What I like most about Linda Eder in concert -- aside from that voice, which seems to have an unlimited range in both her chest (belt) and upper registers -- is her utter lack of pretense. Who else would apologize to the audience for a lengthy intermission by admitting she was breast-feeding her five-month-old baby, Jake? That confession, however, preceded the most moving performance of the evening, a heartfelt version of Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." Eder explained that every aspect of her life, including her singing, has changed since the birth of her son with husband/composer Frank Wildhorn, and she dedicated this pop classic to her newborn baby. That song, though, was in the second act, but there were plenty of thrills in the first half of Eder's generous recital.
The statuesque singer began the concert with "It's No Secret Anymore," the title song from her most recent recording. "This Time Around," "The Big Time," and "This Must Be Love" followed. Eder then revealed that she had dreamed of performing at the famed Hall since she was a young girl. "I'm pretty excited to be here," she explained. "I think the only person more nervous than me is my Dad. He's just that way," she joked, "and that's why I'm that way." Eder's frankness throughout the concert was also endearing. "In a way I wasn't really cut out to be an entertainer" she related, "because I don't walk out on the stage with any confidence whatsoever. I sort of get it from you as I go along. If I'm lucky, I leave with a whole bunch of it." Well, the trumpet-voiced singer certainly should have left the evening with an abundance of self-assurance. The audience, full of celebrities, critics and die-hard fans were a more-than-enthusiastic bunch, erupting into applause at the beginning and end of most every song -- and, sometimes, even in the middle, when Eder would let loose one of her thrilling, belty high notes.
The next section of the evening paid tribute to the late Judy Garland, Eder's original inspiration. "It all started when I watched this next lady sing," Eder said. "I wasn't lucky enough to see her sing live, but it was enough on television. I'm sure she sang this song here. I don't know how long it's been since it's been heard in these walls, but I hope we do it justice." The "it" was "The Man That Got Away," and, yes, Eder did it justice, building the song to a stirring effect. A gentle version of "Over the Rainbow" followed as Eder's voice glided throughout the vast hall. The singer displayed her great sense of rhythm during "Till You Come Back To Me" and followed with a salute to Broadway, including Les Miserables' "I Dreamed a Dream," Jesus Christ Superstar's "I Don't Know How To Love Him" and the Barbra Streisand anthem "Don't Rain On My Parade." Before singing "Parade," Eder admitted, "I don't even get mad when the critics call me a 'you-know-who wannabe' . . . [Of course], only a fool would take one of her songs and do exactly the same arrangement!" Eder's own anthem, a song from Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde followed, a soaring version of "Someone Like You"; when she sang the line "And I'd feeeeeeel so aliiiiiiive!," it was thrilling. The first act concluded with a spirited version of the title song from another Wildhorn musical, Havana, which may bring the singing actress back to The Great White Way.
Highlights of the second act included a selection of songs written for men, including snippets of "If I Were a Rich Man," "Maria" and "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" plus a simple, sweet take of "On the Street Where You Live" and a rousing, stentorian version of "What Kind of Fool Am I?" She also offered a version of Maury Yeston's "Unusual Way" that had just the right combination of love and longing. Eder finished the evening with a beautiful version of my favorite Wildhorn tune, "Vienna," a touching memory-song about a love that is no longer. The way her voice opens on "cause in Vieeeeeeeeeenaaaaaahhhhhh we were poetry" was an example of supreme belting. Encores included her terrific arrangement of Man of La Mancha's title tune, Jekyll & Hyde "A New Life" and "(We All Need) Something to Believe In."
A few minor quibbles: At times Eder lacks a certain dramatic intensity that would lift some of the heavier ballads into the next level of interpretation. Admittedly, however, the press seats were so far up that it was hard to see her facial expression, so more may have been going on than I could see. And, why eliminate the four lines of "I Dreamed a Dream" -- "He slept a summer by my side/He filled my days with endless wonder/He took my childhood in his stride/but he was gone when autumn came" -- that are the subtext for the entire song? Those two thoughts aside, the evening was a wonderful celebration of singer and song, and Eder wowed all in attendance with her superb vocal instrument: a triumph for the woman who dreamed of Carnegie Hall as a child. ALISON FRASER in HONK!
Honk!, a sophisticated musical version of Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, which received an Olivier Award nomination during its West End run, will hit these shores on February 12 at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center in Nyack, New York. Composed by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, this story of hope and bravery will star Gavin Creel as the ungraceful but hopeful, Ugly, and Alison Fraser as Ida, Ugly's loving mother. Other cast members include The Mystery of Irma Vep's Stephen DeRosa, Les Miz's Evalyn Baron, Encores! Babes in Arms's Melissa Rain Anderson and others. Directed by Gordon Greenberg, tickets are $24.50-$38.50 and can be purchased by calling the Helen Hayes box office at (914) 358-6333.
