DIVA TALK: Rita is Rita, Patti For Free, Cook Quotes & More | Playbill

News DIVA TALK: Rita is Rita, Patti For Free, Cook Quotes & More
Last week I discussed the Barbara Cook newsletter, and what follows are several quotes from an interesting interview WQEW's Jonathan Schwartz conducted with the Broadway and cabaret star in November 1998. The interview was held just one week before Cook's sensational return to the Carnegie Hall stage.

Last week I discussed the Barbara Cook newsletter, and what follows are several quotes from an interesting interview WQEW's Jonathan Schwartz conducted with the Broadway and cabaret star in November 1998. The interview was held just one week before Cook's sensational return to the Carnegie Hall stage.

about whether Cook ever thought of becoming an opera singer:
"Well, it never occurred to me that I could do it. I had all these high notes but I didn't take them seriously. To me, it was like pretending to be an opera singer, so I sort of put them in 'quotes,' like little tricks. I could easily sing E-flats over high C, which I did, of course, in Candide. For some reason I was always drawn to Broadway musical theater. And I think it's because I'd seen it depicted in films. Of course I would have loved to have done movies, but what I really wanted to do were the shows that were in the movies -- Broadway-this-that or the other. I LOVED IT! I think I just need that immediate reaction --I love that. And also the sense of being able to communicate to people and pool them together."

after Schwartz played a recording of Cook's "Something You Never Had Before," the singer commented:
"You know, Jonathan, I noticed in listening to this that I did what I now call an over-articulation. But we have body mikes now and wonderful sound systems -- some people don't like it, but I don't mind now. But we used to have to be heard, really heard -- and it was important to cross those 't's' and dot those 'i's.' Now when I do master classes -- I just did one last Sunday so I'm particularly reminded when I hear this super kind of articulation that I did in that song -- I suggest to students that they should not do that. I think it creates a kind of barrier - one more veil that the audience needs to lift before they can get through to you."

about learning to trust herself as a performer:
"I was a very young girl, just new in New York, and terrified. I sometimes wonder how I managed to have any kind of career in the theatre or anything else -- I was the most scared young person! One day I was standing in the wings waiting to audition and I thought that everybody was prettier, everybody had a smaller ass and better ankles and better hair and better skin, and certainly a better voice -- I was terrified all the time. And for some reason, while I was standing there in the wings listening to the other people, it occurred to me that if I could really find a way to present me, then there would be no competition. I don't know where this [thought] came from -- it must have been informed from something around me, but I don't know what. And that's when I set out on that path of finding out how to do that."

about her impressions of the late Richard Rodgers:
"Very generous of spirit, I thought. Certainly always very generous with me and very kind to me. And -- what's the word? -- very accepting of the work I did, even if it wasn't exactly what he was used to seeing in a character that he had written. He would sometimes give me a note that would say, 'I think you ought to do it this way . . .' because that's the way he'd seen it done. And then I would explain, 'I don't want to do it that way because I can get the laugh this way,' and he always went along with me. Very generous with me. Very kind and generous. But I think the lasting thing I have about him is his courage. Because through all of his illness toward the end of his life, he never stopped appearing and doing things that he didn't have to do. He lived to the hilt right to the very end and I admire that enormously in him."
about performing as a woman in her seventies:
"Well, you know, I find it terribly hard to believe because I feel terrific. I feel great and, God, I have so much energy -- thank heaven! So I feel very, very grateful and think I'm so fortunate. So many of the people I started out with in the theater haven't performed in years and don't sing anymore. And to still be doing this thing I love so much and have people come hear me is a great, great gift to me. I don't know how I've managed to be so lucky."

For those of you who were unable to attend Patti LuPone's standing-room only concert at Joe's Pub a few weeks ago, now's your chance to get a "free" dose of the Tony winner. La LuPone will perform selections from her Matters of the Heart recording on Monday, Nov. 8 at the Tower Records near Lincoln Center (B'way and 66th Street). Our Evita gal will offer approximately 20 minutes worth of tunes -- accompanied by Dick Gallagher on piano -- and will then autograph copies of her new, critically-acclaimed disc. The performance/signing will begin at 6 PM on the second floor of the store in the vocals/Broadway section. For further information, call Tower at (212) 799-2500.

And, don't forget, LuPone will make her eagerly awaited solo Carnegie Hall debut on Friday, Nov. 19. The concert will benefit GMHC, and tickets are available by calling Carnegie Charge at (212) 247-7800. Higher-priced tickets, some of which include a post-party reception with the star, can be obtained by calling (212) 367-1514.

