DIVA TALK: Divas Sing! Sing! Sing!

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: Divas Sing! Sing! Sing!
Hello, diva lovers! Just a few items as we head into the holiday weekend. Enjoy.

Hello, diva lovers! Just a few items as we head into the holiday weekend. Enjoy.


As Betty Buckley prepares for her upcoming engagement at New York’s Cafe Carlyle (Feb. 15 through March 17), I thought you would enjoy reading an excerpt from a recent review about BB’s concert last month in Florida. The review, written by Hap Erstein, appeared in The Palm Beach Post. Said Erstein: “. . . Buckley is the sort of interpretative artist who can make the familiar, even the overexposed, sound startlingly fresh. Backed only be her longtime musical director, Kenny Werner, on piano, she demonstrated that very welcome knack Saturday evening in a bravura solo concert -- well, not counting the audible cricket who sang along -- at Florida Atlantic University’s auditorium . . . Without stinting on her obligatory Broadway résumé standards, Buckley emphasized selections from her upcoming recording. They ranged from a smokey version of Rodgers and Hart’s "My Funny Valentine" to Sondheim’s uncharacteristically simple "Anyone Can Whistle" to a slightly twangy take on James Taylor’s "Fire and Rain" . . . Although the evening was full of showstoppers -- all right, concert-showstoppers -- the high point was midway in the first act when she let fly with her signature song, "Meadowlark," which soared from a whisper to a belt and back again. To hear it is to understand the state of Broadway divadom today.


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: Feb. 2-14 at the Prince Music Theatre in Philadelphia, PA; (215) 569-9700
Feb. 18 at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts (Hayes Hall) in Naples, Florida; (941) 597-1900
Feb. 19 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (Dreyfoos Hall) in West Palm Beach, FL; (561) 832-7469
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


That dynamic Side Show (and now The Dead) duo will join forces for a special concert this Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at The Skylight Room at the Puck Building (295 Lafayette Street). The Tony-nominated pair will perform songs from Side Show, their two albums (“Duets” and “Unsuspecting Hearts”) and other tunes. A benefit for the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the evening will also include an open bar, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Tickets range from $125 to $1,500. For more information contact GMHC at (212) 367-1514.


Polly Bergen is probably best known for her award-winning acting career: She received an Emmy for her work in the 1957 CBS “Playhouse 90” production of “The Helen Morgan Story,” and also starred in two of the most popular TV mini-series ever presented, “The Winds of War” and its sequel, “War and Remembrance.” However, Bergen was also a successful singer, releasing several solo albums throughout the decades, and two of those recordings-- “Bergen Sings Morgan” and “The Party’s Over” -- have been reissued on one CD. Simply titled “Polly Bergen,” the Collectibles Records release includes 23 tracks, featuring such standards as “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man,” “Mean To Me” and “It Never Entered My Mind.” Bergen possesses a deep, rich voice that easily switches from soft, creamy tones to a big, exciting belt, and it’s evocative of other “girl singers” of her day. Drawing on her acting skills, Bergen also manages to imbue most every song with a dramatic intensity, letting her throbbing voice find the emotional center of the works that compose the CD. Highlights include the torchy “Don’t Ever Leave Me,” a touching version of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and a heartfelt “More Than You Know.” The complete track listing for the CD follows:

“Don’t Ever Leave Me!”
“Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man”
“More Than You Know”
“The Little Things You Do”
“Something to Remember You By”
“What Wouldn’t I Do for That Man”
“(Here I Am) Broken Hearted”
“(I’ve Got) Sand in My Shoes”
“Mean To Me”
“Body and Soul”
“Why Was I Born?”/ “Bill”
“The Party’s Over”
“It Never Entered My Mind”
“Where’s the Boy I Saved for a Rainy Day?”
“Make the Man Love Me”
“But Not for Me”
“My Melancholy Baby”
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”
“You’ll Never Know”
“I’m Thru With Love”
“Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”
“I Guess I’ll Have to Change My Plan”
“You Don’t Know What Love Is”

