DIVA TALK: What’s Happening On The Diva Scene

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: What’s Happening On The Diva Scene
Hello, diva lovers! Just a few items this week as we enter the holiday weekend... Enjoy!

Hello, diva lovers! Just a few items this week as we enter the holiday weekend... Enjoy!

I had the pleasure of attending Karen Akers’ current cabaret act last Friday night at the famed Algonquin Hotel. Akers always offers an eclectic evening of tunes, embracing songs from around the world in English, French and various other languages. The high points of her hour long set included a slowed-down version of Jason Robert Brown’s “Stars and the Moon,” which allowed the singing actress an opportunity to savor each word of the moving song, bringing life to this story about a woman who chose a life of luxury over a life of simple romance; an impassioned delivery of Jacques Brel’s “Marieke” (I do wish Akers would record this song); the act’s title tune, “Haunted Heart,” which Akers’ dark, full tones were especially suited to; the Edith Piaf classic “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” which has become one of Akers’ signature tunes; and a beautiful version of The Baker’s Wife’s “Chanson” as an encore. Another highlight was a duet with up-n-coming Australian singer Kane Alexander on “There’s Always One You Can’t Forget,” which showcased both of their voices to a beautiful effect. Akers concludes her run tonight, Friday, April 21 at the Algonquin’s Oak Room (59 West 44th Street; 212 840-6800).

Betty Buckley will perform in concert at a benefit for the Huntington Theatre Company’s education programs, which bring theatre to thousands of school kids each year. The performance will be held on May 13 at the Boston University Theatre. Tickets are available by calling (617) 266-0800. There is also a premium package, including dinner, the concert and a special reception to meet the artist of the evening; call (617) 266 7900 x2547 for that . . . Following are a few more rave reviews from Buckley’s latest CD, “Heart to Heart” (KO Productions label):
David Adler for All Music Guide:
“Broadway diva Betty Buckley is not a jazz singer, but this delightfully sparse and intimate collection of love songs has an unaffected, straight from-the-heart quality that can best be described as jazz-like. Buckley’s flawless pitch, timbre and enunciation never come across as sterile or soulless; rather, they heighten the emotional impact in each song . . .”

Jim Keller for CD Now:
“ . . . the simplicity of one-instrument accompaniment gives the album a ‘live’ feel, without all the drawbacks of an actual live recording. The album is mixed perfectly to feature Buckley’s beautiful voice, while the piano is neither overwhelmed or overwhelming. Listening to this album, one almost feels that Buckley is in the room, giving a private recital . . .And prettily sung they are. Buckley is one of those rare singers who can put the emotion of a piece before technical perfection, while still coming close to that technical perfection. That unique ability comes through magnificently in the layers of emotion and near-flawless singing capture on all 12 of the album’s tracks . . .”

A few additional concert dates for Linda Eder were recently sent to me. Those already announced can be found in the “Reminders” section below. The new dates follow:

May 20 at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago, IL (312) 977-1700
August 26 Boys & Girls Club Fundraiser at The River Center w/ Michael Feinstein in Minneapolis, MN
September 26 at the Jones Hall w/Houston Symphony in Houston, TX; call (713) 224-7575
November 4 at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, NY; call (516) 334 0800
November 17 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ; call (732) 246 SHOW
November 18 at the State Theatre in Easton, PA; call (610) 252-3132

