DIVA TALK: News, Views and Reviews from Divaland

News   DIVA TALK: News, Views and Reviews from Divaland BETTY BUCKLEY
Betty Buckley received a rave review in the Chicago Sun-Times for her recent concert at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Parks, Ill. Theatre critic Hedy Weiss had this to say about Buckley’s evening of song: “No one can forget for a single moment that Betty Buckley is a Broadway diva, and that includes Buckley herself. Just watch her take hold of the Andrew Lloyd Webber ‘arias’ from Cats and Sunset Boulevard, and all the grand gestures, gargantuan passions and big bursts of sound that go with them. Buckley sings Grizabella's ‘Memory’ and Norma Desmond's ‘With One Look’ and ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ as if they were still opening night stardom tests . . . But there is another side to Buckley, too. And, as her Monday evening concert at the Ravinia Festival's Martin Theatre revealed, it runs equally deep. This is the more internalized, poetic, experimental aspect of her performing personality, and it is hugely appealing. In fact, it may be that the tension between the diva and the cabaret-style actress-singer who must establish a very different kind of intimacy with her audience is what keeps the Texas-bred singer's concert work so exciting. Just listen to the mix of bravura force and contained heat she brings to Stephen Sondheim's extraordinary love song, ‘Not a Day Goes By.’ . . . She brings a totally fresh midlife perspective to ‘Neverland,’ the Peter Pan classic (interlaced with gorgeous, jazzy piano riffs by her superb accompanist, Bruce Barth.) And she delivers a razor-sharp version of ‘Stars and the Moon,’ a story-song about a woman who made the wrong choices in life, written by Jason Robert Brown, the young composer-lyricist of Parade. To champion the work of another of the new wave of poetic theater composers, Ricky Ian Gordon, Buckley sang two of his entrancing songs -- one set to lyrics drawn from Dorothy Parker (‘The Red Dress’) and another by Emily Dickinson (the breathtaking ‘Where Morning Lies’) . . . As the French might put it, Buckley is now ‘a woman of a certain age.’ She brings her experience and her pain, her disappointment and her neuroses with her to the stage. And when all this is filtered through the songs (rather than the banter) it is transformed into something rich and often riveting. You could hear this happen in a lovely encore as she shaped the song ‘Serenity,’ from the recent Broadway musical, Triumph of Love. In it, a philosopher loses her head in love.”

BETTY BUCKLEY
Betty Buckley received a rave review in the Chicago Sun-Times for her recent concert at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Parks, Ill. Theatre critic Hedy Weiss had this to say about Buckley’s evening of song: “No one can forget for a single moment that Betty Buckley is a Broadway diva, and that includes Buckley herself. Just watch her take hold of the Andrew Lloyd Webber ‘arias’ from Cats and Sunset Boulevard, and all the grand gestures, gargantuan passions and big bursts of sound that go with them. Buckley sings Grizabella's ‘Memory’ and Norma Desmond's ‘With One Look’ and ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ as if they were still opening night stardom tests . . . But there is another side to Buckley, too. And, as her Monday evening concert at the Ravinia Festival's Martin Theatre revealed, it runs equally deep. This is the more internalized, poetic, experimental aspect of her performing personality, and it is hugely appealing. In fact, it may be that the tension between the diva and the cabaret-style actress-singer who must establish a very different kind of intimacy with her audience is what keeps the Texas-bred singer's concert work so exciting. Just listen to the mix of bravura force and contained heat she brings to Stephen Sondheim's extraordinary love song, ‘Not a Day Goes By.’ . . . She brings a totally fresh midlife perspective to ‘Neverland,’ the Peter Pan classic (interlaced with gorgeous, jazzy piano riffs by her superb accompanist, Bruce Barth.) And she delivers a razor-sharp version of ‘Stars and the Moon,’ a story-song about a woman who made the wrong choices in life, written by Jason Robert Brown, the young composer-lyricist of Parade. To champion the work of another of the new wave of poetic theater composers, Ricky Ian Gordon, Buckley sang two of his entrancing songs -- one set to lyrics drawn from Dorothy Parker (‘The Red Dress’) and another by Emily Dickinson (the breathtaking ‘Where Morning Lies’) . . . As the French might put it, Buckley is now ‘a woman of a certain age.’ She brings her experience and her pain, her disappointment and her neuroses with her to the stage. And when all this is filtered through the songs (rather than the banter) it is transformed into something rich and often riveting. You could hear this happen in a lovely encore as she shaped the song ‘Serenity,’ from the recent Broadway musical, Triumph of Love. In it, a philosopher loses her head in love.”

 

AUDRA McDONALD
Three-time Tony winner Audra McDonald was recently the subject of an in-depth interview in the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle. A loyal diva watcher forwarded me a copy of the article, and I thought you would enjoy reading a few quotes from Blake Green’s article, “Never Short of Breath.”

