DIVA TALK: Divas In London, Chicago, and on CD

News   DIVA TALK: Divas In London, Chicago, and on CD
As award season gets into full gear, congratulations are in order for Bernadette Peters and Kristen Chenoweth, who both won Outer Critics Circle Awards earlier this week. Peters won for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her work in Annie Get Your Gun, which was also voted Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and Chenoweth won the Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical honors for her breakout performance as Sally Brown in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown . . . And, don't forget the almighty Tony Award nominations will be announced this Monday, May 3 at 8:30 AM at Sardi's.

As award season gets into full gear, congratulations are in order for Bernadette Peters and Kristen Chenoweth, who both won Outer Critics Circle Awards earlier this week. Peters won for Outstanding Actress in a Musical for her work in Annie Get Your Gun, which was also voted Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and Chenoweth won the Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical honors for her breakout performance as Sally Brown in You're a Good Man Charlie Brown . . . And, don't forget the almighty Tony Award nominations will be announced this Monday, May 3 at 8:30 AM at Sardi's.

Last season, London's Donmar Warehouse presented a summer filled with solo concert performances from Barbara Cook and Imelda Staunton as well as the sister act of Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway. As previously announced here and on the In Theater site, the line-up for this summer is equally stellar, boasting Patti LuPone and Audra McDonald. The third performer, one I'm not familiar with, is Sam Brown, who according to an on-line bio was born in Stratford in 1964. Brown's recording deal with A&M Records in 1986 led to her smash hit "Stop" in 1987, a bluesy ballad that showcased her vocal prowess. Brown was also a backing vocalist on Pink Floyd's "Division Bell" album and in the last few years has toured with her father, Joe Brown, and The Subway Soopa Stringz.

La LuPone is the first diva at the Donmar, performing her new concert act, "Matters of the Heart," from Aug. 9 through Aug. 21. Audra McDonald's reign runs from Aug. 23 to Aug. 28, and Sam Brown will open on Aug. 31 and close Sept. 4. The performance schedule is Monday through Saturday at 8 PM with matinees on Saturday at 4 PM. Tickets go on sale Monday, May 17; call 011 44 171 637 9041 for reservations. It promises to be another exciting, diva-filled summer at the Donmar.

If the healing process goes as planned, at the beginning of June, Sandy Duncan (who recently broke her foot during rehearsals for the Sacramento and Boston tour dates) and Ruthie Henshall will join the Broadway company of Chicago as, respectively, Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly. In an upcoming Playbill article, theatre writer Sheryl Flatow interviews both women about their roles in the Kander and Ebb hit. I thought you would enjoy reading a quote from each of these multi talented ladies, one -- Duncan -- a Broadway star nominated for a Tony three times, and the other -- Henshall -- a star of the West End who nabbed an Olivier Award for her work as Amalia in the London company of She Loves Me.

Sandy Duncan on Roxie Hart:
"I have a very definite take on the character, on who she is and how she's interpreted . . . I think Roxie survives in the world through fantasy. She probably has done this since she was a kid. So my approach is that she's almost childlike. Nothing is premeditated. That's why you can forgive Roxie a lot. She didn't intend to kill anyone, but it happened. She wishes it hadn't, so to her mind, she's not a murderer or a criminal. It's like when kids play pretend. She lives in a world that she has created according to the way she wants it to be."

Ruthie Henshall on Velma Kelly:
"They're such different characters, and they're so well-defined . . . Roxie thinks on her feet all the time. She just reacts to anything that comes at her, whereas Velma's the queen of the prison. Roxie ends up being one step ahead of Velma all the way, and Velma's never had anyone one step ahead of her. She's always ruled the roost. Roxie's journey takes her through all the colors of the rainbow. Velma doesn't go on a similar journey. She has a harder edge, but there's also a vulnerability to her. The main thing is she's being usurped in front of her eyes, and it's so annoying to her."

