ROSIE SALUTES THE DIVAS
Rosie O'Donnell certainly was in diva bliss this past Sunday night during the exciting opening number (in fact, the best opening number I can remember in years) for the 1997-98 Tony Awards. Thought you might like to revisit the special lyrics penned by Seth Rudetsky (to the tune of Chicago's "Roxie") for the opening song, which featured Rosie flanked by three supreme ladies: Betty Buckley, Jennifer Holliday and Patti LuPone.
The thing that actors all adore is simply the Tony
But there's one thing that I want more than winning a Tony
I wanna be a diva
I wish there was some way I could learn
You see I try to sing like Patti LuPone, but I sound like Rhoda Morganstern.
Some say I'll never have my dream
I say, "That's bologna"
Some day I'll be in diva bliss
Cause I keep hoping by and by
If I raise my arms up high
I could sound like this.
Enter Patti LuPone singing "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"
When I saw Dreamgirls years ago, I dreamed I'd play Effie
But if I ever did that show, you'd wish you were deafy. Chicago dancers:
Still she hopes that someday soon she'll get to give Dreamgirls a whirl
You think they'll ever cast it with a pale, Long Island Irish girl?
I told some folks and they all say, "You'll never play Effie"
Oh please, that kind of talk won't break my will
You know why? Because I can't forget the joy I felt
When I heard Jennifer Holliday belt
I can hear her still.
Enter Jennifer Holliday singing "And I Am Telling You"
I wish that I could be in Cats and play Grizabella
I'd belt out "Memory" every day
But Betty Buckley, she can't be beat
Me, I sound like a cat in heat
Still I hope and pray.
Enter Betty Buckley singing "Memory"
I can't believe that I'm onstage surrounded by divas.
Tonight we celebrate Broadway.
You'll hear some other divas sing.
Ragtime, Pimpernel, Lion King.
Let the show start.
Be still my heart.
Tonys, Tonys, Tonys, Tonys
Take it away . . .
There's extremely exciting news for the many fans of Betty Buckley and the cult musical Carrie this week. Anyone who witnessed Carrie during its run on Broadway or who has heard audio tapes (which have floated around for years) of the musical knows that Buckley delivered thrilling versions of several gorgeous songs -- "And Eve Was Weak," "I Remember How The Boys Would Dance," "Evening Prayer," "When There's No One" - either alone or with co-star Linzi Hateley, who portrayed the title role. Fans have long clamored for a Carrie anniversary concert, and although that has yet to materialize, Buckley announced this week that she would perform several of her tunes from that show during her upcoming concerts this fall in New York City.
Buckley will return to one of her favorite New York haunts, the famed Bottom Line in Greenwich Village, for a series of Halloween Concerts on October 30, 31 and November 1. Special "mystery" guest stars will be announced as the concerts approach, and during the Halloween performance on October 31, awards will be given for best costume. Also, the Sunday afternoon performance on November 1 will be a "by request" performance in which Buckley will take requests from her ever-growing repertoire of theatre, country and pop tunes.BB will perform at 7:30 and 10 pm on October 30 and 31, and on November 1 show times are 4 pm (the "songs by request" concert) and 8:30 pm. The Bottom Line is located at 15 West 4th Street, and tickets will be on sale at the Bottom Line box office in the near future. Stay tuned for ticket prices and on-sale dates.
I received a copy of an interview with Patti LuPone from a loyal diva watcher this week. La LuPone was interviewed by writer Pat Grandjean for Connecticut, and following are some of her choice quotes:
Tell us your favorite thing to do around the house.
LuPone: Organize it! (laughs) Because show business is so chaotic, at home I have a place for everything and everything in its place. I like to plant in the herb garden. I love to watch the chickens. And I love to relax and refuel.
You were a founding member of the drama division at Juilliard School. What did you learn from that experience?
LuPone: I think the most valuable lessons I learned came when I was touring with the Acting Company. I got about 15 years' experience in four, because we were put into a lot of different situations. We did one-night stands at a Baptist church in the middle of a cornfield in Nebraska and a high school gym the next night. Adjusting performances that way ever night armed me for the rest of my career.
Which roles were the hardest to play?