From a review by Celia R. Barker (in the Tribune) of Elaine Paige's sold-out concert with the Utah Symphony on January 21:
"Abravanel Hall was fitted with banks of stage lights, a black backdrop and even a smoke machine for this performance, and the orchestra was joined by Paige's own rhythm section. Members of the Utah Chamber Artists were on hand for vocal backup. Thus it was possible for Paige to make a dramatic entrance amid smoky theatrical lighting, to the sound of sizzling Latin-flavored licks from 'Evita,' the show that made her a star. From the first notes of 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina,' Paige held the audience in her hands. Her big voice is one mighty expressive instrument, and she puts the stamps of her unique personal style on every song she sings. And there were many. The music of Webber was prominently featured, with songs from 'Sunset Boulevard,' 'Chess,' and, of course, 'Memory,' from 'Cats.' That song was -- literally -- made for her, and no one does it better."
Another Paige review from Deseret News and written by Alan Edwards:
". . .the woman has a great sense of the theatrical. 'So dramatic, so early,' the British native sighed after her first song, 'Don't Cry for Me Argentina,' in Friday's concert with the Utah Symphony. The sold-out performance was only Paige's second public concert with a U.S. orchestra and was attended by people as far away as Seattle, Atlanta and, yes, England, according to the Abravanel Hall ticket office. As expected, Paige sang a sampling of songs from her more well-known musicals, in character and with great fervor. She used her arms and hands like props, waving them about, spreading the fingers, wrapping them around herself. She also sang a few other, widely disparate songs. Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'? Believe it. She also did a version of 'From a Distance' that put Bette Midler to shame . . ."
A loyal diva watcher forwarded Paige's program for the evening, which follows:
"Don't Cry for Me Argentina"
"I Get a Kick Out of You"
"I Gaze in Your Eyes"
"As If We Never Said Goodbye"
"I Know Him So Well"
"From a Distance"
"Mad About the Boy"
"Cry Me a River"
"Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien"
"If You Love Me"
Encore: "With One Look"
John Kander discusses Liza Minnelli's "comeback" with gossip columnist Liz Smith ( New York Post, Feb. 2)
: "I have known many artists who lost their voice, their vocal abilities. Truly lost them. But I have never known anyone of these to 'come back.' Liza did something incredible and unique. She worked and studied so hard, and she won her vocal abilities back. She is actually singing better and with more skill today than she did before. She is using her voice with better effect. She is a phenomenon. I would also add that, in her entire life, Liza has never done a wrong or a hurt to anyone."
IN OTHER NEWS Earlier this week, two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters taped a segment for NBC's "Later Today." The segment features Peters singing Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine" and will air, appropriately, on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14). Be sure to set those VCRs . . . Former Evita star Florence Lacey will perform with her husband, Tim Stella, at the Crest Theatre in Del Ray Beach, Florida, on February 21. The evening is part of that theatre's Broadway/Cabaret series . . . I caught the final performance of All Girl Band this past Monday night at Joe's Pub, and it was even more enjoyable than the first night of David (lyricist for City of Angels, The Goodbye Girl, Hercules) Zippel songs. Carolee Carmello stepped in for Debbie Gravitte, who had a previous concert engagement in L.A., and let her voice soar on several tunes, most notably the bluesy "Another Mr. Right." Let's hope some record company steps up to the plate and records this wonderful songfest, one of the most enjoyable cabaret performances I can remember . . . Liz Callaway will perform her new solo show, The Beat Goes On: Liz Callaway Sings the 60's, in the Terrace Room at Lincoln Center on March 24 at 8 and 10 PM. The act will include pop, theatre and film songs from that decade. Stay tuned for more details. Callaway will also perform that show at the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, N.Y. on March 11 at 7 and 9:30 PM. Call (914) 698-0098. . . . Marin Mazzie will be Seth Rudetsky's guest at the February 24 edition of "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox" at Don't Tell Mama. The 6 PM program benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and reservations may be made by calling (212) 757-0788. See the "Reminders" section below for more details . . . At this year's Back Stage Bistro Awards, Tony winner Faith Prince will receive the award for Outstanding Major Engagement, and the Outstanding Musical Comedy Award will go to Lea DeLaria. The Bistro Awards honor outstanding achievement in cabaret, and this year they will be held at the Supper Club on West 47th Street. All Bistro-winning artists and shows will perform live, and tickets are available by calling (212) 536-1497.