In the notes for her new album, "The Story Hour," singer/actress Sally Mayes writes, "This album came out of a time during which my life changed drastically. I became a mom. I lost my father. I didn't do a club act for almost five years. I wanted to come back to it from a fresh place, with a different take on things. This show, and this album, more than any other I have done, comes from an emotional and extremely personal place. I love to tell stories. I hope you love to hear them." And tell stories Mayes does. In the recording now available from Varese Sarabande (which should receive a special award for recording some of our favorite theatre gals), Mayes presents an eclectic array of material, from songwriters new (John Bucchino) and old (Frank Loesser), authors from the worlds of Broadway (Maltby and Shire), rock (Bruce Springsteen), pop (Burt Bacharach and Hal David) and country (Christine Lavin); and even one the singer penned herself (with Ron Abel). If all the songs aren't as dramatically rich as one might like, Mayes does invest emotionally in each tune, and brings her jazz-flavored Broadway tones to the 14 tracks that compose "The Story Hour."

High points of the recording include the opening number, John Bucchino's "Once Upon a Time," which nicely sets the tone for the stories to come; a heartfelt reading of another Bucchino tune, "Sweet Dreams," a cabaret favorite that has also been embraced by Barbara Cook; and a beautiful reworking of Jim Steinman's "Heaven Can Wait," the CD's final track. Another highlight is the comical but sweet ode to a favorite babysitter in "The Babysitter's Here"; in fact, many of the selections on Mayes' new release are humorous, whether she's discussing the psychological implications of what color she's painting her kitchen (in Bucchino's "Painting My Kitchen") or presenting an entire version of Shakespeare's Hamlet in five minutes. Overall, an enjoyable listen . . . The complete track listing for "The Story Hour" follows:

"Once Upon a Time" (John Bucchino)
"Crooked Smile" (James Morgan and Donald Siegel)
"I'll Get Up Tomorrow Morning" (Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire)
"The Babysitter's Here" (Dar Williams)
"Hamlet" (Frank Loesser)
"Southbound Train" (Julie Gold)
"Shopping Cart of Love" (Christine Lavin)
"Dear Danny" (Sally Mayes & Ron Abel)
"Painting My Kitchen" (John Bucchino)
"Superstar"/ "Anyone Who Had a Heart" (Leon Russell & Bonnie Bramlett/ Burt Bacharach and Hal David)
"He Ain't Mr. Right" (Amy Powers & Jeff Fransel)
"Sweet Dreams" (John Bucchino)
"Meeting Across the River" (Bruce Springsteen)
"Heaven Can Wait" (Jim Steinman)

Glamour is back in New York, especially at the famed Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel. Rita Moreno, that Emmy, Tony, Oscar and Grammy winner, is -- can you believe it? --just making her New York cabaret debut now, and the star, whose youthful exuberance and appearance belie her 67 years, adds a welcome touch of glamour and star power to one of the city's premiere cabaret rooms. Moreno's act encompasses a little swing, a little Broadway, much humor and a whole lot of magnetism; if her voice has lost a little range, she certainly makes up for it with enthusiasm and drama. Moreno opened with an ode to swing, and throughout a generous hour-and a-half set, she simply had a great time with her audience, sharing songs, stories and dreams. Highlights of the former West Side Story star's set included a lovely reading of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You," in which every word was savored by the singer; a compelling, rich styling of Annie Get Your Gun's "Lost in His Arms"; and an intense rendition of Jacques Brel's "The Waltz of Time," which concluded the evening. Moreno, who acknowledged the many glitterati in attendance (Adolph Green, Phyllis Newman, Jerry Orbach, "Oz" star Christopher Meloni, Ben Gazzara, Susannah McCorkle and more), returned for an encore, an upbeat, swinging "Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries." And with Moreno back in New York, it certainly is . . . Rita Moreno performs through November 13 (Tuesdays through Thursdays at 9 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 9 PM and 11:30 PM), and tickets are priced at $45 plus a $15 food/beverage minimum; call (212) 840-6800 for more information.