LuPone: Evita was probably the toughest role I ever played. Vocally, it was near impossible to hit those keys. And lots of controversy surrounded the character: She was a Fascist who harbored Nazis. When we did it back in 1979, there was this hatred for the fact that Evita Peron had been glorified, and Mandy [Patinkin] and I had to play to that every night.
Would you like to do another TV series?
LuPone: I just shot a pilot for CBS; we'll find out soon whether it got picked up. It's about a family of Irish firefighters in New York. I play the widow Anya--she's the token Jew (laughs).
What songwriters do you admire?
LuPone: Steve Sondheim, I have to say. As far as the musical is concerned, he is the supreme artist, because of the complicatedness of the music, the depth of feeling in his songs and the challenge of singing them.
LuPone in concert:
June 27: Benefit for the Kent Land Trust at the Kent School in Connecticut. Tickets, which are priced between $40 and $1,000, are available by calling (860) 927-3936.
August 28 and 29: The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles; call (562) 916-8500.
HEY, MR. PRODUCER. . .
A stellar line-up of performers were on hand earlier this week to salute producer Cameron Mackintosh, and word has it that the show-stoppers of the two evenings were three of the theatre's favorite leading ladies: Bernadette Peters, Lea Salonga and Judi Dench.
Peters was on hand to deliver three songs: "Unexpected Song," which was preceded by "Second Letter Home," both from her Tony-winning turn in Song & Dance; "Being Alive," the Stephen Sondheim classic that she first introduced into her repertoire during her Carnegie Hall concert; and "You Gotta Have a Gimmick," the Gypsy tune in which Peters was joined onstage by two other "strippers," Julia McKenzie and Ruthie Henshall. Peters also took part in the second-act opening in which Julia McKenzie began singing "Broadway Baby" as an audition piece, only to have Peters step in and continue the song. Then, Maria Friedman barged in and continued singing the tune, only to be ousted by a dozen other Broadway Babies trying to grab the attention of "Mr. Producer."
Another show-stopper, Dench -- who musical trivia fans know was set to originate the role of Grizabella in Cats before an injury paved the way for Elaine Paige's incredible performance -- delivered a stunning version of "Send in the Clowns" from Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. Lea Salonga also delighted the enthusiastic crowd with selections from Miss Saigon (opposite the Chris of David Campbell) and Les Misérables (which featured Salonga as Eponine and Ruthie Henshall as Fantine). Salonga also joined Friedman, Henshall and Millicent Martin for the Sondheim ditty, "You Could Drive a Person Crazy."
Other notable performances came from Elaine Paige ("Memory") and Ellen Greene ("Somewhere That's Green") as well as a historic salute to Mackintosh from Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who united to sing lyrics to the combined tunes of "Send in the Clowns" and "The Music of the Night." The event was recorded and should air sometime in August on PBS stations across the country. Stay tuned for more details.
MARY CLEERE HARAN
I had the pleasure of catching one of Mary Cleere Haran's final performances at Manhattan Theatre Club last weekend. Haran was the first of three different acts scheduled to premiere MTC's Manhattan Music: A Performance Festival series (James Naughton is currently on the MTC stage, and the a cappella group Hot Mouth will follow). Watching the glamorous Haran perform her salute to the movie songs of the Depression era in this intimate setting was a feast for the eyes, ears and brain. Not only does she superbly interpret such gems as "When My Ship Comes In," "I Only Have Eyes for You" and "Lullaby of Broadway," but Haran also fills the performance with a tremendous amount of witty commentary about the era she sings and about her own life as well. I also enjoyed her interpretation of two rarely heard tunes, "Pick Yourself Up" and "Broadway Jamboree." To sample some of Mary Cleere Haran's singing, you might want to check out her latest CD, Pennies from Heaven, in which the songstress is accompanied by the Academy Award-nominated composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. The song list to this recording on Angel Records follows:
"Pennies from Heaven"
"Love Is Just Around the Corner"
"When My Ship Comes In"
"Sweet & Slow"
"Night in Manhattan"/ "42nd Street"
"I'm in the Mood for Love"
"Breezin' Along with the Breeze"/ "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum"
"I Only Have Eyes for You"
"Lullaby of Broadway"
IN OTHER NEWS:
The star of the German production of Sunset Boulevard, Helen Schneider, will be the featured vocalist in an upcoming performance devoted to the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim, writer and director James Lapine and producer Gerald Schoenfeld will all take part in the Theatre on the Green performance on Sunday, July 5 at the Emerson Performing Arts Center in Washington, Connecticut. Call 860-868-8099 for more information . . . Betty Buckley, F. Murray Abraham, Susan Egan and the rest of the cast of Triumph of Love will reunite this weekend to record the long-awaited Broadway cast album for Jay Records.