This Thursday, May 6, the final City Center Encores! production of the season, Do Re Mi begins its five-performance run. Tickets are still available by visiting the City Center box office or through CityTix at (212) 581-1212. Following is the complete cast list of this Betty Comden/Adolph Green/Garson Kanin/Jule Styne musical:

Kay Cram will be played by Randy Graff
Hubert Cram: Nathan Lane
Waiter: Blake Hammond
John Henry Wheeler: Brian Stokes Mitchell
M.C.: Brad Oscar
The Swingers: Leslie Castay, Colleen Fitzpatrick & Ann Kittredge
Fatso O'Rear: Lee Wilkof
Brains Berman: Lewis J. Stadlen
Skin Demopoulos: Stephen DeRosa
Photographer: John Herrera
Reporter: Patricia Ben Peterson
Marsha Denkler: Marilyn Cooper
Irving Feinberg: Gerry Vichi
Gretchen Mulhausen: Tovah Feldshuh
Tilda Mullen: Heather Headley
Moe Shtarker: Michael Mulheren
Chief Counsel: Michael X. Martin
The Animal Girls: Amy Heggins, Nancy Lemenager, Carol Lee Meadows, Michelle O'Steen ,Greta Martin, Tamlyn Brooke Shusterman
The Dancers: Brad Aspel, Vince Pesce, Josh Prince, Noah Racey
The Singers: Leslie Castay, Collen Fitzpatrick, Blake Hammond, Dale Hensley, John Herrera, Ann Kittredge, Michael X. Martin, Brad Oscar, Patricia Ben Peterson, Gerry Vichi.

A host of talented performers can be heard on a new recording from Varese Sarabande that salutes the work of Stephen Sondheim. The collection of songs is culled from many earlier releases on the Varese label, and it's a great way to determine whether or not you would like to add the original source to your CD collection. The complete track listing for "The Sondheim Collection" follows:

"More" sung by Jennifer Simard
"You'll Never Get Away from Me" sung by Judy Kuhn
"I Remember" sung by Liz Callaway
"Mama's Talkin' Soft" sung by Lindsay Ridgeway and Sarah Chapman
"No One Is Alone" sung by Laurie Beechman
"Old Friends Part II" sung by Amy Rider, Malcom Gets and Adam Heller
"Opening [from Follies]" sung by The Trotter Trio
"That Old Piano Roll" sung by Harry Groener and Lynnette Perry
"Children Will Listen" sung by Petula Clark
"You Could Drive a Person Crazy" sung by David, Patrick & Shaun Cassidy
"Loving You" sung by Michelle Nicastro
"There's Always a Woman" sung by Kaye Ballard and Sally Mayes
"What Can You Lose?" sung by Guy Haines
"By the Sea" sung by The Trotter Trio
"Every Day a Little Death" sung by Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley
"Marry Me a Little" sung by Christiane Noll
"Send in the Clowns" sung by Glynis Johns
"Sooner or Later" sung by Jane Krakowski
"Goodbye for Now" sung by Liz Callaway

IN OTHER NEWS "Yours for a Song: The Women of Tin Pan Alley," which features Betty Buckley singing a handful of tunes ("I Can't Give You Anything But Love," "The Way You Look Tonight" and others) composed by women song writers, begins airing on PBS in the Metropolitan area on Wednesday, August 18 at 9:30 pm. Pianist/singer Michael Feinstein will also perform and discuss such legendary female writers as Dorothy Fields and Kay Swift . . . The inimitable Ute Lemper, who recently concluded her run in the New York company of Chicago, will join the Hartford Symphony when she performs in concert on May 7 and 8 at The Bushnell in Hartford, Connecticut. Lemper will perform the songs of Edith Piaf and Marlene Dietrich backed by the full orchestra, and then will offer several Kurt Weill selections, with simple piano accompaniment. Tickets range from $15 to $47 (half-price tickets for students $18 and under are also available) and may be purchased by calling the Bushnell box office at (860) 987-5900 . . . Through May 15 you can catch the latest cabaret act of Christine Andreas -- who most recently starred on Broadway in the first version of The Scarlet Pimpernel -- at the famed Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 9 PM with additional shows at 11:30 PM on Friday and Saturday. There is a $45 music charge and a $15 food/drink minimum. Call the Algonquin at (212) 840-3000 for reservations . . . "That woman [Tommy's The Acid Queen] was a combination of three different men from my life; that's why she was so spooky. You can ask the stagehands [at the St. James, where Tommy played] what I was like. I was a total bitch when I walked down the stairs in character." So says Cheryl Freeman to writer Paul Wontorek in this week's issue of In Theater magazine. Freeman currently provides one of the most moving and exciting moments -- her duet of "If Prayin' Were Horses" with co-star Michel Bell -- in Frank Wildhorn's The Civil War, which is also at the St. James Theatre . . . I received an e-mail this week from a fellow diva lover who informs me that those Side Show gals, Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, are working on a second album, which will be released this fall. Their follow-up album will include about half-a-dozen duets as well as two or three solo performances from both Ripley and Skinner . . . Speaking of Side Show, in his current cabaret act at Don't Tell Mama -- entitled "Simply Barbra: The Wedding Tour" -- Steven Brinberg impersonates the one-and-only Barbra Streisand and also has some fun with a few other ladies: Cleo Laine singing tunes from Side Show in her inimitable jazz style, Bea Arthur's take on "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and more. Call Don't Tell Mama at (212) 757-0788 for show times and reservations . . . Linda Eder and Debbie Gravitte are both scheduled to release new CDs this year . . . And, finally, tickets are still available for the solo Town Hall concerts featuring Audra McDonald (May 5), Adam Guettel (May 12) and Dawn Upshaw (June 9) by calling (212) 307-4100. If you mention the code "Joe's," an orchestra package for the entire concert series is only $100 while a balcony package costs $75 (full price is $125 for orchestra and $95 for balcony).


