DIVA TALK: It's Tony Time! Plus Praising Paige and Divas in Cabaret

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: It's Tony Time! Plus Praising Paige and Divas in Cabaret


Well, they’re finally here! This Sunday, June 2, the 2002 Tony Awards will be bestowed upon some of Broadway’s finest performers and shows at Radio City Music Hall. And, how exciting for diva lovers that Bernadette Peters will co-host the program (with Gregory Hines)! In addition to her hosting duties, Peters will also take part in two musical tributes during the telecast: the opening Richard Rodgers medley and a salute to the City of New York later in the program.

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 those award winners, Cady Huffman and Christine Ebersole:

Cady Huffman:

"There are so many of you! I have been practicing this speech since I was about eights years old, and now I can't remember what to say. Um. God. Mel Brooks. Genius. Susan Stroman. The genius. Nathan Lane and my sweet Leo, Matthew Broderick. It's such a privilege and a pleasure every single night. My husband for having foresight and loving me. And the entire cast. It is so wonderful. And our designers and our collaborators. And, oh, it's just great! This is great! I have to thank Laura and Sidney for getting me through it every night, the faculty of RADA, my mother and my brothers and um, am I forgetting anything? Vinny Liff for remembering me. I just love everybody. Thank you so much! " Christine Ebersole:

"Thank you so much. This is such a great honor. I want to thank the Dodgers, Joop van den Ende, Stage Holdings, Mark Bramble, Jay Binder, the amazing cast of 42nd Street, the technicians, the musicians and the crew. I want to thank my husband Bill, who makes it all possible. I want to thank my beautiful children, Elijah, Mae Mae and Aaron. I want to thank my brother Tony, and I want to thank my mom, who was my first musical teacher. But this one's for you, Pop. Even though you're not here in the flesh anymore, I know you're cheering me on every night 'cause you've got the best seat in the house. Thank you so much for this honor."


What a difference a belter makes! When I first heard Kiri Te Kanawa sing Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Heart Is Slow to Learn" at the all-star Lloyd Webber birthday celebration held in London in 1998, I thought the tune quite pretty but the lyrics quite awful. Penned for the now-scratched sequel to Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of Opera, the song was later used — with marginally better new lyrics and redubbed "Our Kind of Love" — in his short-lived London musical The Beautiful Game. Although I still feel the lyrics are trite (and repetitive), hearing Elaine Paige sing the tune on the video "Masterpiece" — an ALW evening taped live at The Great Hall of the People in Tianneman Square last year — made me appreciate the song on a new level. Granted, Te Kanawa possesses a terrific soprano, but the song — like many theatrical ballads — needs a great actress and a forceful belt to make it work. In fact, I rewound the video several times to fully take in Paige's soaring and moving performance. Her interpretation was so powerful, both vocally and acting wise, she should add it her concert repertoire, and it's reason enough to add the video to your collection. Paige also sings four of her theatre "hits" at the history-making, sold-out concert, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "Memory," "The Perfect Year" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye" and joins the rest of the company for renditions of "No Matter What" and "Friends for Life," which features a new Chinese lyric. The video also stars recording star Kris Phillips, who is a bit of a ham but does well enough with several ALW favorites. An international company also performs tunes from Jesus Christ Superstar, Whistle Down the Wind, Evita, Cats, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Aspects of Love and The Beautiful Game. The DVD and VHS (Pal format only) are available from U.K. record/video outlets and may be purchased on-line at either Dress Circle (www.dresscircle.co.uk) or Black Star (www.blackstar.co.uk). (The recording was also released in the U.S. with the new title "The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber (Live in China)" and is available at amazon.com.)


This summer (and fall), a host of divas — and some men, too! — will perform at cabarets throughout the country, and I thought you'd be interested in seeing if some of these talented performers will be in your neck of the woods.

Garden Inn Hilton in Staten Island, NY (718-477-2400)
Christine Andreas (June 13)
Lillias White (July 11)
Liz Callaway (July 25)
Klea Blackhurst (Aug. 1)
Donna McKechnie (Aug. 22)

Desisto Cabaret Series in Stockbridge, MA (413-298-3776)
Karen Akers (July 4 weekend)
Jeanne Ressua (July 12 weekend)
Margaret Whiting and Paul Bernhardt (July 19-20)
Jeff Harnar (July 26-27)
Tovah Feldshuh (Aug. 2-3)
Ann Hampton Callaway (Aug. 16-17)
Karen Mason (Aug. 23-24)
Donna McKechnie (Labor Day weekend)

The Plush Room in San Francisco, CA (415-885-2800)
Sam Harris (Through June 1)
Tom Wopat (June 4-8)
Tommy Femia as Judy Garland (Oct. 1-13)
Donna McKechnie (Nov. 5-11)
Kaye Ballard (Nov. 12-17)

