DIVA TALK: It's Tony Time!

News   DIVA TALK: It's Tony Time!
Well, they’re finally here! This Sunday, June 3, the 2001 Tony Awards will be handed out at Radio City Music Hall to some of Broadway’s finest performers and shows. I thought it would be a good time to look back at last season’s winners in the Best Featured Actress and Best Leading Actress in a Musical categories. What follows are the acceptance speeches from last year’s winners, Karen Ziemba and Heather Headley.

Well, they’re finally here! This Sunday, June 3, the 2001 Tony Awards will be handed out at Radio City Music Hall to some of Broadway’s finest performers and shows. I thought it would be a good time to look back at last season’s winners in the Best Featured Actress and Best Leading Actress in a Musical categories. What follows are the acceptance speeches from last year’s winners, Karen Ziemba and Heather Headley.

Karen Ziemba, Contact (Best Featured Actress in a Musical):
Thank you. Wooooo! Oh, Mom and Dad, thanks for sending me to those ballet lessons. They really paid off this year. Thank you to Lincoln Center Theater, Bernie and Andre, for giving Contact a home and making it a great workplace for my cast and crew who turn it out every night -- they really do, especially my two leading men, Jason Antoon and David MacGillivray. I’d be lost without you. Much love and thanks to my director, Susan Stroman, who has been my mentor and guiding light for practically my whole career. And thank you John Weidman for your beautiful, spare words that have said so much. Thanks for both of you for creating this incredible piece of theatre. And much love to my husband Bill, my friends and family who have been so supportive. And I am so proud to be working in the live theatre. There is nothing like it. Thank you.

Heather Headley, AIDA (Best Leading Actress in a Musical):
Two years ago, I sat in the back of this theatre with Lion King wondering when it would be my turn to sit up here, much less be on this stage, so I have a few people to thank. First, to begin, I want to thank the women in my category, I thank you so much. I’ve always maintained that you’ve been good teachers, and I thank you again tonight. I thank Disney. I could not have done this without you. I love you so much, and I’ll work for you for the rest of my life. I will. I also thank you for giving me the best cast in the world. This is our Tony. It belongs to us. I want to thank Janet Lower, Boneau/Bryan-Brown, my mommy and my brother and last, and certainly not least, I thank God for every blessing he has given me, especially this one. Thank you. Bye-bye.

Some know her best as Maude; others may refer to her as Dorothy Zbornak; and still other remember her star turn as Angela Lansbury’s boozy sidekick in the Broadway production of Mame. And, now, that grand comedic actress/singer, Bea Arthur, is touring her one-woman show, And Then There’s Bea, around the country. Playbill correspondent Patrick Pacheco recently spoke with the genius of comedy for an upcoming article in the subscription issue of Playbill, and I thought you would enjoy reading a few of Arthur’s remarks. Her quotes are followed by the current tour schedule of And Then There’s Bea:
about the genesis of her one-woman show:
“[Musical director] Billy [Goldenberg] and [playwright] Charles Randolph Wright have been after me for years to do a one-woman show, but I didn’t want it to be autobiographical, to be ‘this was the year I did such-and such.’ Billy thinks of me as a singer -- but that’s his problem. We just wanted to do things that we really loved.”

about not performing as a character but as herself
“Yeah, there’s nothing to fall back on. For me, it’s just a joke: Bea Arthur - whatever that is! It’s been a lifetime of sorting that out.”

about singing the Bergman’s “Where Do You Start,” which is about the end of a relationship: (Arthur and director Gene Saks divorced after a long marriage):
“That one just kills me.”

And Then There’s Bea Tour Schedule:
June 2-3 at the Lucas Theater in Savannah, GA
June 12-17 at the Brown Theatre in Louisville, KY
June 19-24 at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, TX
June 29 at the Westhampton Center in Westhampton, NY
July 2-8 at the Capitol Theatre in Columbus, OH
July 10-15 at the Kaplan Theatre in Cincinnati, OH
July 24-29 at the Helen Hayes Theatre in Nyack, NY
July 31-August 5 at the Fletcher Opera House in Raleigh, NC
Aug. 7-19 at the Amaturo Theatre, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Aug. 21-26 at the Alcazar Theatre in San Francisco, CA
Sept. 4-9 at the Egyptian Ballroom in Indianapolis, IN
Sept. 18-23 at the Pageant Theatre in St. Louis, MO
Oct. 23-28 at the Playhouse in Tampa, FL
Nov. 4 at the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA
Nov. 6 at the State Theatre in Easton, PA
Nov. 8 at the Pol Theatre, in Lakeland, FL
Nov. 10 at the Grand Opera House in Galveston, TX
Dec. 11-23 at the Royal Poinciana in West Palm Beach, FL
Dec. 26-30 at the Scherr Forum Theatre in Thousand Oaks, CA
Jan. 2-6 at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix, AZ

