DIVA TALK: Paige Reflects, McGovern on Tour and More!

DIVA TALK: Paige Reflects, McGovern on Tour and More! Today’s column is dedicated to Portia Nelson, whom the theatre and cabaret world lost earlier this week. A true Renaissance woman, Nelson was an accomplished singer, actress, composer, lyricist, arranger and author. I often spotted her at Nancy LaMott concerts, and it was Nelson who gave one of the most heartfelt speeches at LaMott’s memorial, when she read her celebrated poem, “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters,” which LaMott had said defined her life, too. I thought I would reprint Nelson’s moving poem to remember this wonderful lady:

Today’s column is dedicated to Portia Nelson, whom the theatre and cabaret world lost earlier this week. A true Renaissance woman, Nelson was an accomplished singer, actress, composer, lyricist, arranger and author. I often spotted her at Nancy LaMott concerts, and it was Nelson who gave one of the most heartfelt speeches at LaMott’s memorial, when she read her celebrated poem, “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters,” which LaMott had said defined her life, too. I thought I would reprint Nelson’s moving poem to remember this wonderful lady:


AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERS
by Portia Nelson


Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost ... I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place, but it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in ... it's a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


Chapter V
I walk down another street.

ELAINE PAIGE
My favorite British diva, Elaine Paige, was recently pictured on the cover of the new London theatre magazine, Theatregoer. Paige spoke with writer/director Sheridan Morley about her various theatre roles, including her present run in the Rodgers and Hammerstein revival of The King and I. I thought you would enjoy reading a few of Ms. Paige’s quotes, which follow:


about leaving the role of Anna in The King and I:
“I’m now into the last months of my time as Anna Leonowens . . . And I’m really not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it will be good to have a rest after a year of seven performances a week of one of the most demanding roles in musical theatre, and just go lie on a beach somewhere; but, on the other hand, I know I’m going to miss terribly all those kids who play the Siamese children. Altogether I’ve worked with nearly 50 of them, and I’m sure they are little devils at home, but I only get them at nights and matinees, and backstage they are just magic. It’s made me feel quite maternal for the first time in my life.”


about typecasting in the British theatre:
“I think the English theatre is far too inclined to pigeon-hole its actresses in neat little boxes, so Felicity Kendal gets all the comedy offers and I get the musicals, whereas it might be a lot more interesting to try us the other way around. When I did The Misanthrope for Peter Hall a few years ago, I thought that might lead people to cast me in non musical roles but somehow it never did, and I’m not really sure how to break the mould.”


about not having married:
“Do I regret not ever having married? Not really, I’ve nearly always had a man in my life, but it isn’t that easy if they are not in the business themselves, because the job is so time-consuming. I was already 30 when I got the part in Evita, so it’s not as though I’ve led a charmed life in the theatre; sometimes, of course, you wonder if you’ve made the right life-choices, but then a role like Anna comes along and you know you have.”


about her plans for the future:
“I suppose what I want now is just to grow old disgracefully, working as hard as I can in as many roles as I can find. They don’t seem to want me often in television or movies, but that’s all right too as I really love the theatre most of all, and always have; that moment when you get a live audience rooting for you is what it’s all about.”

MAUREEN McGOVERN
Supreme vocalist Maureen McGovern is currently on a 36-city tour with singer/guitarist John Pizzarelli. Their program includes songs from the worlds of jazz, cabaret and the Great American Songbook. Backed by the John Pizzarelli Trio and the 15-piece Big Band Swing Orchestra, the remaining dates of their tour follow:
March 9 at the Gaillard Municipal Auditorium in Charleston, SC
March 10 at the Peace Center in Greenville, SC
March 11 at the Stillwell Theatre -- Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, GA
March 13 at the Emens Auditorium -- Ball state University in Muncie, IN
March 14 at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, MI
March 16 - 17 at Yardly Hall-- Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS
March 18 at Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, MO
March 21 at the Macomb Center in Clinton Township, MI
March 22 at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, MI
March 23 - 24 at Kuss Auditorium -- Clark State College in Springfield, OH
March 25 at the Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown, OH
March 26 at the Orr Auditorium -- Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA
March 27 at the Bradford Performing Arts Center in Bradford, PA
March 29 at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, VT
March 30 at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA
March 31 at the Staller Center -- SUNY in Stony Brook, NY
April 1 at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in Bronx, NY
April 3 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA
April 4 at Community Theater in Morristown, NJ
April 5 at the Eisenhower Auditorium -- Penn State in University Park, PA
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

