DIVA TALK: Singing Their Songs on Concert Stages and CD

DIVA TALK: Singing Their Songs on Concert Stages and CD PATTI LuPONE
I've received several rave reviews from diva lovers who attended Patti LuPone's opening night last week at London's famed Donmar Warehouse. In fact, one diva fan gushed, "Most surprising of all was when Patti LuPone, singer and actress, was overwhelmed by Patti LuPone, mother and daughter, during a devastatingly performed 'My Father'/'Look Mummy, No Hands' -- there wasn't a soul in the theatre, I'm certain, who wasn't absolutely devoted to her then. I've never been more moved in the theatre."
Avrom Berel and Heather Randall in Hansen's Cab.
Avrom Berel and Heather Randall in Hansen's Cab. (Photo by Photo by Carol Rosegg)

PATTI LuPONE
I've received several rave reviews from diva lovers who attended Patti LuPone's opening night last week at London's famed Donmar Warehouse. In fact, one diva fan gushed, "Most surprising of all was when Patti LuPone, singer and actress, was overwhelmed by Patti LuPone, mother and daughter, during a devastatingly performed 'My Father'/'Look Mummy, No Hands' -- there wasn't a soul in the theatre, I'm certain, who wasn't absolutely devoted to her then. I've never been more moved in the theatre."


LuPone, as you may already know, is scheduled to perform at the intimate London theatre -- it seats roughly 250 people -- through August 21, debuting her latest theatre/cabaret act, Matters of the Heart, for English audiences. And, "Matters of the Heart," the album, will be released on the Varèse Sarabande label on September 21 in the States. I had recently written a good deal about the five-track sampler I had been sent, and last week I was thrilled to open an envelope and find the entire recording, complete with liner notes by both LuPone and writer John Weidman. LuPone fans and music lovers in general will be ecstatic over the album -- just wait until you hear her breathtaking, passionate, belty, riveting (I could go on) versions of Sondheim's "Not a Day Goes By" and the Flaherty/Ahrens anthem "Back to Before." She also brings to life several moving non-theatre tunes and offers a good dose of humorous material, including the Sondheim gem "I Never Do Anything Twice." What follows is John Weidman's love letter to La LuPone from the CD's liner notes:


"I live in an attractive, pre-war apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side with my wife and two children. Patti LuPone bought it for me.


Here's how she did it. In 1986, I co-authored a new book for a new Broadway production of the 1933 Cole Porter musical, Anything Goes. The score consisted of a dozen extraordinary songs (this was good) which even people with no interest in the musical theater already knew almost by heart (this was not so good).


I can remember showing up for the first day of rehearsals wondering what I had gotten myself into. I can also remember, later that day, hearing Patti sing 'I Get a Kick Out of You' for the first time.
Coming out of Patti's mouth, this fifty year old song, as familiar as 'The Star Spangled Banner,' sounded as if it had never been sung before. As if it had been written that morning, exclusively for her.


Why? Because Patti sings as she lives -- straight from the heart. She is passionate, intense, and absolutely fearless. Qualities which inform everything I have ever seen her do in the theater. Qualities which propel, with powerhouse force, this wise, witty, and often heart-breaking collection of songs about the heart.


Working with Patti, and watching her work, was one of the great pleasures of my professional life. Listen to this album, and you will understand why.


Oh, yes, the apartment. The drama critic for The New York Times wrote a review of Anything Goes which was essentially a love letter to Patti. As I recall, he wanted to drink champagne from her tap shoes. The other reviews were virtual carbon copies. As a result, Anything Goes was sold out for a year, and I went and bought a place to live.


Thanks, Patti - John Weidman


***And, our Evita gal will take part in a CD signing on Friday, September 24 at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at Lincoln Triangle (1972 Broadway at 66th Street). LuPone will sign copies of her "Matters of the Heart" CD beginning at 7 p.m. Diva lovers unite! . . . Next week: Patti's London concert reviews . . .

BERNADETTE PETERS
Tuesday night --after returning from a preview of the Judith Ivey thriller, Voices in the Dark -- I switched on the TV to watch a sitcom before turning in for the night. As I was changing channels, I noticed that Peters' PBS concert was just beginning, and I must admit -- even though I had twice watched the advance press copy that had been sent to me -- I couldn't resist watching Peters in action one more time. The two-time Tony winner is truly in stunning form throughout this 90-minute appearance, offering exquisite renditions of songs by Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jule Styne and others. I thought you would enjoy reading a few quotes from some of the other reviews about "Bernadette Peters in Concert." (For my complete review, see the July 16 Diva Talk column.)


