Hope you set your VCRs this morning, Friday, December 5, to catch Betty Buckley on NBC's "Today Show," where she was scheduled for an interview and a song from Triumph of Love. Speaking of Triumph, unanimous praise continues for Buckley's portrayal of Hesione in the new musical comedy at the Royale Theatre. In Liz Smith's column last Sunday, the gossip columnist had this to say about Ms. B: "[F. Murray Abraham] and the mightily gifted Betty Buckley are the anti-emotion, put-upon brother and sister who learn that though love isn't fair, it's better than no love at all. Betty Buckley, deservedly, has become a beloved Broadway icon and is never to be missed. Her presence and vocal velocity and dexterity are always a singular sensation. If you are smart, you won't miss this dazzling 'Triumph of Love.'" And, in the December 5 issue of Entertainment Weekly, writer Jess Cagle has this to say about BB in his article about current Broadway fare: ". . .[Triumph of Love] triumphs only when Betty Buckley--right now the finest voice on Broadway--gets to sing."
Raves also continue to pour in for Patti LuPone's performance in the new David Mamet play The Old Neighborhood at the Booth Theatre. In the Village Voice Michael Feingold writes, ". . .Patti LuPone, in contrast, cunningly masks the anger in "Jolly," covering it alternately with baby plaintiveness and chin-out defiance, till it explodes to shatter them both." Also, a reminder that La LuPone will be out of the show from January 6-14 (matinee) due to prior commitments (including an appearance on NBC-TV's "Frasier"). She will return to The Old Neighborhood for the evening performance on January 14. BERNADETTE PETERS
Hope you caught the terrific interview with Bernadette Peters this past Monday night on Broadway Beat, the Manhattan-based cable program that covers the Broadway and cabaret scenes. Peters sat down with host Richard Ridge for the first of a two-part interview just as she was set to begin rehearsals for the Into the Woods reunion concert. BP reminisced about much of her early theatre work, including her appearances in such productions as The Penny Friend, George M! (where she began a lifelong friendship with Joel Grey), La Strada (the Lionel Bart musical in which she starred on Broadway for one performance), Dames at Sea (which brought her to the attention of the New York critics) and more. The second half of the interview with Peters will air this coming Monday evening, December 8 at 1am (early Tuesday) on Manhattan cable channel 16. Broadway Beat also airs on Queens Cable channel 57, Mondays at 11 PM, on Washington, D.C. District Cable channel 25, Tuesdays at 7:30 PM and on Connecticut Cablevision, Channel 27 at 7:30 PM.
In the early 1980s Christine Andreas was one of the most promising young performers; in fact, she received two Tony Award nominations during this time for her work in Oklahoma! and On Your Toes. (Of interest to readers of this column, she lost the Tony in 1980 to Patti LuPone [for Evita] and in 1983 to Betty Buckley [for Cats]). Andreas followed those two triumphs with less success in such short-lived musicals as Rags and Legs Diamond. However, the singer/actress, who is blessed with a beautiful, soothing soprano, is back on Broadway this year in the new Frank Wildhorn musical The Scarlet Pimpernel and has recently released her first solo album on the Touchwood Records label. Entitled Love is Good, the CD is a mix of familiar ("Fly Me to the Moon," "Some Enchanted Evening") and new material ("Harry's Dream," "Pirate") and even includes a tune from Pimpernel, "Storybook." Andreas also duets with composer/performer Joel Higgins on two tunes, "Cover Me" and the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, "Younger Than Springtime."