Alice Ripley
Will the real Alice Ripley please stand up? Those who believe that Ripley is the high belter of her generation may be in for a surprise when they first play her new album, which is entitled “Everything’s Fine.” On her solo debut CD from Sh-K-Boom Records, Ripley displays another side of her talents, that of a singer/songwriter whose voice is easily adaptable to a more contemporary style, one reminiscent of pop stars like Jewel and Sarah McLachlan. Although “Everything’s Fine” may not thrill those hoping to hear the forceful belt Ripley demonstrated so excitingly in Side Show and the current Rocky Horror Show, there is a lot that is pleasing in this 13-track recording, which begins with one of the CD’s most enjoyable tunes, “Shotgun,” with its sweet but aching melody. Throughout the disc, in fact, Ripley explores the ache of life, especially childhood, commenting on her angst-filled suburban youth that found her the middle child of 11 when her father remarried. Other highlights of the disc include the catchy “Calling All Angels,” with its persistent rhythmic beat; the amusing “Suburbia” (“the Stepford family lives right next door/ They don’t allow black-soled shoes on their hardwood floor/ I’ve never seen them bleed, that’s why I’m so sure/ they’re bionic to the core, every weekend at the shore in suburbia”); “Everything’s Fine,” a song of denial; and the disc’s closer, “Violet Tree.”

While it is an enjoyable recording, it didn’t move me as much as the best theatre songs can; I was often more moved by reading the lyrics that accompany the CD than by hearing the songs themselves. For example, “Photograph” has some beautiful portions -- “There’s a rose that lives in the eyes of my mother/ and it’s pressed in the pages of time./There’s a secret that hides in the bones of my father/it’s a memory sublime” -- but they’re often hard to discern in the sung version. That said, however, Ripley fans will definitely want to add this recording, which demonstrates her chameleonlike musicality, to their collection. It’s a promising start to what looks like a second career from the talented singer/actress.

“Everything’s Fine” will be available beginning June 12 through sh-k boom.com or amazon.com.

Alice Ripley discusses performing eight shows a week in a recent New York Post Cindy Adams column:
“I admit I’m tired. I don’t deny it. And it’s never the right time to eat properly. After the performance it’s so late and I’m in bed by one. I usually just end up with soup.”

Faith Prince also discusses performing a Broadway schedule in the same Cindy Adams column:
“Not easy. It really takes everything you’ve got. I have a husband and a nanny and while I’m working we need the three of us just to take care of my one kid.”

Polly Bergen also spoke to Adams about a Broadway run:
“You can manage your shows, but all the extra stuff you have to do your one day off -- album recordings, photo shoots, ad campaigns, award ceremonies -- definitely creates the exhaustion factor.”

Christine Ebersole’s thoughts on the same subject:
“I’ve four dogs, three cats and three adopted multi-racial children. For now, while I’m working, my husband, an ex-drummer is the stay-at-home parent. All I can say is, boy has the real 42nd St. changed since I worked here last in 1980 in Camelot with Richard Burton. There were porno houses everywhere. Today it’s like Blade Runner.”

IN OTHER NEWS Playwright Terrence McNally will be honored with the 12th Annual Oscar Hammerstein Award at the York Theatre Company’s gala benefit this Monday, June 4 at 5:30 PM (Laura Belle Supper Club, 120 W. 43rd Street). Among those scheduled to participate are Audra McDonald, Zoe Caldwell, Marin Mazzie, Barbara Cook, Lynn Ahrens, Lynne Meadow, Wendy Wasserstein plus Nathan Lane, Marc Kudisch, Mario Cantone, Jason Danieley, Stephen Flaherty, John Kander, Joe Mantello and Leonard Foglia. The Oscar Hammerstein Award commemorates lifetime achievement in the musical theatre, and tickets to the event are available by calling (212) 935-5824, ext. 26 . . . It’s far from being a great show, but Off-Broadway’s Eli’s Comin’ offers some of the greatest belting to be found on any New York stage at the moment. Starring Chess and Rags alum Judy Kuhn as Emmie, the standout of the production is actually Anika Noni Rose whose singing is sensational. Rose possesses a powerful, rangy belt and an intensity that is simply thrilling. Ronnell Bey and Mandy Gonzalez also have wonderful voices, and if Kuhn could be a bit more daring in some of her vocals, her version of “Stoney End” was riveting and one of the highlights of the 80-minute evening. . . . While at the Ravinia Festival in July, Barbara Cook will offer a master class in performance as well as her eagerly awaited concert . . . According to the latest press release, Sunday’s Tony Awards broadcast will include these musical scenes: Lonny Price, Randy Graff and the company of A Class Act in a medley of Edward Kleban tunes; The Full Monty company goes “The Full Monty” in the musical’s finale, “Let It Go”; Tony nominee Marla Schaffel and co-star James Barbour perform “The Pledge” and “Sirens” from Jane Eyre; Nathan Lane will lead the company of The Producers in “Along Came Bialy”; Tony nominee Faith Prince performs her 11 o’clock number “I’m Going Back” from Bells Are Ringing; Polly Bergen performs her show-stopping rendition of Follies’ “I’m Still Here”; David Elder, Tony nominee Kate Levering and the Company of 42nd Street tap their way into Radio City Music Hall with a medley of “42nd Street,” “Lullaby of Broadway” and “We’re in the Money”; and Tom Hewitt and the company of The Rocky Horror Show will perform that show’s “The Time Warp.” . . . Three tracks from Patti LuPone’s “Heatwave” CD -- “Let Yourself Go/Steppin’ Out With My Baby,” “Heatwave” and “Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly” -- can be heard on the new Universal/Philips Records release, “Hollywood Bowl Orchestra/John Mauceri Greatest Hits.” The two-CD collection highlights the greatest hits of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and also includes performances by Lea Salonga, Patti Austin, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Marilyn Horne, Sylvia McNair, Gregory Hines, Wynton Marsalis, Peabo Bryson and others.