She will make her first solo concert appearance in Seattle when she appears with the Seattle Men's Chorus on June 27 and 28; call 206-323 2992 for tickets. Callaway and her sister (Ann Hampton Callaway) will bring their cabaret act, Sibling Revelry, to London's Donmar Warehouse from August 17-29.
The revival of As Thousands Cheer stars Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin, Paula Newsome, Mary Beth Peil, B. D. Wong and Kevin Chamberlin. Now in performance at the Greenwich House Theatre (27 Barrow Street, near 7th Avenue South), the musical revue is directed by Christopher (Jeffrey) Ashley. Tickets are only $12 and may be purchased by calling (212) 541-8441.
Florence Lacey will be returning to Broadway in An Evening with Jerry Herman, which will also star Lee Roy Reams and the Tony Award-winning composer himself. The musical revue, which traces Herman's Broadway career, will begin performances at the Booth Theatre on July 15 with an official opening on July 28. Call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200 for tickets.
Karen Mason is scheduled to star in the Sundance Institute's production of Gypsy on their outdoor Eccles Stage in Sundance, Utah, from June 24 through August 29. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Sundance Box Office at (801) 225-4100.
Maureen McGovern has joined the national touring company of The King and Following is the tour schedule to date: June 9-15 in San Diego, CA at the San Diego Civic Theatre (619-615 4100)
June 19 - July 5 in Chicago, IL at the Auditorium Theatre (312-431-2395)
Tickets are available to The Misanthrope by calling 011-44-171-287 0464. . .Paige will appear in concert at the Hampton Court Palace Festival on June 19. Tickets may be purchased by calling 011-171-344-4444
From July 29 through August 2, Peters will perform in concert at London's Royal Festival Hall.
Other Concert dates:
July 4 in St. Louis, MO at the Fair Saint Louis
July 17 in San Francisco, CA at the Louise Davie Hall
August 11 in Philadelphia, PA at the Mann Music Center
September 11-12 in Nashville, TN at the Andrew Jackson Hall
October 10 in Spring, TX at the Centrum
October 16-17 in Atlanta, GA at the Rialto Theatre
February 13, 1999 in Birmingham, AL (venue to come)
February 20 in Toledo, OH (venue to come)
April 9-10 in Kansas City, Kansas (venue to come)
December 31 in Colorado Springs, CO (venue to come)
DIVAS PLAY CARNEGIE
On June 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. Lorna Luft will host a tribute to her mother, the late Judy Garland, in an evening titled "Carnegie Hall Celebrates the Music of Judy Garland." . . .On Monday, November 9 at 8 p.m. theatre and concert star Barbara Cook will grace the stage with her long-time friend Wally Harper as musical director and conductor. . .For more information and for ticket reservations to any of these great events, call (212) 247-7800.
I LOVE NEW YORK
Janet Metz and Heather MacRae will be joined by Bryan Batt and Lewis Cleale in the musical celebration I Love New York at Rainbow & Stars beginning June 2. Rainbow & Stars is located on the 65th floor at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. There is a $40 entertainment charge; call (212) 632 5000 for reservations.
Here are the names that appear on the invitation to the upcoming all-star, one-night-only production of Sweet Charity on Monday, June 15: Debbie Allen, Carol Arthur, Hinton Battle, Betty Buckley, Carol Channing, Jim Dale, Dom Deluise, David Dinkins, Helen Gallagher, Whoopi Goldberg, Robert Goulet, Pamela Isaacs, Ed Koch, Marla Maples, Donna McKechnie, John McMartin, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles Nelson Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Chita Rivera, Gwen Verdon and Lillias White. (Wow!) The concert will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS; for more information, call (212) 806-1733.
Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching!
-- By Andrew Gans
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