DIVA TALK: Raves for LuPone & Ripley and More! | Playbill

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News DIVA TALK: Raves for LuPone & Ripley and More! Hello, diva lovers! “Diva Talk” will be on vacation next week for the Thanksgiving holiday but will return on December 1, when we may even have a new President! Until then, happy diva-watching!

Hello, diva lovers! “Diva Talk” will be on vacation next week for the Thanksgiving holiday but will return on December 1, when we may even have a new President! Until then, happy diva-watching!

On Monday evening, Tony winner Patti LuPone officially opened her two night-a-week concert act, Matters of the Heart, at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. La LuPone was also featured in this past Sunday’s New York Newsday in an interview by Susan Reiter. What follows are some of LuPone’s choice quotes:

about the songs in her current show:
“The show evolved from listening to a variety of music. These songs spoke to me. They’re all love songs, but it’s varying degrees of love, in a contemporary mindset. I can’t really sing a song unless it’s personal to me. Then I can express it to you. But I wouldn’t say this is a statement of where I’m at in my life right now. This is a show, a theatrical concert. I feel as though I’m in a musical, I really do. Otherwise, I’d be singing about chickens!”

about the short rehearsal period for her Sweeney Todd concerts (which were just released on CD):
“There was no time for anything except to put it on. When it was over, we all looked at each other and said, ‘What did we just go through?!’ Literally, the first full dress rehearsal with orchestra was the night of the gala! But there’s an advantage in having no time to over-think a part, no time to complicate it with one’s insecurities. Just do the work. You’re released, emotionally and mentally released.”
about her upcoming role as Charles Durning’s wife in David Mamet’s film, “State and Main”:
“I said to Charlie, ‘I’m your fourth wife! I’m your granddaughter’s friend!’ But we were a perfect match. It’s a very funny script. We filmed in Massachusetts, in the fall, and it was very beautiful. We all went out to dinner together to fish joints. I said to David, ‘This is the happiest I’ve ever seen you,’ and he said, ‘I’m surrounded by my pals.’”

One of my favorite cabaret singers, Andrea Marcovicci, will return to the Algonquin Hotel for her 13th season beginning Tuesday, Dec. 12. Throughout the past decade Marcovicci has become one of the foremost interpreters of the American songbook, and this year the talented singing actress will turn her attention to the songs of Kurt Weill with a show titled Kurt Weill in America. When Marcovicci premiered this act last year at the Kaplan Penthouse, she admitted that she wanted to bring the program to the Algonquin. In Variety, Charles Isherwood responded, “It would be a pity if she didn’t -- it’s a knockout.” You can expect Ms. M to wrap her voice around tunes from Love Life, Lady in the Dark, One Touch of Venus, Knickerbocker Holiday, Lost in the Stars and more. Marcovicci will perform Kurt Weill in America Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 9 PM. There is a $50 music charge and a $50 prix fixe dinner required (Tuesday evenings, there is only a $15 minimum in addition to the music charge). The chanteuse will also perform her acclaimed act, Our Songs . . . 1965-1985, on Friday and Saturday evenings at 11:30 PM. This program pays homage to the music of the Baby Boomers, including songs by the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Peter Allen and others. For these late-night shows, there is a $50 cover and a $15 minimum. The Algonquin Hotel is located at 59 West 44th Street; call (212) 840-6800.

Of the younger generation of divas, my favorites are probably Alice Ripley and Judy Kuhn. The latter, unfortunately, hasn’t been seen on Broadway since her brief stint in King David at the New Amsterdam Theatre, which, coincidentally, also featured Ripley as a stunning Bathsheba. Ripley, on the other hand, has been a busy gal these past few years, starring in Sunset Boulevard, Les Miserables, and, of course, the show that tested her mettle as an actress and singer, the cult favorite Side Show. Now, she is back onstage in another cult classic, the electric revival of The Rocky Horror Show at Circle in the Square Theatre. It’s her second show where the action of the musical depends on a broken-down car; in this case, however, she gets a chance to demonstrate her comedic abilities, and she is simply wonderful as Janet Weiss, “the slut.” Just watch Ripley’s priceless, often campy facial expressions as she encounters the crazy world that is Rocky Horror, and is forced (sometimes happily) to endure one degrading situation after another. She draws laughs from the crowd with most every line she utters in her “we’re-not-in-Kansas-anymore” style. Ripley is also in splendid voice and is, without a doubt, one of the two or three most exciting belters to have emerged in the past decade with a style of singing that is all her own. Although she doesn’t have that much to sing here, she makes the most of those moments, especially her delivery of the second-act’s “Touch-A Touch-A-Touch Me,” and her full-out chest tones in the show’s penultimate number, “Super Heroes.”

