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Janie Dee: Previewed 5 August, Opened 6 August 2002, Closed 10 August 2002
Currently wowing the West End in the much-lauded Gershwin musical, My One and Only, Janie will be taking a break from the show to spend a week as a Diva in a specially devised evening for the Donmar's space.
Winner of numerous awards, including the 2000 Olivier for Best Actress for her role as Jacie Triplethree in Alan Ayckbourn's Comic Potential, Janie is rightly recognised as one of the country's most talented and versatile actresses. Her prolific stage career has also encompassed everything from Shakespeare and Chekhov to opera and musicals. She last performed at the Donmar in Enter the Guardsman in 1997. She has also won the 1993 Olivier Award for 'Best Supporting Performance in a Musical' for her role in the National Theatre's revival of Carousel.
Ruby Turner: Previewed 12 August, Opened 13 August 2002, Closed 17 August 2002
When it comes to heartfelt lyrics, impeccably delivered with style and passion, there can be few who match Ruby Turner. (She has been compared to Aretha Franklin, and Janis Joplin.) Though she started in theatre, her career was launched when she began touring with Boy George and recording with Culture Club, Billy Ocean, UB40 and Bryan Ferry amongst others.
Over ten albums later, some featuring her own material - including a Number 1 hit in the US R and B charts with 'It's Gonna Be Alright' - Ruby has recently returned to the stage. She played Frankie in Carmen Jones and was also in the original West End production of Fame, as well as the highly acclaimed One Love at the Lyric Hammersmith. Ruby has also turned her hand to presenting a series of programmes for Radio 2, and has appeared on BBC TV's Doctors and EastEnders.
For someone who has enjoyed such an eclectic career, covering so many diverse styles of music (soul to funk to jazz and back again) and events (she opened the Dome in Greenwich accompanied by Jools Holland to sing the National Anthem for the Queen) we're sure to be in for a roller coaster musical ride!
Philip Quast: Previewed 19 August, Opened 20 August 2002, Closed 24 August 2002
Philip is no stranger to Donmar audiences, having won his second Olivier for his performance here in The Fix in 1998. He is without doubt one of the most talented and versatile actors currently to be seen on stage and screen, as his many. successes, ranging from Shakespeare to Sondheim, both in the UK and in his native Australia testify.
As well as Philip's catalogue of classical work, he has created and starred in some of music theatre's landmark leading roles. These include Javert in Les Miserables, George in Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George (for which he won his first Olivier Award), Into the Woods, and Archibald Craven in the RSC's production of The Secret Garden. He recently received his third Olivier for his role as Emile in South Pacific at the RNT.
In a specially created performance for the Donmar's stage, Philip will be singing material that lays bare aspects of a man's mind, heart and emotions - the secrets not usually explored in songs written for men. With new, unheard and unrecorded music and lyrics written especially for him by some of the best songwriters - as well as some more familiar standards - this promises to be a unique evening in the company of a truly extraordinary performer.
Kristin Chenoweth: Previewed 26 August, Opened 27 August 2002, Closed 31 August 2002
Following the Donmar Divas' tradition of debuting a bright new music theatre star, the Donmar is delighted to introduce Kristin - an unfamiliar name for now, but one to remember! Kristin exploded onto the theatre scene in 1998 as Sally in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, for which she won numerous awards, including the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics' Circle Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.
As if that weren't enough, Kristin recently had a sitcom especially devised for her, by the makers of The Cosby Show, entitled appropriately enough, Kristin. You may also have seen her make a guest appearance on Frasier earlier in the year.
She has just released an album, harking back to the classics of the 1920s, featuring the music of Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin, Comden and Green and Duke Ellington, and also exploring more contemporary material. Inside this tiny blonde bombshell is an amazing voice that can go from belting ingenue to coloratura operatic soprano. By turns beguiling and wonderfully funny, we can't wait to introduce this Broadway talent to London audiences.
The fourth season of Divas at the Donmar
Clive Rowe: 3 to 8 Sept - Back by popular demand, Clive returns with his personal story through song, which sold out last year.
Sian Phillips: 10 to 15 Sept - The acclaimed actress Sian Phillips in her own show Falling in Love Again.
Michael Ball: 17 to 29 Sept - A brand new show especially created for the Donmar Warehouse.
The third season of Divas at the Donmar
Betty Buckley: 21 August to 2 September 2000 - The Tony Award-winner and 'quintessential leading lady of American musical theatre' brings her trio to the Donmar for 12 performances only.
