Well, it certainly is a busy time for our Tony-winning Evita gal, Patti LuPone. The actress started the week off with a visit to the set of the "Rosie O'Donnell Show," which I hope you caught or videotaped this past Tuesday. We should all give a big thank you to Rosie O'Donnell for being the grand champion of our theatre divas on television. No other TV star supports the theatre like Rosie, and I particularly love the fact that she is also a fan of LuPone, Betty Buckley, Bernadette Peters and other Broadway supertalents. La LuPone was in rare form, and it was fascinating to learn about the jewelry (items that Ethel Merman wore in Call Me Madam) she acquired during her run in Evita, which she incorporated into the Charity Concert scene where Eva advises Peron, "I'd Be Surprisingly Good for You."
During the interview, LuPone--who is currently starring on Broadway in David Mamet's The Old Neighborhood--let it slip that she would star in a one-night-only benefit concert of Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun. I have recently learned that the performance, which will benefit Lincoln Center's Musical Theatre Program, will be held on March 8 at 6:45 pm at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, home of another LuPone triumph, Anything Goes. Peter Gallagher, who co-starred with the Olivier Award winner in the Encores! presentation of Pal Joey two seasons back, will again play opposite LuPone at this benefit performance. The company also boasts Eli Wallach, who will portray Chief Sitting Bull, and Lonny Price, who will direct this concert presentation of Annie. It will be a real treat to hear LuPone sing Berlin's grand score--"They Say It's Wonderful," "You Can't Get a Man with a Gun," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Moonshine Lullaby," "I Got Lost in His Arms" and others--backed by a 30 piece orchestra. A very limited amount of tickets are on sale to the general public, and those seats will be priced at $100. Tickets are available at the Vivian Beaumont box office or by calling Telecharge at (212) 239-6200.
It's interesting to note that both Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun were star vehicles for that belter of belters, Ethel Merman, and the Merman tie-in continues this Sunday, Feb. 1, when LuPone will join Bette Midler, Andrea Martin, Elaine Stritch and Lainie Kazan in a tribute to the legendary stage star. Titled "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," the divafest will benefit Gay Men's Health Crisis, and LuPone is scheduled to wrap her golden voice around "Ridin' High" and "I've Still Got My Health." Tickets, which range from $75-$1,500, can be purchased by calling GMHC at (212) 367-1111; it should be a thrilling event.
If all this weren't enough, LuPone will be a guest on the "Charlie Rose Show" on PBS on Feb. 4 and will discuss her current role in The Old Neighborhood as well as her past theatrical triumphs on Broadway and in London. On Feb. 14 she will sing at the Kravitz Center in West Palm Beach, Florida (tickets available by calling 561-833-8300), and from Feb. 26 through March 1, LuPone will perform with the Pittsburgh Symphony at the Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh. Tickets for the those concerts, starting at $30, are now on sale by calling 412-392-4900.
It's evident that LuPone is, indeed, "Ridin' High"!
Karen Mason recently finished a sold-out run at The Cinegrill in Los Angeles, where she received wonderful reviews for her latest cabaret act. I thought you would be interested to read excerpts from these reviews:
Don Heckman in The Los Angeles Times:
". . .Blessed with a dark, expressive voice and a full-bodied timbral range, she sang her intriguing program of songs with a fluid musicality. Her greatest skill, however, was her knack for telling a story. It is a talent that makes her an especially effective cabaret artist. Even an overly familiar standard such as 'I Want to Be Around,' for example, emerged with a more insightful slant, a thoughtful view not always apparent in its more commercial manifestations.
And when Mason chose songs with intrinsic story content, as she did for much of her set, she was sometimes brilliantly illuminating. Her rendering of 'I Wish,' Babbie Green's rapid-fire study of emotional insecurity, was definitive, a compelling blend of words, music and feeling. . .At her best, she was a model cabaret artist, serving up an engaging menu of compelling, contemporary song." Julio Martinez in Variety:
"There are actors who sing and singers who act, but rarely an artist so universally gifted that the music imbues the drama and vice versa. Karen Mason is such a talent. Performing excerpts from her two CDs ('Not So Simply Broadway' and 'Better Days,'), Mason creates exquisite, emotion laden one-act plays out of each of her 11 numbers plus two encores, demonstrating the musical quality and virtuosity of a fine instrumentalist. The singer is ably supported by the intuitive, understated accompanist of pianist Michael Orland."
*For those of you in the metropolitan area who have yet to see Karen Mason live, here's your chance. Mason will join Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops Orchestra on March 20 at Carnegie Hall. Tickets for the evening, which is titled "The Broadway Songbook," range from $17 to $65 and are now on sale at the Carnegie Hall Box Office (881 Seventh Avenue) or by calling CarnegieCharge at (212) 247-7800.