Britain’s leading musical theatre actress, Elaine Paige, recently began previews in the West End’s eagerly awaited revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I. Now playing at the Palladium Theatre, this marks Paige’s first musical theatre outing since Sunset Boulevard, which earned her raves in both London and New York. Paige recently spoke openly about the difficult period that ensued after she finished her Broadway run in Sunset. I thought you would enjoy reading a few quotes from EP that appeared in this article from London’s Sunday Mirror. Says Paige: “I'd looked for many years to appear on Broadway, and when I got the chance to play Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, it was such a success, such a wonderful time. Then, suddenly, it was over and I suffered the most acute withdrawal symptoms. It was the most terrible feeling. I'd had enough and I'd felt I'd lost something so very important to me. I thought it had died and gone away. And I was frightened it might not come back . . . I just didn't seem to be able to shake off this feeling of doom and gloom. I had to come home. But to what? I was tired. I missed New York and the show and the people. It was like a grieving process . . . I was worried about my voice. Everything was such an effort. I didn't enjoy singing any more. And that bothered me. To not be able to sing, and not be able to derive real pleasure from it, would have been one of the worst things that could happen to me. . .I worried that, when my voice was rested, I might not reacquire the desire to sing. And that's a passion I've had all my life. I'm quite driven. My work has always been very much the central part of who I am.” So, how did Paige manage to shakes the blues away? “Not wanting to work gave me the opportunity to discover real life. I know this will sound odd, but I never realized you could have such a marvelous time away from work. It sounds ludicrous, but, until then, I think I'd felt I had to be working to have any worth. I now realize that's not the case. . . What I was doing, I suppose, was filling up my cup again. I became more and more happy leading a more relaxed, less pressured kind of life. . . What's been born out of my sabbatical is a kind of self-knowledge. And I'm older, of course. With age comes a peace. One's priorities change. Out of it all has come a confidence I never had before." For tickets to The King and I contact The Palladium box office at 011 44 020 7494 5020.

IN OTHER NEWS Tony winners Patti LuPone and Leslie Uggams add a touch of star quality this summer at TheatreFest, the professional theatre at Montclair State University. TheatreFest’s 15th Anniversary Season opens with La LuPone performing her Matters of the Heart concert act from June 8 to June 11, and from June 15 to June 25 Uggams will star as opera diva Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s award-winning play Master Class. For ticket information or to request a full season brochure, call the TheatreFest box office at (973) 655-5112 . . . Cabaret singer Barbara Brussell will make her debut at the Algonquin Hotel’s Oak Room from May 16 through June 3. Her new act, “I Wish You Love,” features direction by Scott Barnes and musical direction by Christopher Marlowe. You can expect to hear works from such composers as John Wallowitch, Babbie Green, Richard Maltby Jr. and David Shire. Performances are Tuesday through Friday evenings at 9 PM with additional 11:30 PM shows on Friday and Saturday nights. There is a $50 cover and a $15 food/drink minimum. Call (212) 840-6800 for reservations . . . Rumor has it that Victoria Clark has been asked to take over the role of Sally Bowles in the hit revival of Cabaret when Susan Egan leaves the show in July . . . In a recent interview for the Los Angeles Times, Samantha Critchell asked Audra McDonald what role she would like to tackle. “There are certain revivals I would like to do,” McDonald admitted. “I'm sort of on this kick that I'd like to do Eliza from My Fair Lady, and once I'm ready, I'd like to do Shakespeare. But I'd really, really have to study up for that. And Bess of Porgy and Bess.” . . . The Songbook Series at Joe’s Pub (in the Public Theater) continues with “The Real Emotional Girl: Melissa Errico Sings Randy Newman” on Mondays, May 8, 15 and 22 (8:30 PM); B. D. Wong’s cabaret debut on Mondays, June 5, 12 and 19 (8:30 AM); and singer/songwriter Amanda (“The Rose”) McBroom from June 26-29 and July 3-6 (all at 8:30 PM). Tickets to events at Joe’s Pub, located at 425 Lafayette Street (between East 4th Street and Astor Place), can be purchased at The Public Theater box office or via Telecharge, (212) 239-6200 . . . On Monday, June 12 at the New Amsterdam Theatre (7:30 PM) a host of stage and screen stars will take part in a fundraiser to benefit The Actors’ Fund of America’s Catastrophic Care Program and The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. Scheduled to appear are Glenn Close, Richard Gere, Liza Minnelli, James Naughton, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelly Preston, Dana Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Brian Stokes Mitchell, John Travolta, Robin Williams and Scott Wolf. Tickets range from $50 to $2,500 and may be purchased by calling (212) 221-7300, ext. 121 . . . And, finally, congratulations to Toni Collette, Heather Headley, Rebecca Luker and Marin Mazzie who received Outer Critics Circle nominations for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. Featured Actress in a Musical nominations went to Blair Brown, Ruth Williamson, Deborah Yates and Karen Ziemba.