FOR THE RECORD: A CLASS ACT :
What an enjoyable score A Class Act has. Not having seen the production during its brief run at Manhattan Theatre Club, I hadn’t heard any of the music from the show, which is based on the life of the late lyricist/composer Edward Kleban and includes his trunk songs, those tunes left behind after his death in 1987 at age 48. Featuring direction and starring Lonny Price as Kleban, the musical is currently in previews at the Ambassador Theatre with an opening set for this Sunday, March 11. The score reminds me a bit of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along, which may be due, in large part, to the fact that both star Price, whose voice seems forever linked with the role of Charley in Merrily. However, both scores also have songs with tunes that make “you go bum-bum-bum di-dum”; in fact, Class is one of those rare scores where most every track is enjoyable. High points of the Class Act score include the comical opening, “Light On My Feet”; the melodic charm of “Paris Through the Window”; the seductive “Mona,” sung with a sultry allure by Nancy Kathryn Anderson; Carolee Carmello’s usual golden tones on “Under Separate Cover”; the bouncy Act II opener “Better,” which features some thrilling vocal moments from Julia Murney; and Randy Graff’s two main numbers, “Follow Your Star” and her extremely moving Act II solo, “Next Best Thing To Love,” which is sure to become a cabaret favorite. A Class Act is available in stores on the RCA Victor label.

QUOTABLE QUOTES:
Jane Eyre’s Marla Schaffel discusses the effect Teresa Stratas had on her career in Robin Pogrebin’s New York Times article:
“[Stratas] absolutely changed my life. She was just such a brilliant actress [in La Boheme], I was weeping. She just sang from a place that I’d never experienced before and she didn’t worry about how it sounded coming out. She was doubled over and she was on the ground and she didn’t care. From that point on, I wanted to be an actress first. I stopped singing, went to Juilliard and studied acting.”


Seussical’s Janine LaManna discusses performing in a show that received mixed reviews in the same New York Times article by Robin Pogrebin:
“I have nothing invested but my heart and soul. I just do my job. We all do our jobs. We’re out there telling a story. We succeed at it. People can say what they want about the show, it doesn’t touch me. I won’t let it touch me. That’s not my job. My job is to get out there and steal your heart.”


Julie Wilson discusses performing in cabarets in an interview in the Winter/Spring 2001 Algonquin Newsletter (Wilson will perform at the Algonquin’s Oak Room from March 27 through April 21):
“One of the most important things is to have a good time, and if I reach a point when that isn’t the case, I’ll stop. There is a certain joy in performing and when you have an audience that enjoys itself, that responds, it’s great. I think this music is nostalgic for people. I wish I could know everyone in the audience so I would know their favorite song. Cabaret is an intimate medium; you are exposing yourself -- good and bad. Without an audience, you’re nothing. An audience is like an old friend. They challenge you to keep them interested so you keep changing and growing.”