I was very excited to receive a promotional copy of the "My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies" CD, which will be in stores beginning Nov. 16 on the Hybrid/TVT Soundtrax label. The 17-track recording features performances from the sold-out Carnegie Hall performance that was hosted by Julie Andrews and featured some of Broadway's most dazzling divas. Also, PBS will broadcast the star-studded performance on Dec. 1, 1999, as part of its "Great Performances" series. Some thoughts about the album's highlights: It's a treat to hear former Chicago stars Karen Ziemba and Bebe Neuwirth duet on "Nowadays"; Andrea McArdle's voice remains as clear and strong as ever in a medley of "Look for the Silver Lining" and "Tomorrow"; Linda Eder dazzles with her high notes -- both her chest and head tones -- in the title tune from Man of La Mancha; three powerhouse voices belonging to Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie and Judy Kuhn blend beautifully in an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley; and Jennifer Holliday's Dreamgirls anthem is again a showstopper. The complete track listing for the CD follows:

Girl Crazy overture
Julie Andrews' welcome
"Nowadays" (Karen Ziemba and Bebe Neuwirth)
"Adelaide's Lament" (Faith Prince)
"Nothing" (Priscilla Lopez)
"I Can Cook, Too" (Lea DeLaria)
"Look for the Silver Lining"/"Tomorrow" (Andrea McArdle)
"Some People" (Liza Minnelli)
"The Man of La Mancha" (Linda Eder)
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Love Trio:
"Loves Changes Everything" (Audra McDonald)
"Unexpected Song" (Marin Mazzie)
"I Don't Know How To Love Him" (Judy Kuhn)
"Everybody's Girl" (Debra Monk)
"Mean To Me" (Nell Carter and featuring Luther Henderson)
"Fifty Percent" (Dorothy Loudon)
"And I'm Tell You I'm Not Going" (Jennifer Holliday)
"The Ladies Who Lunch" (Elaine Stritch)
Julie Andrews' closing
"One" (Ensemble)

IN OTHER NEWS Betty Buckley and Ben Vereen will be the guest singers for an upcoming NBC ice-skating program on Nov. 28 (from 4-6 p.m.). The two Tony winners will take part in the "StarSkates on Broadway" program, which will be a broadcast of an event taped on Nov. 20. Those scheduled to skate to the sounds of The Great White Way include Robin Cousins, Katarina Witt, Rosalynn Sumners, Caryn Kadavy, Victor Petrenko, and Brian Orser . . . Two-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters will sign copies of her new home video/DVD "Bernadette Peters in Concert" this afternoon, Friday, Oct. 22 at 1 PM at Sam Goody, 6th Avenue and 8th Street. The program, which was recently aired on PBS stations around the country, is the latest release from the current star of Annie Get Your Gun. For more information, call (212) 674-7131 . . . "They wanted to see me [audition] again; they had me do 'Out Tonight.' I sort of did this taking off my clothes thing. I was stripping while I was singing the song. That's when I met Jonathan [Larsen]. Something clicked with him. I saw that he had a fire. He was the kind of person that I wanted to know. He loved music -- not the kind of music I was into, but it was so brilliant." So says original Rent star Daphne Rubin-Vega in the current issue of In Theater. Rubin-Vega, who is currently starring in the Off-Broadway production Gum, was just one of two original Renters interviewed by Paul Wontorek. The other, Wilson Jermaine Heredia is also back on the New York stage; in fact, he has returned to his award-winning role of Angel in the late Jonathan Larsen's musical . . . MAC Award-winning singers Claiborne Cary, Tom Andersen, and Angela LaGreca, along with Bill McKinley and Wendy Nief, will headline A Cabaret Benefit Concert on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. at Danny's Skylight Room (346 W. 46th St., N.Y.). The cover is $30 (with a two-drink minimum), and the proceeds benefit the Broadway Mall Association, which plants trees, shrubs and flowers along Broadway. For reservations, call (212) 265-8133.


A host of new concert dates have recently been announced for the multi talented actress and singer.
October 23 Foellinger Great Hall in Urbana, IL
October 24 Sangamon State University Aud. in Springfield, IL
October 27 Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, NY (Benefit dinner)
November 6 State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
November 12 Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE
November 14 Music Hall in Cincinnati, OH
December 13-14 St. Barth's Church in New York, NY
December 17 City Center in Coral Springs, FL
December 18 Atlantic University Aud. in Boca Raton, FL
December 31 Shubert Performing Arts Center in New Haven, CT
February 5, 2000 Stillwell Theatre in Kennesaw, GA
February 6 Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Marin, CA
February 8-9 Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall in Las Vegas, NV
February 11 Center for the Arts at George Mason Univ. in Fairfax, VA
February 12 Palace Theatre in Louisville, KY
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

And, "Bravo Profiles: Betty Buckley," an insightful documentary that includes an interview with the Tony Award-winning actress as well as footage from Buckley's recent sold-out Bottom Line concert will air on Bravo November 1 at 10 PM.

