This past Tuesday, the First Lady of the British Musical Theatre, Elaine Paige--who will end her run in the new York production of Sunset Boulevard on March 22--was celebrated at Sardi's as a caricature of her was unveiled. Among those attending included cast members of the Sunset Boulevard company, Peter Brown of the Really Useful Company, and other friends of Elaine's. The always-dazzling Paige looked radiant in a black dress, and gave an impromptu speech upon being presented with the drawing.
Before Paige spoke, however, Max Klimadicius of Sardi's had this to say: "It is an honor and a pleasure to introduce to you the first leading lady of the British Musical Theatre. For the last six months she's been making an impact as the leading lady of Sunset Boulevard . We welcome you to the New York theatrical community, and we'd like to present you with your caricature:"
When the caricature (by artist Richard Baratz) was first shown, Elaine joked, "Oh, look, my hair's up. It's before I got a new hairdresser." Then, EP was asked to sign the drawing, but she wanted to think about what she would write, so she pretended to sign as the photographers snapped her picture. While doing so, she commented, "Is this camp or what?"
Afterward, Paige gave a brief thank-you to her friends and co-workers. Said Elaine: "I would never have believed all these years ago when I was very much in the chorus of Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd, the first musical that I was ever in, that I would be standing at Sardi's today about to have my caricature up on the walls surrounded by such illustrious fellow thespians. This is really a very great honor, and I thank you very much. I would like to thank everybody here in New York, everyone at the Minskoff Theatre, at RUG, Peter, my friends who've been supportive and have given me so much love over the last six months and been there for me, and indeed, most importantly, the Sunset company who have really made this . . . without whom I couldn't do this at all...I want to thank everyone in the company because your support, your welcome to me in New York has been so special, and it's made my six months here in New York a time I will never, ever forget. It's been very, very special. I've done a few shows over the years, but I have to say that this one, I think, could possibly have been the happiest I've ever worked on, and that's all about you guys. So thank you, so very much."
It was a fitting honor for such a talented woman.
As reported last week, Betty B will be making a New York appearance in March (March 19-22) in the cabaret room at Maxim's on 62nd Street and Madison Ave. I spoke with BB this week, and she informed me that the second show on Thursday evening, March 20, will be the only evening where she will take requests, and she hopes that all of her on-line buddies will be able to come out that night. The other shows will have set programs, including new songs to Buckley's repertoire. So, you might want to catch BB twice--for one of her "set" programs and also for "Betty By Request." For reservations, call Maxim's at (212) 751-5111.
I was very happy to receive an advance audio tape of Bernadette Peters' upcoming album, Sondheim Etc.-Bernadette Peters Live at Carnegie Hall, which is due out next month from Angel Records. The CD/tape was recorded live during Bernadette's triumphant, sold-out Carnegie Hall concert in December. BP fans will delight in her renditions of 12 Sondheim songs (including Some People with music by Jule Styne) plus "Raining in My Heart" from Dames at Sea, "Time Heals Everything" from Mack and Mabel and what's become a cult favorite, "Making Love Alone" from her appearance a few years back on "Saturday Night Live."
I've only had a chance to listen to the recording once, but it's a very exciting one, opening with strains of the orchestra warming up and then the announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Miss Bernadette Peters." The vamp to "Broadway Baby" is then heard, and Peters launches into her show-stopping version of the Follies song. There is also a generous amount of spoken words from BP, as she introduces many of the songs. In the first half of the recording, Peters sounds especially wonderful on "Raining in My Heart" and Gypsy's "Some People." In the second act, standouts include "Not a Day Goes By," "Being Alive," "Move On" and an upbeat "Any Moment" from Into the Woods. Also, her head tones on "Johanna" are really beautiful; BP is one of the few belters whose upper register is as moving as her belt or chest voice. BP also thrills with a masterful "There Won't Be Trumpets" from Anyone Can Whistle .
The only drawback to the album is that it isn't a full recording of the evening--it would have been even more of a treat to have the entire performance captured on CD--but even so, it is an exciting recording that captures the spirit of the night and Bernadette's artistry. The CD/cassette is scheduled for release on March 11, and it is a must for all diva lovers out there.
Before heading to London in April to star in the West End production of Terrence McNally's Master Class, La LuPone has a few U.S. concert dates to come. LuPone's last concert dates for February are Feb. 18 through Feb. 23 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA. Performances will be held Tuesday through Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 3 and 8 PM and Sunday at 3 and 7:30 PM. Tickets begin at $19 and cost up to $49.50. For more information and to purchase tickets call 714-740-7878 or (213) 365-3500.
Donna Murphy is one of a bevy of divas who will perform in an evening devoted to the music of Stephen Sondheim at The Brooklyn Academy of Music on March 20. Other ladies include Angela Lansbury, Chita Rivera, Judy Kaye and Julia Migenes, while on the male side, you will hear Len Cariou, Jerry Hadley and the Gay Men's Chorus perform songs by Sondheim.
The evening begins at 6 PM with cocktails, followed by the 7 PM performance with dinner following at the Metropolitan Pavilion (110 West 19th Street). Tickets range from $50 (balcony seating; cocktails and performance only) to $1,000 (cocktails; premium seating for the performance; dinner; membership and listing as a Friend of BAM for one year).
For information concerning BAM Salutes Sondheim call (718) 636-4174. Tickets can be purchased by calling TicketMaster at 212-307 4100.
A loyal diva watcher informed me that cabaret singer Andrea Marcovicci was a huge success at a recent AIDS fundraiser in California. Marcovicci performed for the "Life Is a Cabaret" series in the home of John Bowab and entranced the nearly 200 guests--including Patricia Morrison, Janis Paige and Sharon McNight--with a mix of standards and new songs.
For those of you in the San Rafael area, you can catch Marcovicci on March 8 and 9 at the Osher Marin Jewish Community Center's Hoytt Theater performing her newest program, 10 a Dance: A Tribute to Ruth Etting. In this show, Marcovicci explores the life and the extraordinary range of Ruth Etting's music, performing such songs as "Ten Cents a Dance," "Love Me or Leave Me" and "Why Dream." In his review of this show during Marcovicci's recent stint at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, Daily News critic Howard Kissel wrote, "For most people, myself included, the name Ruth Etting generally conjures up the song--and the Doris Day movie-- "Love Me or Leave Me," but little more. Andrea Marcovicci should change that...Marcovicci sings with great intensity and warmth...simply and eloquently. Here she proves herself a master."
If you've never seen Marcovicci perform, you're in for a real treat. She is one of the best interpreters of classic songs around. Tickets for the March 8/9 performances range from $20-$22; for more information call (415) 479-2000 or (510) 762-BASS.
That's all for now. Happy Valentine's Day and happy diva-watching!
-- By Andrew Gans
e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org