DIVA TALK: Skinner Goes Solo, Andrea Goes to the Cabaret

Diva Talk   DIVA TALK: Skinner Goes Solo, Andrea Goes to the Cabaret


Unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Sondheim, it seems okay in theatre circles to like BOTH Emily Skinner and her former Side Show twin, Alice Ripley. (I must admit that I also like both Sondheim and Lloyd Webber, but what can ’ya do?) Anyway, getting back to Ms. Skinner: The current star of Broadway’s The Full Monty has just released her first solo disc on the fledgling record label, Fynsworth Alley. As Side Show stars are well aware, Skinner and Ripley have already released two discs of duets for Varese Sarabande, but this marks Skinner’s first venture alone (truth be told, however, Ripley makes appearances on the disc in three wonderful duets: a joyful medley of “You’ll Never Get Away From Me” and “Together Wherever We Go”; the humorous “I Could Always Go To You” from Personals; and a tune from James Joyce’s The Dead, one of last year’s Tony-nominated Best Musicals).

Skinner is in fine form on this 15-track recording, her vocal warmth readily apparent. If Ripley’s voice is the more exciting -- steely and raw - Skinner’s is, perhaps, more soothing -- rounded and honey-toned. That said, both easily switch gears from belt to lilting soprano, and their voices blend beautifully on The Dead’s “Ballyshannon,” one of my favorite tracks on this new recording. Other highlights include a dreamy version of The Golden Apple’s “Lazy Afternoon,” a perfect song for Skinner’s luscious alto; a haunting take of Kurt Weill’s Street Scene gem, “Lonely House”; and belty versions of both “What Did I Have That I Don’t Have?” and “The Long Way.” If Skinner’s “My Simple Christmas Wish” doesn’t reach the comic heights of Alix Korey’s, her creamy-toned medley of “Secret Love” and “Is It Really Me?” could not be bettered. Skinner’s rendition of “My Brother Lived in San Francisco” -- one of my favorite songs -- is also exemplary, packed with honesty and an emotional wallop that is truly moving.

Those who order the CD over the internet (www.fynsworthalley.com) will be treated to a bonus track, a song cut from the current production of The Full Monty. Entitled “Maid of the Mist,” this gentle, pleasing tune was written to be sung not by Skinner’s character, but by the protagonist’s wife. Emily Skinner’s solo debut, simply titled “Emily Skinner,” is a must for diva lovers.

ANDREA McARDLE At the end of the month Andrea McArdle will assume the role of Sally Bowles in the national tour of Cabaret, which will play the U.S. and Canada before heading to Japan this summer. It’s been a busy decade for the former star of Annie, who has appeared on Broadway in Les Miserables, State Fair and, most recently, as Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. McArdle recently spoke with writer Patrick Pacheco for an upcoming article in the February subscription issue of Playbill. I thought you would enjoy reading a few of the talented performer’s choice quotes:

About catching a performance of the Cabaret tour in Milwaukee:
“I thought, ‘Wow, these people are going to be really uncomfortable with how risque and raunchy it is.’ And for just a minute, it might have been too much for them. But then they gave into it. You have to be utterly charming for this to play on the road with how raw it is.”

About playing a role so different from Annie or Belle:
“That’s the challenge. I’ve been waiting to play a role like this for so long. I don’t know if I could have handled it a couple of years ago, but life’s experiences have taught me so much. It feels so good to own this sort of thing. Own it! Own it! Work it! Work it! I feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, when she says that.”

About having a lot in common with Sally Bowles:
“I have that kind of energy -- without drugs. I leave the caps off toothpaste tubes, have five things going on at once. I have an Adrenalin addiction. I have to warn my family for a month after I finish a show. I am not a fun person to be around. I have to go from one thing to another.”


Hilton Als discusses Gwen Verdon in this past Sunday’s New York Times Magazine tribute to the late star:
“. . . In 1977, Verdon appeared with three other dancers on ‘The Dick Cavett Show.’ With her leotard top rolled down around her hips and her hair piled on her head, she could barely keep still, so eager was she to show why American dance was so important, how it grew out of the improvisation of jazz. ‘We’re called the American Dance Machine because dancers love their work,’ she said. ‘Wind them up and they dance.’ And then she smiled. When she smiled, Cavett smiled back, like a boy admiring her for what he could not do: get past a certain degree of self-consciousness to share unself-conscious joy. Verdon demonstrated the difference between Cole’s and Fosse’s styles, how Cole’s bumps and grinds, hips thrust to the left and right, were broader than Fosse’s moves. Cole went for the lewd, comic stroke; Fosse, she made it clear, pulled all that in, his movement less of a cheer than an innuendo. One could see how much joy she took in using herself to illustrate the visions of the two guys whose work she knew better than anyone else on earth. . .”

Susan Stewart’s review of E!’s “True Hollywood Story” about Judy Garland, which airs this Sunday from 9 to 11 PM (from TV Guide):
“You don’t have to be a fan to be mesmerized by ‘The Last Days of Judy Garland’; you just have to have a pulse. This wrenching biography blends interviews, film clips and Garland’s own taped musings to portray the entertainer’s struggle with the drugs that killed her at age 47. ‘Days’ doesn’t need to sensationalize its already sensational subject. When Garland is on-screen, you can’t look away. And when she sings ‘Over the Rainbow,’ you sense that she’s singing her own story.”


