DIVA TALK: A Diva Salute, Cook-ing at Carnegie & More...

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: A Diva Salute, Cook-ing at Carnegie & More...
Hello, diva lovers! Because there was a bit of confusion with last week’s column (the first few lines inadvertently got snipped off in the posting), “Diva Talk” will begin its every-other-week status next week — the next column will be posted on Friday, Feb. 23. I’m working on a few special projects, and after those are completed — after the Tonys — the column should return on a weekly basis. Now, to the divas!
Photo by Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Hello, diva lovers! Because there was a bit of confusion with last week’s column (the first few lines inadvertently got snipped off in the posting), “Diva Talk” will begin its every-other-week status next week — the next column will be posted on Friday, Feb. 23. I’m working on a few special projects, and after those are completed — after the Tonys — the column should return on a weekly basis. Now, to the divas!

It is said that “you can’t have your cake, and eat it too”; however, this past Saturday’s 50th birthday bash for lawyer-to-the-stars Mark Sendroff seemed to prove otherwise. Not only did Sendroff have a great birthday cake(!), but he also was honored with performances from a host of his favorite divas (plus a few guys), whom he has represented over the past two decades. The highlights of the nearly two-hour show, which was ably directed by Richard Jay-Alexander, were many: eight divas (Julie Wilson, Margaret Whiting, Mimi Hines, Nancy Dussault, Lainie Kazan, Jaye P. Morgan, Lesley Gore, Kaye Ballard) — positioned on two sets of staircases that surrounded the stage at Laura Belle Restaurant — sang a piece from one of their hit songs to the screams of an enthusiastic crowd; former Swing! star Ann Hampton Callaway improvised a song (using words shouted out by the audience) to describe the guest of honor; Mimi Hines belted the hell out of “My Shining Hour,” demonstrating her pipes are still in remarkable shape; Karen Mason paid tribute to the late Nancy LaMott — one of Sendroff’s former clients — by singing the LaMott standard, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby”; Mario Cantone had the audience in stitches as he riffed on stars who he wished could have participated in The Vagina Monologues: Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Julia Child; and Randy Graff, who provided the most moving moment of the show, sang “Mama, A Rainbow” as a tribute to the late Danny Fortus, whom she starred with in her first show in New York, Pins & Needles. Favorite comment of the evening was made by Kaye Ballard during Marcia Lewis’ performance, a campy ode to Las Vegas that featured Jim and Bob Walton as back-up dancers. As she danced through the crowd, Lewis joked with the audience and asked Ballard, “What’s your name?” Ballard’s response: “I’m Kaye, and I should be doing this number!” It was a starry night to remember. . . . By the way, the Sendroff-produced CD, “Mostly Mercer,” has been reissued on Harbinger Records and is now available in stores. It boasts an array of divas, including Jennifer Holliday, Mimi Hines, Rosemary Clooney, Eydie Gorme, Kaye Ballard and the late LaMott singing, respectively, “Blues in the Night,” “My Shining Hour,” “I’m Old Fashioned,” “I Remember You” and “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby.”

I spent a few hours this past weekend listening to the second installment of My Favorite Broadway, this one titled The Love Songs. This 16-track recording, which runs just under an hour, features songs from the recent City Center concert, which was hosted by the one-and-only Julie Andrews and which will air on PBS in March. If this concert and recording falls short of the first My Favorite Broadway (and are these all really love songs?!), there are a number of highlights that diva fans will be eager to hear. Those include Heather Headley’s belty “He Touched Me,” which doesn’t quite rival Streisand’s version; a lovely rendition of “When Did I Fall in Love?” by Marin Mazzie, whose voice always records beautifully, and her heartfelt, full-voiced “Not a Day Goes By” in a medley of songs performed with Peter Gallagher (“Sometimes a Day Goes By”) and Rebecca Luker (“Too Late Now”); a medley of love songs — “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “What Kind of Fool Am I?” — that Linda Eder belts to the heavens (just listen to her vibrato on “I never thought Iiiiiiii’d come to this” or the way she sings, “and maybe then I’ll know what kiiiind of foooooool Iiiiiiiiiiiiii aaaaaaammmmm!”); an ebullient “How Lucky Can You Get” from Chita Rivera; and a few sung lines by host Julie Andrews in the My Fair Lady medley, which sends the diva lovers in the audience into a tizzy! The complete track listing follows:

