DIVA TALK: Remembering Madeline Kahn

DIVA TALK: Remembering Madeline Kahn Hello, diva lovers. I'd like to dedicate today's column to one of the most gifted comedic actresses of her time, Madeline Kahn, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer last week. Kahn, who received a Tony Award for her riotous portrayal of Dr. Gorgeous Teitelbaum in Wendy Wasserstein's The Sisters Rosensweig, was equally at home on the stage or on screen, earning Tony nominations for her work in In the Boom Boom Room, On the Twentieth Century and Born Yesterday while meriting Academy Award nominations for such screen roles as "Blazing Saddles" and "Paper Moon." Though difficult to choose from her eclectic array of characters, I think my favorite Kahn performance was in the aforementioned "Paper Moon" as the good-bone-structured Trixie Delight, opposite the father-and-daughter team of Ryan and Tatum O'Neill. The operatically-trained performer had the ability to make you laugh with a simple inflection of the voice, and she could also move you in both song and the spoken word. This unique, multi-talented actress will be much missed. In lieu of flowers, Kahn's family asks that donations be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (One Penn Plaza, Suite 1610, New York, NY 10001).
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Hello, diva lovers. I'd like to dedicate today's column to one of the most gifted comedic actresses of her time, Madeline Kahn, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer last week. Kahn, who received a Tony Award for her riotous portrayal of Dr. Gorgeous Teitelbaum in Wendy Wasserstein's The Sisters Rosensweig, was equally at home on the stage or on screen, earning Tony nominations for her work in In the Boom Boom Room, On the Twentieth Century and Born Yesterday while meriting Academy Award nominations for such screen roles as "Blazing Saddles" and "Paper Moon." Though difficult to choose from her eclectic array of characters, I think my favorite Kahn performance was in the aforementioned "Paper Moon" as the good-bone-structured Trixie Delight, opposite the father-and-daughter team of Ryan and Tatum O'Neill. The operatically-trained performer had the ability to make you laugh with a simple inflection of the voice, and she could also move you in both song and the spoken word. This unique, multi-talented actress will be much missed. In lieu of flowers, Kahn's family asks that donations be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (One Penn Plaza, Suite 1610, New York, NY 10001).

Following are Kahn's many performance credits:


Theatre credits:
The Sisters Rosensweig (Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 1993) .... Dr. Gorgeous Teitelbaum
What's Wrong with This Picture? (Manhattan Theatre Club, 1985) .... Shirley
Born Yesterday (46th Street Theatre, 1989) .... Billie Dawn
On the Twentieth Century (St. James Theatre, 1978) .... Mildred Plotka, Lily Garland
Marco Polo Sings a Solo (Public/Newman Theater, 1977) .... Diane McBride
She Loves Me (Town Hall, 1977) .... Amalia Balash
In The Boom Boom Room (Lincoln Center Theater, 1973) .... Chrissy
Two by Two (Imperial Theatre, 1970) .... Goldie
Promenade (Promenade Theatre, 1969) .... Servant
New Faces of 1968 (Booth Theatre, 1968)