Cabaret on the Record celebrates its 12th show on Monday, January 29 in a new venue: Arci’s Place, at 450 Park Avenue South. The brainchild of producer and cabaret maven Maryann Lopinto, this semi-annual event presents an array of cabaret performers to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Hosted by radio personality Stan Martin, this 12th outing will feature performances by Karen Mason, Jaymie Meyer, Georga Osborne, Julie Reyburn, Deborah Bean, Alexander Billings plus Lennie White, Jack Donahue, Sammy Goldstein and “Listen to My Heart”/“Help Is On the Way” composer David Friedman. There is a $25 contribution and a $15 food/drink minimum. Call (212) 532-4370 for reservations . . . Over 70 amazing women will perform in a gala benefit of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues on Saturday, February 10, 2001 (7 PM) at Madison Square Garden. The event, which “demands an end to violence against women,” will feature stars from TV, film and theatre, and some of those names include Oprah Winfrey, Marlo Thomas, Calista Flockhart, Nell Carter, Kathleen Chalfant, Amy Irving, Julie Halston, Mary Alice, Andrea Martin, Edie Falco, LisaGay Hamilton, Julie Kavner, Mary McCormack, Sharon Gless, Glenn Close, Rosie Perez, Kathy Najimy, Marsha Mason, Lisa Leguillou, Mary Testa, Cynthia Nixon, Lily Tomlin, Swoosie Kurtz, Marisa Tomei, Carol Kane, Phoebe Snow, Tonya Pinkins, Rue McClanahan and many, many others. Call (212) 307-7171 for tickets . . . The legendary Ann Margret began rehearsals earlier this week for her upcoming theatrical debut in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which also co-stars “WKRP in Cincinnati” alum, Gary Sandy. Under the direction of Thommie Walsh, the new production launches its coast-to-coast tour on Feb. 13 at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, CT . . . Carolee Carmello, Mary Testa, Liz Callaway, Wanda Houston, Norm Lewis, Lewis Cleale and Stephen De Rosa will join Tony winning composer William Finn this Sunday and Monday, Jan. 14 and 15, at Joe's Pub in the East Village. The evenings, which both begin at 8:30 PM, will feature songs from the composer of March of the Falsettos, Falsettoland and A New Brain. Tickets are available at the box office or by calling (212) 239-6200 . . . Speaking of Mary Testa, the very busy actress will star in the upcoming revival of 42nd Street as Maggie Jones . . . This Sunday’s Everything Old Is New Again radio program (9-11 PM EST on WBAI 99.5 FM and on the internet at wbai.org) will feature the music of the late Laurie Beechman, including “Memory,” “There But for You Go I” and a medley with Sam Harris of “Make Our Garden Grow” and “One Hand, One Heart.” The popular radio show will also include four renditions of Jimmy Van Heusen and Eddie De Lange’s “Darn That Dream”: Mildred Bailey, Karen Ziemba, Nina Murano and Michael Feinstein . . .



Jan. 19-29: Florida Condo Tour in Florida
March 3: Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA
May 12: College of Staten Island’s Center for the Arts in Staten Island, NY
June 17: Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans, LA

BARBARA COOK Cook’s concert itinerary follows:
Jan. 12: at Alice Tully Hall in New York, NY (“The Music of Arthur Schwartz” with Maureen McGovern, John Pizzarelli and more)
Feb. 2: at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Feb. 23 and 24: with Michael Feinstein at the Cerritos Center for the Perf. Arts in Cerritos, CA


Eder in concert:
Jan. 12 & 13: in Charlotte, NC at the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; (704) 372-1000
Jan. 20: with the Boca Pops at Florida Atlantic Univ in Boca Raton, FL; go to: www.bocapops.org
Jan. 21: in Naples, FL at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts; (941) 597 1900
Feb. 1 & 2: in Phoenix, AZ at the Orpheum Theatre
Feb. 3: at the Vilar Center for the Arts in Beaver Creek, CO; (888) 920 2787
Feb. 15-17: in Washington, D.C. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; (202) 467-4600
Feb. 23: at the Westbury Music Fair in Long Island, NY; call (516) 334 0800
Feb. 24: at the Community Theatre in Morristown, NJ; (973) 539-8008
March 8: in Clearwater, FL at the Ruth Eckerd Hall; (727) 791-7400
March 9: in Sarasota, FL at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; www.vanwezel.org
March 10: in Melbourne, FL at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts; (407) 242-2219
March 17: at the Thomasville Cultural Center in Thomasville, GA (912 226-0588)
March 22: at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA
April 29: at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA (978-232 7200)
May 31-June 3: in Pittsburgh, PA at Heinz Hall; call (412) 392 4900


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:
April 8: ("Matters Of The Heart") at Duke University’s Page Auditorium in Durham, North Carolina; (919) 684-4444
Jan. 5-7: at the Morton J. Myerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX (214) 871-4000


What follows is Mason’s up-to-date performance schedule:
January 29 “Cabaret on the Record” benefit at Arci’s Place in New York, NY
March 17 Appearance at 92nd Street Y with Craig Carnelia in New York, NY
May 9-20 at Davenports cabaret in Chicago, IL


The two-time Tony winner, who recently concluded her run in Annie Get Your Gun, is now on a U.S. concert tour:
Jan. 13: at the Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater
March 29: at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady, NY
April 6: at the Bass Perf. Hall in Fort Worth, TX (with symphony)
April 7-8: at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX
April 19: at the Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto (with symphony)
April 28: at the Pasquerilla PAC in Johnstown, PA
May 11-12: at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, MN (with symphony)
May 18-20: at the Myerson Hall in Dallas, TX (with symphony)

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

—By Andrew Gans

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