DIVA TALK: The Diva Event of the Fall Coming Sept. 28

DIVA TALK: The Diva Event of the Fall Coming Sept. 28 DIVAS UNITE
As first reported in the New York Post, there will be a major diva event held at Carnegie Hall this Sept.. None other than Victor/Victoria's Julie Andrews will host the event, which will take place on the famed stage of the legendary hall Sept. 28. Titled My Favorite Broadway--The Leading Ladies, the one-night extravaganza will feature some of the finest women performers of the musical theatre performing the songs they have made famous. Those who have already signed on include Betty Buckley, Chita Rivera and Ann Reinking, and some of the other names that have been mentioned are Patti LuPone, Whoopi Goldberg, Vanessa Williams and even our favorite Brit, Elaine Paige.
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DIVAS UNITE
As first reported in the New York Post, there will be a major diva event held at Carnegie Hall this Sept.. None other than Victor/Victoria's Julie Andrews will host the event, which will take place on the famed stage of the legendary hall Sept. 28. Titled My Favorite Broadway--The Leading Ladies, the one-night extravaganza will feature some of the finest women performers of the musical theatre performing the songs they have made famous. Those who have already signed on include Betty Buckley, Chita Rivera and Ann Reinking, and some of the other names that have been mentioned are Patti LuPone, Whoopi Goldberg, Vanessa Williams and even our favorite Brit, Elaine Paige.

The evening will be directed by Scott (1776, Steel Pier) Ellis and is being produced by Continental Airlines, Metropolitan Entertainment Group, Allen Newman and Tony Adams. For those of you who will be unable to attend the event, fear not. The festivities will be taped for the "Great Performances" series on PBS, and a CD and video cassette will also be made available for sale. Tickets, which will range in price from $50 to $250, will go on sale Sept. 8 by calling Carnegie Charge at (212) 247-7800. Stay tuned for more information on what could be the must-see event of the fall.

BETTY BUCKLEY
Speaking of must-see events. . .Contracts have yet to be signed, but it looks as though Betty Buckley will indeed star as Mama Rose in the upcoming production of Gypsy at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ. Buckley, who performed the role in 1992 at the Southern Arizona Light Opera Company, is scheduled to begin rehearsals Thursday, Aug. 20 under Mark (When Pigs Fly) Waldrop's direction. The production will start previews Sept. 9 and officially open Sept. 18. It should be a thrilling experience to watch Buckley portray one of the most demanding roles in the musical theatre canon. BB will also get the chance to sing such Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim classics as "Some People," "You'll Never Get Away from Me," "Small World," "Everything's Coming Up Roses," "Wherever We Go" and, of course, "Rose's Turn." As reported previously, Deborah Gibson has also joined the cast as Gypsy Rose Lee.

I spent a good deal of the past week listening to some fairly new recordings and thought I would discuss them a bit in today's column.

ANDREA MARCOVICCI
Andrea Marcovicci should record all her albums live. The stunning singing actress, who has been one of the most enjoyable performers on the cabaret scene for the past decade, recently released her latest album, Andrea Marcovicci: Live from London. Her new CD--on the Cabaret Records label--spotlights love songs from the theatre and was actually a radio broadcast that was heard over BBC Radio 3 in London in June of 1996. The live broadcast emanated from Pizza on the Park in Knightsbridge, and it captures why Marcovicci's performances consistently sell out here and around the world. Marcovicci perfectly blends her songs with witty patter and wisely mixes more familiar tunes ("Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "It Never Entered My Mind") with lesser-known comic gems ("Shakespeare Lied," "My Husband's First Wife").

Her set of theatre love songs opens with Herman Hupfeld's "As Time Goes By," which Marcovicci points out was originally part of the 1931 Broadway show, Everybody's Welcome, and then was later transplanted to its permanent home, Casablanca. After her opening songs, the chanteuse segues into the little-heard, but beautiful "Love Song" by Alan Jay Lerner and Kurt Weill. What is so appealing about Marcovicci's performances is her flawless re-interpretation of songs you have heard over and over again. As Sheridan Morley observes in the liner notes for the recording, "Every song is approached as thought it were a new role, and as a result every one is given new meaning. . .turning even the most banal [lyric] into moments of unforgettable romanticism." Marcovicci is also an expert at combining two or more songs into a mini-song cycle that starts innocuously and ends up breaking your heart. Witness her combination of three Rodgers and Heart tunes: "Nobody's Heart," "It Never Entered My Mind" and "Little Girl Blue." Some of the other highlights of her program include another heartfelt medley of Rodgers and Hart songs, "Where or When," "My Romance" and "I'll Tell the Man on the Street"; and a beautiful arrangement of the Gershwins' "Someone to Watch Over Me." Marcovicci also offers a handful of contemporary theatre songs, including William Finn's "What More Can I Say?" from Falsettos and a gender-switched version of Stephen Sondheim's "Finishing the Hat" from Sunday in the Park with George. She finishes her show with an emotionally-charged, belty version of Lerner and Lowe's "There But for You Go I" and returns to the stage with two encores: a lilting "Hello Young Lovers" and a tune not usually heard in the summer months, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Live from London is a treat for both devout Marcovicci fans and for those who are being introduced to this talented lady for the first time. First-timers may also want to hunt down Marcovicci Sings Movies, her first solo recording and my favorite.