Film and TV credits:
Judy Berlin (1999) .... Alice Gold
A Bug's Life (1998) (voice) .... Gypsy
"Cosby" (1996) TV Series .... Pauline
Danny Kaye: A Legacy of Laughter (1996) (TV) .... Herself
London Suite (1996) (TV) .... Sharon Semple
Nixon (1995) .... Martha Mitchell
"New York News" (1995) TV Series .... Nan Chase
Mixed Nuts (1994) .... Mrs. Munchnik ... aka Lifesavers
For Richer, for Poorer (1992) (TV) .... Billie
Betsy's Wedding (1990) .... Lola Hopper
"Mr. President" (1987) TV Series .... Lois Gullickson
An American Tail (1986) (voice) .... Gussie Mausheimer
My Little Pony: The Movie (1986) (voice) .... Draggle
Wanted: The Perfect Guy (1986) (TV) .... Ellie
Clue (1985) .... Mrs. White
City Heat (1984) .... Caroline Howley
Yellowbeard (1983) .... Betty
"Oh Madeline" (1983) TV Series .... Madeline Wayne
Group Madness (1983) .... Herself/Mrs. Yellowbeard
Scrambled Feet (1983)
Slapstick (Of Another Kind) (1982) ... aka Slapstick (1982)
History of the World: Part I (1981) .... Empress Nympho
Wholly Moses (1980) .... The Witch
First Family (1980) .... Constance Link
Happy Birthday, Gemini (1980) .... Bunny Weinberger
Simon (1980) .... Cynthia
The Muppet Movie (1979) .... El Sleezo Patron
The Cheap Detective (1978) .... Mrs. Montenegro
High Anxiety (1977) .... Victoria Brisbane
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976) .... Estie Del Ruth
At Long Last Love (1975) .... Kitty O'Kelly
The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975) .... Jenny Hill
Blazing Saddles (1974) .... Lili Von Shtupp
Young Frankenstein (1974) .... Elizabeth ... aka Frankenstein Jr. (1974) Paper Moon (1973) .... Trixie Delight From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1973) .... Schoolteacher
What's Up, Doc? (1972) .... Eunice Burns
Harvey (1972) (TV) .... Nurse Ruth Kelly
"Comedy Tonight" (1970) TV Series .... Regular
The Dove (1968) .... Sigfrid BERNADETTE PETERS
On December 23, Bernadette Peters will relinquish her role as Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun to soap star Susan Lucci while she takes a well-earned vacation. Peters, however, will return to the role on January 18, and her press rep informs me that the two-time Tony winner will stay with the Irving Berlin musical at least through the spring, if not longer. Peters will also grace the cover of Cowboys and Indians magazine in April, which for that month will be retitled Cowgirls and Indians. And, Peters can be heard on a brand-new Broadway Christmas recording, "Broadway's Greatest Gifts: Carols for a Cure," which benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Casts from several Broadway musicals (Fosse, Les Miz, Jekyll & Hyde, Rent, etc.) perform such holiday favorites as "I Saw Three Ships," "I Wonder As I Wander," "Silent Night" and "What Child Is This." Fittingly, the cast of Annie Get Your Gun, with Peters on lead vocals, beautifully performs a tune by Irving Berlin, "White Christmas." Call BC/EFA at (212) 840-0770, ext. 250 for more information.

AUDRA McDONALD
Well, she's 4 for 4 diva fans. The three-time Tony winner, Audra McDonald, was greeted with mostly unanimous praise for her portrayal of Marie Christine in the same-named musical at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Following are excerpts from some of the New York critics' reviews.


Clive Barnes in New York Post:
". . .Audra McDonald, who gives a shattering performance as Marie Christine, could win a Tony for it. She is a phenomenal talent, surely destined to be a musical-theater legend, and she's reason enough to come to the theater. . ."


Fintan O'Toole in Daily News:
". . .In the main roles, Audra McDonald and Anthony Crivello project their characters onto a screen of timeless myth. McDonald's voice wraps itself around the angular notes of LaChiusa's score with such mastery that her songs seem as direct and natural as speech. Yet, even when she is expressing the most passionate emotions, she remains regal."


Ben Brantley in The New York Times:
"'Marie Christine' . . . is a resounding confirmation of Ms. McDonald's status as a vocal artist of singular skills and sensibility, the foremost interpreter of a new generation of composers . . .Those who have felt that this 29-year-old performer, who has picked up a Tony for each of her three previous appearances on Broadway, was ready for a fall will not see her stumble here . . .Ms. McDonald, whose command of musical dialects here ranges from the operatic to gospel, turns the paradox into something intensely personal, finding conflicting impulses in a single breath. Like Maria Callas . . .she can convey overwhelming fierceness and fragility at the same time. Neither Mr. LaChiusa's music nor Ms. McDonald's character can be confined by a simple equation. . . The commitment, conviction and full-strength talent she brings to the evening becomes its own argument for the endurance of the American musical."