That Tony-winning dynamo, Betty Buckley, has just released a new slate of concert performances, which follows:

June 17 at the Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA
July 27 and 28 at the Bottom Line in New York, NY
July 29 at the Provincetown Town Hall in Provincetown, MA (Fund raiser for Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater)
August 25 at the Great Waters Music Festival in Wolfeboro, NH
October 6 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
November 10 at the Naperville North Central College Performing Arts Center in Naperville, IL (with Michael Feinstein)
November 24 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ (with Michael Feinstein)
December 6 at Abravenal Hall with the Utah Symphony in Salt Lake City, UT (Xmas program)
December 7 in Logan, UT (Venue to be announced)
December 27 at the Academy Theatre in Philadelphia, PA (with Michael Feinstein)
January 4 & 5, 2002 at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford, CT
March 15 & 16, 2002 with the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh, NC
March 30 at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA BARBARA COOK
July 9 at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL

Eder in concert:
Now through June 3 in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392 4900
July 7 at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion at the Woodlands in Houston, TX, (713) 629-3700
Sept. 15 at the Eisenhower Hall Theatre at West Point, (845) 938 4159
Oct. 19 and 20 at the Atlanta Symphony Hall, go to www.atlantasymphony.org
Nov. 3 at the Youngstown Symphony Center in Youngstown, OH, (330) 744 4269
Nov. 16 and 17 at Jacobs Symphony Hall in Jacksonville, FL, (877) 662 6731

The Tony and Olivier Award-winning actress has also just released a whole new slew of concert dates, which follow:

July 7 at the Performing Arts Center in Westhampton Beach, NY (“Matters of the Heart”)
July 19-21 in Sweeney Todd at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, CA
August 3-4 at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Los Angeles, CA (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
September 15 at the Rialto Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia (“Matters of the Heart”)
September 20-23 at Bass Hall with the Ft. Worth Symphony in Ft. Worth, Texas (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
November 10 at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts (“Matters of the Heart”)
February 9, 2002 at the Tilles Center with the Long Island Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)
February 22-23, 2002 at the Kleinhaus Hall in Buffalo, NY with the Buffalo Philharmonic (“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”)

February 28 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY

The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
June 8-9 in Minneapolis, MN
June 23 in Johnston, PA

Beginning May 29, 15 Tony nominees and/or Tony winners will perform at Arci’s Place (450 Park Avenue South), one of New York’s newest cabaret rooms. First up is the Tony-winning star of A Chorus Line, Donna McKechnie, who will take to the intimate stage of Arci’s on May 29 at 8:30 PM. Reservations for the cabaret shows ($30 cover; $15 minimum, which may be applied to dinner) can be made by calling Arci’s Place at (212) 532-4370. The complete list of divas follows:

Friday, June 1 & Saturday, June 2 “Sibling Revelry” with Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway (8:30 & 11:30 PM)
Tuesday, June 5 Pamela Myers (8:30 PM)
Wednesday, June 6 Alison Fraser & Keith Hermann (8:30 PM)
Thursday, June 7 Lillias White (8:30 PM)
Thursday, June 7 Sally Mayes (11 PM)
Friday, June 8 Sharon McNight (8:30 PM)
Friday, June 8 Tsidii Le Loka (11 PM)
Saturday, June 9 Debbie Gravitte (8:30 PM)
Saturday, June 9 Tsidii Le Loka (11 PM)

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

By Andrew Gans

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