Here is Cook's upcoming concert schedule:

October 22 at Purchase College in Purchase, NY; call (914) 251-6200 or (914) 251-6222
November 19 at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA; call (617) 482-2595 or (617) 482-3208
November 22 at The Plaza Hotel in New York, NY (gala dinner honoring Cook, Paul Taylor and Will Barnet with the 1999 Kitty Carlisle-Hart Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement)
December 1 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY (All-Star cast for The Noel Coward Centennial Gala); call (212) 980-3026 or (212) 247-7800
December 31 at The Academy of Music in Philadelphia, PA; call (215) 893 1956 or (215) 893-1999
January 27-30 at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA (with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony); call (412) 392-4900

The multi-talented actress will make her solo Carnegie Hall debut on November 19. The GMHC benefit will feature an all-new act created for this special evening by LuPone and director Scott Wittman. Call the Carnegie Hall box office at (212) 247-7800. Tickets for the concert only range from $35-$75. Higher-priced tickets, some of which include a post party reception with the star, can be obtained by calling (212) 367-1514. Be sure to book your seats early for what promises to be a thrilling evening! . . .Tickets are also now on sale for the upcoming New York Philharmonic production of Sweeney Todd to be held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall from May 4 to May 6 in the year 2000. Starring LuPone and opera singer Bryn Terfel, the event, which will be recorded, will celebrate Sondheim's 70th birthday. Tickets range from $75 to $250 and may be purchased by calling (212) 721-6500 . . .

One of this city's cabaret favorites, Karen Mason, will participate in a reading of a new musical on October 26 at the 92nd Street Y. She will then join A Chorus Line composer Marvin Hamlisch for "A Cole Porter Celebration" at the Meyeroff Symphony Hall in Baltimore on October 28, 29, 30 and 31, where she will be backed by the Baltimore Symphony. Then, the woman who was just honored with a "True Cabaret Classic Award" at the Town Hall Cabaret Convention, will open a new cabaret, ARCI's Place, at 450 Park Avenue South. Mason will perform for a month at this new club, beginning November 3. Performances are Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 9 PM, with Friday and Saturday shows at 8:30 and 11 pm There will be a $25 cover charge and a $15 minimum; for reservations, call (212) 532-4370. And, if all that weren't enough, Mason's newest CD, "Christmas! Christmas! Christmas"-- recorded live at the West Bank Cafe last December -- will be released by the end of this month.

A host of Maureen McGovern appearances were recently announced for the multi-octave singer. The list follows:

October 22 "Great American Songbook" at the Strand Theatre, in York, PA
October 23 "Great American Songbook" at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ
November 8 Coffee Club Orchestra 10th Anniversary Bash at City Center in New York, NY
November 19 "Great American Songbook " at the Marsee Auditorium in El Camino, CA
November 26, 27, 28 with the Baltimore Symphony at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore, MD
December 1 "Tree of Life & Festival of Lights" in Los Angeles, CA
December 17 - 18 "Holiday Pops" at the Dayton Convention Center in Dayton, OH
December 30 - 31 "New Year's Eve Millennium Gala" with the Detroit Symphony at the Orchestra Hall in Detroit, MI

What follows are some upcoming worldwide Paige concert dates:
October 30 and 31, 1999 at the Sun City Superbowl in South Africa
November 5, 1999 at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town, South Africa
January 21 and 22, 2000 with the Utah Symphony Orchestra at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah

The two-time Tony winner currently stars as the gun-toting Annie Oakley in the acclaimed revival of Annie Get Your Gun at the Marquis Theatre.

"Always: Celebrating 100 Years of American Song" is up next in this series and features such theatrical luminaries as Patti LuPone, Judy Kuhn, Howard McGillin, Alton White, cabaret's Mary Cleere Haran and Susanah McCorkle and more. This program is set for Dec. 3 and 4 at 8 p.m., also at Alice Tully Hall. Other titles in the series include "Who Wrote That Song," on March 23, 24 and 25 (cast to be announced) at the Kaplan Penthouse and "Round About: Dawn Upshaw," which features the gifted soprano singing the songs of Vernon Duke, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Gershwin, Sondheim and more. Upshaw will perform on May 17, 19 and 20 at 8:30 p.m. at the John Jay College Auditorium . . . Call (212) 721-6500 for tickets.

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

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

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