I recently received a few new concert dates for theatre/cabaret legend Barbara Cook, which follow:
Now through April 29 at the Cafe Carlyle, NYC (212) 744-1600
June 13 at the Playhouse Theatre, Hotel Dupont in Wilmington, Del. (302) 656-4401
September 14 at the Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA (619) 748-0505
September 21 & 22 at the Sydney Opera House (in concert with David Campbell) in Sydney, Australia 011-61-2-9250-7777
September 28-October 1 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA (714) 556-2787

Eder in concert:
April 25 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, NJ (973) 376-4343
May 6 at the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Benefit in the Westin Galleria Hotel in Houston, TX (713) 334-4400
July 8 with Michael Feinstein & The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta, GA; (404) 733-4801
July 14 with Feinstein at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA; (206) 628-0888
July 15 with Feinstein at Schnitzer Hall in Portland, OR; (503) 274-6564
July 16 with Feinstein at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, CA; (415) 551-2000
August 5 at the Wildflower Music Festival in White Mills, PA
August 6 with Feinstein at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ; (732) 335-0400
August 8 with Feinstein at the Mann Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia, PA (215) 336-2000
August 9 with Feinstein at the Wolf Trap Filene Center in Vienna, VA; (703) 218-6500 or 1-800-955-5566
August 19 at the John Drew Theater of Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY (631) 324-4050

August 25 with Feinstein at The Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL; go to www.ravinia.org

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:
May 4-6 in Sweeney Todd at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) New York, NY; (212) 875-5656
May 12 at the Union County Arts Center in Rahway, NJ; (732) 499-0441
May 13 at the Staller Center for the Arts in Stonybrook, NY; (516) 632 ARTS
June 8-11 at Theatrefest/Memorial Auditorium at Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, NJ; (973) 655-5112

April 22 Appearance with Tommy Femia at Don't Tell Mama in NYC
April 29 Benefit for Community Health in Chicago; call (773) 395 9901
May 3-14 Davenport’s Cabaret in Chicago; call 773-278-1830
May 26-27 Mason opens the Cabaret series at the Berkshire Theatre Festival
June 1-4 Theatre concert at the new Metropolis Theatre in Arlington Heights, IL; call (847) 577-2121
June 5 Opening night of the San Francisco Cabaret Convention
June 7 The Plush Room in San Francisco; call 415-885-2800
Sept. 5 - Oct. 14 Arci’s Place, 450 Park Avenue, New York, NY; call (212) 532-4370.


Scheduled concert dates for McDonald follow:
April 25-29 with the Atlanta Symphony (Kurt Weill/ “Seven Deadly Sins”)
May 4-6 in Sweeney Todd at Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center) New York, NY; (212) 875-5656
May 12 at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater in Boston, MA
May 14 at the Lisner Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

Tour dates for Minnelli on Minnelli follow:
May 3-7 at the Shubert Theatre in Chicago, IL
June 7 & 8 at the Bryce Jordan Center at Stage College, PA
June 10 & 11 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, OH
September 13-17 at the Wharton Ctr. for the Perf. Arts in East Lansing, MI
October 6-22 at Masonic Temple in Detroit, MI
November 1-5 at the Wang Center in Boston, MA
November 12 at the Performing Arts Center in Naples, Florida
November 14 & 15 at the Maxwell King Center in Melbourne, Florida
November 17 & 18 at the Moran Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida
December 6-10 at the Lyric Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland
December 13-17 at the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
December 27-31 at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Miami Beach, Florida
March 7-11 at the Civic Theatre in San Diego, CA

Well, that’s all for now. Happy diva-watching!

By Andrew Gans

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