, "Let it Snow" (aka "Snow Days"), will finally be released this August in ten major cities across the country, and will eventually be aired on HBO, too. You can also catch BP next Thursday, April 12 on Channel 2’s “Live at 4” program, where she will promote the upcoming event, “Art for Animals.” And, as if all this weren’t enough, Peters heads back into the recording studio this summer to wrap her golden vocals around the classic songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein for a new solo CD on the Angel Records label. Stay tuned for more details. . .

BERNADETTE PETERS
Two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters has been cast in an upcoming film for Showtime that will begin shooting in Ireland later this month; in Bobbie’s Girl, Peters will co-star with Rachel Ward and Jonathan Silverman. Due to filming, Peters has canceled a few of her upcoming concert dates, including those in Toronto, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Dallas, Texas. The former Song & Dance star has, however, rescheduled her Minneapolis, MN, performances for June 8 and 9 and her Johnstown, PA, performance for June 23. . . The dazzling performer will also make another guest appearance on FOX TV’s “Ally McBeal” on Monday, April 16, and the independent film in which she stars, "Let it Snow" (aka "Snow Days"), will finally be released this August in ten major cities across the country, and will eventually be aired on HBO, too. You can also catch BP next Thursday, April 12 on Channel 2’s “Live at 4” program, where she will promote the upcoming event, “Art for Animals.” And, as if all this weren’t enough, Peters heads back into the recording studio this summer to wrap her golden vocals around the classic songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein for a new solo CD on the Angel Records label. Stay tuned for more details. . .

KLEA BLACKHURST & LA MERM
Cabaret acts are so much more enjoyable when there’s an enthusiastic, sold-out audience, and such was the case last week at Klea Blackhurst’s new show, Everything the Traffic Will Allow. In fact, the cabaret space at Danny’s Skylight Room was jam-packed with people who had heard great things about Ms. Blackhurst, including celebs like Cathy Rigby, Brent Barrett, Steve Ross as well as scribes from The New York Times and other publications. Blackhurst’s show, which is a loving tribute to Ethel Merman, focuses solely on Merman’s Broadway career, and it’s a wonderful homage to the late, great star. Although she avoids impersonating the legendary performer, she does evoke the joy that was always evident in Merman’s singing. Blackhurst’s pipes may not be as indestructible as Merman’s, but she does possess a strong instrument that is both suited to big, brassy moments as well as tender ballads. Highlights of her show -- which also featured amusing anecdotes about Blackhurst’s fascination with Merman and Merman’s career -- included a slowed-down rendition of Gypsy’s “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”; a belty “World, Take Me Back,” a tune that Jerry Herman reinstated to his Hello, Dolly! score when the Merm joined the cast; a wonderful reading of “Make It Another Old-Fashioned, Please”; and a medley of “Leader of a Big Time Band,” “Hey, Good Lookin’” and “Something for the Boys.” Blackhurst’s complete song list follows:
“I Got Rhythm”/ “Johnny One Note”
“You’re the Top”
“Blow, Gabriel, Blow”
“Make It Another Old-Fashioned, Please”
“Ridin’ High”
“This Is It”/ “Do I Love You”/ “I Got Lost in His Arms”
“Sam and Delilah”
“You’re an Old Smoothie”
“I’ve Still Got My Health”
“Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries”
“Leader of a Big Time Band”/ “Hey, Good Lookin’”/ “Something for the Boys”
“Just a Moment Ago”
“Everything’s Coming Up Roses”
“World, Take Me Back”
“There’s No Business Like Show Business”