"...Betty Buckley's show may not be perfect - it runs 20 minutes or so too long and lacks the killer punch that made Patti LuPone's display so special last year. Yet it still offers more adult insights than most of the expensive new musicals of the past couple of years... the evening roams in all directions, combining a memorably stark version of Memory - Buckley's anthem from Cats - with the plain speaking of Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come On, Come On and intriguing new settings of poems by Emily Dickinson and Edna St Vincent Millay. Instead of choosing a conventionally self-effacing accompanist, Buckley is back in harness with her long-time musical partner Kenny Werner, a respected jazz improviser whose incisive trio enjoys stretching and re-casting phrases. It would take a true jazz diva to keep up with Werner, bassist Tony Marino and percussionist Jamey Haddad, and although Buckley does her best in some hip arrangements at the start, she never quite convinces... What the evening lacks most, perhaps, is a greater sense of momentum. While snippets of autobiography are scattered along the way, Buckley is sidetracked by some maudlin and unmemorable tunes from the new Broadway writers. In the end she never quite draws us into her confidence. A great voice would illuminate her heart for us. Instead, we have to settle for tantalising glimpses. But they are still worth the journey." The Times
"When Betty Buckley walks on to the Donmar stage to begin her sad cabaret, you are aware of her ageless beauty that avoids the selfconsciousness of glamour... A note of nostalgia reigns throughout. Buckley's repertoire is astonishingly wide, ranging from standards by Rodgers and Hart, and Lerner and Lowe, country and western numbers, and lieder-ish art songs to texts by Emily Dickinson and Edna St Vincent Millay, written for her by the composer Ricky Ian Gordon... Her vocal range is comparatively narrow, swivelling between a gentle, lived-in sweetness at once innocent and wise, and a rasping, domineering fortissimo. Her diction is at times less than admirably clear and her repartee with the audience carries with it a whiff of psychobabble... She desentimentalises Memory in a way that is unforgettable, twisting her body into a shape half-human and half-feline, her voice ricocheting with the anguish of loveless homelessness. It's an uneven evening, though it brings with it moments of greatness which make it all worthwhile. We don't always hear the best of Buckley throughout the evening - but when we do, the results are magnificent." The Guardian
"...In London Betty Buckley is associated particularly with the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, which she also played on Broadway. The two main songs from this - With One Look and As If We Never Said Goodbye - come as the main climax of each half of her recital. She uses them as contrast to the rest of the selection, which features several songs by up-and-coming American musicians. In these, rather than the all-out full-throated melodrama of Lloyd Webber, she employs an almost whispered delivery, somewhere nearer to intimate cabaret... Betty Buckley's ingenuous, girl-next-door personality sits uncomfortably with a lot of her material. The trio accompanying her - Kenny Werner on piano, Tony Marino on bass, Haddad on drums - sometimes overwhelm her voice, despite her subtle use of the hand-mike, held at arm's length for high notes. The songs are good, especially those by Ricky Ian Gordon amd Jason Robert Brown, and Buckley is at her best when she just gets on with the job of singing, as in a fine rendition of Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come On Come On." The Daily Telegraph
Clive Rowe: 4 to 9 September 2000 - A first for the Divas at the Donmar, a male singer. Clive Rowe won an Olivier Award for his performance in the RNT's Guys and Dolls.
The second season of Divas at the Donmar
Patti LuPone in Matters of the Heart: Previewe 9 August, Opened 10 August, Closed 21 August
Patti LuPone returns to London with Matters of the Heart after performing this new concert in California and Sydney, Australia. She created the role of Fantine in the RSC production of Les Miserables, a role she subsequently played in the West End. For that performance, as well as the reprise of her performance in the London production of The Cradle Will Rock, she won an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Miss LuPone created the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (1994 Olivier Award nomination, Best Actress in a Musical), and most recently recreated her Broadway performance of Maria Callas in the West End production of Masterclass. She has also won an Outer Critics Circle Award for her previous concert Patti LuPone on Broadway.
"It is a surprise to discover how adept she is at playing a relatively intimate cabaret space," said The Guardian when the show opened, "She balanced the camp and pathos superbly... the right sacrifices were made between acting and singing."
"She doesn't put herself "really" into the show at all," complained The London Evening Standard, "She's a cool experience, almost as if behind glass, with the focus of her technique totally on the songs themselves." The Independent agreed by saying that the show was "over-controlled. This is an actress who plays divas. And you get a performance."
While highlighting that "her diction and timing, and her ability to keep up the tension and hold the stage, are all first-rate," The Daily Telegraph went on to complain that her vocal style was "too large a scale for such a small theatre. She needs a bigger space and a more theatrical production."
Audra McDonald: Previewed 23 August, Opened 24 August, Closed 28 August
Three-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald burst onto the Broadway scene in the Lincoln Center Theater production of Carousel in 1993, and has since emerged as today's most exciting young singing actress. Now 28, McDonald has gone on to capture Tony Awards for Master Class (1996) - in which she played a fledgling opera singer opposite Zoe Caldwell's Maria Callas - and for Ragtime (1998), the adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel.
Sam Brown: Opened 31 August, Closed 4 September
At the age of 12, Sam Brown started to work professionally as a singer and at 14 began to write her own, sometimes slightly obscure songs. From then on she has worked non-stop as a vocalist of many descriptions, along the way learning more about record production, song writing and the idiosyncrasies of the music industry. In 1998 she achieved world wide success with her album - "Stop". Over the years Sam has sung with almost every major recording artist, from The Small Faces to Pink Floyd, from Elton John to Tina Turner, and from Gabrielle to Dodgy. She regularly plays with Jools Holland, not to mention the occasional solo gig with her own band.
The first season of Divas at the Donmar
Sibling Revelry: Ann Hampton Callaway & Liz Callaway: 10 to 22 August
Barbara Cook: 24 to 29 August
Imelda Staunton and her Big Band: 1 to 5 September
On Wednesday 26 August Barbara Cook held a 2 hour masterclass in the afternoon, this was followed the next day by Barbara giving a special 90 minute late-night charity performance in aid of West End Cares for Cruisaid and The Donmar Warehouse.