John Leonard in New York Magazine:
". . . You will want to wash your mind out with beauty, radiance, and wit. So be sure to tune in to Bernadette Peters in Concert (Saturday, August 7; 8 to 9:30 p.m.; Channel 13). It's half Stephen Sondheim and all ravishing red-haired ringlets, and it will remind you why you went to Annie Get Your Gun despite the critics: Bernadette Peters is the reason for musical theater."


David Bianculli in Daily News:
". . . 'Bernadette Peters in Concert' gives Broadway's most darling diva the opportunity to be daring as well, and to select her own repertoire. Delightfully, most of her selections run to the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim -- but not necessarily to the songs you'd expect . . . Peters makes 'Not a Day Goes By,' from 'Merrily We Roll Along,' even more tearful and wrenching -- and, in tackling the 'Being Alive' finale from 'Company,' appropriates another song written for a man, and earns a well-deserved standing ovation. And that's not even all of the Sondheim material, much less the entire concert. If you love Peters' voice and Sondheim's music -- and you should -- this can't be missed."

SARAH BRIGHTMAN
The former wife of Andrew Lloyd Webber and star of the phenomenal hit The Phantom of the Opera has another feather to add to her cap. Her latest album, "One Night in Eden," which was released on April 20, has been certified Gold by the RIAA and has topped Billboard Magazine's "Classical Crossover" chart. Another Brightman album, "Time to Say Goodbye" is also selling extremely well, and that recording is nearing Platinum status. Due to overwhelming demand, Brightman will commence a second leg of her "Eden" tour beginning in Reno, Nevada, on Sept. 4. The complete U.S. tour listing follows:


September 4 in Reno, NV at the Lawlor Events Center
September 5 in Las Vegas, NV at the MGM Grand
September 6 in Phoenix, AZ at the America West
September 8 in Los Angeles, CA at the Universal Amphitheater
September 10 in Santa Barbara, CA at the Santa Barbara Bowl
September 11 in San Diego, CA at the SDSU Open Air Theater
September 14 in San Jose, CA at the Center For Performing Arts
September 16 in Seattle, WA at the Opera House
September 17 in Portland, OR at the Arlene Schnitzer Hall
September 19 in Sacramento, CA at the ARCO Arena
September 21 in Denver, CO at the Temple Buell Theater
September 23 in Chicago, IL at the Chicago Theatre
September 25 in Detroit, MI at the Opera House
September 26 in Akron, OH at the EJ Thomas Hall
September 28 in Pittsburgh, PA at the Benedum Center
September 29 in Cincinnati, OH at the Aranoff Theater
October 1 in Buffalo, NY at the Sheas Theatre
October 2 in Hartford, CT at the Bushnell Auditorium
October 3 in Portland, ME at the Civic Center
October 6 in Newark, NJ at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center
October 8 in Boston, MA at the Wang Center
October 10 in State College, PA at the Bryce Jordan Center
October 12 in Washington, DC at the Constitution Hall
October 13 in Greensboro, NC at the War Memorial Auditorium
October 15 in W. Palm Beach, FL at the Kravis Center
October 16 in Tampa, FL at the Ruth Eckerd
October 17 in Miami, FL at the Jackie Gleason Theater

LINDA EDER This week, the media was invited to attend a tea to celebrate Linda Eder's biggest role to date, as a "Mommy," and to announce her upcoming Atlantic Records album, "It's No Secret Anymore." Her baby (with husband Frank Wildhorn) is due at the end of this month, and her album, which features songs by Wildhorn, will be released a month later on September 28. Eder has spent the past two months recording her new CD, which ranges from big band to ballads and also offers a preview of songs from the upcoming Wildhorn musical, Havana. Eder recently remarked, "I'm excited about this album because I feel that the musical team surrounding me, people who have been part of 'the family' since my first album, have all grown and reached a new level of artistic creativity. The songwriting and arranging is so strong that it made my job easier and so much fun. I think it's the most musical album I've done."