LEA DeLARIA
To be honest, I was not expecting to like Lea DeLaria’s solo CD, “Play It Cool,” which I received an advanced copy of this past week. I’ve found her singing to be a bit forced in the past, and her acting often to be by-the numbers rather than deeply felt. Plus, I’m not a fan of jazz singing, which is rarely moving and particularly annoying when singers change the melody of the composer. And, scatting is even more tedious. That said, however, I quite enjoyed DeLaria’s first solo effort, which features jazz renditions of a slew of Broadway tunes, from shows as diverse as West Side Story, Follies and The Wild Party. The CD begins with one of the disc’s most enjoyable tracks, “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”; in fact, the entire CD finds DeLaria singing in a more soothing style than usual, one that seems to fit her instrument better, and I’ve continued to enjoy the disc on repeated listenings. Other notable tracks include a swinging version of “I’ve Got Your Number”; a gentle reading of the City of Angels ballad, “With Every Breath I Take”; a rendition of “All That Jazz,” which I enjoyed despite myself(!), as it takes big liberties with the John Kander melody; and an upbeat take on “Once in a Lifetime.” The complete track listing for Lea DeLaria’s “Play It Cool,” which will be available in stores in June on the Warner Bros. label, follows:
“The Ballad of Sweeney Todd”
“Cool”
“I’ve Got Your Number”
“With Every Breath I Take”
“All That Jazz”
“Life Has Been Good To Me”
“Welcome To My Party”
“Lowdown Down”
“Once in a Lifetime”
“Losing My Mind”
“Straight To the Top” FOR THE RECORD


Three from DRG Musical theatre fans will be excited to learn of three new releases all on the DRG label. Continuing its 20-year-old tradition of skewering The Great White Way comes the newest edition of Forbidden Broadway. Entitled Forbidden Broadway 2001: A Spoof Odyssey, the latest installment from writer/creator Gerard Alessandrini includes parodies of Barbra Streisand, Dame Judi Dench, Liza Minnelli and such Broadway fare as AIDA, The Rocky Horror Show and The Full Monty. Also from DRG is the original cast recording of the just-closed celebration of Latino song and dance, 4 Guys Named Jose and Una Mujer Named Maria. Singing such tunes as “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “Macarena,” “I Like It Like That” and others, the CD features the original New York cast: Phillip Anthony, Allen Hidalgo, Henry Gainza, Richard Puente and Lissette Gonzalez. And, DRG’s third release is 3hree, The New Musical, which spotlights three new one-act musicals, The Flight of the Lawn Chair, The Mice and Lavender Girl. The musicals were originally produced and premiered by The Prince Music Theatre last November and boasted input from director Harold Prince who chose to direct The Flight of the Lawn Chair, which featured a book by Peter Ullian and music and lyrics by Robert Lindsey-Nassif. Lawn Chair Man is based on the true story of a man who attached balloons to his lawn chair and floated high above the ground.


High Notes From Decca Broadway comes four newly remastered classic Broadway musicals featuring the original casts: Man of La Mancha, Hair, Bloomer Girl and A Connecticut Yankee. Each recording features rare bonus tracks as well as high resolution and superior sound . . . . Cabaret singer Denise DiRenzo demonstrates her vocal prowess on her first solo CD, Sweet Refrain. Featuring arrangements by Christopher Marlowe, DiRenzo offers fine renditions of “The Child in Me,” “Pick Yourself Up,” “On My Way to You,” “Trust the Wind” and “Where or When.” . . . Cole Porter’s rarely performed musical, You Never Know, has been recorded by an all-star cast for the new Fynsworth Alley label. Boasting a cast that includes Kristin Chenoweth, Harry Groener, Donna McKechnie and David Garrison, the Porter score includes such tunes as the patter song “Let’s Not Talk About Love,” the ribald “Let’s Misbehave” plus “What Shall I Do?” and “At Long Last Love.”