On June 22 and 23, admirers of The Phantom of the Opera star will get a chance to see the singer in concert at City Center in New York City.

A host of new concert dates follows. The list is continually growing, so check the Betty Buckley website on PBOL for the latest changes.
May 3 Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center in Chicago, IL
June 5 Myerson Symphony Center--Obelisk Awards in Dallas, TX
June 7 PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ
June 10-13 Theatrefest in Montclair, NJ
June 29 Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA
July 20 Point Lookout in Camden, ME
July 27 Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, PA
October 9 Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY
October 22 (class); October 23 (concert) Krannert Center for the Performing Arts; Foellinger Great Hall in Champaign-Urbana, IL
October 24 Sangamon Stage University Auditorium; Springfield, IL
November 6 State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
November 14 Cincinnati, OH (venue to come)
December 6-7 St. Barths Church in New York, NY
December 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
December 18 Atlantic University Auditorium in Boca Raton, FL
December 31 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT

LuPone will join opera star Bryn Terfel for a concert version of Sondheim's Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. The performers will be backed by the New York Philharmonic, and the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday.

The songstress will perform at the Bradstan Inn in White Lake New York on June 20, and Sept. 25 KM will perform in concert to benefit Dallas Children's Theatre Fairmont Hotel, Dallas.

Following are a a handful of upcoming Paige concert dates in Sweden, which are listed below:
June 10 Ulriksdal (as part of the Royal Ulriksdal Palace Festival) in Stockholm, Sweden
June 12 Finspang Palace in Finspang (outside of Norrkoping), Sweden
June 17 Sofiero Palce in Helsingborg, Sweden
June 19 Tradgardsforeningen Botanical Gardens in Gothenburg, Sweden

Paige will also appear as the special guest of Cliff Richards at his concerts in Hyde Park, London, on July 16, 17 and 18. Tickets are available from First Call: 0171 420 1000. And, don't forget, EP will make a special appearance in New York City in May when she will perform at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation's spring gala on Wednesday, May 5 at the New Christie's Auction House in the city. The event is being hosted by Barbara Walters, and Paige -- who is expected to sing a handful of her biggest hits -- will be accompanied on the piano by Tony Award-winning composer Marvin Hamlisch. For more information about this worthy event, contact The Breast Cancer Research Foundation at (212) 572-4249.

Bernadette Peters currently stars on Broadway as Annie Oakley in the revival of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun. The show's cast recording was recently released from Broadway Angel.

The Public Theater's Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette Street) celebrates the best of Broadway and cabaret in a new series devoted to the women who scat, swing, belt and croon. Lea DeLaria is currently up at bat at the new cabaret space (May 3), and she will be followed by Mary Cleere Haran (May 10 and 11), Ann Hampton Callaway (May 13, 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22) and -- most exciting of all -- Ute Lemper (May 26, 27, 28, June 3, 4, 5 and 7). All shows are at 8:30 PM . Call (212) 239-6200 or (212) 539-8777.

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

by Andrew Gans
e-mail me at agans@playbill.com

Diva Talk is dedicated to the memory of Matthew Shepard, 1976- 1998.

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