DIVA TALK: Tony Thoughts, Millie on Disc PLUS News of Peters & Minnelli

News   DIVA TALK: Tony Thoughts, Millie on Disc PLUS News of Peters & Minnelli TONY TALK

TONY TALK

Theatre lovers always tend to gripe a bit after the annual Tony Awards telecast, but I actually thought this season's show was particularly well done. Most all of the musical numbers from the nominated shows came off extremely well, and I was very happy that the awards themselves were distributed among a host of productions, rather than to just one or two shows. Add to that two charming hosts — Bernadette Peters (who sported four different gowns!) and Gregory Hines —and there's little to quibble over. I do wish the powers that be had allowed five-time Tony winner Julie Harris to deliver her speech for Lifetime Achievement Award on air (surely that would have been more exciting than the Regional Theatre presentation), and perhaps the musical salutes would be better if one or two songs were performed in their entirety rather than what ends up becoming all-too rushed medleys. That said, though, it was a very engaging evening . . . I thought you would enjoy revisiting three of this year's acceptance speeches, those from Harriet Harris (Best Featured Actress in a Musical), Sutton Foster (Best Actress in a Musical), and, of course, the somewhat-truncated speech of Elaine Stritch (Best Special Theatrical Event).

Harriet Harris (Best Featured Actress in a Musical)

"I'm flabbergasted. I have a speech prepared, but I am flabbergasted. My mother once said that my first words were 'Tony Award.' Being Texan, she was prone to exaggeration. I think it was something more like 'Give me Tony.' I want to thank the nominators and the voters. You are the most attractive group of people I've ever seen. And our producers for not insisting on a name — the late Richard Morse for suggesting mine. Dick Scanlan, Jeanine Tesori, Michael Mayer for reinvestigating territory so beautifully mapped by the inimitable Bea Lillie. Martin Pakledinaz, Rob Ashford, Michael Rafter, Paul Huntley — four guys who really know how to bring out the best in a girl. And an incredibly, freakishly talented group of actors and crew and orchestra, and I am so flustered! And my darling, darling boyfriend, Matt Sullivan, who thinks I can do anything. My agent Steven Unger, who hoped I would get to do this. And the late Meghan Robinson, who I revered as an artist and treasured as a friend. I wanted her to be up here some day. Thank you very much. I appreciate it."

Elaine Stritch (Best Special Theatrical Event) "Don't take up my time. I came to rehearsal today for the understudy part of the Tonys on PBS. 'Cause I dig understudies. And I made a presentation, and a young girl came up to me and she said, 'Can I have your autograph? I want to follow in your footsteps.' I told her to wear comfortable shoes. I salute the company I'm keeping tonight: Barbara Cook, Bea Arthur, John Leguizamo, who really— I applaud their courage to having a go at it out here alone. I applaud all four of us. But judging from the Greek chorus behind me, there's no such thing as a one-man or a one-woman show. John Schreiber — I gotta face front or you won't hear me. John Schreiber made me do it. The Public Theater allowed me to do it. George Wolfe told me how to do it. John Lahr helped me do, oh boy, how he helped me do it. (Orchestra becomes louder.) Stop! Oh, please! Don't do that to me!"

Sutton Foster (Best Actress in a Musical)

"To say that this is a dream come true is an understatement. I could not be more honored to be a part of this show. It is truly a thrill to work with this incredible company every night. I want to personally thank the entire creative staff and the producers for trusting their work, to take a risk on hiring me. I want to thank my parents for all of their support and encouragement to follow my dreams. My incredible brother, Hunter Foster, for his unbelievable friendship. All of my teachers, Joan Leder, Joan Rosenfeld, my high school drama teacher, Mr. Bodick, who is here tonight! Thank you! My dresser, Julien Havard, my agent Steven Unger, oh my gosh, my beautiful boyfriend Christian, our incredible stage manager Bonnie [L. Becker]. Thank you so much! Thank you."

FOR THE RECORD Thoroughly Modern Millie

On June 11 Thoroughly Modern Millie's many admirers — myself included — will want to rush out and purchase the show's original Broadway cast recording on the RCA Victor label. The now Tony-winning Best Musical features a bright, toe-tapping score that is an amalgam of tunes from the original movie, 1920's standards, songs written expressly for the Broadway production as well as new lyrics written to older tunes. All of the original songs were written by Tony nominees Jeanine Tesori (music) and Dick Scanlan (lyrics), and among the highlights of that portion of the score are "Not for the Life of Me," the show's opening, which introduces us to the vocal power of Sutton Foster (as Millie); Gavin Creel's creamy tones on "What Do I Need with Love?"; the high-voltage "Forget About the Boy," which was featured on last Sunday's Tony Awards broadcast; and Foster's second act show-stopper "Gimme Gimme," which builds to a thrillingly belty climax. Other high points include the ever hummable title tune written for the Julie Andrews film by James Van Heusen and Sammy Cahn and "The Speed Test," a comical tongue-twister that features music by Arthur Sullivan (and new lyrics by Scanlan) and displays Marc Kudisch's vocal and comedic talents. The 21-track disc with a total playing time of 58 minutes and 32 seconds also features complete lyrics and numerous production photos. A must for Millie fans.

IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK Liza Minnelli ends her much-in-the-news New York engagement at the Beacon Theatre this weekend. Minnelli devotees will be happy to learn that Liza's Back! will be recorded on CD, although a release date has not been set. And, there still are tickets available for Minnelli's June 7 and 8 concerts. They can be purchased by calling either the Beacon Theatre box office at (212) 496 7070 or Ticketmaster at (212) 307-7171; tickets can also be obtained by logging on to www.cc.com. The Beacon Theatre is located in New York City at Broadway and 74th Street . . . This Sunday, June 9 Bernadette Peters can be seen in the premiere broadcast of "Bobbie's Girl, " the made-for-cable movie on the Showtime Network. Peters co-stars with film actress Rachel Ward as two middle-aged lesbians who live in the seaside village of Bray in Dublin, Ireland. Ward portrays Bobbie, an English woman, and Peters' character, Bailey, hails from New York where she spent two decades treading the boards on Broadway. The women — with the help of Bailey's eccentric brother David (Jonathan Silverman) — now run a pub called "The Two Sisters"; however, their lives are dramatically changed by the arrival of Alan, Bobbie's young nephew whose parents were recently killed. "Bobbie's Girl" will debut on Showtime on June 9 at 8 PM EST. Showtime Showcase East will broadcast the film on June 10 at 11:35 AM and 8 PM, and Showtime Women East has scheduled the movie for June 13 at 9 AM and 9 PM . . .

REMINDERS

Betty Buckley in Concert:

June 29 at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY
July 7 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, NM
Sept. 28 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
Oct. 3-6 at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX
Oct. 22-Nov. 9 at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York, NY
Nov. 16 at the Performing Arts Center of SUNY-Purchase in Purchase, NY
Dec. 6 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC
Dec. 31 at the Tilles Center at CW Post University in Glen Cove, NY

LIZ CALLAWAY

June 10 "Broadway By The Year: 1964" at Town Hall in New York, NY
June 14 & 15 at Odette’s in New Hope, PA
June 21 & 22 Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, IL
June 30 & July 1 "Sibling Revelry" at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL
July 14 at the Bradston County Hotel's Nancy LaMott Room in White Lake, NY
August 2 in "Stephen Schwartz and Friends" in Bethlehem, PA
August 16 & 17 at the Stackner Cabaret Theatre in Milwaukee, WI Barbara Cook in Concert:

July 4 at the Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts at the Venetian Theater in Katonah, NY
June 5-9 and June 12-16 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
June 23-Aug. 26 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY (Mostly Sondheim)
July 5 at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts in Long Island
August 14-18 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
Oct. 19 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA
Nov. 2 at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts in Brooklyn, NY
Nov. 17 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ

Maureen McGovern in Concert:

June 22 "Music by the Lake" in Lake Geneva, WI
June 29-Aug. 17 Dear World at Sundance Theater, Sundance, UT
Aug. 7 at the Salt Lake City Jazz Festival in Salt Lake City, UT
Sept. 1-2 MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon in Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 20 - 22 Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, MI
Sept 26-29 North Carolina Symphony, Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh, NC
Oct. 30-Nov. 3 American Music Therapy Association Conference in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 2 at the Rialto Center in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 9 at the Landmark Theater in Port Washington, NY
Nov. 19-Dec. 1 at the Plush Room in San Francisco, CA
Dec. 6 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Dec. 8 at Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA
Dec. 9 Laurie Strauss Leukemia Benefit, Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Dec. 14 Boca Pops Big Band Series in Boca Raton, FL

Bernadette Peters in Concert:

June 7 at the Ravinia Pavillion in Highland Park, IL
June 19 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY
June 28 at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA
July 2 at the Interlochen Center in Interlochen, MI
Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the Morton H. Meyerson Hall in Dallas, TX
Sept. 28 at the Weidner Center in Green Bay, WI
Oct. 5 Sundome Center in Sun City West, AZ
Oct. 24 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis, IN
Oct. 26 at the Kleinhans Auditorium in Buffalo, NY

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

—By Andrew Gans