Seussical This season, the creators of Ragtime and Once on This Island offered their newest musical, Seussical, which, of course, is based upon the classic children’s stories by Theodor Giesel, who was better known as Dr. Seuss. Featuring music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, the score is a bouncy romp through the adventures of Horton, Mayzie, Gertrude and several other classic Seuss characters. Highlights of the melodic score include the bouncy opening, “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think”; the charming “Horton Hears a Who,” featuring Dirty Blonde’s Kevin Chamberlin as the lovable elephant who hears what no one else hears; “Alone in the Universe,” a song that is both full of longing and hope; “Amayzing Mayzie,” which spotlights the vocal talent of Michele Pawk; Janine LaManna’s touching “Notice Me, Horton”; and “Solla Sollew,” which is perhaps the most moving and melodic tune of the score. The 28-track disc of Seussical is on the Decca Broadway label and is a worthy addition to your show-music collection.


QUOTABLE QUOTES
Polly Bergen discusses her life and her role in Follies in a recent New York Times article by James Gavin:
Follies is supposed to say, ‘Can you live with the road you took? If not, why didn’t you change it? Why don’t you change it now?’ It has so many levels that are fascinating to me, having made the decision to end my life the way I began it, doing that which gives me so much joy. And what’s really fun is, so has Carlotta. She’s the only one in the show who comes back to the reunion and has remained a star. Had her downs. Had her failures. But she is truly still here. And so am I.”


A review of Karen Mason’s performance in the recent Coconut Grove Playhouse production of Side By Side By Sondheim (from Christine Dolen’s review in the Miami Herald):
“When the cast moves on to full-length explorations of Sondheim's songs -- songs about the disillusionment that too often comes with marriage, with age, with the death of love -- the results can be as transporting as [director] Allison intends, particularly if all four actors are singing together. Or when Mason is singing alone. Mason is a quietly dazzling musical actress. She can be sultry (seductively singing ‘Sooner or Later’ from Dick Tracy), rueful (in a fine duet with [Florence] Lacey on ‘Every Day a Little Death’ from A Little Night Music), funny (as she spews out the jittery ‘Getting Married Today’ from Company or bumps it with a trumpet on ‘You Gotta Get a Gimmick’ from Gypsy), triumphant (on ‘I'm Still Here’ from Follies) or shattering (on the aptly titled ‘Losing My Mind’ from Follies). When Mason sings Sondheim, she makes all the connections.”


A review of Maureen McGovern’s recent concert in Michigan (from Christopher Potter’s review in The Ann Arbor News):
“. . .how does one compete with McGovern, one of the greatest living scat singers and one of the world's greatest living slow-drawl torch singers? How does one share a program with an artist whose vocal chords can span three octaves with the sleek power of a Porsche accelerating from zero to eighty? Backed by Kennedy's Big Band Swing Orchestra, McGovern -- whose cozy audience repartee is second to none -- was sultry as can be on Peggy Lee's ‘Fever,’ then ravishing on a Rodgers-and-Hart medley that included a sudden octave leap that was sheer vocal gymnastics on ‘It's Got to be Love.’ Like any great singer, McGovern gives great songs their emotional due. Both singer and actor on ‘It Never Entered My Mind,’ she looked from the inside-out to give Hart's lyrics (‘I wish that you were there again/To get into my hair again’) a profound pathos. She launched into Rodgers and Hammerstein's ‘Hello, Young Lovers’ a capella at such an intimidatingly high key that one held one's breath wondering whether she would make it to the final, mountain-top note. She did, of course, sans so much as a quaver. . . . This puckish Ohioan loves to spring surprises, as when she sang the lead-in to ‘Over the Rainbow’ with full orchestra, then suddenly lowered her microphone and sang the song without instrumentalists or augmentation - and drew the biggest ovation of the evening. . . .”

