DIVA TALK: Wild Women, Divas & Broads

News   DIVA TALK: Wild Women, Divas & Broads Hello, diva lovers! If you want to “Tap Your Troubles Away,” head over to the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Center where 42nd Street dances, sings and stars that much-too-unsung musical theatre star, Christine Ebersole, whose beautiful and extremely flexible voice makes everything she sings pure gold. Mary Testa is her usual riotous self, and Kate Levering, along with David Elder and a chorus full of talent, dances up a storm. It is, simply, a night of pure fun. And, now, on to the divas!

Hello, diva lovers! If you want to “Tap Your Troubles Away,” head over to the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Center where 42nd Street dances, sings and stars that much-too-unsung musical theatre star, Christine Ebersole, whose beautiful and extremely flexible voice makes everything she sings pure gold. Mary Testa is her usual riotous self, and Kate Levering, along with David Elder and a chorus full of talent, dances up a storm. It is, simply, a night of pure fun. And, now, on to the divas!

KAREN AKERS
It’s a busy time for Karen Akers, the former Tony-nominated star of Broadway’s Nine (and Grand Hotel) who is currently singing at one of New York’s top cabaret rooms, The Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel (West 44th Street). Akers’ newest show is entitled “You and the Night and The Music,” and she has just released a CD that features the songs from her act last season. Entitled “Feels Like Home,” the 15-track CD is available on the DRG label and is another beautiful recording from the dazzling diva. Akers begins her piano-and-voice recital with Jacques Brel’s “I’m Not Afraid,” a song she also performed at her “Live from Wolftrap” engagement, which was preserved on video in the nineties. At that time, Akers delivered the tune in a more urgent manner; although her interpretation still builds in emotional power, there is more restraint and ease in her singing, which is evident throughout the CD. In fact, in her liner notes, Akers even has this to say about her signature tune, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”: “I keep coming back to this song, as you’ve probably noticed. I need to express the growing calm and certainty it reflects in my life, which means I need to sing it differently.”


Other highlights of the recording include the Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz standard “Haunted Heart,” which is well-suited to Akers’ deep, rich contralto; a slowed-down take on Jason Robert Brown’s “Stars and the Moon” that allows Akers to explore the many facets of a woman who chooses riches over true love; the beautifully melodic “L’Aigle Noir”; and the Jacques Brel heartbreaker “Marieke” that the singer mines for all its dramatic value. She is equally effective on one of my favorite Stephen Schwartz tunes, “Chanson,” a simple song written in both French and English that expresses the joy that can be found in life if one only takes the time to find it. Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home” is also a standout, and Akers finishes the album with a stirring rendition of Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose.” The complete track listing for “Feels Like Home” follows:


“I’m Not Afraid”
“J’Ai Deux Amours”
“Drouot”
“Paris in the Rain”
“Haunted Heart”
“Paris Is a Lonely Town”
“Sympathique”
“L’Aigle Noir”
“Les Couleurs De Temps”
“Stars and the Moon”
“Marieke”
“Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien”
“Chanson”
“Feels Like Home”
“The Rose”
For those of you heading to the Algonquin, you can expect Akers to wrap her sultry vocals around the following tunes:
“I Let the Music Speak” (Andersson and Ulvaeus)
“You and the Night and the Music” (Dietz and Schwartz)
“Stars Fell on Alabama” (Parish and Perkins)
“A Sleepin’ Bee” (Arlen and Capote)
“The Shelf Life of Love” (Lawrence and Saltzman)
“Manha De Carnaval (A Day in the Life of a Fool)” (Bonfa, Moraes, Sigman)
“La valse des lilas (Once Upon a Summertime)” (Marnay, Barclay, Legrand, Mercer)
“Sympathique” (Forbes, Lauderdale)
“Cry Without a Reason”/ “Go Leave” (Pitchford and Schwartz)/ (McGarrigle)
“Que reste-t-il de nos amours? (I Wish You Love)” (Trenet and Beach)
“Comes Love” (Brown, Stept and Tobias)
“Cent mille chansons” (Bacri and Magne)
“Life Is” (Kander and Ebb)
“Feels Like Home” (Newman)
“Take Me Home” (Waits)

WILD WOMEN, DIVAS and BROADS
Joe’s Pub, the hip cabaret space at the Public Theater, gets an early start on summer with a month-long festival of singing sensations from the worlds of cabaret, musical theatre and opera. Entitled Wild Women, Divas and Broads, these evenings of song are part of Joe’s Pub’s ongoing Songbook Series, which features “intimate performances of new and classic songs from the musical theatre.” Taking part in this new series are such theatre stars as Tonya Pinkins, Daphne Rubin Vega, Liz Callaway, Idina Menzel, cabaret performer Amanda Green, theatre newcomer Maggie Moore as well as opera diva Catherine Malfitano. The complete schedule for Wild Women follows, and tickets may be purchased by calling Tele-Charge at (212) 239-6200 or online at www.telecharge.com. Joe’s Pub is located at 425 Lafayette Street, between East 4th Street and Astor Place.


