Fabulous. That's the best word to describe Bernadette Peters' performance in the eagerly-awaited revival of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun. I took a trip to Washington last week to catch a performance of AGYG and to interview Peters for an article in the March issue of Playbill, which will also run on-line in the near future. But, getting back to Peters' star-turn: From the moment she steps on the stage to deliver her first number, "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," Peters is simply wonderful. She reconfirms her status as one of the best musical theatre performers of her generation, and her comedic talents have never been put to better use. She manages to get a laugh with most every line she delivers, and some of her comic bits are hysterical. BP is also in superb voice: Her vocals are exciting on "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun," forcefully belting the refrain "With a guh-uhn, with a guh-uhn, no you can't get a man with a gun"; she silences the audience with her lyrical version of "Moonshine Lullaby"; she brings tenderness and charm to "They Say It's Wonderful"; her version of "Lost in His Arms" is both heartfelt and powerful; and her two duets with Tom Wopat in the second act, "Old Fashioned Wedding" and "Anything You Can Do," are riotously funny -- she also hits a forceful high note in "Anything" that is operatic in nature. Be sure to book your seats now for Peters' much-anticipated return to Broadway.
In other BP news: I know it's a bit early to discuss the next New Year's Eve, since we just celebrated this year's, but diehard Peters fans may want to book their reservations now and spend the millennium weekend with her at the Broadmoor Colorado Springs Hotel. The four-day, three night package costs $2,500 per person and includes luxurious accommodations; breakfast, lunch and dinner daily; the New Year's Eve Gala featuring Bernadette Peters and the Temptations; themed receptions and activities; a children's program; and commemorative amenities (champagne and glassware, a millennium robe and souvenir framed photo). For more information and for reservations, call 1-800-634-7711 or visit the Broadmoor website at www.broadmoor.com. Happy 2,000!
There was a great interview with Betty Buckley recently in The Miami Herald. Theatre critic Christine Dolen spoke with Buckley prior to her appearance in concert at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts last month. What follows are a few BB quotes:
about growing up in Texas and her time on "Eight is Enough":
"My dad was in the Air Force, so we traveled a lot. I went to first and second grade in Morocco, then we lived in Maine. When I was in fifth grade, we settled in Fort Worth. There's a certain chauvinism in growing up in Texas. You expect men to behave to you in a really gentlemanly way. So when I got into show business, I was taken aback by the egos and the specific system of power.
When I was doing [television's] "Eight Is Enough," I felt all people are equal, that a producer should behave appreciatively and respectfully. They didn't, and it was a bit shocking. I was only 28 years old, a rock 'n' roller. I had a joie de vivre. I drove a Rent-a-Wreck, and I think they were ashamed of me. I'd fly back to New York every six weeks for voice lessons. People said, "Don't make waves until you get the ratings." I'd say, "But the set's dirty and the food's inedible."
A young producer, who drove a black Porsche and dressed all in black and probably got his job through nepotism, told me I had delusions of grandeur. Because I was straightforward and would confront people when they were wrong."
about her relationship with her father:
". . .He was an engineer who became dean of engineering at South Dakota State University. He was a military man. He felt the way he did about my career because he was afraid it was a misuse of my very valuable mind.
"I spent years and years dealing with it. But it made me strong. I felt if I could commit to my own path and go forward, that other people's no's wouldn't be meaningful by comparison, because I survived my father's no's. Show business is filled with rejection . . .but they can't determine your value to yourself and others.
"The work I had to do to get beyond my father prepared me. On the flip side, I parentalize authority figures.
"I dealt with it in every possible way. I have a psychologist-creative consultant. I used spirituality and meditation, explored world religion. I'm a real student of human beings. I think of myself as a portrait painter. I try to keep a good eye."
And, Buckley began previews this week in The Eros Trilogy, Nicky Silver's newest comedy at the Vineyard Theatre. Tickets are available by calling the Vineyard box office at (212) 353-3366, ext. 12. Trilogy officially opens Thursday, Feb. 4 and will run through Feb. 27. The performance schedule is Monday through Friday at 8 PM and Saturday at 3 and 8 PM. There will be an added matinee on Feb. 3 and 17 at 3 PM, but there will be no performances on Feb. 5, 6, 18, 19 and 20, 1999.
It was with great pleasure that I attended the taping of Linda Eder's first concert for American television. "Linda Eder in Concert" was recorded at the Sony Music Studios on West 54th Street to an invited audience of friends, fans and those in the theatre and recording industries, and the concert will be broadcast on PBS stations this March during the annual pledge drive. Eder possesses one of the most glorious voices to emerge from the musical theatre in the nineties, and she was in fine form Monday night. Dressed in a red velvet gown (the audience, by contrast, was asked to wear all black), the statuesque Eder was backed by a wonderful array of musicians. At one point, her husband and Broadway composer Frank (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Civil War) Wildhorn accompanied her on the piano while she sang a roof-raising version of J&H's "Someone Like You." Eder offered two other songs from that show: her 11 o'clock number "A New Life" and a song that was cut from the Broadway production, "Bring on the Men." The evening also included a song from The Civil War, two songs from the upcoming Wildhorn musical Havannah, such classics as "Over the Rainbow" and "The Man That Got Away" as well as some Broadway standards: "Losing My Mind," "Unusual Way," "The Man of La Mancha" and more. A highlight of the evening was a beautiful, haunting, full-voiced version of "Vienna," a song from Eder's first solo album. Stay tuned for air dates.
