DIVA TALK: Tony Thoughts And More

DIVA TALK: Tony Thoughts And More Hello, diva lovers! Well, once again, a somewhat lackluster Tony Awards broadcast was saved by a few heartfelt acceptance speeches. I was particularly moved by Susan Stroman’s tribute to her late husband, director Mike Ockrent, as well as Roy Dotrice’s humble words praising the U.S. and its citizens. The musical actress winners were also quite emotional, and their touching speeches are below . . . I think the CBS portion of the Tony telecast is suffering a bit from monotony. For the past few seasons, the broadcast has had the same pattern: present an award, excerpt from a show, present an award, excerpt from a show. What’s missing are the extra musical numbers and sung tributes that made the show so exciting. This year’s show especially suffered from a lack of good old Broadway belting! Couldn’t the powers that be squeeze in a Betty Buckley and Patti LuPone medley? Just imagine the two Broadway stars sitting on stools center stage, singing a medley of theatre hits a la Ethel Merman and Mary Martin. They’d bring down the house! Or how about Linda Eder and Alice Ripley leading a medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes? Or how about the winning musical theatre actresses from the past few years reliving their hit songs? Remember the 1980 broadcast when Nell Carter, Andrea McArdle, Angela Lansbury, Priscilla Lopez and Patti LuPone returned to belt out their big numbers from, respectively, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Annie, Sweeney Todd, A Chorus Line and Evita? Those are the thrilling moments that have been lacking. Well, it’s just a diva lover’s dream, but it would be exciting, no?

Hello, diva lovers! Well, once again, a somewhat lackluster Tony Awards broadcast was saved by a few heartfelt acceptance speeches. I was particularly moved by Susan Stroman’s tribute to her late husband, director Mike Ockrent, as well as Roy Dotrice’s humble words praising the U.S. and its citizens. The musical actress winners were also quite emotional, and their touching speeches are below . . . I think the CBS portion of the Tony telecast is suffering a bit from monotony. For the past few seasons, the broadcast has had the same pattern: present an award, excerpt from a show, present an award, excerpt from a show. What’s missing are the extra musical numbers and sung tributes that made the show so exciting. This year’s show especially suffered from a lack of good old Broadway belting! Couldn’t the powers that be squeeze in a Betty Buckley and Patti LuPone medley? Just imagine the two Broadway stars sitting on stools center stage, singing a medley of theatre hits a la Ethel Merman and Mary Martin. They’d bring down the house! Or how about Linda Eder and Alice Ripley leading a medley of Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes? Or how about the winning musical theatre actresses from the past few years reliving their hit songs? Remember the 1980 broadcast when Nell Carter, Andrea McArdle, Angela Lansbury, Priscilla Lopez and Patti LuPone returned to belt out their big numbers from, respectively, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Annie, Sweeney Todd, A Chorus Line and Evita? Those are the thrilling moments that have been lacking. Well, it’s just a diva lover’s dream, but it would be exciting, no?


Karen Ziemba, Contact (Best Featured Actress in a Musical):
Thank you. Wooooo! Oh, Mom and Dad, thanks for sending me to those ballet lessons. They really paid off this year. Thank you to Lincoln Center Theater, Bernie and Andre, for giving Contact a home and making it a great workplace for my cast and crew who turn it out every night -- they really do, especially my two leading men, Jason Antoon and David MacGillivray. I’d be lost without you. Much love and thanks to my director, Susan Stroman, who has been my mentor and guiding light for practically my whole career. And thank you John Weidman for your beautiful, spare words that have said so much. Thanks for both of you for creating this incredible piece of theatre. And much love to my husband Bill, my friends and family who have been so supportive. And I am so proud to be working in the live theatre. There is nothing like it. Thank you.


Heather Headley, AIDA (Best Leading Actress in a Musical):
Two years ago, I sat in the back of this theatre with Lion King wondering when it would be my turn to sit up here, much less be on this stage, so I have a few people to thank. First, to begin, I want to thank the women in my category, I thank you so much. I’ve always maintained that you’ve been good teachers, and I thank you again tonight. I thank Disney. I could not have done this without you. I love you so much, and I’ll work for you for the rest of my life. I will. I also thank you for giving me the best cast in the world. This is our Tony. It belongs to us. I want to thank Janet Lower, Boneau/Bryan-Brown, my mommy and my brother and last, and certainly not least, I thank God for every blessing he has given me, especially this one. Thank you. Bye-bye.