Frank Scheck reviews Barbara Cook’s new cabaret show (from The Hollywood Reporter):
“Barbara Cook may technically be 73 years old, but when she sings ‘Ice Cream,’ one of the highlights of her new show, her still-clear soprano voice rings with the purity and innocence of youth. One of our finest interpreters of the American popular song, Cook sings with a seeming effortlessness that makes each number come alive. After years of performing at the Cafe Carlyle, her show appears at Feinstein’s, which in the insular world of New York cabaret is a shift of seismic proportions.”

Bruce Weber reviews Patti LuPone’s Matters of the Heart concert (from The New York Times):
“. . .Ms. LuPone has generous and varied gifts as a singer. Her voice has the capability of bringing down a Broadway house, but she is largely in delicate mode here, the brass of her persona evident mostly when she sings about the wicked impulses of lust or the sly manipulations of courtship. She brings a nice touch of the bawdy to a suggestive lyric, as in Mr. Sondheim’s ‘I Never Do Anything Twice.’ And her experience as a stage actress, both dramatic and comic, enlivens a handful of conversational songs . . . When Ms. LuPone closes the evening with ‘Hello, Young Lovers’ and ‘My Best to You,’ it makes you want to hold someone’s hand.”

Another LuPone review: Charles Isherwood in Daily Variety:
“Patti LuPone is the rare Broadway diva -- perhaps the only Broadway diva -- who can delight with a sneer as well as a tear, wield a riding crop or fondle a rose with equal conviction. That’s meant affectionately: LuPone’s acidic way with a wisecrack or a comic lyric is a healthy antidote to the full-throttle emotionalism she can bring to her more earnest material. She ricochets between the two modes, with plenty of coolly reflective pit stops in between . . . It’s nice to hear an interpreter of LuPone’s caliber take on material not usually associated with theater performers. Newman’s quietly heartbreaking ‘Real Emotional Girl,’ for instance, is sung to perfection. LuPone’s wry timing also makes the most of Newman’s ‘Better Off Dead,’ a bleak survey of the delights of unrequited love. Maybe the greatest surprise of the evening comes near the end of the first act, when LuPone begins a lullaby-soft song that turns out to be a top 40 chestnut from the 70’s: the Hollies’ ‘Air That I Breathe.’ In LuPone’s softly swooning interpretation, it becomes a tribute to the overwhelming power of love.”

One final LuPone review! Chip Deffaa in the New York Post:
“Patti LuPone -- along with Barbara Cook, Bernadette Peters and Betty Buckley -- is one of very few artists capable of fully meeting the challenges of Stephen Sondheim’s most demanding songs. In the extraordinary concert LuPone is now giving at the Beaumont, she mines Sondheim’s towering ‘Not a Day Goes By’ for every bit of its considerable dramatic value. Then she follows it, for a masterly double punch, with an arch, little-known, Sondheim-inspired John Bucchino gem, ‘Playbill.’ It is extremely rare to find a concert so filled with peak moments as this one. At 51, LuPone is at the top of her game . . .”

IN OTHER NEWS Hope you caught Bernadette Peters’ interview on Bravo’s “Inside the Actors Studio” this past Sunday night. Peters chatted with host James Lipton about her Broadway and film career and sang a handful of tunes, including Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George,” “Move On,” “Children Will Listen” and “Sooner or Later” and Irving Berlin’s “I Got Lost in His Arms.” At Lipton’s request the two-time Tony winner even demonstrated her tap-dancing abilities. Check local listings for repeat airings . . . Vocalist Darlene (Carrie) Love will perform sixties tunes and Christmas favorites this December at Joe’s Pub in the Public Theater. Entitled “Love for the Holidays,” the show will be performed on Dec. 1, 3, 8, 9, 17, 19 and 20. Tickets are priced at $40 and are available by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200 . . . Acclaimed cabaret singer Baby Jane Dexter will return to the FireBird Cafe for four weekends in December, beginning on the 6th and running through Dec. 30. Dexter’s new show, “Making Every Moment Count,” includes songs by Leiber and Stoller, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Boudleaux Bryant, Abbey Lincoln and Rodgers and Hart, and reservations may be made by calling (212) 586-0244; there is a $30 music charge and a $15 minimum . . . That Simply Barbra guy, Steven Brinberg, will perform his Streisand tribute tonight (Nov. 17) and tomorrow night (Nov. 18) at the Stardust Theatre (1560 Broadway at 51st Street). The two performances, both at 11 PM, will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and will also feature Matt Bogart and several surprise Broadway/cabaret guests. There is a $20 cover and a $15 food/drink minimum, and reservations may be made by calling (212) 353 7778 . . . Four Washington D.C. vocalists, Wendy Lane Bailey, Cindy Hutchins, Sally Martin and Judy Simmons will be featured in A Cabaret Celebration!, a concert hosted by award-winning N.Y. singer Tom Andersen, tonight (Nov. 17) at 8 PM at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theatre in Arlington, Virginia. Tickets, which are priced at $15, are available by calling (703) 218-6500 . . . And, finally, upcoming divas at Arci’s Place (450 Park Avenue South at 30th Street): Spider Saloff’s “Cool Yule,” Dec. 3 and 10 at 3 PM; Karen Mason’s “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!,” Dec. 3 and 4 at 8 PM; “Lillias White in Wonderland,” Dec. 12-30; Marta Sanders’s “Christmas Brunch,” Dec. 17 at 3 PM; and “A Special Evening with Margaret Whiting,” Dec. 21 at 9 PM. Call (212) 532-4370 for prices and reservations.