IN OTHER NEWS It looks like a busy month for Karen Mason. The Broadway/cabaret star is currently taping a few guest-star appearances on the daytime drama “As the World Turns.” Mason portrays social worker Frances Ellison, and her segments are scheduled to air on CBS on Jan. 31, Feb. 3 and Feb. 10. Also, those of you who live in the L.A. area can see Mason perform live at the Disney Studios on Jan. 26 . . . Cabaret singer Wesla Whitfield brings her latest show, I’m in the Mood for Love -- The Songs of Jimmy McHugh to the city’s newest cabaret, Arci’s Place, on Jan. 18. Whitfield will perform her most recent act through February 12, and she will be accompanied by her husband, musical director Mike Greensill on piano and Ken Miller on bass. I’m in the Mood for Love focuses on the music of Jimmy McHugh, the man responsible for such standards as “Sunny Side of the Street, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Don’t Blame Me.” Arci’s Place is located at 450 Park Avenue South, and there is a $25 cover charge and a $15 minimum. Call (212) 532-4370 for reservations. . . Now available in stores is “The Child in Me--Volume I,” a collection of songs that “take you back to your childhood.” The recording was produced by Paul Rolnick and features vocals from a host of theatre/cabaret favorites including Stephen Bogardus, Liz Callaway, Craig Carnelia, Jamie deRoy, Ellen Foley, Kathie Lee Gifford, Eric Michael Gillett, Heather MacRae, Karen Mason and the late Laurie Beechman. For more information about the recording visit jamiederoy.com or call 1-888-627-3993 . . . KT Sullivan will join singer-pianist Steve Ross for “Romance and Rhythm,” a Valentine’s Day Cabaret to be held at New York’s Symphony Space on Monday, Feb. 14 at 8 PM. The evening will focus on songs from the Great American songbook, including works by Cole Porter, the Gershwins and Stephen Sondheim. Backed by the Rhythm Deluxe Orchestra, tickets are $25 ($20 for Symphony Space members), and those interested in attending should call (212) 864-5400 . . . And, finally, some thoughts about Susan Lucci’s Annie Oakley. Surprisingly -- this being her first Broadway outing -- Susan Lucci manages to bring warmth and charm to her portrayal of Annie Oakley in the current revival of Irving Berlin’s famed musical at the Marquis Theatre. Combining just the right amounts of spunk, humor and drama, the “All My Children” star has the audience rooting for her throughout the ups-and-downs of Oakley’s foray into show business and, more importantly, love. Lucci makes you believe Annie really does fall for Frank Butler, and her scenes with Tom Wopat (who portrays Butler) are well-acted. If her comedic skills don’t reach the heights of Tony winner Bernadette Peters, she does well with most of the comic moments. Her singing, however, is troublesome. The role of Annie Oakley is, vocally, a gargantuan one, requiring a skilled singer to bring Berlin’s gorgeous score to life. The actress portraying Annie sings the bulk of the score, including such gems as “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly,” “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,” “Moonshine Lullaby,” “They Say It’s Wonderful,” “Lost in His Arms,” “I Got the Sun in the Morning,” “An Old Fashioned Wedding,” “Anything You Can Do” and others. Past and present Annies have included Ethel Merman, Mary Martin, Bernadette Peters, Dolores Grey, and all boasted wondrous voices. Lucci’s is a thin, mostly colorless tone, and she has trouble maintaining pitch when she’s singing softly. She does better while belting; however, her belt is devoid of any vibrato, which is what makes theatrical voices so exciting. One hopes Lucci will return to the stage, but she may be better suited to a non singing role. How about a Noel Coward comedy or a contemporary piece like Dinner With Friends? She’d be fab. By the way, Lucci concludes her run in Annie Get Your Gun on Jan. 17 . . .

Next week: A review of the Kiss Me, Kate recording (DRG Records) -- it hits record stores January 25. I’ve been listening all morning, and it sounds wonderful.



Betty Buckley will return to the famed Cafe Carlyle for a five-week stint beginning Tuesday, Feb. 15. Buckley will perform two shows nightly at the plush boîte, at 8:45 PM and 10:45 PM, Tuesday through Saturday evenings. There is a $60 cover charge but no food/beverage minimum. The cabaret room of the Carlyle Hotel is located at 35 East 76th Street; for reservations, call (212) 744-1600. Be sure to make your reservations now. Seating is limited.

A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer. Feb. 5, 2000 Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
Feb. 6 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
Feb. 8-9 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
Feb. 11 Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
Feb. 12 Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY
Feb. 14 Keith Albee Theatre in Huntington, WV
Feb. 15-March 17 at the Cafe Carlyle in New York, NY March 18 Folly Theatre in Kansas City, MO
March 19 Macomb Center for the Perf. Arts in Detroit, MI
April 24 Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance in Fort Worth, TX
April 26 Coronation 2000 in San Antonio, TX
May 4 Poway Center in Poway, CA
May 5-6 Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts in Cerritos, CA
May 7 Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
May 8 Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Aug. 29 Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL


Here is Cook’s upcoming concert schedule:

Jan. 27-30: at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA (with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony); call (412) 392-4900


Already announced McGovern concert dates:
Jan. 22 "Sondheim & Jazz: Side by Side" at the UCLA Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA
Jan. 23 at the Mentor Performing Arts Center in Mentor, OH
Feb. 11 & 12 "Valentine Pops" with the Baton Rouge Symphony at the Centroplex Theatre for Performing Arts in Baton Rouge, LA
Feb 18 & 19 at the La Mirada Theatre for Performing Arts in La Mirada, CA
March 5 & 6, 19 & 20 with Peter Nero and the Philly Pops in Philadelphia, PA
March 17 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern featuring pianist Lee Musiker" at Purchase College-SUNY in Purchase, NY
March 24 & 25 "An Evening with Maureen McGovern" with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic at the Rose Hall Stage in Oklahoma City, OK


What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:

Jan. 21 and 22, 2000 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah


On Jan. 17, 24 and 31, Randy Graff, Debbie Gravitte and Adriane Lenox will star in an evening of theatre and pop songs by Tony winning City of Angels lyricist David Zippel. Shows begin at 8:30 PM, and there is a $25 music charge. Joe’s Pub is located inside the Public Theater at 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets may be purchased at the theatre’s box office or through Telecharge at (212) 239-6200. For more information, call the Pub at (212) 539-8777.

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

By Andrew Gans

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