DIVAS AT LINCOLN CENTER
A loyal diva watcher informed me that there were several exciting moments in last Friday's Lincoln Center program, "Always: Celebrating 100 Years of American Song." I thought you would enjoy reading the program for the performance, which was hosted by radio personality Jonathan Schwartz:


Act I
"Always" (Irving Berlin) -- Kenny Rankin
"Alexander's Ragtime Band" (Irving Berlin) -- Randy Graff, Howard McGillin, Jim Walton, Alton White
"Fascinatin' Rhythm" (George & Ira Gershwin) -- Susannah McCorkle
"You're The Top" (Cole Porter) -- Howard McGillin, Randy Graff
"I Won't Dance" (Jerome Kern/Dorothy Fields) -- Alton White
"Dancing in the Dark" (Arthur Schwartz/Howard Dietz) -- Howard McGillin
"Tea for Two" (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar) -- Judy Kuhn, Jim Walton
"Pennies from Heaven" (Arthur Johnston/Johnny Burke) -- Mary Cleere Haran
"I Don't Want to Walk Without You, Baby" (Jule Styne/Frank Loesser) -- Susannah McCorkle
"They All Laughed" (George & Ira Gershwin) -- Jim Walton
"As Time Goes By" (Herman Hupfeld) -- Mary Cleere Haran
"When You Wish Upon A Star" (Leigh Harline/Ned Washington) -- Judy Kuhn
"Moon River" (Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer) -- Monica Mancini
"Hooray for Hollywood" (Richard Whiting/Johnny Mercer) -- Randy Graff, Jim Walton


Act II
"Take the 'A' Train" (Billy Strayhorn) -- orchestra
"New York, New York" (Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden) -- Alton White, Howard McGillin, Jim Walton
"Guys and Dolls" (Frank Loesser) -- Howard McGillin, Jim Walton
"Almost Like Being In Love" (Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Lowe) -- Howard McGillin
"Some Enchanted Evening" (Rodgers & Hammerstein) -- Alton White
"I'll Never Fall In Love Again" (Burt Bacharach/Hal David) -- Randy Graff
"People" (Jule Styne/Bob Merrill) -- Judy Kuhn
"Send in the Clowns" (Sondheim) -- Susannah McCorkle
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" (Frankie Lymon/Morris Levy) -- Kenny Rankin
"Still Crazy After All These Years" (Paul Simon) -- Kenny Rankin
Wheels of a Dream" (Stephen Flaherty/Lynn Ahrens) -- Alton White
FINALE: (Entire Company) A medley of Irving Berlin tunes, including: "Cheek to Cheek," "God Bless America," and closing with "White Christmas"

Next up in this series is "Who Wrote That Song," on March 23, 24 and 25 at the Kaplan Penthouse, and that will be followed by "Round About: Dawn Upshaw," which features the gifted soprano singing the songs of Vernon Duke, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Sondheim and more. Upshaw will perform on May 17, 19 and 20 at 8:30 p.m. at the John Jay College Auditorium . . . Call (212) 721-6500 for tickets.

CHRISTMAS FROM BROADWAY
Christmas from Broadway, a holiday revue benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will be held on Dec. 15 and 16 at 11 P.M. and on Dec. 17, 18, 22 and 23 at 8:30 and 11 P.M. Created by Ken Lundie and Michael Davids, the program will be hosted by Dale Badway and will feature holiday tunes from Broadway shows -- Mame's "We Need a Little Christmas," Annie's "A New Deal for Christmas," etc. -- as well as holiday music from some of today's new theatre composers. Headlining the revue are Angela Covington (the rising star who shone in the recent Evita tour), Anthony Galde, Doreen Montalvo, William Reinking, Sam Riegel, Bryan Gallagher, Christian Stuck and Dawn Ward. There will also be nightly surprise celebrity guests including Rick Crom, Bob Evan, Michael Kubala, Eric Michael Gillett, Douglas Ladnier, Faith Prince, Ken Prymus, Ernie Sabella, Steven Sein Granger and others. Christmas from Broadway will be held at Sam's, New York's oldest theatre bar and restaurant, at 263 West 45th Street (between Broadway & 8th Avenue), and reservations may be made by calling (212) 719-5416.

