DIVA TALK: Calling All Divas...

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Returning from a recent vacation after a triumphant closing night in the New York production of Sunset Boulevard, Elaine Paige is set to take part in a few fund-raising efforts for some great causes. First up, the wonderful EP will co-chair a celebrity auction of The Scaasi Couture Collection this Wednesday, April 16 at Sotheby's in New York City.
The charitable Elaine Paige
The charitable Elaine Paige

Returning from a recent vacation after a triumphant closing night in the New York production of Sunset Boulevard, Elaine Paige is set to take part in a few fund-raising efforts for some great causes. First up, the wonderful EP will co-chair a celebrity auction of The Scaasi Couture Collection this Wednesday, April 16 at Sotheby's in New York City.

The auction will benefit a cause that is of utmost important to Paige, one in which she has been actively involved with in London and is now trying to involve other women of the theatre here in New York: breast cancer research. In the U.S. Paige is devoting her efforts for this cause on behalf of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by Evelyn Lauder that is dedicated to "funding clinical research into the causes and treatment of breast cancer." The upcoming charity event may see the likes of Mary Tyler Moore, Joan Rivers, Liliane Montevecchi (and others) and will auction over 100 of Arnold Scaasi's couture dresses, some of which were made for Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand and other celestial beings. There's even a dress from the collection of another Norma Desmond, Diahann Carroll. The exhibition of dresses is open to the public on April 13 (1 to 5pm), 14 (10 am to 5pm), 15 (10 am to 5pm) and 16 (10 am to 1pm). The total amount of all sales will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. (For further information regarding The Foundation, call 212-572-4249 or write to 767 Fifth Avenue, 40th Floor, New York, NY 10153.)

An event to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS that Paige will take part in is currently in the planning stages, but I will let you know about this fundraiser as soon as I get word. And, don't forget, EP will make her U.S. concert debut with the Boston Pops on May 7 (and May 12). I will be catching the May 7 performance; for those of you who would also like to see what promises to be a thrilling event, call Symphony Charge at 617-226-1200.

There was an intriguing item in this week's New York Post that stated that Bernadette Peters would be replacing Ann Reinking in the hit revival of Chicago as of June 24. According to Bernadette's press rep Judy, this is untrue, although plans are moving forward for Bernadette's much-awaited return to The Great White Way--but not in Chicago (I had actually heard that the women who are in the race to take over for Reinking include Donna McKechnie, Marilu Henner and Cheryl Ladd. My vote would be for McKechnie. It's time this talented dancer/singer/actress returned to Broadway)


As for more definite Bernadette plans, the supremely talented performer will make an appearance on "Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" on May 5. Peters is also currently filming a movie for Hallmark Entertainment in Wilmington. Entitled "What the Deaf Man Heard," the made-for-TV flick casts Peters as a mother in the 1940's and co-stars Matthew Modine, James Earl Jones and Tom Skerrit. The movie will air on CBS (date to be announced). Peters is one busy lady these days--her other made-for-TV film, The Odyssey, is scheduled to air in May.

Good news for all of you Sunset Boulevard devotees: The Australian Norma Desmond, Debra Byrne, who has received rave reviews for her performance in the production of Sunset down under, has just released her latest recording, and it features three songs from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. In addition to "With One Look," "As If We Never Said Goodbye" and "Surrender," the CD also includes a few Sondheim tunes as well. For those of you who can't wait until the recording is available in the U.S. (at import stores like Footlight Records and Colony), you might try calling the Readings Music Store in Australia to order a copy. Their number is 011 61-3-9867-1885, and they have a website at www.readings.com.au. I will report on the Byrne recording as soon I receive a copy.

Nell Carter, who shot to fame during her Tony Award-winning run in the Fats Waller musical revue Ain't Misbehavin', is currently back on Broadway in the much-in-the-news revival of the Charles Strouse/Thomas Meehan/Martin Charnin musical Annie. Portraying the ruthless head of the orphanage Miss Hannigan, Carter gets a chance to revel in Hannigan's diabolic ways while belting out the show-stopping "Little Girls." It's also a busy time for this sassy lady with the big voice, who will have the honor of singing the National Anthem on April 15 at the Mets/Dodgers game (this is baseball, right?), which celebrates the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson was the first African-American in the professional baseball league (1947). Carter, who devotes much of her time to the AIDS awareness cause, will sing at this year's AIDS Walk on May 18, which benefits GMHC. For more information about this worthy organization and the upcoming fundraising event, call 212-807-WALK.