 

about winning three Tonys and losing her fourth:
“You begin to feel you have to top it, to hit home run after home run. Keeping a sense of exactly who I am and what I want from it all hasn’t been that simple . . . It’s gotten a little better as I’ve gotten older, and not winning the Tony [for Marie Christine] was like lifting a weight from my shoulders. When my name wasn’t called I felt almost elated and I thought, ‘OK, now I can just do my work.’”  

about her choice of music for her debut album, Way Back to Paradise:
“People warned me that it wasn’t going to make a million dollars. But no one in the Broadway community ever makes a million dollars, so that wasn’t an issue . . . I just loved their music, was quite stimulated by it. Maybe it’s because of my Juilliard training. I like music that keeps you on your toes, that’s a challenge to learn.”

 

about her singing voice:
“It’s starting to take on a life of its own and it is an operatic voice. I can see that’s the direction it’s wanting to go, and it would be a shame for me not to explore that. But I don’t think I’ll ever cross over all the way and do the bread-and-butter operas like ‘La Boheme’ and ‘Traviata.’”

 

THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK
The Witches of Eastwick, a brand-new musical based on the film of the same name, recently opened in London to fairly positive reviews. Starring Lucie Arnaz and two of London’s most exciting musical theatre performers, Maria Friedman and Joanna Riding, the Cameron Mackintosh-produced musical could possibly wind up on Broadway, and one delights in thinking about the American divas who could fill Friedman and Riding’s roles. What follows are a few excerpts from the London reviews:

 

Nicholas de Jongh in the Evening Standard:
“. . .At least, Lucie Arnaz's flippantly, wisecracking sculptress, Joanna Riding as the cellist, who sacrifices primness for head-on passion, and Maria Friedman in terrific voice as a girl, forever missing out on the main chance of a man, put on a scintillating theatrical and musical show . . . And Maria Friedman also plays powerful, poignant vocal gymnastics in ‘Words, Words Words.’”

 

Edward Seckerson in The Independent:
“ . . . Even so, the enjoyment factor is high, the production values sky high. Notwithstanding that this is a small show writ very large, it's good to see Cameron Mackintosh pushing the boat out on fresh talent. Designer Bob Crowley gives us more neon than you could shake a forked stick at, a diner transformed into a giant keyboard, an exploding church and a wicked crib on the Sunset Boulevard mansion. Ian McShane's devil-may-care (but he doesn't) Darryl Van Horne is as close to sleaze as family entertainment gets -- Jack Nicholson meets Tom Jones. Rosemary Ashe, literally terrific as Felicia Gabriel, spews a whole lot more than just cherry stones, pearl necklaces and silver dollars to steal every scene she appears in. And, of course, in this show you get three female stars for the price of one: tall, elegant Lucie Arnaz is Alexandra Spofford, whose attitude to boob enhancement is ‘if you don't have ’em, sculpt ’em’; Maria Friedman is the hack Sukie Rougemont whose idea of oral is a patter song; and Joanna Riding is a revelation as cool, cutting cellist Jane Smart, who modulates her way to orgasm.”

 

Benedict Nightingale in Times of London:
“It’s certainly a moment to relish: Maria Friedman, Joanna Riding and Lucie Arnaz, all in long gorgeous dresses that wouldn't have looked amiss on Elizabeth I, rising from a red-lit baronial hall, swooping up into the eaves of Drury Lane, then plunging and hovering over rows E, H and J. Since their wires are all but invisible, and jet-powered broomsticks are entirely absent, the witches of Eastwick seem literally to be riding on nothing . . . Ian McShane's black-haired, black suited Darryl shimmers and slithers about, a phallic-looking cigar in his mouth, generating enough mocking charisma to explain his coven's allegiance. Friedman guys Sukie's initial gormlessness too much, but does marvels with a patter song that accelerates to 100mph as she sheds her inarticulacy and shyness. Arnaz brings a lovely blend of wit and sensuality to a song in which she mentally fast-forwards to Darryl's bed. Riding has only to unloose her hair and put on a sexy tennis outfit to turn from a starched schoolmarm into maybe the most besotted of them all. I only wish they had more opportunity to be what they could be: full-blooded American hags.”

