THE SHOW at the Majestic Theater to extol the considerable talents of the lyricist Betty Comden was a total smash. ASCAP, the Bernstein Office, MGM and the Shuberts paid for it and bless them! Almost every performer was spectacular, but the hit of the afternoon was the undersung Carolee Carmello. