DIVA TALK: Diva News as Election Time Comes ‘Round

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: Diva News as Election Time Comes ‘Round
Hello, diva lovers!

Hello, diva lovers! Many items as we go into Election Week. For those of you who are registered, be sure to get out to the polls on Tuesday, and make your vote count! My favorite e-mail of the week came from a friend who insisted, “because of an expected high voter turnout, Democrats are being asked to vote on Tuesday and Republicans on Wednesday”!

I wasn’t able to attend Betty Buckley’s recent guest appearance at “Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Chatterbox” (Thursdays at 6 PM at Don’t Tell Mama), but I hear our Broadway gal was a riot, discussing the ups-and-downs of her award-winning career as well as her beauty pageant experience. Rudetsky even offered video clips of Buckley on a “Miss America” program as well as segments from the cult-hit musical Carrie. The 90 minute evening concluded with Buckley’s powerful version of “Memory,” which brought those in the jam-packed room to their feet. Would you expect anything less? . . . In addition to her ever-growing concert schedule, Buckley also has roles in two upcoming independent films, Noon Apple Blues, which is directed by Jay Lee, and Cut and Dry, which is described as a lifestyle comedy and is directed by Gerald Winner. Stay tuned for more BB info!

Lots of news for all the Liz Callaway fans out there. This week, Callaway -- who starred as Ellen in the original Broadway company of Miss Saigon -- attended that show’s 4,000th performance, which included an onstage celebration after the show. Ms. Liz also just completed her new solo recording for the burgeoning Fynsworth Alley label. A compilation of songs from the 1960’s, the CD should be available in early 2001. For more information, you can check out Fynsworth’s website at www.fynsworthalley.com. The disc will actually be available only through the website for the first three months of its release, and then it will hit stores nationwide . . . Also, Callaway will perform with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra on Nov. 11, where she will feature songs from her first two solo recordings. The concert will be held at the Center for the Performing Arts at Governor’s State University, and tickets are available by calling (708) 481-7774. And, finally, a Liz item for those in the Metropolitan area. The broadcast of “Stephen Sondheim and Guests,” which was taped live at the 92nd Street Y last spring, will be broadcast on Channel 21, WLIW, on Nov. 6 at 10 PM. The informal chat with the Tony winning composer features four songs interpreted by Callaway. Be sure to set those VCRs! A NEW ROOM
A new performance series that celebrates the younger generation of Broadway performers and composers will open on Thursday, Nov. 16 at The Cutting Room. Entitled The Sh-K-Boom Room, the first concert of the series will benefit City Harvest, an organization dedicated to feeding the many hungry in New York City. Kicking off the first night is a starry lot that includes Alice Ripley, Sherie Rene Scott and Adam Pascal. Others scheduled to perform include host Mario Cantone as well as Annie Golden, Sara Ramirez, Michael McElroy, Brian d’Arcy James, Dan Lipton, Clark Thorell, Paul Gordon, Jayne Patterson, Greg Naughton, Bob Stillman, Norbert Leo Butz and Gavin De Graw. There is a $20 cover (at the door) for this premiere concert; future programs will spotlight two or three Broadway artists performing original and/or experimental work on Thursday nights (beginning Nov. 30). For more information, visit the Sh-K-Boom Records website at www.sh-k boom.com.

It’s probably appropriate that I listened to the new recording of Sweeney Todd on Halloween Day. It gave the recording of this eerie tale an even eerier feel. Recorded live in concert with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, the two-disc set also boasts a 128-page booklet filled with production photos, lyrics and notes from the cast and creative team. I’ve always been a fan of live recordings -- the audience reaction always adds another dimension to the listening experience. If this recording isn’t quite as exciting as attending the event, it’s still a great listen and a must for both Sondheim and LuPone fans. LuPone is perhaps the beltiest Mrs. Lovett you’ll ever hear, and you can tell she relishes performing her first Sondheim piece. From her opening number “The Worst Pies in London” through the musical’s final scene, the actress displays a knack for Sondheim’s work, singing (and acting) his tunes with finesse while finding both the comedic and more evil sides of her character. George Hearn is also in peak form, offering a chilling performance as Sweeney Todd, and his singing of “Epiphany” is exemplary. It’s also evident that the duo are enjoying their time together onstage, and their duet of “A Little Priest” sounds as if it’s as much fun to perform as it is to listen to on disc. There is also fine work from the rest of the cast, including Audra McDonald’s fiercely sung Beggar Woman (her soprano is as rich as ever), and Davis Gaines’ beautiful tones on “Johanna.”

What follows is LuPone’s note in the recording’s liner notes: “I was doubly blessed in Sweeney Todd: Not only did I finally get to sing a Sondheim score, I also had the opportunity to work with the incomparable George Hearn. All of us backstage were dumbstruck, watching this event unfold. Given the brief rehearsal period, I felt lucky to remember the lyrics, the dialogue, and the blocking. There is something to be said for a lack of rehearsals. There’s an energy that only comes from that kind of a high-pressure situation. One thing that I loved about the Philharmonic was that the people behind the instruments are the essence of New York. I’ve worked with orchestras in other cities, and sometimes I’ve found the players to be stand-offish. But the New York Philharmonic people aren’t like that; even though these are classical musicians in one of the world’s finest orchestras, you feel like you might see any one of them at a Yankees game. I was at Juilliard with some of them, so it was sort of a reunion. It was wild.”

from the “Cheers and Jeers” section of this week’s TV Guide:
“Cheers to a good belt. Musical performances on TV comedies have lately been limited to the so-bad-it’s-funny (or not) variety, a la The Drew Carey Show. But CBS’s Bette, whatever else its flaws may be, gives us something worth singing about by putting its star’s great pipes to fine use. The first episode had Bette Midler transforming a Kid Rock rap into a swinging scat number, and the second featured the Divine Miss M turning in an irresistibly hammy rendition of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings.’ Both performances were, we hope, just promises of musical things to come. . .”

Stephen Holden’s review of Barbara Cook’s current show at Feinstein’s at The Regency (from The New York Times):
“. . . A relative latecomer to Mr. Sondheim's music, Ms. Cook didn't begin investigating his songs until 1985, when she sang the role of Sally in Follies in Concert. The chemistry of Ms. Cook's voice -- beautiful, aching and inflected with autumnal shades and rustlings -- and Mr. Sondheim's songs, which take a long view of life and death in the midst of furious emotional turmoil, is quietly shattering. Where other singers might focus on the details of Mr. Sondheim's wordplay or pump up the high drama in his emotionally fraught songs, Ms. Cook simultaneously lives inside the lyrics and sees beyond them. Her show's most exciting discoveries are two ballads, ‘Happiness’ and ‘Loving You,’ from the musical Passion, in which the composer's romantic minimalism and Ms. Cook's gift for distilling the essence of a song convey a profound empathy.

Lea DeLaria discusses her role as Eddie, the biker, in Merv Rothstein’s upcoming Playbill article about The Rocky Horror Show:
“[Eddie is one of those roles] that I keep on getting that I always wanted to play and never thought I’d be able to . . . I have an eye for songs I really like and want to sing, and I think Eddie’s ‘Hot Patootie’ is the best song in the show.”

IN OTHER NEWS Belter supreme Linda Eder will be backed by the Broadway Gospel Choir during her upcoming “The Holiday Concert” at Carnegie Hall on Monday, Dec. 18 at 8 PM. Tickets range from $21 to $88 and may be purchased by calling Carnegie Charge at (212) 247-7800 . . . That Ethel Merman impersonator, Rita McKenzie, will join Barbara Feldon in Neil Simon’s updated version of The Odd Couple at the Helen Hayes Performing Arts Center (in Nyack, NY) from Nov. 4-18. Call the box office at (845) 358-6333 for reservations. . . Karen Mason will return to Arci’s Place with her annual Christmas show on Dec. 3 and 4 for two performances only. Arci’s Place is located at 450 Park Avenue South (bet. 30 & 31 Sts.), and reservations may be made by calling (212) 532-4370 . . . Carol Woods, who will co-star in the upcoming Follies revival for the Roundabout Theatre Company, will appear with Karen Saunders in their cabaret act, “Bosom Buddies,” on Nov. 4 at 8 PM at The Jeanne Rimsky Theatre at The Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington; call (516) 767-1384 for tickets. “Bosom Buddies” is directed by Jerry Friedman and features choreography by Pam Sousa and musical direction by Barry Levitt . . . A Chorus Line’s Priscilla Lopez will perform her new concert program to kick-off the first Newsday Friday Night Cabaret Series at Queens Theatre in the Park in Flushing Park on Nov. 17 at 8 PM. Tickets are $24 and can be ordered by calling (718) 760-0064. Lopez will then bring her show to the Emelin Theatre in Mamaroneck, N. J., the following evening at 7 and 9:30 PM; call (914) 698-0098 for reservations.


U.S. Concert Schedule:
Nov. 5 in Spokane, WA at the Arena
Nov. 7 in Salt Lake City, UT at the Delta Center
Nov. 8 in Denver, CO at the Magness Arena
Nov. 11 in Chicago, IL at the Arie Crown
Nov. 13 in St. Louis, MO at the Fox Theatre
Nov. 14 in Grand Rapids, MI at the Van Andel Arena
Nov. 15 in Milwaukee, WI at the Riverside Theatre

Nov. 4 The American Theater in St. Louis, MO (Fund Raiser for the Rep Theater of St. Louis)
Nov. 10 & 11 University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT
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. 3 at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA (215) 572-7650
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
Nov. 3 ("Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda") with the Louisville Symphony Orchestra in Louisville, Kentucky (502) 583-4555
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:
Nov. 1-12 Appearance at The Plush Room in San Francisco’s York Hotel; (415) 885-2800
Nov. 5 Special appearance at MaraLago in Palm Beach, FL
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. Happy diva-watching!

By Andrew Gans

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