DAVID ZIPPEL AND FRIENDS
If you're unable to nab a ticket for Patti LuPone in Annie Get Your Gun on March 8, you might want to check out another diva-filled event, "Go the Distance: An Evening with David Zippel and Friends." A benefit for Mary Fisher's Family AIDS Network, Inc., the evening will feature the works of Tony Award winner David Zippel, the lyricist of City of Angels, The Goodbye Girl and Hercules. Among the many wonderful ladies scheduled to entertain are Lucie Arnaz, Judy Blazer, Carolee Carmello, Barbara Cook, Karen Fineman, Randy Graff, Debbie Gravitte, Judy Kaye, Alix Korey, Judy Kuhn, Karen Mason and Lillias White. A few men will also be on hand to sing: David Garrison, Howard McGillin, James Naughton and David Pomeranz.
Tickets range from $45-$250, and the higher-priced seats include a post performance reception. The 92nd Street Y is located at 1395 Lexington Avenue; for more information call (212) 489-7050.
IN OTHER NEWS
Grease!'s Christine Toy will be joined by Kevin Gray, Jason Ma and Ann Harada on Monday, Feb. 2 in a benefit performance of William Finn's Falsettoland at St. Peter's Church (619 Lexington Avenue). The performance will benefit the National Asian American Theatre Company, and tickets are available by calling (212) 505 3003. . .She's back! According to an item in this week's Daily News, Norma Desmond will return to the stage; that is, a new, scaled-down tour of Sunset Boulevard will begin this fall starring Petula Clark as the deluded silent screen star. Stay tuned for more. . .A new website for Jekyll & Hyde and recording star Linda Eder can be found at www.geocities.com/Broadway/Stage/3995/LindaEder . . . The video of the recent Disney/ABC broadcast of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, starring Bernadette Peters, Whitney Houston and Brandy, will be available in stores on Feb. 10.
NOTHING LIKE A DAME
The third annual production of Nothing Like a Dame will take place on Feb. 23, 1998, at the Shubert Theatre on West 44th Street. The event supports the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative of the Actors' Fund of America, a program that is committed to the health concerns of women in the entertainment industry. At this time the impressive roster of performers includes Lucie Arnaz, Lauren Bacall, Laurie Beechman, Joy Behar, Betty Buckley, Jane Connell, Blythe Danner, Lea DeLaria, Joan Hamburg, Linda Lavin, Karen Mason, Rita Moreno, Bebe Neuwirth, Phyllis Newman, Christine Pedi, Jane Powell, Chita Rivera, Kate Schindle (Miss America 1998), Liz Smith, Elaine Stritch, Mary Testa, Kathleen Turner and Lillias White. Tickets for Nothing Like a Dame begin at $40 and include seats priced at $100, $200, $500 and $1,000. The $1,000 seats also include a post-show cast party with the dames at John's Pizzeria Times Square. For more information and for tickets, call the DAME-LINE at 1-888-DAME TIX (1 888-326-3849).
Betty Buckley returns to the stage of The Bottom Line Feb. 13, 14 and 15 for a series of Valentine concerts entitled "Heart to Heart." She will perform at 7:30 and 10 pm on Feb. 13 and 14, and on Feb. 15 show times are 4 pm (a "songs by request" concert) and 8:30 pm. The Bottom Line is located at 15 West 4th Street, and tickets are available only at the Bottom Line box office.
Carter will return to the cabaret stage of the Cafe Carlyle (Madison Avenue at 76th Street) on March 10. Reservations can be made by calling (212) 744-1600.
LINDA EDER will bring her thrilling vocals to Town Hall on Thursday, Feb. 19 at 8pm. Tickets are now available through TicketMaster at (212) 307-7171.
The legendary Eartha Kitt continues at Cafe Carlyle ((212) 744-1600) on Madison and 76th Street through March 7. Performances are Tuesday through Saturdays at 8:45 and 10:45, and there is a $50 cover with no minimum. BERNADETTE PETERS BP's concert schedule follows:
Feb. 7 in Richmond, VA at The Mosque
Feb. 8 in Emporia, VA at the Emporia Elementary School
Feb. 11 & 12 in Boca Raton, FL at the Florida Atlantic Univ. Auditorium
Feb. 14 in Providence, RI at The Veterans Memorial Auditorium
Feb. 24 in Milwaukee, WI at The Bruce Hall
March 6 & 7 in Costa Mesa, CA at The Orange County Performing Arts Center
March 12 in Akron, OH at the E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall, Univ. of Akron
March 14 New Brunswick, NJ at the NJ State Theatre
March 15 Springfield, MA at Symphony Hall
March 27 & 28 in Dayton, OH at the Dayton Convention Center
Cyrano star and acclaimed standby in Victor/Victoria, Anne Runolfsson will sing in L.A. at the famed Cinegrill Feb. 10-14, 1998.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
I will be singing at Don't Tell Mama (343 West 46th Street) for my annual cabaret act on Feb. 14 (at 6pm) and Feb. 19 (at 9 PM). The show is titled "Ordinary Miracles" and includes songs by David Friedman, Craig Carnelia, John Bucchino, the Bergmans, the Gershwins, Sondheim and more. If you come, please be sure to say hello after the show. Reservations can be made by calling (212) 757 0788.
The divas salute Merman and Betty Buckley at the Bottom Line.
That's all for now. Happy diva-watching!
-- By Andrew Gans