The singer, who has often been compared to Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, also admitted, "I wasn't sure how my pregnancy would affect my voice, so I was relieved that everything was still working! Someone even said that I should sing all of my albums pregnant," she added with a laugh. Following is the complete track listing, which I am told could change. Except where noted, all songs feature music by Frank Wildhorn and lyrics by Jack Murphy:


It's No Secret Anymore
I Guess I Love You
Never Dance (from Havana)
Havana (from Havana)
You Never Remind Me
Why Do People Fall in Love? (from Havana)
This Time Around (from Havana; music and lyrics by Wildhorn)
Anything Can Happen (from Alice)
Little Things
Romancing the Blues
One for My Baby (music by Harold Arlen; lyrics by Johnny Mercer)
Looks Like You Started Something
Even Now
Vienna (lyrics by Gary Benson)

IN OTHER NEWS A show-stopping Mama Rose, Betty Buckley, was in the audience last week when cabaret singer Tom Andersen included a mini-tribute to composer Jule Styne on the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Styne/Sondheim/Laurence masterpiece Gypsy. Andersen, who included a "cool and edgy" version of "You'll Never Get Away from Me," performs tonight and tomorrow evening at the FireBird Cafe in N.Y.C. Call (212) 586-0244 for reservations . . . In his season preview article for New Jersey's Home News and Tribune, writer Charles Paolino interviewed the artistic director of the Paper Mill Playhouse, Robert Johanson, about his choice of Christine Ebersole for the title role in the Playhouse's upcoming production of Mame. Says Johanson: "We [Johanson and executive producer Angelo Del Rossi] had talked for a long time about doing Mame, but we didn't have a Mame. I even talked to Jerry Herman about it. [Then, watching Ebersole perform in City Center's Ziegfeld Follies of 1936], I turned to Angelo and said, 'That is Mame. We have to call her immediately.' How many times does a woman like this come along who can really sing and act that part?" Audiences will get to decide for themselves about Ebersole's Mame and Kelly Bishop's Vera Charles when the acclaimed Jerry Herman musical begins performances at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse on September 8. The production runs through Oct. 24, and tickets can be purchased by calling (973) 379-3717 . . . Jane Bodle replaces Alice Ripley as Fantine in the Broadway production of Les Misérables on Tuesday, Sept. 7. Bodle's Broadway credits include Ellen in Miss Saigon, Betty Schaeffer in Sunset Boulevard, Demeter in Cats, Maggie in A Chorus Line and Sally in Me and My Girl. Broadway veterans Timothy Shew and Gregg Edelman will also join the cast on the 7th in the respective roles of Valjean and Javert. . .

REMINDERS
BETTY BUCKLEY
A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
August 20, 1999 Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, WV
September 24 Benedum Center in Pittsburgh, PA
October 2 South Street Theater Company in Morristown, NJ
October 9 Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY
October 23 Foellinger Great Hall in Urbana, IL
October 24 Sangamon State University Aud. in Springfield, IL
October 27 Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, NY (Benefit dinner)
November 6 State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
November 12 Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE
November 14 Music Hall in Cincinnati, OH
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, 1999 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT
Feb. 5, 2000 Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
Feb. 6 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
Feb. 8-9 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
Feb. 11 Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
Feb. 12 Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY
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


This Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 9:30 PM, PBS stations in the metropolitan area will begin airing "Yours for a Song: The Women of Tin Pan Alley," which features Buckley's wonderful interpretations of classic tunes.

And, "Bravo Profiles: Betty Buckley," an insightful documentary that includes an interview with the Tony Award-winning actress as well as footage from Buckley's recent sold-out Bottom Line concert will air on Bravo Nov. 1 at 10 PM.

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
Mason's Christmas album, simply titled "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!" will be available this fall. The busy chanteuse will again join Greg Edelman for a European tour of Broadway music that will play Stockholm (September 1-4); Birmingham, England (September 5); and the Barbican in London (September 8). . . Also, on September 25 Mason will perform in concert to benefit Dallas Children's Theatre Fairmont Hotel, Dallas.

MAUREEN McGOVERN
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 Kenley Centennial Amphitheater in Layton, Utah
August 24 SCERA Amphitheater in Orem, Utah
Sept. 5-6 Jerry Lewis Telethon (check local listings)

ELAINE PAIGE
What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:
October 30 and 31, 1999 at the Sun City Superbowl in South Africa
November 5, 1999 at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town, South Africa
January 21 and 22, 2000 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah

BERNADETTE PETERS
Bernadette Peters in Concert, the thrilling performance taped live in London, airs on PBS stations around the country this month. And, of course, Peters currently stars as the gun-toting Annie Oakley in the acclaimed revival of Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis Theatre.

DIVAS AT THE DONMAR
Patti LuPone is currently onstage at the Donmar Warehouse, performing her new concert act, "Matters of the Heart," through August 21. Audra McDonald's reign runs from August 23 to August 28, and Sam Brown will open on August 31 and close September 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