Betty Buckley will return to the famed Cafe Carlyle for a five-week stint beginning Tuesday, Feb. 15. Buckley will perform two shows nightly at the plush boite, at 8:45 PM and 10:45 PM, Tuesday through Saturday evenings. There is a $60 cover charge but no food/beverage minimum. The cabaret room of the Carlyle Hotel is located at 35 East 76th Street; for reservations, call (212) 744-1600. Be sure to make your reservations now. Seating is limited.
A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
February 5, 2000 Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
February 6 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
February 8-9 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
February 11 Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
February 12 Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY
February 14 Keith Albee Theatre in Huntington, WV
February 15-March 17 at the Cafe Carlyle in New York, NY March 18 Folly Theatre in Kansas City, MO
March 19 Macomb Center for the Perf. Arts in Detroit, MI
April 24 Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance in Fort Worth, TX
April 26 Coronation 2000 in San Antonio, TX
May 4 Poway Center in Poway, CA
May 5-6 Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Cerritos, CA
May 7 Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
May 8 Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
August 29 Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL
Several concert dates have been added to Patti LuPone's ever-growing schedule. What follows are La LuPone's confirmed concert appearances as of this week:
February 2-14 at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, PA; (215) 569 9700
February 18 at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts (Hayes Hall) in Naples, Florida; (941) 597-1900
February 19 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (Dreyfoos Hall) in West Palm Beach, FL; (561) 832-7469
May 4-6 in Sweeney Todd at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) New York, NY; (212) 875-5656
May 12 at the Union County Arts Center in Rahway, NJ; (732) 499-0441
May 13 at the Staller Center for the Arts in Stonybrook, NY; (516) 632 ARTS
June 8-11 at Theatrefest/Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ; (973) 655-5112
Already announced McGovern concert dates:
Feb. 11 & 12 "Valentine Pops" with the Baton Rouge Symphony at the Centroplex Theatre for Performing Arts in Baton Rouge, LA
Feb 18 & 19 at the La Mirada Theatre for Performing Arts in La Mirada, CA
March 5 & 6, 19 & 20 with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA
March 17 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern featuring pianist Lee Musiker" at Purchase College-SUNY in Purchase, NY
March 24 & 25 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern" with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Rose Hall Stage in Oklahoma City, OK
ALICE RIPLEY and
That dynamic Side Show (and now The Dead) duo will join forces for a special concert this Valentine's Day, Monday, February 14, 2000, at The Skylight Room at the Puck Building (295 Lafayette Street). The Tony-nominated pair will perform songs from Side Show, their two albums ("Duets" and "Unsuspecting Hearts") and other tunes. A benefit for the Gay Men's Health Crisis, the evening will also include an open bar, hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction. Tickets range from $125 to $1,500. For more information contact GMHC at (212) 367-1514.
BROADWAY CHATTERBOX DIVAS
Here are Seth Rudetsky's upcoming guests for his weekly, live Broadway Talk show, "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox": February 3 brings that dynamic Side Show duo, Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley. On February 10, Marie Christine star Audra McDonald will delight the audience, and on February 17 Brian D'Arcy James and Alix Korey will share their amazing vocals. "Seth's Broadway Chatterbox" plays at Don't Tell Mama (West 46th Street) Thursdays at 6 PM, and proceeds benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. There is a $10 cover charge and a two-drink minimum; call (212) 757-0788 for reservations.
The 16th annual S.T.A.G.E benefit -- on March 3, 4 and 5 at California State University's Luckman Theater -- will honor composers Charles Strouse, Arthur Schwartz and Stephen Schwartz and will feature tunes from Pippin, Godspell, Applause, Annie, Working, The Baker's Wife, Bandwagon, Children of Eden and more. The Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E.) is the nation's longest-running AIDS benefit, and since its inception in 1984, the organization has raised millions for HIV/AIDS services and charities throughout Southern California. This year's benefit concerts will feature direction by David Galligan and musical direction by Ron Abel. Those scheduled to perform at this time include Jamie Anderson, Mitchell Anderson, Lucie Arnaz, Cliff Bemis, Polly Bergen, Alan Campbell, Mary Jo Catlett, Carole Cook, Tyne Daly, Clifton Davis, Barbara Deutsch, Jill Eikenberry, Bonnie Franklin, Penny Fuller, Betty Garrett, Sharon Gless, Jason Graae, Bill Hutton, William Katt, Lauren Kennedy, Stephanie Kramer, Dale Kristien, Lee Lessack, Andrea Martin, Pamela Myers, Linda Michele, Robert Morse, Deborah Nishimura, Linda Purl, Joan Ryan, Katie Sagal, Christopher Seiber, Tami Tappen, Michael Tucker with more names to come! Call (323) 665-0857 to order tickets by phone or visit www.stagela.com to order on-line.
Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching!
By Andrew Gans