By the way, Ms. Marcovicci will make an appearance at Star Classics in San Francisco (425 Hayes Street) tonight, July 17 from 6 to 8 PM for a CD signing of her new recording. She will also perform in concert at San Francisco's Louis Davies Hall tomorrow evening (July 18) at 8 PM. Call (415) 864-6000 for tickets.

FRANCES RUFFELLE
This past March, Frances Ruffelle -- the Tony-winning star of both the London and New York productions of Les Miserables -- made her New York cabaret debut at the Triad, and her new CD, Frances Ruffelle, includes most of the program heard during her stint at the Upper West Side club. Ruffelle possesses an appealing voice that she uses most effectively on big Broadway ballads, combining both a Broadway and pop-flavored style. Although she has a tendency to use the same desperate-cry-of-emotion sound on many of the tracks, much of the recording is quite moving. My favorite track on the CD is Maury Yeston's "Unusual Way," which she builds from a sweet, plaintive reading to a full-voiced wail on "You're the reason why, you're the reason why." Other theatre songs included on this Dress Circle release are Chess's "Where I Want to Be," Nine's "Be On Your Own" and two Stephen Sondheim offerings: "Being Alive" and "The Miller's Son."

[PAIGE] ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER
Whether you want to rush out and purchase Andrew Lloyd Webber Essentials III on the Koch International label, probably depends on the degree of Sunset Boulevard madness (make that "early morning madness") that has possessed you these past few years. The recording includes four songs from the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Don Black/Christopher Hampton musical: the title tune, "Too Much in Love to Care" and Norma's two show stoppers, "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye." Kim Criswell, a star of the stage and multiple recordings, has the honor of performing both Sunset tunes, and does a fine job. Her vocal work on the two "arias" reminded me of a mix between Laurie Beechman and the Norma for the road tour, Linda Balgord (who, incidentally, is currently starring as Grizabella in the Broadway production of Cats, a role that Criswell performed on tour a few years back). I actually thought Criswell's belty, tough-as-nails version of Evita's "Rainbow High" was more thrilling than her Sunset tunes and the definite highlight of this disc. Otherwise, the CD is a mixed lot, containing mostly satisfactory, if unexciting, versions of "Starlight Express," "Gesthemane," "Heaven on their Minds," "Rolling Stock," "Damned for All Time" and more. Others who take part in the Andrew Lloyd Webber salute include a mix of English performers: Graham Bickley, Claire Moore, Dave Willetts, Helen Hobson, Clive Rowe, Christopher Biggins and Katrina Murphy.

CABARET CONVENTION
The Ninth Annual Cabaret Convention to benefit the Mabel Mercer Foundation will take place at Town Hall (123 West 43rd Street) from Monday, Oct. 12 through Sunday, Oct. 18. The usually sold-out convention is always a terrific chance to sample (at reasonable prices of $15 or $35) some of the best cabaret performers in the business as well as up-and coming talents. Below is the roster of entertainers for each of the seven performances scheduled:

Monday, Oct. 12 (6 PM) Opening Gala Benefit:
Karen Akers, Joyce Breach, Ann Hampton Callaway, David Campbell, Barbara Carroll, Judi Connelli, Corky Hale, Lynn Jackson and Mike Palter, Angela LaGreca, Amanda McBroom, Lumiri Tubo, Weslia Whitfeld
(Tickets for this performance are $25 and $50.)

Tuesday, Oct. 13 (6 PM) New York, New York: Centennial Celebration
Lisa Asher, Elena Bennett, Francesca Blumenthal, Claiborne Cary, Combo Fiasco, Alix Korey, Karen Mason, Sidney Meyer, Pamela Myers, Lainie Nelson

Wednesday, Oct. 14 (6 PM) Cabaret Calvacade '98
Tom Andersen, D.C. Anderson, Eric Comstock, Baby Jane Dexter, Catherine Dupuis, Natalie Gamsu, Zina Goldrich and Marcy Heisler, Carol Hall, Paul Hull, Steve Lutvak, Gary Lyons, Lizz Manners, Liliane Montevecchi, Mark Nadler, John Wallowitch, Bertram Ross, Jeff Harnar, KT Sullivan

Thursday, Oct. 15 (6 PM) A Tribute to Margaret Whiting
Mary Cleere Haran, Farah Alvin, Tovah Feldshuh, Barbara Lea, Meg Mackay, Sharon McNight, George Osborne, Billy Philadelphia, Anne Roberts, Karen Saunders, Joel Silberman, Dane Vannatter and, of course, Margaret Whiting

Friday, Oct. 16 (6 PM) A Noel Coward Celebration
Richard Rodney Bennett, Barbara Brussell, Eric Michael Gillett, Jeff Harnar, Jane A. Johnston, Marcia Lewis, Sheridan Morley, Christian Nova, Lee Roy Reams, Jay Rogers, Steve Ross, David Staller, Larry Woodard

Saturday, Oct. 17 (6 PM) A Sinatra Songbook
Judy Barnett, Jackie Cain, Roy Kral, Charles Cermele, Mary Foster Conklin, Audrey Morris, Phillip Officer, Sarah Partridge, Teri Lynn Paul, Tom Postilio, Daryl Sherman, String of Pearls, Billy Stritch, Ronny Whyte

Sunday, Oct. 18 (3 PM) Four Great Ladies of Song
Andrea Marcovicci (sings Mabel Mercer), KT Sullivan (sings Gertrude Lawrence), Paula West (sings Ethel Waters) and Julie Wilson (sings Lotte Lenya).

