How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Sure, you can practice, practice, practice -- or you can appear in a couple of legendary Broadway musicals and then join a couple of equally famous colleagues and put on a major concert.
As reported by the NY Post (July 15), that's exactly what's going to happen Sept. 28 when Julie Andrews will host an evening titled "My Favorite Broadway - The Leading Ladies." According to Tony Adams, producer of the Andrews vehicle Victor/Victoria, Andrews will definitely not sing, as she's still recuperating from an operation on her vocal cords. (On the plus side, Adams says (July 20) Andrews is getting better daily, and she's already booking concert engagements -- yes, singing concert engagements -- for next year.)
So who will warble at Carnegie? Her co-stars: Chita Rivera, Ann Reinking and Betty Buckley. Rivera's credits include Kiss of the Spider Woman and current touring show that may still be Broadway bound. Buckley appeared in Triumph of Love and is the lead candidate to play Mama Rose in Paper Mill Playhouse's upcoming Gypsy. Reinking choreographed and starred in the current Broadway hit revival, Chicago, and is helping shape the Broadway-bound dance revue, Fosse.
A member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, Andrews' credits include My Fair Lady and Camelot. Andrews' last Broadway show was Victor/Victoria, a run hampered by Andrews' vocal troubles that nixed her participation in a mini-tour of the musical. Co-producer Jeff Rowland (of John Scher's Metropolitan Entertainment) told the Post Andrews would be invited to sing at the Carnegie concert, "but it's totally up to her." Scott Ellis 1776 will direct "The Leading Ladies" event, and co producer Allen Newman, also of Metropolitan Entertainment, confirms the Post's report that Vanessa Williams, Patti LuPone, Whoopi Goldberg and Natasha Richardson are also interested in taking part in the event, which is being presented by Continental Airlines. Newman added that many of "the usual suspects" were also in talks to appear, including Liza Minnelli, Dorothy Loudon and Elaine Stritch.
Co-producer Tony Adams told the Post "What we're really excited about is that this is the beginning of a whole series of the best and brightest of Broadway... Conceivably they could last several days to a week or more."
Why Carnegie Hall? Producer Newman told Playbill On-Line, "Finding a Broadway theatre was logistically difficult, plus the cachet and status Carnegie Hall [2,800 seats] brings just with its name is enough to put this program at a level where it should be. We're talking about some very classy, stylized women and music."
Tom Thompson will write narration for the show, which Newman assures will not "just be divas doing a bunch of ballads. The show's going to be fun, with humor and a broad-based look at the greatest hits of Broadway."
Asked about future plans for the series, Newman said, "It's too early to plan at the moment, but of course, we're considering a "Leading Men" version, and I'd like to try a Rhythm & Blues version. Still, the title would always be "My Favorite Broadway," and it would be songs that are audience favorites and the performers' favorites.
As reported by the NY Post, tickets go on sale Sept. 8 (via Carnegie Charge) for the performance, which will be taped for broadcast on PBS' Great Performances series. Some of the proceeds from ticket sales ($50 $250) will go to AmFAR and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Also reached July 15, Great Performances spokesperson Bill Grayson confirmed negotiations were underway to broadcast a video of the event.
-- By David Lefkowitz