Andreas's voice, which glides easily from softer tones to a rich belt, is surprisingly similar to another star of a Wildhorn musical, Jekyll & Hyde's Linda Eder, although Andreas possesses a more rapid vibrato. Highlights of the recording include an upbeat version of Lerner and Lane's "On a Clear Day"; the aforementioned Pimpernel tune, "Storybook," performed in both French and English; the Peter Allen/Michael Cullen anthem, "Love Don't Need a Reason"; and a heartfelt version of Billy Joel's "And So It Goes." Following is a complete song list of Andreas's first solo effort:
"Fly Me To the Moon" (B. Howard)
"Song of Bernadette" (L. Cohen/J. Warnes/B. Elliott)
"On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)" (A.J. Lerner/B. Lane)
"Harry's Dreams" (J. Higgins)
"Love Is Good" (M. Silvestri/T. Tanner)
"Love Don't Need a Reason" (P. Allen/M. Cullen/M. Malamet)
"Pirate" (S. Keister/A. Keister)
"Cover Me" (M. Silvestri/J. Higgins)
"The Moon's a Harsh Mistress" (J. Webb)
"Storybook" (F. Wildhorn/N. Knighton)
"All My Tomorrows" (S. Cahn/J. Van Heusen)
"Some Enchanted Evening"/ "Younger Than Springtime" (R. Rodgers/O. Hammerstein)
"And So It Goes" (Billy Joel)
Anastasia is the latest of the full-length animated films to be released, although this offering is the first from Twentieth Century Fox, following in the giant footsteps of the many Disney releases in the last decade (Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Hercules . . .). Fox fares very well for its premiere effort, offering a wonderful mix of music, beautiful animation and a story that is full of adventure and romance. The film is especially notable for employing the voices of three of Broadway's finest performers, Bernadette Peters (who lends her speaking and singing voice to the role of Sophie), Liz Callaway (who sings for the title character; Meg Ryan speaks the dialogue) and the always wonderful Angela Lansbury. The movie also boasts the writing team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, whose score for Ragtime will light up the Broadway stage next month at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The much-in-demand team has provided an enjoyable and utterly hummable score for Anastasia; highlights include Callaway's silky tones on the beautiful ballad "Journey to the Past"; Peters and company in the upbeat "Paris Holds the Key (To Your Heart)"; and the haunting "Once Upon a December." The CD, which is available on the Atlantic Records label, contains the following tracks:
"A Rumor in St. Petersburg"
"Journey to the Past"
"Once Upon a December"
"In the Dark of the Night"
"Learn to Do It"
"Learn To Do It (Waltz Reprise)"
"Paris Holds the Key (To Your Heart"
"At the Beginning"
"Journey to the Past" (Aaliyah)
"Once Upon a December" (Deana Carter)
"Speaking of Sophie"
"Kidnap and Reunion"
"Reminiscing with Grandma"
"Viaje Tiempo Atras (Journey to the Past)" (Thalia-bonus track)
As for Disney, word is that their next animated film will be Mulan, which will feature the voices of Lea Salonga, B.D. Wong, Harvey Fierstein, Eddie Murphy and Donny Osmond. After Mulan may come an animated Tarzan and then Kingdom of the Sun, which will feature the legendary Earth Kitt as the villainess!
Last week I had included a complete discography for Liz Callaway, which, unfortunately, was not as complete as I thought! Add the soundtrack recording of Fox's Anastasia to the list as well as the Varese Sarabande release, A Broadway Christmas, which features Callaway's wonderful version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."
IN OTHER NEWS. . .The Wiz's Stephanie Mills is currently starring in the Stephen Schwartz musical Children of Eden at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. Her co-stars include Adrian (Grease!) Zmed, Kelli (The Wizard of Oz) and William (Les Miserables) Solo . . . Rumor has it that Karen Ziemba, who recently lit up the stage of Steel Pier, may be stepping into the Broadway production of Chicago sometime in early spring . . . The much-anticipated revival of another Kander and Ebb hit, Cabaret, will begin previews on February 13 at the transformed Club Expo (124 West 43rd Street) and will star Natasha Richardson, Mary Louise Wilson, Alan Cumming and Ron Rifkin. . . Cabaret singer Baby Jane Dexter continues her newest program, entitled The Real Thing, Saturdays at 8:30pm at Eighty-Eights in the West Village . . . Word from Down Under is that Maria Mercedes, the Norma Desmond alternate in the Australian production of Sunset Boulevard, will release a solo album that contains her big numbers from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.
DIVA OF THE WEEK
Since this portion of the column reflects the performance that has moved me most during the week, whether in a live performance or on tape, I would like to choose all the "gypsies," male and female, who performed in the Gypsy of the Year Competition this past week. The competition is always one of the best productions of the theatre season, and this year was no exception: a wonderful array of comic and poignant moments. Highlights included the sensational dance numbers from the casts of Miss Saigon, Cats and The Lion King as well as the humorous efforts of the Titanic and Grease! casts. Congratulations to all of the participants for raising well over one million dollars to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. As the cast of The Last Session sang, "You can only make a difference when you care."
Marcovicci is currently performing at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC through Saturday, January 3; performances are Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 9pm and Friday and Saturday at 9pm and 11:30pm. There is a $15 food and beverage minimum as well as a $35 music charge (on Friday and Saturday, the music charge is $40). Dinner is required at the early show, and reservations can be made by calling (212) 840-6800. The Algonquin is located at 59 West 44th Street.
December 3: Concert performance in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre
December 5: Concert in Altoona at the Mischler Theatre
December 6: Concert in Pittsburgh at the Heinz Hall
December 14: "Holiday in Your Heart," made-for-TV movie on ABC
Add January 8, 15 and 22 to Runolfsson's previous New York cabaret dates--December 10 and 17--at Eighty Eight's in the West Village. Runolfsson is scheduled to sing at 10:30pm on each of these Wednesday nights, and reservations can be made by calling 212-924-0088. The club is located at 228 West 10th Street; there is a $12 music charge plus a two drink minimum. Runolfsson will also sing in L.A. at the famed The Cinegrill from Feb. 10-14, 1998.
That's all for now. Happy diva-watching!
-- By Andrew Gans
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