BETTY BUCKLEY
Tonight, that Tony-winning dynamo, Betty Buckley, is in Amarillo ready to delight her audience in song. She’ll then return to New York for a benefit concert with Joel Grey and the Gay Men’s Chorus on Monday night, June 12. I also recently received word that Ms. B will be a part of Hartford Stage’s Curtain Call 2000 gala on Sunday, June 25. As you recall, BB starred in that theatre’s staging of Camino Real earlier this season and recorded two songs from that production on her new CD, “Heart to Heart.” Marlo Thomas will host the gala, which will also include appearances from Jean Stapleton, Elizabeth Ashley and Buckley’s former Sunset Boulevard co-star, Alan Campbell. In the Curtain Call cabaret performance (to be followed by a post-performance dance party), Buckley will sing two numbers, including one of her Sunset arias. A highlight of the evening will be a live auction where lucky bidders can win a private concert given by Buckley for up to 30 people in the high bidder’s home! VIP ticket packages are available by calling (860) 244-0180 ext. 246. Tickets for the show and post-show party will be available beginning Thursday, June 15 at (860) 527-5151.

LINDA EDER
That divine belter, Linda Eder, will perform at this Sunday’s Broadway Bares X event, the annual fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Accompanied by Broadway’s top dancers and featuring special choreography by Jerry Mitchell, Eder will perform her two dance hits, “Vienna” and “Never Dance.” (Call 212-840-0770 for information or visit www.bcefa.org.) Before that, however, Eder will sing the New York anthem, “New York, New York,” at the 132nd Belmont Stakes this Saturday, June 10. ABC will televise the event at 5:15 PM, so set those VCRS! . . . And, add two more concert dates to Eder’s busy schedule: July 22 at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif., and November 19 at the Strand-Capitol Theatre in York, PA (www.strand-capitol.org).

AUDRA McDONALD
Well, she didn’t win her fourth Tony Award, but Audra McDonald certainly is still on a winning streak. The multi-talented actress/singer will star opposite Emma Thompson in the HBO movie version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit, which is being filmed in London this September. On July 4 PBS will broadcast live McDonald’s performance at the U. S. Capitol. The three-time Tony winner is scheduled to sing a Carousel medley with the National Symphony; other guests on the Independence Day special include Barry Bostwick, Ray Charles, James Galway and David Benoit. The former Ragtime star also recently announced a new batch of concert dates, which follow:


June 12 in New York, NY at a Town Hall Benefit for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis; (212) 367-1514
June 17 in Dayton, OH with the Dayton Philharmonic; (937) 228-2323 July 4 in Washington, DC with the National Symphony/Independence Day broadcast
July 8 in Hollywood, CA at the Hollywood Bowl (with Patti LuPone); (323) 850-2000
July 15 in Cleveland, OH at the Blossom Festival/Cleveland Orchestra; (800) 686-1141
July 21 in San Francisco, CA with the San Francisco Symphony; (415) 864-6000
August 6 in Detroit, MI at the Meadowbrook Festival/Detroit Symphony; (313) 576-5111
August 16 in Chicago, IL at the Ravinia Festival; (847) 266-5100

QUOTABLE QUOTES
from Patti LuPone’s website (pattilupone.net):
“It's very beautiful right now in the country. So, what am I doing at the computer? To tell you how thrilling the Sweeney Todd experience was. To tell you how much I LOVE George Hearn and how he saved the day. To tell you how much I love the director Lonny Price, Welz Kauffman and the entire cast Welz assembled, not to mention the New York Philharmonic. This was a blessed experience, so rare, so treasured, in the theatre. Opera singers, classical musicians, and Broadway actors supporting each other, respecting each other and our common denominator was the genius of Stephen Sondheim. I had so much fun spending time with him, and taking notes from him and I pray to God this is the beginning of a working relationship with him. It was over so fast and none of us could believe that it was over or that we actually pulled it off. On the heels of Sweeney I performed ‘Matters of the Heart’ twice and collapsed on a plane Arizona bound . . .”


from Alice Ripley’s website (www.officialaliceripley.com):
“I was in Chicago performing ‘Billie’ in Babes in Arms, the last Ovations! concert of the season at the Auditorium Theatre. Only a few people know that ‘My Funny Valentine’ was written not as the jazz standard it has become but as a tune for Babes in Arms and is a song of devotion to a character named Valentine. If you know this much about the show, you probably also know that the book is silly and stylized (in that 1930's black and white movie way) and that the score is caramel-sundae luscious. I can't remember a time in my entire life when I have derived more pure pleasure from singing a score. A song like ‘My Funny Valentine,’ sung as it was originally written, sits in a completely natural place in the voice and just floats out easily. Back in the 30's when brilliant songwriting teams like Rodgers & Hart wrote precious gems like ‘My Funny Valentine’ and ‘Where or When,’ much of the focus of popular songwriting centered around creating a beautiful, arching melody and crafting a perfect lyric. I wish more popular songs today were written in this way. Too much of what I am asked to sing now is all about showing off and trying to impress. I'll admit I'm a show off, but I'm also a dedicated disciple of a beautifully crafted song . . . ”