Karen Mason is one busy lady these days. Having just returned from Sweden where she performed four "Broadway" evenings with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Mason has a host of new concert dates lined up. On Feb. 5, 1999 the talented chanteuse will perform at the National Arts Club dinner honoring Skitch Henderson. March 12 brings Mason to the Tilles Hall at Long Island University. Her 8 PM concert is sold out that evening, but tickets are available for the 10 PM show; call (516) 299-3100. And, Karen will return to the Davenports Cabaret in Chicago for a three-week run beginning March 17, 1999. Call (773) 278-1830 for reservations.
IN OTHER NEWS A slew of Broadway favorites will perform at the China Club on Valentine's Day in a program titled Broadway Love Songs: Valentine's Day with the Stars. A portion of the evening's proceeds will be donated to the Actors' Fund of America to help the care of Bran Pace, the dancer who was shot and paralyzed during the tour of Jolson: The Musical. Those scheduled to appear include Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner, Christiane Noll, Rita Harvey, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Robert Evan, Jeremy Kushnier, Craig Schulman, Ric Ryder, Marc Kudisch, Douglas Sills and many others. Ticket prices range from $37.50 to $50, and reservations may be made for the 8 PM concert by calling (212) 398-3800. The China Club is located in New York City at 268 West 47th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue . . . In the recent issue of Curtain Up, which is published quarterly by The Washington Theatre Awards Society, it lists an upcoming production of Tell Me On a Sunday, the first half of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance, which was performed in London by Marti Webb and on Broadway by Bernadette Peters. This production, which will run from March 16 through April 25, 1999 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, has yet to be cast, although the director is listed as Marcia Gardner. Call (703) 218-6500 for more information . . . Lea Salonga is featured on the cover of the January 25 issue of In Theater Magazine. In David Cohen's feature article on the current star of the Broadway production of Miss Saigon, Salonga has this answer to the question, "Are you a perfectionist?" "On stage, there's only one chance to get it right," Lea explains. "If you make a mistake, you can correct it the next night. But it's not the same. It's for a different group of people. There's one chance only. I think of every performance that way.". . . And, lastly, a reminder: Stage (Les Misérables) and small-screen ("One Life to Live") actress/singer Catherine Hickland will perform her newest cabaret act, "Once More With Feeling," this Saturday, Jan. 23 at 7 PM at The China Club. Joining Hickland will be two of her former Les Miz castmates, Marsh Hanson and Craig Rubano, and you can expect to hear such classics as "Moon River," "I Got the Sun in the Morning," "Over the Rainbow" and others. Some seats are still available; call (212) 921-9204 for reservations (tickets are priced at $35 with a two-drink minimum).
BB concert line-up:
Feb. 6, 1999 at the Bob Hope Cultural Center in Palm Desert, CA
April 17 at the Lehman Center for the Perf. Arts in Bronx, NY
April 23 at the College of New Jersey in Erwing, NJ
May 3 at the Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center in Chicago, Ill.
Buckley will also be honored with a "Life in the Theatre" Award by T. Schreiber Studios on Monday, Jan. 25, 1999 at the Players Club (16 Gramercy Park South). Buckley will not perform that evening as originally announced; instead, video footage from the upcoming BB documentary will be presented. Producer Roger Berlind will also be honored, and Edward Norton will serve as the evening's chairperson. Call (212) 741-0209 for tickets ($250)
LuPone will bring her new concert act, Matters of the Heart, to the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert, California on Jan. 29 and 30, 1999. Call the McCallum's box office at (760) 340-2787 for tickets. And, on March 5, 6, and 7, 1999, La LuPone will appear with the Baltimore Symphony in Baltimore. Call (410) 783-8000 for tickets.
Also, 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 will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday.
McGovern in concert:
Feb. 4, 1999 at Carnegie Hall (a tribute to Alan & Marilyn Bergman)
Feb. 5 and 6 at Lincoln Center (a tribute to Harold Arlen)
Feb. 20 with the Louisville Symphony in Louisville, KY
NOTHING LIKE A DAME
The fourth annual "Nothing Like a Dame" concert to benefit the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of The Actors' Fund of America will be held Monday, March 1 at 7 PM at the Shubert Theatre (225 West 44th Street). The remarkable one-night-only event usually presents an embarrassment of riches for diva lovers. Past participants have included Julie Andrews, Lucie Arnaz, Lauren Bacall, Betty Buckley, Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, Glenn Close, Randy Graff, Judy Kuhn, Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking, Rita Moreno, Elaine Stritch and the late Laurie Beechman. Stay tuned for this year's starry list of entertainers. For tickets, call the DAME LINE at 1-888-DAME-TIX (1-888 326-3849).
Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching!
by Andrew Gans
e-mail me at
Diva Talk is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Shepard, 1976- 1998.