IN OTHER NEWS Ain't Misbehavin' star Nell Carter can be heard on a new CD entitled "Misbehavin! with Nell Carter and The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus." The 11-track recording features the electrifying performer singing such tunes as "Moonglow," "Wild Women Don't Have the Blues," "Amazing Grace" and many others. Carter is joined by the Chorus on many of the tracks, and all proceeds will go directly to the Chorus' Financial Assistance Network fund. The recording may be ordered by calling (415) 863-4472 or by visiting www.sfgmc.org. Next week's column will feature an interview with the Tony-winning star, who will also be heard on Johnny Mathis' upcoming Broadway CD . . . You can expect to hear Liza Minnelli warble the following tunes in her new show at the Palace Theatre, Minnelli on Minnelli, which pays tribute to her late father, Hollywood film director Vincente Minnelli: "If I Had You," "Taking a Chance On Love," "Cabin in the Sky," "Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Joe," "Love," "Limehouse Blues," "Meet Me in St. Louis," "Under the Bamboo Tree," "The Boy Next Door," "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "I Guess I'll Have To Change My Plan," "Triplets, "A Shine on Your Shoes," a jazzy, slowed-down "I Got Rhythm," "Baubles, Bangles and Beads," "The Night They Invented Champagne," "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore (with special lyrics by Fred Ebb)," a belty "What Did I Have That I Don't Have?," the Judy Garland favorite "The Trolley Song," and a new tune penned by Fred Ebb and sung to her late father, "I Thank You." . . . Speaking of Minnelli, in his Playbill bio for that show, musical arranger Marvin Hamlisch has this to say about the award-winning star: "I've known Liza since she was 15 years old. Back then, we hoped and dreamed together, shared stories of what we wanted to become and encouraged each other. Liza is family, like a sister to me. I love those fabulous big eyes, her big heart, her contagiously positive spirit, and her loads and loads of talent. I love her . . .and making music with her." . . . On December 13, Liz Callaway will join Michele Lee and Sam Harris in Manhattan Theatre Club's annual fundraising gala. Earlier in the year, Callaway performed with the Boston Pops, and that concert, "Holiday at Pops," will be broadcast on the A&E Network on Dec. 18, 19, 24 and 25. One of the tunes Callaway wraps her golden chords around is "A Place Called Home," from the Menken-Ahrens A Christmas Carol. . . . Obie winner Adriane Lenox, who dazzled audiences Off-Broadway in Dinah Was, currently stars in Broadway's Kiss Me, Kate. Fans of the dynamic singer will get the chance to hear an entire evening of Lenox on Monday, Dec. 13 (at 8 PM) and Sunday, Dec. 19 (at 9:30 P.M.) in her one-woman show, Adriane Lenox -- Too Many Things! at the Triad (158 W. 72nd Street). Lenox's show combines tunes from the worlds of pop, country, R & B and the blues. There is a $10 cover charge and a $12 minimum; call (212) 362-2590 for reservations . . . And, a final reminder that Betty Buckley will join Victor Garber, Julie Harris and Cherry Jones for A Joyous Christmas Concert this Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 13 and 14 at 7:30 PM. The concert, which will benefit both Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and the social service programs of St. Bartholomew's Church, will feature carols, music and original material by playwright Terrence McNally. The evenings will be held at the aforementioned Church (Park Avenue at 51st Street), and tickets range from $35 to $150. Call the church concert office at (212) 378-0248 for the $35 and $75 seats or BC/EFA at (212) 840-0770 for the $150 VIP seats, which include a post concert reception with the artists and a signed, pre-release copy of Buckley's latest CD, "Betty Buckley," a live recording of her first N.Y. concert appearance in 1984 .