IN OTHER NEWS How exciting that Bea Arthur will begin touring in her one-woman show, ...And Then There’s Bea, this month at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis! Arthur, whose Broadway career included roles in Mame and Fiddler on the Roof, is probably best known to TV audiences for her work in two terrific sitcoms, “Maude” and “The Golden Girls.” Her new show will feature her friend, Billy Goldenberg, on piano and will be “a warm and funny musical evening, [sharing] stories and songs from her triumphs and tribulations over the course of her career.” The 23-city tour is en route to a 2002 spring opening in New York! . . . Parade Tony nominee Carolee Carmello will join the Broadway production of Kiss Me, Kate on Tuesday, May 29, when she replaces Marin Mazzie, whose final performance will be on May 27. There’s also word that Carmello will record some of Kate’s songs on an upcoming duets CD with her husband, Broadway’s Gregg Edelman . . . PBS has just announced that it will tape Petula Clark’s upcoming concerts at the Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia, for future broadcast. Clark’s two-hour concert spectacular (on May 20 and 21) will be the finale of the month-long Virginia Arts Festival and will feature the Virginia Symphony as well as special guests. Tickets are now on sale and are available by calling (757) 671-8100 . . . Barbara Cook will perform in concert at The John Harms Center for the Performing Arts in Englewood, N.J., on Saturday, June 23 at 8PM. Call (201) 567-3600 for tickets . . . Cabaret’s Denise Di Renzo will celebrate the release of her new CD, “Sweet Refrain,” with two concerts at the New Hope club Odettes (South River Road in New Hope, PA). Di Renzo will perform at 8 PM on Saturday, April 7 and 7:30 PM on Sunday, April 8. There is a $12 cover and an $8 minimum; call (215) 862 3000 for reservations . . . Jane Eyre’s Mary Stout will debut her new cabaret act at Studio 54 (254 West 54th Street, NYC) on April 23 at 8:30 PM and April 24 at 11:30 PM. Her new show, a mixture of comedy and music, is titled Lighter Than Eyre and will benefit The Marcia Shew Fund for Pediatric AIDS. There is a $30 cover and a two-drink minimum; call (212) 280-1360 for reservations . . . And, finally, this year’s Stars in the Alley, a great place to see divas perform live, will be held on Wednesday, May 30 at 11:30 AM in Shubert Alley.

REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
Following is Buckley’s most recent, ever-growing concert schedule:
April 16 The Betty Lynn Buckley Awards at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX
April 18 “Spirit of Imagination” Awards in Fort Worth, TX
May 12 College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
May 24 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, MA
June 17 at the Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA
August 25 at the Great Waters Music Festival in Wolfeboro, NH
October 6 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
November 24 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
December 6 at Abravenal Hall with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, UT (Xmas program)

BARBARA COOK
April 21 in Palm Desert, CA
July 9 at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL

LINDA EDER
Eder in concert:
April 29 at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA (978-232 7200)

May 31-June 3 in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392 4900

PATTI LuPONE
The Tony and Olivier Award-winning actress has also just released a whole new slew of concert dates, which follow:


April 8 at Duke University (“Matters of the Heart”)
May 11 at the Fox Theatre in Stockton, CA (“Matters of the Heart”)
May 26 with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra at Brown University (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
May 31 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. With the National Symphony (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
July 7 at the Performing Arts Center in Westhampton Beach, NY (“Matters of the Heart”)
August 3-4 at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Los Angeles, CA (Gershwin salute)
September 15 at the Rialto Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia (“Matters of the Heart”)
September 20-23 at Bass Hall with the Ft. Worth Symphony in Ft. Worth, Texas (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
November 10 at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts (“Matters of the Heart”)
February 9, 2002 at the Tilles Center with the Long Island Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
February 22-23, 2002 at the Kleinhaus Hall in Buffalo, NY with the Buffalo Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)

KAREN MASON
What follows is Mason’s up-to-date performance schedule:
May 9-20 at Davenports cabaret in Chicago, IL

MAUREEN McGOVERN
Supreme vocalist Maureen McGovern is currently on a 36-city tour with singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli. The remaining dates of their tour follow: April 6 at the Tilles Center in Brookville, NY
April 7 at the Union county Arts Center in Rathway, NJ
April 8 at Eisenhower Hall Theatre -- West Point Military Academy in West Point, NY

BERNADETTE PETERS
The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
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


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

By Andrew Gans