Introduction: (Julie Andrews)
“Lullaby of Broadway” (Tom Wopat)
“Sue Me” (Nathan Lane)
“He Touched Me” (Heather Headley)
“Gigi” (Ron Raines)
“When Did I Fall in Love?” (Marin Mazzie)
“If Ever I Would Leave You” (Robert Goulet)
Love Song Medley I (Linda Eder)
“Seasons of Love” (Adam Pascal)
“Music of the Night” (Michael Crawford)
“Every Single Day” (Barry Manilow)
Love Song Medley II (Rebecca Luker, Peter Gallagher & Marin Mazzie)
“I’m a Brass Band” (Bebe Neuwirth)
“How Lucky Can You Get?” (Chita Rivera)
My Fair Lady medley (Michael Crawford & Julie Andrews)
Finale: Lullaby of Broadway (reprise)
Also, the video and DVD of the concert, due in stores mid-March, are expected to have a few bonus tracks not included on the CD (in stores on Feb. 27). Those additional tracks include “Love Is Sweeping the Country”/ “Till There Was You”/ “Lover”/ “So in Love” (Adam Pascal, Brent Spiner, Rebecca Luker, Peter Gallagher & Marin Mazzie); Operatic Intro/ “Standing on the Corner”/“Let the Good Times Roll” (Three Mo' Tenors); “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (Jeffrey Denman & Joan Hess); “English Teacher”/ “Rosie” (Chita Rivera & Brent Spiner); “Elaborate Lives” (Adam Pascal & Heather Headley); “This Nearly Was Mine” (Robert Goulet); and “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” (Michael McCormick & Michael Mulheren).

Good news for Barbara Cook fans. The legendary singer’s recent concert at Carnegie Hall was recorded by DRG Records and will be released in the near future on a two-CD set. The stellar evening also included several solos and duets from and with A New Brain’s Malcolm Gets. What follows is the complete song list from Cook’s “Mostly Sondheim” evening on Feb. 2:

“Everybody Says Don't”
“I Wonder What Became of Me”
“The Eagle and Me”
“I Had Myself a True Love”

“Giants in the Sky” (featuring an intro and cut lyrics from Into the Woods)
“Another Hundred People”/ “So Many People” (with Gets accompanying himself on the piano)

“Let's Face the Music”/ “The Song is You”

“Loving You”
“You Could Drive a Person Crazy”
“Not a Day Goes By”/ “Losing My Mind”


“Buds Won't Bud”
“I Got Lost in His Arms”

“Something's Coming”

“Move On”

“Hard Hearted Hannah”/ “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee”/ “San Francisco”
“Ice Cream”
“Send in the Clowns”
“The Trolley Song”

“Not While I'm Around”

“Anyone Can Whistle”


Betty Buckley discusses feminism in an article in Ms. Magazine (“The ‘F’ Word”) written by Jill Nelson and Amy Aronson (for the complete interview, go to msmagazine.com):
“. . . Our stories are different; our pain is the same. The work that must be done for each woman to reconnect with her psyche and to give herself a chance to live her own life is essentially the same. The realization of the equality of all races, the equality of all beings is essential. Feminism —the word — can give us a handle, a rallying point, a common ground, and help us build a bridge. Why not claim the gift of the word as a place to begin? The pure connecting factor is that those of us who describe ourselves as feminists want equal rights for all people. We can't compare stories. We can only know in our hearts that we are the same. That may be the best we can do. When there's an opportunity to do more, we must. If we're for one another, we're feminists. The rest is semantics.”

Stephen Holden’s New York Times review of Barbara Cook’s Carnegie Hall concert:
“Like a good marriage, a perfect fit between a singer and a particular songwriter bespeaks a chemistry that is often based on kindred sensibilities. (Think of Barbra Streisand and the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman.) But in rare instances it suggests a meeting of opposites, or at least partial opposites. The lyric soprano Barbara Cook and the composer Stephen Sondheim, who recently turned 70, are such a pair. When Ms. Cook, 73, a no-nonsense interpreter who eschews fussy line readings, applies herself to Mr. Sondheim's complicated ballads, the result isn't just a lesson in how to read a lyric clearly and with feeling, but a master class in life itself too . . . Leading the list of revelations on Friday were Ms. Cook's back-to-back renditions of ‘Happiness’ and ‘Loving You,’ from the 1994 musical Passion, both songs that describe intense love in absolute (and slightly scary) terms. Her version of ‘Anyone Can Whistle’ lent a universal poignancy to the wistful self-doubt of an overachiever who can't relax into the stream of life.”

