DIVA TALK: `Pet' Divas

DIVA TALK: `Pet' Divas BETTY BUCKLEY
A diva lover recently forwarded a copy of a brief item that appeared in the New York Post last month, just before Buckley's appearance at Montclair State University's Memorial Auditorium. I thought you would enjoy reading the quote from critic Chip Deffaa's "Cabaret Pick" column: "She may hail from Big Spring, Texas, but Betty Lynn Buckley was born to play Broadway. This major musical theatre / concert artist is in peak form. (If there were any justice, someone would be tailoring a new musical to her specific gifts each season.) While there are many very good performers around, Buckley is capable of greatness. Capable of delivering -- on the right song, when the inspiration strikes -- a thrilling, indefinable something extra. There's an element of wildness, of unpredictability involved. There's no saying if in a given concert the high point may be one of the songs she sang on Broadway in Sunset Boulevard, "Meadowlark" from The Baker's Wife, "Some People" (galvanic when I saw her star in Gypsy) -- or a total surprise. Trusting her instincts, Buckley varies her repertoire from night to night. . ."
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BETTY BUCKLEY
A diva lover recently forwarded a copy of a brief item that appeared in the New York Post last month, just before Buckley's appearance at Montclair State University's Memorial Auditorium. I thought you would enjoy reading the quote from critic Chip Deffaa's "Cabaret Pick" column: "She may hail from Big Spring, Texas, but Betty Lynn Buckley was born to play Broadway. This major musical theatre / concert artist is in peak form. (If there were any justice, someone would be tailoring a new musical to her specific gifts each season.) While there are many very good performers around, Buckley is capable of greatness. Capable of delivering -- on the right song, when the inspiration strikes -- a thrilling, indefinable something extra. There's an element of wildness, of unpredictability involved. There's no saying if in a given concert the high point may be one of the songs she sang on Broadway in Sunset Boulevard, "Meadowlark" from The Baker's Wife, "Some People" (galvanic when I saw her star in Gypsy) -- or a total surprise. Trusting her instincts, Buckley varies her repertoire from night to night. . ."

PATTI LuPONE
I received rave reviews from lucky LuPone fans who were able to catch La LuPone at her recent San Francisco concert (last weekend) and her benefit performance for the Kent Land Trust on June 26. The benefit performance, which was titled "Songs from the Shower" ("songs that follow you around all day, go to bed with you at night and find their way into the shower with you in the morning. And, there is one very important thing about songs from the shower -- the lyrics are never right!"), found our Patti singing such songs as "Steppin' Out/Let Yourself Go," "The Boy Next Door," "Supermarket in Old Peking," "Ten Cents a Dance," "Primitive Man," "Calling You/Get Here," "Squeeze Me," "Heaven" and "Once I Had a Secret Love." Her first encore sent the audience into a tizzy, when she sang Evita's "Buenos Aires" in the original key and with the original choreography! . . .In San Francisco, LuPone's repertoire included "Peel Me a Grape," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," "Back to Before," "Anything Goes," "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "I Dreamed a Dream," "Meadowlark," "Being Alive," "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and others . . . Even more exciting news: LuPone's "Matters of the Heart" album will be available in August over her soon-to be-launched website, pattilupone.net. The recording will also be available in stores beginning in September.

BERNADETTE PETERS
The two-time Tony winning star of Annie Get Your Gun will host the first presentation of "Broadway Barks!," a star-studded cat and dog adoption event to be held at Shubert Alley on Saturday, July 24 from 5p.m. to 7 p.m. The event is being produced by FIDO/NYC, an animal welfare organization recently founded by Peters and her long-time friend, actress Mary Tyler Moore. Peters has collaborated with several animal groups- ASPCA, Bide-A-Wee, the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC), the Humane Society of New York and the North Shore Animal League--to raise awareness of the thousands of animals in area shelters that need homes. Representatives from all five of these groups will be present on the 24th to discuss their organizations and to provide dogs and cats for adoption. Each animal will be presented by one of the many stars on hand that evening. Animal presenters include such leading ladies as Ruthie Henshall, Andrea McArdle, Edie Falco, Cathy Rigby as well as some of Broadway's current leading men: Tom Wopat, Joel Grey, George Segal, Wayne Knight, Buck Henry, Scott Wise, Roger Bart, Michael Cerveris and celebrity dog trainer Bill Berloni (with Sandy, the dog from Annie).
Peters has this to say about the upcoming presentation of "Broadway Barks!": "I'm thrilled to be part of such a unique and worthwhile event. I have two dogs, Kramer and Stella, whom I adopted from the ASPCA and CACC. I could have gone to a pet store, but instead I chose to save a life. It's simple, it's easy, and it's an act of love. Anyone who has a pet knows how much joy they add to your life." And, Stacey Shub, a spokesperson for FIDO/NYC adds, "I am delighted that Bernadette and her friends from the Broadway community are participating in this important event. "Broadway Barks!" is the first of many events FIDO/NYC is creating to bring together these five animal shelters, and to unite the shelters' animals with potential adopters. Our goal is to make animal adoption easy and accessible for people. Most importantly, we want to find homes for these lovable animals -- and we want people to have fun at these events.


