DIVA TALK: More News & Reviews

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02 Apr 1999

ELAINE PAIGE
I recently received word that a new fan club for Elaine Paige, which has been sanctioned by the magnificent performer herself, has just been initiated by a loyal fan. For those of you interested in joining the club, send a check/postal order/international money order for ten pounds (sterling only) to The Elaine Paige Fan Club, P.O. Box 5341, Leicester LE3 6YN, England. Checks should be made out to The Elaine Paige Fan Club, and be sure to include your name and address, so newsletters about Ms. Paige can be sent your way. I was also given a handful of upcoming Paige concert dates in Sweden, which are listed below:
June 10 Ulriksdal (as part of the Royal Ulriksdal Palace Festival) in Stockholm, Sweden
June 12 Finspang Palace in Finspang (outside of Norrkoping), Sweden
June 17 Sofiero Palce in Helsingborg, Sweden
June 19 Tradgardsforeningen Botanical Gardens in Gothenburg, Sweden



ELAINE PAIGE
I recently received word that a new fan club for Elaine Paige, which has been sanctioned by the magnificent performer herself, has just been initiated by a loyal fan. For those of you interested in joining the club, send a check/postal order/international money order for ten pounds (sterling only) to The Elaine Paige Fan Club, P.O. Box 5341, Leicester LE3 6YN, England. Checks should be made out to The Elaine Paige Fan Club, and be sure to include your name and address, so newsletters about Ms. Paige can be sent your way. I was also given a handful of upcoming Paige concert dates in Sweden, which are listed below:
June 10 Ulriksdal (as part of the Royal Ulriksdal Palace Festival) in Stockholm, Sweden
June 12 Finspang Palace in Finspang (outside of Norrkoping), Sweden
June 17 Sofiero Palce in Helsingborg, Sweden
June 19 Tradgardsforeningen Botanical Gardens in Gothenburg, Sweden

Paige will also appear as the special guest of Cliff Richards at his concerts in Hyde Park, London, on July 16, 17 and 18. Tickets are available from First Call: 0171 420 1000. And, don't forget, EP will make a special appearance in New York City in May when she will perform at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's spring gala on Wednesday, May 5 at the New Christie's Auction House in the city. The event is being hosted by Barbara Walters, and Paige -- who is expected to sing a handful of her biggest hits -- will be accompanied on the piano by Tony Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch. For more information about this worthy event, contact The Breast Cancer Research Foundation at (212) 572-4249.

SIAN PHILLIPS as MARLENE DIETRICH
In the upcoming May issue of Playbill, actress Sian Phillips discusses her role in the Pam Gems production, Marlene. Billed as a new musical play, the last 30 minutes of the show features Phillips singing a host of Dietrich standards. I thought you would enjoy reading a few quotes from the Phillips article, which was written by Harry Haun:

about playing the legendary actress:
"Marlene was so formidable. I thought, 'Oh, how am I ever going to do this?' The amount of work that goes into getting the wig right and the dress right -- it seemed insurmountable to me. And, unless you get the physical appearance right, you can't do the show. So that was hard. Finding out who could make that dress, who knew how to make it, was really quite difficult. The wig I had made by the same people who used to make Marlene's wigs. Paul Huntley is dressing it here, but it was made in Wig Creations in London where Paul used to work. At Wig Creations, they still have all her original notes, and we used them."

about the aging Dietrich:
"We play her in her late sixties, at a point where it is becoming difficult to preserve the legend, when the performance is not as easy for her as it had been. She had to go out and deliver 100 percent allure. There was no option, and that gets harder as you get older. Plus the legs. Her legs were lacerated when she fell off the stage once and were not healing. They were bleeding and wrapped in bandages, which is why she stopped wearing the slit skirt."

about the structure of the show:
"The play takes place in her dressing room on the first night of her famous Paris concerts in the late sixties, in the two hours leading up to that performance. Act I, you see the working woman backstage. Then I put on the dress and go out to do the concert. Act II is the interval of that actual concert where she's back in her dressing room, not really wanting to go back out there. Then, at the end, they get her to go on -- it becomes very glamorous -- and I do the concert, 15 or so songs. You get to see the legend, repackaged. We try to present the icon."