When one thinks of the works of John Kander and Fred Ebb, the two performers who spring to mind are Liza Minnelli and Chita Rivera, for their careers are both inextricably linked to these talented musical theatre writers. And, on Tuesday, May 20 at the New York Marriott Marquis, Kander and Ebb will be honored by the New Dramatists at their 48th Annual luncheon with appearances by both Minnelli and Rivera. Rivera, who has received Tony Awards in two of the team's works (The Rink and, more recently, Kiss of the Spider Woman), will present the prestigious award to the composing duo, and Liza Minnelli will serve as honorary chair of the event. Entertainment at the luncheon, which celebrates the writers of Cabaret, Woman of the Year, The Rink and many more hits, will include performances from two current Kander and Ebb musicals, Chicago and Steel Pier. Other entertainers scheduled to perform include Rivera, Gwen Verdon and singer/comedienne Kaye Ballard.

Tickets to the luncheon, beginning with a champagne reception at 11:15 am and ending around 2:30pm are $150. For further information, call 212-757-6960.

McGovern, who recently released a new album for Sterling Records (The Music Never Ends: The Lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman), will make an appearance on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" to promote this wonderful new recording. (For those of you who haven't heard the CD, it's an excellent one: McGovern's rendition of "Ordinary Miracles," one of my new favorite songs, is superb. She also delights with her take on "I'll Never Say Goodbye" and others). McGovern will tape an appearance with Rosie on April 15, to be aired on April 16, and she is scheduled to perform "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" from her aforementioned new disc.

McGovern will then depart for Los Angeles, where she is returning- by popular demand--to the posh L.A. cabaret, the Cinegrill. McGovern will hold court at the Cinegrill from April 16-19. If you live in the L.A. area or are just visiting, be sure to check out this lady's wonderful act (her multi-octave range will amaze you). And, while she's in L.A., MM will be interviewed by KTLA Morning News on April 23.

If you've never heard Anne Runolfsson sing, get yourself to Ed Sullivan's (at the Ed Sullivan Theater) this Monday, April 14. Runolfsson, Julie Andrews' standby in Victor/Victoria, possesses one of the most dynamic voices around with an extraordinary belting range to match. Runolfsson had also starred in the short-lived musical Cyrano, and at Sullivan's she will be performing songs from "At Sea" at 8pm. There is a $15 music charge and a $12 food/drink minimum. For reservations call 212-541 1697.

BETTY BUCKLEY has a few upcoming concert dates. First, the woman whose voice was described as "having the power and subtlety to seduce an audience into slavery" will perform on April 26 at the State Theater in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Then, on May 17 Buckley will sing at the Palace Theatre in Stamford, Connecticut. Showtime is 8pm, and tickets are available by calling the box office at 203-325-4466. And, on May 30 and 31, Buckley will perform with a full orchestra in Santa Ana, California. Tickets for these two evenings may be purchased by calling the box office at 714-556-2787, ext. 260.
will take part in a six-week tour of the music of Jerry Herman this summer. The tour dates follow (tickets can be booked beginning in June for most summer playhouses):
July 21-August 2 at the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT
August 4-16 at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Ogunquit, ME
August 18-30 at the Cape Playhouse in Dennis, MA
LuPone begins previews as Maria Callas in London on April 18, with an official opening at the Queens Theatre (Shaftesbury Avenue) on May 6. The performance schedule is Monday through Saturday at 8pm and Saturday at 3pm. Tickets range from £7.50 - £30.00, and the box office telephone number is 0171-494-5040. "By the way"... For those of you in the New York/New Jersey area who can't get enough theatre, you might try tuning into a radio program on WDVR 89.7 (in New Jersey on 91.9), called "Curtain Up." It airs from 7pm 10pm.

Coming soon:
A report on Elaine Paige's U.S. concert debut with the Boston Pops.

That's all for now. Happy diva-watching!

-- By Andrew Gans
e-mail me at andrew_gans@playbill.com

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