Nov. 19 Symphony Hall in Boston, MA (Performing with Michael Feinstein)
Nov. 27 The Millennium Broadway and Hudson Theater in New York, NY (Presenting Award at the “Music Has Power” Awards)
Dec. 31 The Cuillo Center for the Arts in West Palm Beach, FL
Jan. 5, 2001 Koger Center for the Arts (Univ. of SC) in Columbia, SC
Jan. 6 Georgia Institute of Technology Center for the Arts in Atlanta, GA
Jan. 19-29 Florida Condo Tour in Florida
March 3 Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
May 12 College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
June 17 Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA

Cook’s concert itinerary follows:

Dec. 5 at the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ
Jan. 12, 2001 at Alice Tully Hall in New York, NY (“The Music of Arthur Schwartz” with Maureen McGovern, John Pizzarelli and more)
Feb. 2 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Feb. 23 and 24 with Michael Feinstein at the Cerritos Center for the Perf. Arts in Cerritos, CA

Eder in concert:
Nov. 17 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ; call (732) 246-SHOW
Nov. 18 at the State Theatre in Easton, PA; call (610) 252-3132
Nov. 19 at the Strand-Capitol Theatre in York, Penn.
Dec. 6 at the Ordway Center for the Perf. Arts in St. Paul, MN (651) 224 4222
Jan. 12 & 13, 2001 in Charlotte, NC at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; (704) 372-1000
Jan. 20, 2001 with the Boca Pops at Florida Atlantic Univ in Boca Raton, FL; go to: www.bocapops.org
Jan. 21 in Naples, FL at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts; (941) 597 1900
Feb. 1 & 2 in Phoenix, AZ at the Orpheum Theatre
Feb. 3 at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek, CO; (888) 920 2787
Feb. 15-17 in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; (202) 467-4600
Feb. 23 at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, NY; call (516) 334 0800
Feb. 24 at the Community Theatre in Morristown, NJ; (973) 539-8008
March 8 in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd Hall; (727) 791-7400
March 9 in Sarasota, FL at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; www.vanwezel.org
March 10 in Melbourne, FL at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts; (407) 242-2219
May 31-June 3 in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392-4900

Several concert dates have been added to Patti LuPone’s ever-growing schedule. What follows are La LuPone’s confirmed concert appearances as of this week:
Now through Dec. 17 (“Matters of the Heart”; Sunday and Monday evenings only) at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY; (212) 239-6200
April 8 ("Matters Of The Heart") at Duke University’s Page Auditorium in Durham, North Carolina; (919) 684-4444
Jan. 5-7, 2001 at the Morton J. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX (214) 871-4000

What follows is Mason’s up-to-date performance schedule:
Dec. 6-10 Karen performs her Christmas Show at Davenports in Chicago, IL (773) 278-1830
Dec. 15-17, 22-23 Karen celebrates Christmas with conductor John McDaniel and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis, MO
March 17 Appearance at 92nd Street Y with Craig Carnelia in New York, NY

Dec. 8-11 Holiday concert with the Oregon Symphony in Portland, OR
Dec. 12 Holiday concert with the Oregon Symphony in Salem, OR

Former star of Broadway’s Jekyll & Hyde, Christiane Noll will be hitting the concert circuit, performing throughout the USA. Noll will join other Broadway names in this concert tour, backed by some of the world’s greatest orchestras. Her complete schedule follows:
Dec. 2 with Doug LaBrecque and Michael Maguire and the New London Symphony in New London, CT
Dec. 7-17 The Magic of Christmas with the Portland Symphony in Portland, ME; (207) 842-0800

The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
Jan. 5, 2001 at PAC in Tulsa, Oklahoma (with symphony)
Jan. 11 at the Leon County Civic Center in Tallahassee
Jan. 13 at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater
March 29 at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, NY
April 6 at the Bass Perf. Hall in Fort Worth, TX (with symphony)
April 7-8 at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX
April 19 at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto (with symphony)
April 28 at the Pasquerilla PAC in Johnstown, PA
May 11-12 at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN (with symphony)
May 18-20 at the Myerson Hall in Dallas, TX (with symphony)

Well, that’s all for now. Have a wonderful holiday!

By Andrew Gans

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