IN OTHER NEWS Tony-winning megatalent Betty Buckley will make an appearance on the “Rosie O’Donnell Show” on Thursday, March 15 to promote her Bottom Line appearances that weekend. Be sure to set those VCRs (and get yourself to the Bottom Line on March 16 or 17)! . . . Patti LuPone and George Hearn will perform their critically acclaimed version of Sweeney Todd in Concert this summer at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL. LuPone and Hearn will sing the Sondheim score on August 24 at 8 PM. Call (847) 266-5001 for tickets. LuPone fans in the Highland Park area will also be excited to learn that the Olivier Award-winning star will perform her Matters of the Heart concert at the same festival on Aug. 27 . . . Miss Saigon Tony winner Lea Salonga will perform in concert at the Trump Taj Mahal's Mark Etess Arena in Atlantic City on Saturday, April 28 at 8 PM. Tickets are available by calling the box office at (609) 449-5150 . . . Former Scarlet Pimpernel star Christine Andreas returns to the stage of the Cafe Carlyle on March 20 in a new show that pays tribute to Broadway’s First Ladies. Entitled Here’s to the Ladies, Andreas recently had this to say about her act, which includes songs introduced by the great musical theatre heroines: “When you’re a kid, you never question your dreams ... you just see them coming true. When I first heard Mary Martin, Julie Andrews, Gertrude Lawrence, Ethel Merman, Barbara Cook and so many more, I was home. Like everybody else, I thought they were singing just to me ... the only difference being I knew one day I’d be singing back. It’s time I pay tribute to the ladies who led me to the stage.” The Carlyle is located at 35 East 76th Street, and reservations may be made by calling (212) 744-1600; there is a $60 music charge but no minimum. Andreas will sing at the famed boite through April 7 . . . On this Sunday's Everything Old Is New Again (WBAI 99.5 FM or www.wbai.org), the songs of Liza Minnelli will be featured. You can expect to hear Minnelli's renditions of "You Are for Loving," "Funny Honey," The Apple Doesn't Fall...," "Quiet Love" and more. Four different interpretations of Annie Dinerman's "The Child in Me" will also be broadcast, including versions by Kathie Lee Gifford, Julie Reyburn, Denise diRenzo and the definitive one by the late Nancy LaMott . . . On Saturday, March 10 Karen Saunders, Mario Cantone and Craig Rubano will join Jamie deRoy for her evening of Jamie deRoy & Friends at the West Bank Cafe (407 West 42nd Street at 9th Avenue in NYC). Call (212) 695-6909 for reservations to this evening of song and comedy, which begins at 8:30 PM; there is a $20 cover charge plus a one-drink minimum . . . A song from Stephen Schwartz’s new musical, Wicked, will be premiered at It’s an Art: The Music of Stephen Schwartz, a benefit for The Storefront, a new New York theatre company. Performed at The Duplex (61 Christopher Street) on Sundays, March 11, 18, 25 and April 1, the evening will feature performances by Julia Murney, Camille Diamond, Amanda Green, Emily Holmes, Jen Jurek, Karen Mack, Lizz Manners, Karina Michaels, Tom Andersen, Phil Geoffrey Bond, Ryan Perry and others. Call (212) 255 5438 for reservations; there is a $15 cover charge and a two-drink minimum . . . Add April 14 to the ever-growing Linda Eder concert list when the former Jekyll & Hyde star will perform at The Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ; call (732) 842-9000 for reservations . . . Barbara Cook will appear in concert on Sunday, March 25 at the North Miami Beach Performing Arts Theatre, which is located at 17011 N. E. 19 Avenue in North Miami Beach, Florida; call (305) 919-3731 for reservations . . . And, finally, a brief report from French writer/filmmaker and loyal diva fan, Stephane Ly-Cuong, who caught Liliane Montevecchi’s recent Paris opening in Mistinguett: “Surprisingly, French diva Montevecchi is not very famous in her home country; however, after her opening in Mistinguett that may change. The Tony winner has just opened in a new musical about French entertainer Mistinguett, the woman who created the song ‘My Man.’ This show marks Montevecchi's big return to Paris since her years as the leading lady of the Folies Bergere in the seventies. With her big round eyes and her wide smile, Montevecchi is a dynamic presence as soon as she appears onstage. Clad in extravagant costumes designed by Michel Dussarat and revealing her incredible legs, the bigger-than-life diva portrays with great conviction another bigger-than-life diva. Still in great shape and voice, Montevecchi outshines the little flaws of the production and seems sincerely happy to be back in the City of Lights, and so are we. Mistinguett, la derniere revue runs at the Opera Comique through May 15. For more information, call 338 25 00 00 58.”

REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
Following is Buckley’s most recent, ever-growing concert schedule:
March 11-12 at the Geary Theater in San Francisco, CA
March 16-17 at the Bottom Line in New York, NY
April 1 at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA
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:
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
March 17 at the Thomasville Cultural Center in Thomasville, GA (912 226-0588)
March 22 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA
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:


March 20 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ (“Matters of the Heart”)
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:
March 17 Appearance at 92nd Street Y with Craig Carnelia in New York, NY
May 9-20 at Davenports cabaret in Chicago, IL

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:
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)

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

By Andrew Gans