The bevy of songbirds nesting at NY's Carnegie Hall for "My Favorite Broadway - The Leading Ladies," a Sept. 28 benefit, includes stage performers from Andrews to Ziemba --- Julie to Karen (though not Betty Buckley, Donna Murphy and Ann Reinking).
Although Julie Andrews will host and not sing, a more complete list of diva singers has been announced, including Nell Carter, Lea DeLaria, Jennifer Holliday, Ann Kendrick, Judy Kuhn, Priscilla Lopez, Dorothy Loudon, Marin Mazzie, Andrea McArdle, Audra McDonald, Liza Minnelli, Debra Monk, Rosie O'Donnell, Faith Prince, Chita Rivera and Karen Ziemba.
Previously announced performers Buckley, Murphy and Reinking will not take part, due to scheduling conflicts, according to spokesman Peter Cromarty (Sept. 22). Cromarty said, for example, that Buckely hadn't yet gone into the Paper Mill Playhouse's Gypsy when she was announced to sing in the diva concert over the summer.
As is typical with big-cast concerts, performers are subject to change. The show will be recorded for release on CD and on video for PBS' "Great Performances" series. No record label or release date for the CD has been announced.
Tickets went on sale Sept. 8 (via Carnegie Charge). Some of the proceeds from ticket sales ($50 $250) will go to AmFAR and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. * 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.)
Rivera's credits include Kiss of the Spider Woman and a current touring show that may still be Broadway bound. Buckley appeared in Triumph of Love and will 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 including My Fair Lady and Camelot. Andrews' last Broadway show was Victor/Victoria, a run hampered by 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, confirmed a New York Post 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.