Hello, diva lovers! I wanted to say thank you for all the e-mails I received regarding last week’s “Divas of the Century” column. I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and additions to the ever-growing list. Thanks again, and Happy New Year!
Congratulations to Betty Buckley, who received her first Grammy Award nomination this week for Best Spoken Word Album. Buckley and Mandy Patinkin received nominations for their work in the Fair Oaks Audio release, The Diaries of Adam & Eve: Translated by Mark Twain, produced by Don Roberts. The 42nd Annual Grammy Award nominees were announced at a star-studded reception at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Tuesday, January 4. Other recordings nominated in the spoken word category include The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (LeVar Burton for Time Warner Audiobooks), John Glatt’s The Chieftains - The Authorized Biography (Nanci Griffith for The Publishing Mills), Merle Haggard and Tom Carter’s Merle Haggard's My House of Memories - For The Record (Merle Haggard for Harper Audio), and Frank McCourt’s ’Tis (Frank McCourt for Simon and Schuster). The winners of the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards will be announced on February 23, 2000 on CBS.
And, more exciting BB news: After two sold-out performances on January 1, 2000, Betty Buckley will return to the famed Cafe Carlyle for a five week stint beginning Tuesday, February 15. Buckley will perform two shows nightly at the plush boite, at 8:45 PM and 10:45 PM, Tuesday through Saturday evenings.
The upcoming engagement, which concludes on Friday, March 17, will feature the premiere of songs from Buckley’s latest recording, “Heart to Heart,” scheduled for release in mid-February. The disc, Buckley’s first for the newly formed KO Productions record label, will also be available for purchase throughout the run of her Carlyle gig and features Buckley and her long-time pianist/musical director Kenny Werner on such songs as Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is the Ocean?,” the pop classic “Fire and Rain” and a mixture of pop, standard and traditional songs that Buckley refers to as “contemporary art songs.” The recording also boasts two of Buckley’s own compositions and two songs with guitar accompaniment from the Hartford Stage production of Tennessee Williams’ Camino Real. At the Carlyle, Buckley will be backed by Bill Mays, Tony Marino and Jamey Haddad. On certain nights pianist Kenny Werner or Bruce Barth will play instead of Mays and percussionist Daduka Da Fonseca instead of Haddad. 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.
Last week I received the second edition of “Elaine’s Paige’s,” the EP newsletter, which is primarily devoted to Paige’s upcoming West End run in The King and I. As you already know, Paige will star as Anna Leonowens opposite Jason Scott Lee’s King of Siam in the Christopher Renshaw-directed production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic musical. The King and I will begin previews at the London Palladium (Paige’s first-ever London performance was in Babes in the Woods at the Palladium while she was in Drama School) on Tuesday, April 18 with an official opening on Wednesday, May 3. Performances are Monday to Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:30 PM. Call the Palladium box office at 0171 494 5020 for tickets.
There is also a Q&A session with Elaine regarding her upcoming album, and I thought you would enjoy reading some excerpts from the discussion:
Q: How is the new album coming along?
EP: I have been working on a new album for some time now doing a lot of the background work which takes time. Album projects can take a while to come together as it is a case of finding exactly the right songs and getting a great team of people together.
Q: It can’t be easy picking material, how do you go about it?
EP: As I don’t write myself, the search for material that is exactly suitable and that expresses the sentiment I really want to sing is not easy. Publishing companies help in the search as does the producer.
Q: When you get the material together, what is the next process?
EP: Once we have the material together, it may in fact be just a few of the tracks to start with, we then decide on the feeling we want to find for the song and therefore the arrangement. We then go about recording the musicians and my vocal, backing vocalists and anything else required on the track. The process can take a long time and then the all important mix is something that can really make a song, so it’s a slow process in order to find exactly the sound we are all looking for.
Q: How long are you in the studio for?
EP: The length of time in the studio can be several weeks altogether. I for one like to be involved in the whole process from the beginning to end rather than just record a vocal. I work very closely with the producer the whole time so we need to have a very good working relationship.
Q: When do you think the album will be ready?
EP: We hope that the album will be released next year -- due to other work commitments, we are recording this one in stages so as soon as we have all the tracks recorded, you will hear more.
