Last week I had the chance to catch Dinah Was, the Off-Broadway musical about the life and untimely death of R&B singer Dinah Washington. Yvette Freeman stars in the title role and possesses a big, soulful voice that is equally at home with standards ("Come Rain or Come Shine," "What a Difference a Day Makes") as it is with lesser-known tunes ("Bad Luck"). At times a bit melodramatic, the musical manages to touch the audience thanks to Freeman's heartfelt performance. Also noteworthy is Adriane Lenox, who portrays many different roles in the musical, the most endearing of which is Violet, the kitchen worker at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. It is during the show's penultimate number--when Washington invites Violet onstage to join her in song--that the show really soars, offering one of the most spirit-raising numbers to be found Off-Broadway. Dinah Was is currently playing at the Gramercy Theatre. Call (212) 777 4900 for tickets.
There was an interesting item in Liz Smith's gossip column in the New York Post this past Wednesday about Patti LuPone. It seems that La LuPone will star in an upcoming feature film directed by Jason Alexander of "Seinfeld" fame. Titled Cherry Pink, the movie will also star Gretchen Moll and Ryan Merriman and is a coming-of-age comedy set in the 1950's. Jean Doumanian is producing the flick, which is being filmed in New York City. I also spoke with Patti's press representative, and he informed me LuPone will also shoot a second movie in July, Summer of Sam. In this Spike Lee film LuPone is cast as Danny Aiello's wife. Stay tuned for details on both films. . .For those of you want to hear LuPone sing, you can catch her this weekend (June 27) at a 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. LuPone will also perform in concert Aug. 28 and 29 at The Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles; call (562) 916-8500.
Epcot Center in Walt Disney World will host an array of divas beginning next month in a concert series that includes three of Broadway's favorite ladies: Jodi (Crazy for You) Benson, Judy (Chess) Kuhn and Susan (Triumph of Love) Egan. Backed by the Disney Grammy College Orchestra, the concerts are free to anyone who happens to be in the Disney park at that time (entrance to Disney World is approximately $44). Benson is scheduled to perform July 11 and 12, Judy Kuhn on July 25 and 26 and Susan Egan on Aug. 1 and 2. The mini-concerts will take place four times a day: 4 PM, 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM and 8 PM. Call (407) 824-2222 or (407) 824-4321 for more information; times and singers are subject to change.
LLOYD WEBBER'S DIVAS
On April 7, a host of performers took part in a 50th birthday tribute to Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The evening, which was videotaped for broadcast (it recently aired in London and should be seen in the U.S. within the year), contained selections from most every Lloyd Webber musical -- oddly enough, no songs were included from the "Song" portion of Song & Dance, although Webber's brother, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, offered "Variations 1-4" from the "Dance" half -- starting with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and continuing through his latest, Whistle Down the Wind, which is currently in previews in London.
A friend recently screened for me an unedited version of the concert, and fans of Lloyd Webber are in store for a royal treat. Highlights include Elaine Paige's wonderful renditions of both "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" (she has never sounded better on this tune; abandoning some of the pop, straight-tone effects she has employed in the past, Paige now lets her vibrato soar, and the effect is thrilling) and "Memory"; Michael Ball's full-voiced versions of a handful of Lloyd Webber tunes, including "Gethsemane," "Love Changes Everything" and a gospel-flavored tune from Whistle, "The Vaults of Heaven." Also a treat is the chance to see Antonio Banderas, repeating his film role of Che, singing both "Oh What a Circus" and "High Flying Adored" and Glenn Close in full Norma Desmond garb, singing both "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard. Close is far from being one of the major vocalists of our time, but she does succeed in offering moving versions of both tunes. It's interesting to note that she now holds the word "home" in "As If," just as Paige and Betty Buckley do. Rumor has it Close caught Paige's performance in Sunset four times, and she obviously appreciated Paige's adjustment to the song. The birthday salute also boasts performances from Sarah Brightman (The Phantom of the Opera's "All I Ask of You" and "Music of the Night" and Requiem's "Pie Jesu"), Donny Osmond ("Close Every Door"), Lottie Mayor ("Whistle Down the Wind") and Marcus Lovett ("Heaven on Their Minds"), plus the debut of a song from what may possibly become Phantom II. Titled "The Heart Is Slow To Learn," the song received a beautiful treatment from opera singer Kiri Te Kanawa.
A fellow diva lover sent me the complete list of songs from the recent salute to Cameron Mackintosh, Hey Mr. Producer, which will be broadcast on PBS stations around the country beginning Aug. 19.
"We Said We Wouldn't Look Back" from Salad Days
"Food Glorious Food" from Oliver! (workhouse children)
MY FAIR LADY
"Wouldn't It Be Loverly" (Liz Robertson, Gillian Lynne and company)
"Quit Professor Higgins" (Company)
"The Rain in Spain" (Jonathan Pryce, Liz Robertson and Donald Sinden)
"Get Me to the Church on Time" (Peter Bayliss and Company)
"I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" (Jonathan Pryce & Liz Robertson)
Introduction by Julie Andrews
"One, Two Three" from (John Barrowman)
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS:
"Little Shop of Horrors" (Wendy Mae Brown, Dawn Hope and Femi Taylor)
"Somewhere That's Green" (Ellen Greene)
"Suddenly Seymour" (Ellen Greene & Teddy Kempner)
"Day by Day" (Company)
"I Get a Kick Out of You" (Marion Montgomery and Laurie Holloway)
SONG & DANCE
"Variations" (Julian Lloyd Webber and Company)
"Unexpected Song" (Bernadette Peters)
THE BOY FRIEND:
"Nicer in Nice" (Jasna Ivir & Company)
"I Love a Lassie" (Jimmy Logan & the Scottish Power Pipe Band)
FIVE GUY'S NAMED MOE
"Five Guys Named Moe" & "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?" (Kevyn Brackett, Trent Kendall, Monroe Kent III, Jason Pennycooke, Clark Peters & Richard D. Sharp) OLIVER!
"Consider Yourself" (J Malcolm, Dodger - A Searles & Gang)
"Pick a Pocket" (Russ Abbot & Gang)
"As Long As He Needs Me" (Sonia Swaby)
"I'm Martin Guerre" (David Campbell)
"How Many Tears" (Maria Friedman)
"The Heat Is on in Saigon" (David Campbell, Lea Salonga & Company)
"The Wedding" (Female Company)
"Last Night of the World" (David Campbell & Lea Salonga)
"This Is the Hour" (Company)
"American Dream" (Jonathan Pryce & Company)
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
"The Phantom of the Opera" (Lisa Vroman & Colm Wilkinson)
"Music of the Night" (Colm Wilkinson)
"All I Ask of You" (Michael Ball, Lisa Vroman & Colm Wilkinson)
Music from JUST SO, THE CARD, TRELAWNY, MOBY DICK and ABBACADRABA
"Broadway Baby" (Maria Friedman, Julia McKenzie, Bernadette Peters & The Broadway Babies)
RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN
"Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'" (Hugh Jackman)
Carousel Waltz/Ballet (Vadim Bondar, Dana Stackpole & Company)
Porch Scene (Hal Fowler & Joanna Riding; Dana Stackpole & Barbara King)
"You'll Never Walk Alone" (Joanna Riding and Company)
"Side By Side" (David Kernan, Millicent Martin, Julia McKenzie & Ned Sherrin; Stephen Sondheim)
"You Could Drive a Person Crazy" (Maria Friedman, Ruthie Henshall, Millicent Martin & Lea Salonga)
A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC
"Send in the Clowns" (Judi Dench)
'Losing My Mind" (Michael Ball)
"Being Alive" (Bernadette Peters)
"You've Gotta Have a Gimmick" (Ruthie Henshall, Julia McKenzie, Bernadette Peters, Michael Ball, Judi Dench, Maria Friedman, David Kernan, Millicent Martin & Lea Salonga
DUELING PIANOS (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim)
"Ban The Bomb" (Tom Lehrer)
"Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" (Tom Lehrer)
Cats Overture (Company)
"Jellicle Songs" (Brian Blessed, Paul Nicholas & Co)
"Memory" (Elaine Paige)
"At the End of the Day" (Company)
"I Dreamed a Dream" (Ruthie Henshall)
"Stars" (Philip Quast)
"Do You Hear the People Sing" (Hal Fowler & Company)
"On My Own" (Lea Salonga)
"Heart Full of Love" (Michael Ball & Marie Zamora)
"Bring Him Home" (Colm Wilkinson)
"One Day More" (Michael Ball, Hal Fowler, Ruthie Henshall, Tammi Jacobs, Tedd Kempner, Philip Quast, Lea Salonga, Colm Wilkinson, Marie Zamora Above & Company)
FINALE / BOWS
"Old Friends" by Stephen Sondheim (Company)
IN OTHER NEWS: The Capeman's Ednita Nazario is off to Los Angeles in July to record her latest album for EMI/Latin . . . Nell Carter will be a regular on the new version of "Match Game," which will find its way to TV screens this fall . . . There will be a four-week season of Divas at the Donmar--London's Donmar Warehouse, the theatre that first premiered the current incarnation of Cabaret. As previously mentioned, Liz and Ann Hampton Callaway will kick off the season, August 10-22. Following the sister act will be Barbara Cook, Aug. 24-29, and Imelda Staunton and Her Big Band will finish the diva season, September 1-5 . . . It's looking more and more likely that the recent Encores! production of St. Louis Woman starring Vanessa Williams will be recorded. Rumors are positing Mercury/Polygram or DRG as possible labels.
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.
Before Petula Clark begins touring as Norma Desmond in the second national company of Sunset Boulevard, she has a few concerts lined up in the U.S. and in the U.K. First up, is a performance at the Resorts International Hotel (1-800-322-SHOW) in Atlantic City, Sept. 2-7. Then, Clark will perform in the U.K. in the following areas:
September 15 Cheltenham Town Hall (01242 227979)
September 16 Rhyl Pavilion (01745 330000)
September 18 Leamington Spa Royal Spa Centre (01926 334418)
September 19 Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall (01892 530613)
September 20 Worthing Pavilion (01903 820500)
September 21 Reading Hexagon (0118 9606060)
September 23 Bexhill-on-Sea De La Warr Pavilion (01424 787900)
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 currently stars (through Aug. 29) in the Sundance Institute's production of Gypsy on their outdoor Eccles Stage in Sundance, Utah. 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 I. Following is the tour schedule to date:
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.
July 4 in St. Louis, MO at the Fair Saint Louis
July 17 in San Francisco, CA at the Louise Davie Hall
Aug. 11 in Philadelphia, PA at the Mann Music Center
Sept. 11-12 in Nashville, TN at the Andrew Jackson Hall
Oct. 10 in Spring, TX at the Centrum
Oct. 16-17 in Atlanta, GA at the Rialto Theatre
Feb. 13, 1999 in Birmingham, AL (venue to come)
Feb. 20 in Toledo, OH (venue to come)
Apr. 9-10 in Kansas City, Kansas (venue to come)
Dec. 31 in Colorado Springs, CO (venue to come)
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, which began 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.
Well, that's all for now. Happy diva-watching!
-- By Andrew Gans
e-mail me at [email protected]