DIVA TALK: Chatting with Woman of Will's Amanda McBroom, Returning to Piazza and a Wicked Thought

By Andrew Gans
19 Aug 2005

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of returning to A Light in the Piazza at the Vivian Beaumont Theater. Some musicals suffer on repeat viewings — but not Piazza. In fact, I was even more impressed by the Adam Guettel-Craig Lucas musical this time around, more convinced than ever that it was the best musical of the 2004-2005 season. I had wondered whether knowing the resolution of the plot might affect my evening; rather than hindering my enjoyment, however, I found I was more relaxed and better able to savor each moment. I was more taken with Craig Lucas' book, which unfolds beautifully over the emotionally fulfilling two acts, and Adam Guettel's score — which I continue to listen to almost daily on CD — was as ravishing as ever. Among my current favorites are "The Beauty Is," "Il Mondo Era Vuoto," "Dividing Day," "Say It Somehow," "Love to Me," "Fable" and the glorious title tune. And, the book and score are in the beautiful hands and voices of a letter-perfect cast led by a triumvirate of talent: Victoria Clark, Kelli O'Hara and Matthew Morrison. All three were more powerful than ever, having become one with their respective roles: O'Hara's voice soars throughout the Beaumont as she perfectly capture's Clara's longing and childlike innocence. Morrison's yearning and subsequent joy at finding the love of his life are palpable, and his rendition of "Love to Me" is a heartbreaker. And, Tony Award winner Clark is simply perfect as doting mother Margaret Johnson from Winston-Salem. Clark is one of the few musical theatre actresses whose comedic moments register as fully as her dramatic ones. Her rendition of "Fable" is an emotional explosion, creating a performance that is now one of my all-time favorites, and one not to be missed. Add to that the evocative (and Tony winning) costume, lighting and scenic design of Catherine Zuber, Christopher Akerlind and Michael Yeargan, and one feels like grabbing a loose-fitting hat and heading off to Italy, or, at least, back to the Beaumont. That is where the beauty is. [The Light in the Piazza plays the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center; call (212) 239-6200 for tickets.]

A Wicked idea: Now that so many actresses have had the chance to don green make-up to play the not-so-wicked Wicked Witch of the West, how about a new recording featuring the many Elphabas? It could be called "The Green Album" and feature each subsequent Elphaba — Shoshana Bean, Eden Espinosa, Stephanie J. Block and Ana Gasteyer — singing her four big numbers: "The Wizard and I," "Defying Gravity," "I'm Not That Girl" and "No Good Deed." I suppose a follow-up CD could be "The Blonde Album" with the various Glindas singing their Stephen Schwartz show-stoppers.

Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life, the upcoming musical celebration of the life and art of Tony Award-winning Broadway gypsy Chita Rivera, will begin previews Nov. 23 at Broadway's Schoenfeld Theatre. The Dancer's Life, as previously announced, will make its world premiere at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre Sept. 10-Nov. 6 before arriving on Broadway in the fall. The musical will officially open on Broadway Dec. 11. Tickets for Chita Rivera: The Dancer's Life on Broadway ($55-$100) will go on sale Sept. 24 by calling (212) 239-6200 or by visiting www.telecharge.com. The Schoenfeld Theatre box office will open Oct. 17.

Andrea Marcovicci, who has been dubbed the "Queen of Cabaret," will bring her newest act, Just Love. . . , to Hollywood's Gardenia next month. From Sept. 14-17 the talented chanteuse will perform an evening of songs drawn from her two decades of singing in clubs and concert halls around the world. Just Love "celebrates the fragile human heart through songs, stories and poems and returns Andrea to her most spontaneous, witty and off-the-cuff self." Show time is 9 PM. Marcovicci will also release her latest solo recording Sept. 20. Entitled "Andrea Sings Astaire," the CD includes the tunes from Marcovicci's recent act devoted to the life and songs of the late Fred Astaire. Among the gems Marcovicci interprets are "One for My Baby," "Cheek to Cheek" and "The Continental." The Gardenia is located on Santa Monica Blvd; for reservations, call (323) 467-7444.

Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching! E-mail questions or comments to agans@playbill.com.