REMINDERS:
FIRST YOU DREAM: A TRIBUTE TO COURAGE:
A host of celebrities will make an appearance at First You Dream: A Tribute to Courage, a one-night-only gala performance honoring Christopher Reeve and Bran Pace. Those names scheduled to appear at The New Amsterdam Theatre on Monday, June 12 (at 7:30 PM) include Glenn Close, Richard Gere, Liza Minnelli, Brian Stokes Mitchell, James Naughton, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelly Preston, Dana Reeve, Chita Rivera, Susan Sarandon, John Travolta, Robin Williams, Scott Wolf plus Bryan Batt, Julio Bocca, Kristin Chenoweth, Margaret Colin, Blythe Danner, Rosemary Harris, Heather Headley, Cherry Jones, Nathan Lane, Sharon Lawrence, Tsidii Le Loka, Marin Mazzie, Idina Menzel, Sherie Rene Scott, Claudia Shear, Amy Spanger and cast members of Kiss Me, Kate; The Music Man; AIDA; Annie Get Your Gun; Riverdance; Fosse; Beauty and the Beast; Chicago; The Lion King; Contact; Footloose; Saturday Night Fever; and members of The Broadway Gospel Chorus. The evening will benefit The Actors’ Fund of America’s Catastrophic Care Program and the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Tickets range from $50 to $2,500 and may be purchased by calling (212) 221-7300, ext. 121.

BETTY BUCKLEY
June 9 Amarillo Little Theatre in Amarillo, TX
June 12 with the Gay Men’s Chorus at Carnegie Hall
June 30 & July 1 John Drew Theatre (Guild Hall) in East Hampton, NY
July 24 Martin Theatre (Ravinia Festival) in Highland Park, IL
August 21-September 3 Donmar Warehouse in London, UK
September 16 Stranahan Theatre in Toledo, OH
October 6-7 Scottsdale Center for the Arts Theatre in Scottsdale, AZ
October 28 Univ. of Texas Cowan Fine & Perf. Arts Center in Tyler, TX

BARBARA COOK
I recently received a few new concert dates for theatre/cabaret legend Barbara Cook, which follow:
June 13 at the Playhouse Theatre, Hotel Dupont in Wilmington, Del. (302) 656-4401
July 28 and 29 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA
September 14 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA (619) 748-0505
September 21 & 22 at the Sydney Opera House (in concert with David Campbell) in Sydney, Australia 011-61-2-9250-7777
September 28-October 1 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA (714) 556-2787

LINDA EDER
Eder in concert:
July 8 with Michael Feinstein & The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta, GA; (404) 733-4801
July 14 with Feinstein at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA; (206) 628-0888
July 15 with Feinstein at Schnitzer Hall in Portland, OR; (503) 274 6564
July 16 with Feinstein at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, CA; (415) 551-2000
August 5 at the Wildflower Music Festival in White Mills, PA
August 6 with Feinstein at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ; (732) 335-0400
August 8 with Feinstein at the Mann Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA (215) 336-2000
August 9 with Feinstein at the Wolf Trap Filene Center in Vienna, VA; (703) 218-6500 or 1-800-955-5566
August 19 at the John Drew Theater of Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY (631) 324-4050

August 25 with Feinstein at The Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL; go to www.ravinia.org

August 26 Boys & Girls Club Fundraiser at The River Center w/ Michael Feinstein in Minneapolis, MN
September 26 at the Jones Hall w/Houston Symphony in Houston, TX; call (713) 224-7575
November 4 at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, NY; call (516) 334-0800
November 17 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ; call (732) 246-SHOW
November 18 at the State Theatre in Easton, PA; call (610) 252-3132

PATTI LUPONE
Several concert dates have been added to Patti LuPone’s ever-growing schedule. What follows are La LuPone’s confirmed concert appearances as of this week:
July 8 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA (with Audra McDonald and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra); (323) 850-2000
January 5-7, 2001 at the Morton J. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX (214) 871-4000

KAREN MASON
Sept. 5 - Oct. 14 Arci’s Place, 450 Park Avenue, New York, NY; call (212) 532-4370.
June 12 Marilyn Bergman salute at the Pierre Hotel July 18-23 World Premiere of White Christmas at the St. Louis MUNY Opera June 25 The Bradstan Country Hotel in White Lake, NY (914) 583 4114
September 5-14 at Arci’s Place in New York, NY (212) 532-4370

AUDRA McDONALD

Scheduled concert dates for McDonald follow:
June 12 at Town Hall, NYC (Benefit for GMHC; call 212-367-1514)

July 8 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA (with Patti LuPone and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra); (323) 850-2000


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

By Andrew Gans