Daphne Rubin-Vega: Thursdays, May 3, 10, and 17 at 8:30pm
Liz Callaway: Fridays, May 4 and 11 at 8:30pm
Idina Menzel: Saturdays, May 12, 19 and June 2 at 8:30pm
Catherine Malfitano: Mondays, May 7 and 14 at 8:30pm
Amanda Green: Sunday, May 13 and 20 at 7:30pm
Tonya Pinkins: Mondays, May 21 and 28 and June 4 at 8:30pm
Maggie Moore: Wednesdays, May 23 and 30 at 8:30pm

QUOTABLE QUOTES:


Julie Andrews discusses her singing voice in an AP article by Bob Thomas:
“Everybody said [at City Center’s ‘My Favorite Broadway’ concert], ‘My God, her voice is back!’ It's nonexistent, in terms of singing. There is singing and singing, and that was singing-talking. I was literally saying ‘On the plain, on the plain. . .’ as low as I possibly could. That I could fake. Ask me to sing ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ all the way through, and you would be horrified. . . . The voice is, I dare to say, getting a little better. My speaking voice is a lot better than it was. There's some hope that there is movement in the cords behind what scar tissue is there . . . I doubt very much if (my singing voice) will ever be what it was; it couldn't be with my age and everything. I'm still hoping I'll get some of it back. I'm very optimistic.”


Faith Prince discusses the role of Ella Peterson in a recent New York Times article by Robin Pogrebin:
“By the end of the show, you've done your comic number, your romantic number, your 11 o'clock number; you've hit every point you could as a musical theater actress. And being able to feel your chops like that, you couldn't ask for anything more.”


Liz Larsen discusses working with husband Sal Viviano in an on-line chat on the Fynsworth Alley website:
“We really love [working together]. It’s best when we’re not romantically involved in the show. Evita was fantastic because we were adversaries. The reason it’s so great is we can actually help each other. When he’s onstage and I’m offstage, I can actually watch and we can talk about what’s going on. We function best that way. Sunday in the Park was the same. It was an amazing experience. We were adversaries in that, they [George and Dot] never really have love scenes. That was very successful for us.”

IN OTHER NEWS Richard Jay-Alexander will direct a staged reading of a new musical version of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations on May 13 and 14 at Los Angeles's Renberg Theatre. Theatre and TV veteran Cloris Leachman will star as Miss Havisham, Hugh Panaro as Pip and Anastasia Barzee as Estella in this production, which is produced and co-written by Brian VanDerWilt. If all goes well, the classic tale could be Broadway bound . . . To celebrate the release of her new live-from-Carnegie Hall recording, Barbara Cook will perform at The John Harms Center for the Arts in Englewood, N. J., on Saturday, June 23 at 8 PM. Tickets are now on sale by calling (201) 567-3600 . . . Tony, Grammy, Oscar and Emmy-winning actress Rita Moreno will make a rare N.Y.C. concert appearance on Sunday, June 17 at The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse on East 68th Street. Moreno, who is currently on the hit HBO series “Oz,” will perform two shows on Sunday at 3 and 7 PM. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Kaye box office or by calling (212) 772-4448 . . . Fynsworth Alley Records recently recorded the one-night only benefit performance of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. The all-star benefit featured the talents of Stephanie Pope, Alice Ripley, Emily Skinner, Brian D'arcy James, Norm Lewis and Alton Fizgerald White. Stay tuned for a release date . . . Speaking of Fynsworth Alley, the new Broadway/cabaret label will also record the current revival of Bells Are Ringing, which stars Tony winner Faith Prince. The recording will be available in stores on June 26, and will be available directly from Fynsworth Alley’s website a week earlier on June 19. . . . Maryann Lopinto’s “Cabaret on the Record” makes its Chicago debut on May 14 at Davenport’s Cabaret (1383 North Milwaukee Ave.). The acclaimed series will benefit “Season of Concern,” a local Chicago charity that supports direct-care programs for people with AIDS. Scheduled to perform are such names as Karen Mason, Michael McAssey, Tom Michael, Spider Saloff, Kristopher McDowell, Beckie Menzie, Suzanne Petri, Nan Mason, Audrey Morris, Joanie Pollatto, Patty Morabito and Lisa Lauren. There is a $20 music charge and a two-drink minimum; reservations may be made by calling (773) 278-1830 . . . . And, finally, congratulations to this year’s Drama Desk nominees for Best Actress in a Musical: Christine Ebersole (42nd Street), Kaitlin Hopkins (Bat Boy The Musical), La Chanze (The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin), Sally Mayes (Pete n' Keely), Faith Prince (Bells Are Ringing) and Marla Schaffel (Jane Eyre). Those nominated in the Best Featured Actress in a Musical category are Polly Bergen (Follies), Kathleen Freeman (The Full Monty), Randy Graff (A Class Act), Cady Huffman (The Producers), Spencer Kayden (Urinetown!) and Janine LaManna (Seussical).