For further information: (212) 980-3026 or (212) 980-3109 during regular office hours.

REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
BB will perform 7:30 and 10 PM Oct. 30 and 31, and Nov. 1 show times are 4 PM (the "songs by request" concert) and 8:30 PM. The Bottom Line is at 15 West 4th Street, and tickets will be on sale at the Bottom Line box office in the near future.

PETULA CLARK
Before Petula Clark begins touring as Norma Desmond in the second national company of Sunset Boulevard, she has a few concerts lined up in the U.S. and in the U.K. First up, is a performance at the Resorts International Hotel (1-800-322-SHOW) in Atlantic City Sept. 2-7. Then, Clark will perform in the U.K. in the following areas:
Sept. 15 Cheltenham Town Hall (01242 227979)
Sept. 16 Rhyl Pavilion (01745 330000)
Sept. 18 Leamington Spa Royal Spa Centre (01926 334418)
Sept. 19 Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall (01892 530613)
Sept. 20 Worthing Pavilion (01903 820500)
Sept. 21 Reading Hexagon (0118 9606060)
Sept. 23 Bexhill-on-Sea De La Warr Pavilion (01424 787900)

DISNEY'S DIVAS
Epcot Center in Walt Disney World will host an array of divas beginning next month in a concert series that includes three of Broadway's favorite ladies: Jodi (Crazy for You) Benson, Judy (Chess) Kuhn and Susan (Triumph of Love) Egan. Backed by the Disney Grammy College Orchestra, the concerts are free to anyone who happens to be in the Disney park at that time (entrance to Disney World is approximately $44). Benson is scheduled to perform July 11 and 12, Judy Kuhn July 25 and 26 and Susan Egan Aug. 1 and 2. The mini-concerts will take place four times a day: 4 PM, 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM and 8 PM. Call (407) 824-2222 or (407) 824-4321 for more information; times and singers are subject to change.

DONMAR DIVAS
There will be a four-week season of Divas at the Donmar--London's Donmar Warehouse, the theatre that first premiered the current incarnation of Cabaret. As previously mentioned, Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway will kick off the season Aug. 10-22. Following the sister act will be Barbara Cook Aug. 24-29, and Imelda Staunton and Her Big Band will finish the diva season Sept. 1-5 .

JUDY KAYE
Judy Kaye will perform several songs from her latest album, Songs from the Silver Screen, at the HMV Records store at 72nd Street and Broadway Sunday, July 19, and she will also be on hand to sign copies of her CD, which is her second solo recording on the Varese Sarabande label.

JUDY KUHN
The revival of As Thousands Cheer stars Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin, Paula Newsome, Mary Beth Peil, B. D. Wong and Kevin Chamberlin. Now in performance at the Greenwich House Theatre (27 Barrow Street, near 7th Avenue South), the musical revue is directed by Christopher (Jeffrey) Ashley. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased by calling (212) 239-6200.

FLORENCE LACEY
Florence Lacey currently stars on Broadway in An Evening with Jerry Herman, which also stars Lee Roy Reams and the Tony Award-winning composer himself. The musical revue, which traces Herman's Broadway career, will officially open at the Booth Theatre July 28. Call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200 for tickets.

PATTI LuPONE
LuPone will also perform in concert Aug. 28 and 29 at The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles; call (562) 916-8500.

KAREN MASON
Karen Mason currently stars (through Aug. 29) in the Sundance Institute's production of Gypsy on their outdoor Eccles Stage in Sundance, UT. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Sundance Box Office at (801) 225-4100.

ELAINE PAIGE
Tickets are available to The Misanthrope by calling 011-44-171-287 0464.

BERNADETTE PETERS
July 17 in San Francisco, CA at the Louise Davies Hall
Aug. 11 in Philadelphia, PA at the Mann Music Center
Sept. 11-12 in Nashville, TN at the Andrew Jackson Hall
Oct. 10 in Spring, TX at the Centrum
Oct. 16-17 in Atlanta, GA at the Rialto Theatre
Feb. 13, 1999 in Birmingham, AL (venue to come)
Feb. 20 in Toledo, OH (venue to come)
April 9-10 in Kansas City, Kansas (venue to come)
Dec. 31 in Colorado Springs, CO (venue to come)

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

-- By Andrew Gans
e-mail me at andrew_gans@playbill.com