 

IN OTHER NEWS How disappointing that Angela Lansbury has withdrawn from the upcoming Kander and Ebb musicalization of The Visit, scheduled for this Broadway season. Due to her husband’s illness, Lansbury will not star in the musical version of Durrenmatt’s play as originally announced; however, this does make room for another grand lady of the theatre to step into this dramatic role. How about Betty Buckley or Patti LuPone or Elaine Paige? Any one of those three megatalents would make me quite happy! . . . According to Theatreworld Internet Magazine, the upcoming production of The Secret Garden at London’s Royal Shakespeare Theatre will star Meredith Braun as Lily, former Carrie star Linzi Hateley as Martha, Philip Quast as Archibald and Craig Purnell as Dickon. The Marsha Norman/Lucy Simon musical will run from Nov. 13, 2000 through Jan. 27, 2001 . . . What an exciting season New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse has in store for diva fans: First up is the legendary Chita Rivera in the Cole Porter classic, Anything Goes. Featuring direction by Broadway’s Lee Roy Reams, the seaworthy romp docks at the Paper Mill on Sept. 6 and runs through Oct. 15. You can expect to hear Rivera belt such ditties as “Anything Goes,” “Blow, Gabriel Blow!,” “You’re the Top” and more. Other musical highlights for the Paper Mill season include Victor/Victoria (Nov. 1-Dec. 10), Funny Girl (April 4-May 20) and Carousel (May 30-July 15). And, on Dec. 5 the one-and-only Barbara Cook will perform in concert at the Playhouse, which is located in Millburn, N.J. Call (973) 376-4343 for more information, or visit www.papermill.org . . . What was best about the Off-Broadway, Manhattan Theatre Club production of The Wild Party -- the stunning vocal work of its cast -- has been preserved on the new RCA Victor recording of the musical. Onstage I found the show overlong and too high-pitched; that is, the show began at such a heightened emotion that it never had room to grow and, ultimately, left me cold. But the vocals of Brian d’Arcy James, Alix Korey, Taye Diggs, a somewhat too-over-the-top Idina Menzel, and newcomer Julia Murney are wonderful. And the score, by Andrew Lippa, who contributed songs to the recent revival of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, contains many nice moments. Highlights include Alix Korey’s belty, comedic turn in “An Old-Fashioned Love Story”; Julia Murney’s high chest tones in “Raise the Roof” and “Out of the Blue”; Brian d’Arcy James’ rich, smooth vocals in most everything he sings; Murney’s “Maybe I Like It This Way,” in which she defends her abusive relationship with Burrs (d’Arcy James); the toe-tapping, upbeat “Let Me Drown,” featuring James, Menzel and the company; and Digg’s sweet solo, “I’ll Be Here.” . . . Singer/actress/comedienne Sandra Bernhard has extended her run at Joe’s Pub. Backed by a five-piece band, the chanteuse will perform at the downtown club from Aug. 3 through Aug. 6 at 8:30 PM. All tickets are $30.

 

REMINDERS:

 

SARAH BRIGHTMAN
The following tours dates are from Brightman’s website, which can be found at sarah-brightman.com.
Aug. 20 and 21 in Sao Paulo
Aug. 23 in Rio de Janeiro
Sept. 15 in Ottawa, ON at the Corel Centre
Sept. 16 in Toronto, ON at the Air Canada Centre
Sept. 18 in Montreal, PQ at the Molson Centre
Sept. 19 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. 1 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. 30 in Seattle, WA at the Paramount/Key Arena
Nov. 1 in Vancouver, BC at the GM Place
Nov. 3 in Edmonton, AB at the Skyreach Center
Nov. 4 in Calgary, AB at the Saddledome
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. 14 in Grand Rapids, MI at the Van Andel Arena
Nov. 15 in Milwaukee, WI at the Riverside Theatre
Nov. 21 in Oslo at the Spektrum
Nov. 22 in Stockholm at the Globen
Nov. 24 in Borlange at the Kuppolen
Nov. 25 in Gothenburg at the Scandinavium
Nov. 26 in Copenhagen at the Forum
Nov. 27 in Aalborg at the Aarlborghall
Nov. 30 in Tallin at the Linnhall
Dec. 2 in Tampere at the Sporthall
Dec. 6. in Zurich at the Hallenstadion
Dec. 7 in Mannheim at the Mozartsaal
Dec. 8 in Dusseldorf at the Philipshalle
Dec. 10 in Munich at the Olympiahalle
Dec. 12 in Vienna at the Stadthalle
Dec. 14 in Berlin at the ICC
Dec. 16 in Warsaw at the Grand Theatre
Dec. 19 in St. Petersburg at the Octlabrsky
Dec. 22 in Moskau at the Kremi

 

BETTY BUCKLEY
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:

July 28 and 29 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA
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

 

LINDA EDER
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

 

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:
July 29 ("Matters of the Heart") at the Long Island Summer Festival at Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, NY; (516) 922-0061
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

 

KAREN MASON
July 28-29 In concert at The Metropolis in Milford, PA
July 30 Introduces James Beaman in Marlene Live! at The FireBird Cafe; (212) 586-0240
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

 

AUDRA McDONALD

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

BERNADETTE PETERS
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)

 

CHRISTIANE NOLL
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!