RECORDINGS

MARILYN MICHAELS
As Mother's Day draws near, it's appropriate that comedienne/ impersonator/ singer/actress Marilyn Michaels salutes moms and kids in her new recording, "A Mother's Voice," now available in record stores. In the liner notes for the CD, Michaels writes, "the songs. . . are united in one theme. I interpret them as messages and feelings we, as parents, have towards and about our children. . .I hope they give you as much pleasure in the listening as they gave me in the performing." And, in fact, what's most evident in the 14-track recording is the singer's pure joy for singing and her love of these beautiful, classic songs.

Michaels' voice and her singing is an amalgam of styles: part belt, part jazz and even somewhat gospel-flavored. The performer, who at one time had starred in a national company of Funny Girl as Fanny Brice, is at her most appealing when she avoids any vocal acrobatics and simply lets the song and her voice speak for themselves. Listen to her recording of the CD's title track, "A Mother's Voice," for an example. Her simple, unaffected rendition of this uplifting tune is completely heartwarming. Michaels also scores with a jazzy, appealingly rhythmic rendition of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music as well as a playful "Talk to the Animals" and a joyous "Me and My Baby," in which she is joined by her 14-year-old son, Mark Wilk.
In February, Michaels takes her new revue, Goin' Hollywood, to Harrah's Hotel in Atlantic City, but for now her fans can content themselves with A Mother's Voice. The complete track listing follows:
"A Mother's Voice"
"My Favorite Things"
"When I Look in Your Eyes"
"If I Could"
"With a Song in My Heart"
"September Song"
"Children and Art"
"Me and My Baby"
"Sonny Boy" / "Danny Boy"
"Talk to the Animals"
"Scarlett Ribbons"
"Unter Boimer"
"When You Wish Upon a Star"
"The Impossible Dream"

JULIE WILSON
On her new recording, Julie Wilson tackles the Gershwin songbook, interpreting most all of the Gershwin standards, including "Someone to Watch Over Me," "But Not For Me," "Embraceable You" and about 20 other titles. While Wilson's instrument is not what it once was, the singing actress more than makes up for her vocal flaws with an intensity and lyrical devotion that brings these gems to life. Wilson is accompanied by her longtime pianist and musical arranger, William Roy, on this DRG Release. The complete track listing for "Julie Wilson Sings The Gershwin Songbook" follows:

"Sweet and Low-Down" / "Oh, Lady Be Good!"
Medley: "He Loves and She Loves"/ "My One and Only"/ "That Certain Feeling"
"They All Laughed"
"Someone To Watch Over Me"
"Treat Me Rough" "Do, Do, Do"
Medley: "Isn't It a Pity?" / "Funny Face" / "Soon"
"A Foggy Day"/ "Love Walked In"
Medley: "Lorelei"/ "It Ain't Necessarily So"/ "Sam and Delilah"
Medley: "They Can't Take That Away from Me"/ "But Not for Me" / "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
"Could You Use Me?" / "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off"
Medley: "I've Got a Crush On You" / "Embraceable You" / "How Long Has This Been Going On?"
"The Man I Love"
"Of Thee I Sing" / "S'Wonderful"