IN OTHER DIVA NEWS OF THE WEEK When Cameron Mackintosh receives the York Theatre Company's 13th Annual Oscar Hammerstein Award at the Company's June 3 benefit, those who will be on hand to salute the producer of this season's Oklahoma! revival include Liz Callaway, Faith Prince, Rebecca Luker, Marla Schaffel, Karen Ziemba, Erin Dilly, Christine Ebersole, Debbie Gravitte, Norm Lewis, Howard McGillin, Jim Dale, Brad Oscar and Kevin Gray. The award, which commemorates lifetime achievement in the musical theatre, will be presented at 6:45 PM at the Florence Gould Hall at the Alliance Française (55 East 59th Street), and following the ceremony, a dinner will be held at Barneys New York (660 Madison Avenue). Tickets for the cocktail reception, silent auction, concert and award ceremony begin at $150; tickets for the cocktail reception, concert and award ceremony, dinner and entertainment plus a live auction begin at $300. Call The York Theatre Company at (212) 935-5824 x 21 for more information and to make reservations . . . I received an enjoyable CD this week from LML Music entitled "Virgin Tracks," a new recording from L.A. singer Lisa Richard. Richard's second solo CD features new songs from a host of musical theatre and cabaret composers, including works by John Bucchino, David Friedman, David Zippel, Stephen Schwartz and many others. Song titles include "Another Mr. Right" (David Zippel/Jonathan Sheffer), "Welcome the Rain" (Marcy Heisler/Zina Goldrich), "You Make Me Laugh" (Tom Toce/Shelly Markham), "I Break So Easily" (Lindy Robbins/Gerald Sternbach), "In Your Eyes" (David Friedman/Jeff Franzel), "Fire Escape" (Jessica Molaskey/Brad Ross), "Never Have I" (Kathy Wakefield/Stephen Schwartz), "Reach for the Moon" (Lindy Robbins/John Bucchino), "Don't You Be Shakin' Your Faith in Me" (Marcy Heisler/Zina Goldrich), "When You're Waiting for Love" (Bruce Kimmel), "How Was It for You?" (Francesa Blumenthal), "The Forgotten of the Heart" (Jamie Wooten/Michael Orland), "A Sorta Love Song" (Scott Burkell/Paul Loesel) and "Antigua" (Raymond Brown). "Don't You Be Shakin' Your Faith in Me" also boasts a duet with the former Triumph of Love star, Susan Egan . . . How exciting that Lea Salonga is coming back to Broadway! It was officially announced this week that tickets for Flower Drum Song, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that will star the Tony-winning Miss Saigon actress-singer, will go on sale June 1 by calling Telecharge, (212) 239-6200. Salonga, by the way, will also be featured on the June 2 Tony Awards broadcast during the show's opening tribute to Richard Rodgers, and she will sing two tunes from Flower Drum Song — "Love, Look Away" and "I Am Going to Like It Here" — on the June 16 airing of "Richard Rodgers: Falling in Love" on the A&E Network.


Betty Buckley in Concert:

June 29 at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, Long Island, NY
July 7 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, NM
Sept. 28 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center in Glendora, CA
Oct. 3-6 at the Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth, TX
Oct. 22-Nov. 9 at Feinstein's at the Regency in New York, NY
Nov. 16 at the Performing Arts Center of SUNY-Purchase in Purchase, NY
Dec. 6 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC
Dec. 31 at the Tilles Center at CW Post University in Glen Cove, NY


June 3 Tribute to Cameron Mackintosh at the York Theatre in New York, NY
June 10 "Broadway By The Year: 1964" at Town Hall in New York, NY
June 14 & 15 at Odette’s in New Hope, PA
June 21 & 22 Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights, IL
June 30 & July 1 "Sibling Revelry" at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL
July 14 at the Bradston County Hotel's Nancy LaMott Room in White Lake, NY
August 2 in "Stephen Schwartz and Friends" in Bethlehem, PA
August 16 & 17 at the Stackner Cabaret Theatre in Milwaukee, WI Barbara Cook in Concert:

June 5-9 and June 12-16 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
June 23-Aug. 26 at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York, NY (Mostly Sondheim)
July 5 at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts in Long Island
August 14-18 at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theatre in Washington, DC
Oct. 19 at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA
Nov. 2 at the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts in Brooklyn, NY
Nov. 17 at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ

Maureen McGovern in Concert:

June 22 "Music by the Lake" in Lake Geneva, WI
June 29-Aug. 17 Dear World at Sundance Theater, Sundance, UT
July 4 at the Caramoor Center for Music & the Arts at the Venetian Theater in Katonah, NY
Aug. 7 at the Salt Lake City Jazz Festival in Salt Lake City, UT
Sept. 1-2 MDA Jerry Lewis Telethon in Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 20 - 22 Grand Rapids Symphony at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, MI
Sept 26-29 North Carolina Symphony, Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh, NC
Oct. 30-Nov. 3 American Music Therapy Association Conference in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 2 at the Rialto Center in Atlanta, GA
Nov. 9 at the Landmark Theater in Port Washington, NY
Nov. 19-Dec. 1 at the Plush Room in San Francisco, CA
Dec. 6 at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA
Dec. 8 at Poway Center for the Performing Arts in Poway, CA
Dec. 9 Laurie Strauss Leukemia Benefit, Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Dec. 14 Boca Pops Big Band Series in Boca Raton, FL

Bernadette Peters in Concert:
June 7 at the Ravinia Pavillion in Highland Park, IL
June 19 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, NY
June 28 at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA
July 2 at the Interlochen Center in Interlochen, MI
Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the Morton H. Meyerson Hall in Dallas, TX
Sept. 28 at the Weidner Center in Green Bay, WI
Oct. 5 Sundome Center in Sun City West, AZ
Oct. 24 at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in Indianapolis, IN
Oct. 26 at the Kleinhans Auditorium in Buffalo, NY

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

—By Andrew Gans

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