Hello, diva lovers! Well, the most exciting news of the week has to be the official announcement of the Oct. 21 concert of highlights from the Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration. The star-studded, one-night-only event at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall will include songs from all six musicals that comprise the D.C. Sondheimfest (A Little Night Music, Passion, Company, Merrily We Roll Along, Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the Park with George) as well as performances from Barbara Cook and Mandy Patinkin, who both offered their personal Sondheim tributes during the Washington celebration. Among the gals scheduled to entertain audiences Oct. 21 are Christine Baranski, Anastasia Barzee, Sarah Uriarte Berry, Blair Brown, Natascia Diaz, Melissa Errico, Randy Graff, Marcy Harriell, Judy Kuhn, Rebecca Luker, Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner and Linda Stephens. They will be joined by John Barrowman, Matt Bogart, Michael Cerveris, John Dossett, Raúl Esparza, Paul Ford, Danny Gurwin, Wally Harper, Michael Hayden, Hugh Panaro, Mark Price and Douglas Sills. Tickets are now on sale by going to www.lincolncenter.org or by calling CenterCharge at (212) 721-6500. I booked my tickets on Thursday, so I hope to see you there! And, let's hope some smart producer decides to film or at least audio record the Stephen Sondheim evening.
Veteran actress-singer Phyllis Newman is one busy gal! Newman, who made her Broadway debut in the musical comedy Wish You Were Here and who was last on The Great White Way in Broadway Bound, just finished taping the final episode of HBO-TV's gritty jailhouse series "Oz," where she will play a Hillary Clinton-like state senator. Newman joins fellow Broadway actors Betty Buckley, Patti LuPone, Rita Moreno and Joel Grey, who are all part of the "Oz" final season.
Next up for Newman is a staged reading of Steven Drukman's new play, Going Native, at the Williamstown Theatre from Aug. 3 to Aug. 5. Drukman's work is then scheduled to play the Long Wharf Theatre in mid October under the direction of Greg Leaming. In addition to her annual "Nothing Like a Dame" fundraiser, Newman will also be part of an upcoming benefit at the Majestic Theatre on Oct. 20. The evening will aid the charity Save the Children — specifically benefiting AIDS orphans in Africa — and will feature performances from famous entertainers and their children. Newman's entire family will be involved, including performances from her husband-lyricist Adolph Green, their daughter Amanda and their son Adam. The roster of performers is still in formation, but producer Barry Brown says that a host of Broadway favorites are interested. Those who have already committed to the event include Lucie Arnaz, Melissa Manchester and their respective daughters. Stay tuned for more info and ticket information.
And, one final Newman note. The 1962 Tony winner — for Subways Are for Sleeping — just completed filming a role as an artist in the new movie "The Human Stain." She plays Anthony Hopkins' wife in this film based on Philip Roth's novel. Others in the Robert Benton-directed movie include Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris and Gary Sinise. LITTLE SHOP REVISITED
In last week's column I suggested Alice Ripley and Roger Bart for the roles of, respectively, Audrey and Seymour, in the upcoming Broadway mounting of Little Shop of Horrors. I also asked for your suggestions, and here are some of the many responses I received! Kristin Chenoweth and Sherie Rene Scott were high on the list of potential Audreys; other possibilities included Cady Huffman, Megan Mullally, Luba Mason, Sutton Foster, Susan Egan, Andrea McArdle and Sarah Jessica Parker. Parker's hubby, Matthew Broderick, topped the list of possible Seymours. Others included Norbert Leo Butz, Chad Kimball, Anthony Rapp, Raúl Esparza, Bryan Batt, Hunter Foster, Danny Gurwin, Luther Creek and current Proof star Neil Patrick Harris. One diva lover even suggested Jennifer Holliday as the voice of Audrey 2. Now, that would be something!
IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK: Fans of the late Ethel Merman will be happy to learn that Fynsworth Alley plans to release on CD the cult-favorite disco album that the Broadway powerhouse recorded in 1979. The tracks for the original "The Ethel Merman Disco Album" include "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Everything's Coming up Roses," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Something for the Boys," "Some People," "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "I Got Rhythm." . . . Standby-to-the-stars Jana Robbins will offer her acclaimed Cy Coleman tribute, One Hell of a Ride!, at Los Angeles' Gardenia on Monday, July 29 at 9 PM. Robbins, a recent standby in Charles Busch's The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, will assume the role of Lee this Sept. opposite Valerie Harper in the show's national tour. The Gardenia is located at 7066 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA. There is a $15 cover and a two-drink minimum, and reservations may be made by calling (323) 467 7444 . . . Congratulations to Susan Egan, who has been named Interim Artistic Director of California's Orange County High School of the Arts. Egan, who is an alumna of the 15-year-old school, will serve as the artistic director of the Music and Theatre, Film and Television and Production and Design departments. She will take over the position recently vacated by David Green while the school conducts a search for a permanent director. During her time at the school, Egan will be responsible for overseeing the expansion of the arts instructional program, assisting in bringing professional artists to teach and direct, and bringing in renowned artists for special appearances. Egan will also begin a week-long run of The Unsinkable Molly Brown at the Sacramento Music Circus on July 22 . . .
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