REMINDERS


BETTY BUCKLEY
A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
December 13-14 St. Barth's Church in New York, NY
December 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
December 18 Atlantic University Aud. in Boca Raton, FL
December 31 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT
February 5, 2000 Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
February 6 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
February 8-9 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
February 11 Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
February 12 Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY
February 14 Keith Albec Theatre in Huntington, WV
February 15-17 The Iridium Room is New York, NY (guest of Kenny Werner)
March 18 Folly Theatre in Kansas City, MO
March 19 Macomb Center for the Perf. Arts in Detroit, MI
April 24 Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance in Fort Worth, TX
April 26 Coronation 2000 in San Antonio, TX
May 4 Poway Center in Poway, CA
May 5-6 Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Cerritos, CA
May 7 Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
May 8 Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA August 29 Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL


BARBARA COOK
Here is Cook's upcoming concert schedule:
December 31 at The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, PA; call (215) 893 1956 or (215) 893-1999
January 27-30 at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA (with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony); call (412) 392-4900

PATTI LuPONE
From Feb. 1 through Feb. 14, our Evita gal will perform on the stage of the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; February 18 will bring her to the Phil. Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida, and on Feb. 19, LuPone will take to the stage of the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida . . .Tickets are also now on sale for the upcoming New York Philharmonic production of Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. Starring LuPone and opera singer Bryn Terfel, the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday. Tickets range from $75 to $250 and may be purchased by calling (212) 721-6500 . . .

ANDREA MARCOVICCI
Marcovicci continues her Algonquin run through Friday, Dec. 24. Performances of "Our Songs. . .1965-1985" are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 9 PM, with dinner arrival at 7 PM (dinner is required at the 9 PM show). There is a $15 minimum and $45 cover charge. For her late show -- 11 PM Friday and Saturday evenings -- Marcovicci will perform songs of the 40's, a return to the world of music that this artist loves, including such nostalgic tunes as "We'll Meet Again," "Moonlight Serenade" and "As Time Goes By." For reservations, call the Algonquin (59 West 44th Street) at (212) 840-6800.

KAREN MASON
Mason will perform her Christmas show at Arci's Place on Dec. 12 and 19 at 7 PM. There is a $25 cover and a $15 minimum; call (212) 532-4370.

MAUREEN McGOVERN
Already announced McGovern concert dates:


Dec. 11 & 12 Holiday performance with the U.S. Army Band Orchestra, Army Chorale and Army Chorus at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.
December 17 - 18 "Holiday Pops" at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, OH
December 30 - 31 "New Year's Eve Millennium Gala" with the Detroit Symphony at the Orchestra Hall in Detroit, MI

Jan. 22 "Sondheim & Jazz: Side by Side" at the UCLA Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA
Jan. 23 at the Mentor Performing Arts Center in Mentor, OH
Feb. 11 & 12 "Valentine Pops" with the Baton Rouge Symphony at the Centroplex Theatre for Performing Arts in Baton Rouge, LA
Feb 18 & 19 at the La Mirada Theatre for Performing Arts in La Mirada, CA
March 5 & 6, 19 & 20 with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA
March 17 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern featuring pianist Lee Musiker" at Purchase College-SUNY in Purchase, NY
March 24 & 25 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern" with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Rose Hall Stage in Oklahoma City, OK

ELAINE PAIGE
What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:
January 21 and 22, 2000 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah

BERNADETTE PETERS
The two-time Tony winner currently stars as the gun-toting Annie Oakley in the acclaimed revival of Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis Theatre.

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

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