A diva lover recently forwarded me a copy of HX Magazine, which featured Susan Lucci on the cover and an interview with the queen of the daytime soaps. Lucci, as you all know, is currently filling in for the vacationing Bernadette Peters in the Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun. Following are a few choice quotes from the Lucci interview, which was written by Matthew Farris. Next week, some thoughts about Lucci’s performance.
About following in the footsteps of Bernadette Peters:
“Of course it is [daunting to following in her footsteps]. I mean, Bernadette Peters is one of the great stars of Broadway. I am very honored to have been asked to step in for her while she takes a break. I admire her enormously. And in addition to her tremendous talent, she’s been so very gracious and lovely. It’s been the nicest possible experience.
About her dream of playing on Broadway:
“My whole life [I’ve wanted to star on B’way.]! I got sidetracked in a very happy way, you know, just doing other things. So, when this came along, it was just spectacular. I first had to work with vocal coaches to see if they thought I could do it. I wanted to make sure I was up to the task because it’s fabulous music-- it’s Irving Berlin! Anyway, they were very encouraging, and they continue to be. So, I’ve gone ahead with it. I had to audition for John McDaniel (the musical director) and for the producers.”
About comparing “All My Children”’s Erica Kane to Annie Oakley:
“Well, they’re very different, of course. But you know, they’re also similar in many, many ways. Something I love about Annie Oakley that I also love about Erica Kane is that they both have this indomitable spirit. They’re survivors. They go about their lives in very different ways. Annie is anything but sophisticated -- she’s the opposite -- but she’s really good at what she does. And she’s just full of spirit. It’s another great part. I couldn’t be luckier.
IN OTHER NEWS Cabaret veteran Claiborne Cary will make her Algonquin debut on Thursday, January 13 at 9 PM. Cary’s latest show, “At Long Last Clai,” will run for three weeks at the Algonquin Hotel’s Oak Room and will feature favorites from classic composers like Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter as well as newer works by songwriters Francesca Blumenthal and John Wallowitch. Highlights of her show include a Peter Matz/Jeff Steve Harris song from the new musical The Final Performance of the Last Revue and “Charade,” a Johnny Mercer song from the concert version of the best-selling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Cary will be in residence at the Oak Room through January 29; there is a $50 cover plus a $15 food/drink minimum. For reservations, call (212) 840-6800. The Algonquin Hotel is located at 59 West 44th Street . . . Comedian, writer and musician Seth Rudetsky’s new live Broadway Talk show, “The Seth Rudetsky Show,” continues on January 6 with special guests Rebecca Luker and Janet Metz. His guest on January 13 is composer/musical director David Friedman, and on January 20 Rudetsky welcomes Priscilla Lopez and Kelly Bishop. The programs at Don’t Tell Mama (West 46th Street) benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and there is a $10 cover charge and a two-drink minimum; call (212) 757-4788 for reservations.
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 Albec 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
From February 1 through February 14, our Evita gal will perform on the stage of the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; February 18 will bring her to the Phil. Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida, and on February 19, LuPone will take to the stage of the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida . . .Tickets are also now on sale for the upcoming New York Philharmonic production of Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. Starring LuPone and opera singer Bryn Terfel, the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim’s 70th birthday. Tickets range from $75 to $250 and may be purchased by calling (212) 721-6500 . . .
Already announced McGovern concert dates:
Jan. 22: "Sondheim & Jazz: Side by Side" at the UCLA Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA
Jan. 23: at the Mentor Performing Arts Center in Mentor, OH
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
What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:
January 21 and 22, 2000 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah
DIVAS AT JOE’S PUB
Faith Prince will return to the intimate stage of Joe’s Pub on January 7 and 8, performing her acclaimed concert, Leap of Faith. The evenings will be recorded live by DRG Records for future release. There is a $30 cover charge, and the performances begin at 8:30 PM . . . On January 17, 24 and 31, Randy Graff, Debbie Gravitte and Adriane Lenox will star in an evening of theatre and pop songs by Tony winning City of Angels lyricist David Zippel. Shows begin at 8:30 PM, and there is a $25 music charge. Joe’s Pub is located inside the Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets may be purchased at the theatre’s box office or through Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. For more information, call the Pub at (212) 539-8777.
Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!
-- By Andrew Gans