Proceeds from the event will be donated to the FIDO/NYC fund, and the evening is made possible with the support of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. For further information, call (212) 227-BARK!


** Also, a special performance of Annie Get Your Gun will be held this Sunday, July 11 at 8 PM to benefit the Actors' Fund of America. Great seats are on sale now at regular prices. For information, reservations and group sales, contact The Fund at (800) FUND-TIX or (212) 221-7300 ext. 133/121. Tickets are also on sale at the theatre's box office and through TELE-CHARGE at (212) 239-6200.

IN OTHER NEWS The Official Elaine Paige Fan Club has a new quarterly newsletter/magazine, which will begin publication this month. Andy Stuart Allan is the editor/publisher of the newsletter. To find out how to get subscribe, EP fans should contact him at: Elaine Paige Fan Club, PO Box 5341, Leicester LE3 6YW, U.K. . . The Dallas Morning News wrote this week that Betty Buckley will star in Gypsy in Texas in May 2000. Stay tuned for more info. . . "Being onstage night after night, I have seen people moved by theatre, their feelings affected, their experiences enlarged. For children especially, theatre is important. It brings their humanity back to them. It makes them proud to be who they are. Theatre was able to do that for me. It made me understand who I was. The more we can expose children to theatre, the more they will be exposed to their own humanity and their own precious selves." So says three-time Tony winner Audra McDonald in the current TDF newsletter, "Sightlines." . . . Jekyll & Hyde alum Christiane Noll will perform her cabaret act at the West Bank Cafe's Laurie Beechman Theatre on Fridays, July 23 and 30 at 9 p.m. West Bank Cafe is located at 407 West 42nd Street; call (212) 695 6909 for reservations . . .One of this column's favorite new divas, Alice Ripley, graces the current cover of In Theater magazine (with Tony Danza). Ripley, who continues to portray Fantine in the Broadway company of Les Miz, will star Off-Broadway this fall in James Joyce's The Dead, a new musical based upon Joyce's classic short story . . . Cats celebrates another milestone on Broadway this Wednesday, July 14, when it will play its 7,000th performance! Currently heading the company as Grizabella is the first road-tour Norma Desmond, Linda Balgord. Also among the cast of 36 is Marlene Danielle who has been with the Broadway cast since its 1982 opening!

REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
A host of new concert dates follows. The list is continually growing, so check the Betty Buckley website on PBOL for the latest changes.


July 20 Point Lookout in Camden, ME
July 27 Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, PA
October 9 Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY
October 22 (class); October 23 (concert) Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; Foellinger Great Hall in Champaign-Urbana, IL
October 24 Sangamon Stage University Auditorium; Springfield, IL
November 6 State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
November 14 Cincinnati, OH (venue to come)
December 6-7 St. Barths Church in New York, NY
December 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
December 18 Atlantic University Auditorium in Boca Raton, FL
December 31 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT PATTI LuPONE
LuPone will join opera star Bryn Terfel for a concert version of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. The performers will be backed by the New York Philharmonic, and the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday.

KAREN MASON
On September 25 Mason will perform in concert to benefit Dallas Children's Theatre Fairmont Hotel, Dallas.

MAUREEN McGOVERN
From July 15 through the end of the month, McGovern will appear in a production of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg at the Sundance Summer Theatre in Sundance, Utah. Other concert dates follow:


August 14 Maureen McGovern and the Duke Ellington Orchestra (100th Anniversary Salute: The Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove, NJ
August 19-20 Midway Stage at 1776: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
August 23 SCERA Amphitheater: Orem , Utah
August 24 Kenley Centennial Amphitheater: Layton, Utah
Sept. 5-6 Jerry Lewis Telethon (check local listings)

ELAINE PAIGE
Elaine Paige will make a special guest-star appearance during Cliff Richards' concerts this month (July 16-18) at London's Hyde Park. These performances are part of The Unique Concert Series of The Royal Parks Season. Paige is set to sing a few of her biggest hits ("Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Memory," et. al) and will join Richards on a few duets as well. For tickets and additional information, call 011 44 171 344 4040.

BERNADETTE PETERS On Saturday, August 7 at 8p.m. (PBS), don't forget to watch Peters' thrilling, live solo concert, which was taped last year in London to a standing-room-only audience.

DIVAS AT THE DONMAR
Patti LuPone is the first diva at the Donmar Warehouse, performing her new concert act, "Matters of the Heart," from August 9 through August 21. Audra McDonald's reign runs from August 23 to August 28, and Sam Brown will open on August 31 and close Sept. 4. The performance schedule is Monday through Saturday at 8pm with matinees on Saturday at 4pm. Tickets go on sale Monday, May 17; call 011 44 171 637 9041 for reservations.

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

by Andrew Gans
e-mail me at agans@playbill.com