IN OTHER NEWS To celebrate the upcoming release (on April 20) of the Annie Get Your Gun cast recording, that show's stars, Bernadette Peters and Tom Wopat will be part of a CD signing at the Virgin Records Megastore in Times Square on Friday, April 23 at noon . . . Speaking of Ms. Peters, the Tony-winning Song & Dance gal will be a part of "In Style" magazine's look at star dressing rooms. The (June) issue that features Peters' newly-renovated dressing room -- with help from her friend, Joel Grey -- hits newsstands on May 20 . . . Another multi-talented Broadway star, Nell Carter, will be seen in an upcoming CBS TV movie that will air sometime in May on that network. Carter stars with Angie Dickinson, John Stamos and Robert Stack in this made-for-TV drama, which is titled "Longfellow's Bridge." . . . What a pleasure it was to see London's Ruthie Henshall make her New York debut in last week's City Center Encores! production of The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936. Can't wait to see her performance in Chicago, when she joins the Broadway production in May . . . Though not in a belty mood, Judy Kuhn sounds wonderful on the just-released cast album of As Thousands Cheer on the Varese Sarabande label. Kuhn joins Kevin Chamberlain, Howard McGillin and B. D. Wong on "How's Chances," duets with McGillin on "Easter Parade" and solos on the Irving Berlin classic, "Lonely Town." You can currently catch Kuhn in person at the Vineyard Theatre in the world-premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon and Tina Landau's musical Dream True, which traces 50 years in the lives of two boyhood friends. . . Theresa McCarthy, a singer whose voice I have enjoyed during her guest stints at concerts of Audra McDonald and Brian d'Arcy James, can be heard on Adam Guettel's "Myths and Hymns" CD on Nonesuch Records. McCarthy lends her voice to such Guettel tunes as "Children of the Heavenly King," "Migratory V," "Come to Jesus" and "The Great Highway."

REMINDERS:

LAURIE BEECHMAN
On April 5 friends and colleagues of Laurie Beechman will gather at the West Bank Cafe's Laurie Beechman Theatre on West 42nd Street to honor the late star of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Cats. The evening's proceeds will benefit the Laurie Beechman Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Cincinnati/College Conservatory of Music. The scholarship award is given annually to a graduating senior.

The event, which is being produced by Beechman's longtime friend and agent, Jim Wilhelm, will be staged by Richard Jay-Alexander, another friend who also coordinated her memorial service. As of press time, those performers scheduled to entertain include Faith Prince, Sam Harris, Randy Graff, Karen Mason, Loni Ackerman, Mary Testa, Ron Raines, Catherine Hickland and Andrea McArdle. Mark Linn-Baker will host the evening, which will feature musical direction by Larry Yurman. Tax-deductible tickets are priced at $250, and the evening includes cocktails (at 6:30 pm), the performance and dinner after the show. Reservations may be made by calling the West Bank Cafe at (212) 695-6909.

SARAH BRIGHTMAN
On June 22 and 23, admirers of The Phantom of the Opera star will get a chance to see the singer in concert at City Center in New York City.

BETTY BUCKLEY
BB concert line-up:
April 17 at the Lehman Center for the Perf. Arts in Bronx, NY
April 23 at the College of New Jersey in Erwing, NJ
May 3 at the Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center in Chicago, Ill.

PATTI LuPONE
LuPone will join opera star Bryn Terfel for a concert version of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. The performers will be backed by the New York Philharmonic, and the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday.

KAREN MASON
Karen Mason is currently singing nightly at Davenports Cabaret in Chicago, where she will reside through April 11; call (773) 278-1830. The songstress will perform at the Bradstan Inn in White Lake New York on June 20, and on Sept. 25 KM will perform in concert to benefit Dallas Children's Theatre Fairmont Hotel, Dallas.

BERNADETTE PETERS
Peters is set to sing her lovely, poignant rendition of Irving Berlin's "Moonshine Lullaby" on ABC's "The View" on Tuesday, April 13. Be sure to set your VCRs.

MAC AWARDS
The 13th annual MAC Awards, the Oscars of the New York cabaret scene, will honor Barbara Cook and her musical director, Wally Harper, with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Monday, April 5 at 7:30 PM at Town Hall. Betty Buckley, another MAC Award winner, will perform as well. And, Liza Minnelli, who will receive the MAC Board of Directors Award, is expected to perform with Billy Stritch. Tickets range from $20-$100 and are available the Town Hall box office and through TicketMaster. For more information about MAC, call (212) 465-2662.

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

by Andrew Gans
e-mail me at agans@playbill.com

Diva Talk is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Shepard, 1976--1998.