REMINDERS:

BETTY BUCKLEY
Following is Buckley’s most recent, ever-growing concert schedule:
May 12 College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
May 20 at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, KS
May 24 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, MA
June 17 at the Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA
July 27 and 28 at the Bottom Line in New York, NY
August 25 at the Great Waters Music Festival in Wolfeboro, NH
October 6 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
November 24 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
December 6 at Abravenal Hall with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, UT (Xmas program)

BARBARA COOK
July 9 at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL

LINDA EDER
Eder in concert:
May 31-June 3 in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392-4900
July 7 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion at the Woodlands in Houston, TX, (713) 629-3700
Sept. 15 at the Eisenhower Hall Theatre at West Point, (845) 938 4159
Oct. 19 and 20 at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, go to www.atlantasymphony.org
Nov. 3 at the Youngstown Symphony Center in Youngstown, OH, (330) 744-4269
Nov. 16 and 17 at Jacobs Symphony Hall in Jacksonville, FL, (877) 662 6731

PATTI LuPONE
The Tony and Olivier Award-winning actress has also just released a whole new slew of concert dates, which follow:


May 11 at the Fox Theatre in Stockton, CA (“Matters of the Heart”)
May 26 with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra at Brown University (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
May 31 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. With the National Symphony (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
July 7 at the Performing Arts Center in Westhampton Beach, NY (“Matters of the Heart”)
August 3-4 at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Los Angeles, CA (Gershwin salute)
September 15 at the Rialto Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia (“Matters of the Heart”)
September 20-23 at Bass Hall with the Ft. Worth Symphony in Ft. Worth, Texas (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
November 10 at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts (“Matters of the Heart”)
February 9, 2002 at the Tilles Center with the Long Island Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
February 22-23, 2002 at the Kleinhaus Hall in Buffalo, NY with the Buffalo Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)

KAREN MASON
What follows is Mason’s up-to-date performance schedule:
May 9-20 at Davenports cabaret in Chicago, IL

BERNADETTE PETERS
The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
June 8-9 in Minneapolis, MN
June 23 in Johnston, PA


DIVAS AT ARCI’S PLACE
Beginning May 29, 15 Tony nominees and/or Tony winners will perform at Arci’s Place (450 Park Avenue South), one of New York’s newest cabaret rooms. First up is the Tony-winning star of A Chorus Line, Donna McKechnie, who will take to the intimate stage of Arci’s on May 29 at 8:30 PM. Reservations for the cabaret shows ($30 cover; $15 minimum, which may be applied to dinner) can be made by calling Arci’s Place at (212) 532-4370. The complete list of divas follows:


Tuesday, May 29 Donna McKechnie (8:30 PM)
Wednesday, May 30 Priscilla Lopez (8:30 PM)
Thursday, May 31 Tovah Feldshuh (8:30 PM)
Friday, June 1 & Saturday, June 2 “Sibling Revelry” with Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway (8:30 & 11:30 PM)
Tuesday, June 5 Pamela Myers (8:30 PM)
Wednesday, June 6 Alison Fraser & Keith Hermann (8:30 PM)
Thursday, June 7 Lillias White (8:30 PM)
Thursday, June 7 Sally Mayes (11 PM)
Friday, June 8 Sharon McNight (8:30 PM)
Friday, June 8 Tsidii Le Loka (11 PM)
Saturday, June 9 Debbie Gravitte (8:30 PM)
Saturday, June 9 Tsidii Le Loka (11 PM)

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

By Andrew Gans