Chip Deffaa’s New York Post review of Carol Woods’ cabaret act at Arci’s Place (through Feb. 24):
“. . .you won’t find a bigger talent anywhere in town right now than at Arci’s Place, where Carol Woods is in residence. She takes charge from her first, emphatically declared words: ‘I’m gonna love you, like nobody’s loved you. . .’ There is just no arguing with her . . . And unlike many who can belt, Woods is no less effective on the quiet ballads, her voice lovely and transparent on ‘Alfie’ and ‘Out of This World.’ . . . “

IN OTHER NEWS Tony and Olivier Award winner Patti LuPone will star in an episode of CBS’s “Touched By an Angel,” which will air next Sunday, Feb. 18. Be sure to set those VCRs! . . . Speaking of VCRs, diva lovers will definitely want to tape Barbra Streisand’s Timeless concert, which airs this Wednesday night on FOX . . . For those of you planning to catch Elaine Paige’s stellar performance in the West End production of The King and I, be aware that she is playing Monday through Saturday evening performances through April 21; her standby, Claire Moore, now plays the role at the Wednesday and Saturday matinees . . . Grand Hotel’s Liliane Montevecchi returns to Paris in two weeks — on March 1 — when she is scheduled to play Mistinguett in Mistinguett, La Derniere Revue (The Last Revue) at the Opera Comique. Mistinguett was the best-known French entertainer at the beginning of last century: She led revues at the Folies Bergere with Maurice Chevalier and was the first to sing “My Man.” . . . Lea Salonga fans will be happy to learn that the former Miss Saigon star just landed a role on the CBS soap opera, “As the World Turns.” . . . One of my favorite new cabaret singers, Lisa Viggiano, will bring her critically acclaimed act, One Private Moment, to San Francisco's Plush Room on Monday, March 26 at 8 PM. Featuring musical direction by Christopher Marlowe, you can expect Viggiano to sing several songs from her first CD, which is also titled “One Private Moment.” The Plush Room is located at 940 Sutter Street, and reservations can be made by calling (415) 885-2800 x 107 . . . The next leg of Sarah Brightman's La Luna tour will bring her to over 20 cities and begins in Las Vegas on March 3. Check out sarah-brightman.com for the complete tour listings . . . Next month, singer/actress Julie Wilson will return to the Algonquin Hotel with a show that showcases the work of “two of the greatest ladies who ever wrote lyrics, Dorothy Fields and Amanda McBroom.” In an upcoming article for the Playbill subscription issue, the 75-year-old cabaret veteran tells writer/actor David Drake, “I like old and new. Fields made standards, and Amanda is making them.” And, although she's never before performed McBroom's work, Wilson explains, “As you get older, I think you get more adventuresome. You just think, ‘Oh hell, what have I got to lose?’ You’ve just got to go out on that diving board and take the plunge!” . . . Alix Korey, whose appearance in the York Theatre Company's production of Suburb marks her first major role since her triumph in Off Broadway's The Wild Party, gets to perform (from what I hear) a great show-biz number called “The Girl Next Door.” Also in the show is Jennie Eisenhower, the great-granddaughter of Dwight Eisenhower, who is making her New York debut . . . And, finally, Back Stage Weekly recently announced its 16th annual Bistro Awards, which celebrate excellence in cabaret, and the winners included Polly Bergen, Audrey Lavine and Julie Reyburn. Songwriters Christine Lavin and Francesca Blumenthal were honored, and “This Life: The Songs of Portia Nelson,” starring Tom Andersen, Terri Klausner and Deborah Tranelli, was named Musical Revue of the Year. The Bob Harrington Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Dame Cleo Laine and husband John Dankworth, and the Bistros will be presented on March 5 at the Supper Club in N.Y.C.


Following is Buckley’s most recent, ever-growing concert schedule:
Feb. 10 Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, CA (fundraiser)
March 3 Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
March 11-12 at the Geary Theater in San Francisco, CA
March 16-17 at the Bottom Line in New York, NY
April 1 at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA
April 16 The Betty Lynn Buckley Awards at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX
May 12 College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
May 24 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston, MA
June 17 at the Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA
August 25 at the Great Waters Music Festival in Wolfeboro, NH
October 6 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
November 24 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
December 6 at Abravenal Hall with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, UT (Xmas program)

Feb. 12 Master Class at the Juilliard School in New York, NY
Feb. 23 and 24 at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Cerritos, CA (with Michael Feinstein)
April 21 in Palm Desert, CA
July 9 at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL

Eder in concert:
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
March 17 at the Thomasville Cultural Center in Thomasville, GA (912 226-0588)
March 22 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA
April 29 at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA (978-232 7200)

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:
April 8 ("Matters Of The Heart") at Duke University’s Page Auditorium in Durham, North Carolina; (919) 684-4444
August 3 and 4 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA

What follows is Mason’s up-to-date performance schedule:
March 17 Appearance at 92nd Street Y with Craig Carnelia in New York, NY
May 9-20 at Davenports cabaret in Chicago, IL

The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
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. Happy diva-watching!

By Andrew Gans

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