DIVA TALK: Divas in Concert, Five Years on Disc PLUS News of Buckley, Peters and Cook

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: Divas in Concert, Five Years on Disc PLUS News of Buckley, Peters and Cook


The casts of two star-studded Stephen Sondheim concerts — one in the U.S. and one in England — are now coming together, and both feature some wonderful theatre performers, including a few divas! Heading the company of the Ravinia Festival's production of A Little Night Music is none other than Patti LuPone, who will finish her run in the acclaimed Noises Off revival on July 14. LuPone will star opposite George Hearn (the two last appeared together in another Sondheim concert, Sweeney Todd) in the Aug. 22-24 concerts, and it will give the former Evita star a chance to sing what is, perhaps, Sondheim's best-known tune, "Send in the Clowns." Also featured in the production are Zoe Caldwell, whom LuPone followed into Master Class, plus Sara Ramirez, Hollis Resnick, John McVeigh and this season's Thoroughly Modern Millie star, Marc Kudisch. The Ravinia Festival's 3,300 seat Pavilion Theatre is located in Highland Park, IL, and tickets, ranging from $10 (lawn seats) to $75, may be purchased by calling the theatre's box office at (847) 266-5100.

In London, a month-long presentation of Sondheim's Follies at the Royal Festival Hall casts Kathryn Evans as Sally, Louise Gold as Phyllis, Diane Langton as Carlotta, Clarke Peters as Ben and ousted Producers star Henry Goodman as Buddy. Evans, a long-time fixture on the London musical theatre scene, was the last woman to play Eva Peron in the lengthy West End run of Evita, which made a star of Elaine Paige. Evans also co starred in the Elaine Paige Anything Goes production, the most recent West End mounting of Jerry Herman's Mack & Mabel and opposite John Barrowman in The Fix. Follies, which boasts such classic Sondheim tunes as "In Buddy's Eyes," "I'm Still Here," "Could I Leave You?" and "Losing My Mind," will play Aug. 3 through Aug. 31 at the Royal Festival Hall, located on Belvedere Road in London, England. Call 011 44 020 7960 4242 for reservations.

Speaking of La LuPone, the Olivier winner will team up with her Evita co-star, Mandy Patinkin, for a one-night-only concert on Sept. 14. Entitled “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin,” the two actor singers will share the stage of the Charles W. Eisemann Center in Richardson, Texas, which is located at 2351 Performance Drive. Call the theatre’s box office for tickets: (972) 744-4650. Other new LuPone concert dates include Oct. 4 at the Tillis Center in Long Island, NY ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda"); March 27 at the East County Performing Arts Center in El Cajon, CA ("Matters of the Heart"); March 28-29 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA ("Matters of the Heart") and March 30 at the Ham Auditorium at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, NV ("Matters of the Heart").

FOR THE RECORD The Last Five Years
One of the finest scores of the season was found Off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre, where Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years played its all-too-short run. Thankfully, the score by the Tony winning composer of Parade was preserved, and the 14-track disc is currently available on the Sh-K-Boom Records label. The two-character musical concerned a couple who relive their five-year, ill-fated relationship from opposite directions. Jamie (Norbert Leo Butz) sings about the couple's union from the moment they meet until they break apart, and Cathy (Sherie René Scott) belts her songs, which begin with the separation and go backward in time to the initial meeting. Butz, who also starred in this season’s Thou Shalt Not, and Scott — who possesses one of the more thrilling altos to come along in the past few years — offer terrific performances, vocally and acting-wise, and Brown's writing continues to impress, perhaps the most gifted composer-lyricist of his generation. Highlights of the recording include the musical’s opening number, which finds Cathy “Still Hurting” from the end of the relationship; Jamie’s comical ode to dating a woman who’s not Jewish, “Shiksa Goddess”; his proposal, which begins with a simple request for "The Next Ten Minutes," and his late-in-the show confessional, “Nobody Needs to Know”; and the final medley of “Goodbye Until Tomorrow” and “I Could Never Rescue You.” One hopes the unfortunately brief runs of Brown's two musicals won't deter the composer from more theatrical outings. He has a rare gift of melody and storytelling that belongs on the stage. IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK There are still tickets available for Bernadette Peters' eagerly awaited solo Radio City Music Hall concert debut this Wednesday, June 19. If you haven't booked your seats for this evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein, what are you waiting for? Call TicketMaster at (212) 307-7171. I'll be there and will have a full report for next week's column . . . Add Sept. 20 and 21 to the ever-growing list of Betty Buckley concerts. Buckley, who will offer two master classes in July at the T. Schreiber Studio, will bring her acclaimed concert act to Brisbane, Australia this fall . . . Polly Bergen, the best thing about the recent New York Follies revival, has extended her run in the Cabaret revival at Studio 54 through Sept. 8. Bergen offers a thrilling turn in the Kander and Ebb classic, playing the world weary Fraulein Schneider. It gives the singer-actress a chance to wrap her powerful contralto around one of the musical's most memorable songs, "So What." She also solos on "What Would You Do?" and duets with Hal Linden's Herr Schultz on "Married" and the comedically sweet love song, "The Pineapple Song." [Carole Shelley, who preceded Bergen in the show, will return to the role Sept. 9.] . . . Much-loved comedienne actress Carol Burnett — last on Broadway in Putting it Together — will sit down with Barbara Walters tonight, June 14, for a one-on-one interview. Burnett's appearance on "20/20" will mark her first interview since the tragic death of her oldest daughter, Carrie Hamilton, this past January. "20/20" airs in the metropolitan area at 10 PM EST on ABC Television . . . Fans of Helen Reddy, who made her Broadway debut in Blood Brothers, will be happy to learn that DRG Records will release her only live album (1978's "Helen Reddy Live in London at the Palladium") on June 25. The single CD, which includes Reddy's rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar's "I Don't Know How to Love Him," is the latest addition to DRG's Living Legends Collection . . . And, finally, get those VCRs ready! On June 30 the 2002 season of "Evening at Pops" begins with special guest Barbara Cook. The Tony-winning Music Man star will join conductor Keith Lockhart and will wrap her extraordinary voice around such tunes as "On a Clear Day," "In Buddy's Eyes," "Hard-Hearted Hannah," "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," "San Francisco," "Send in the Clowns," "Ice Cream," "Losing My Mind," "The Trolley Song" and Stephen Sondheim's "Anyone Can Whistle." The July 14 and July 21 broadcasts will pay tribute to the late Richard Rodgers; the first evening will focus on his works with Oscar Hammerstein and the second will offer tunes from his collaborations with Lorenz Hart. Rebecca Luker, Audra McDonald, Ron Raines, Douglas Sills, Mary Testa and Lillias White will take part in both the July 14 and 21 shows. "Evening at Pops" airs on PBS stations around the country. Check your local listings for times.


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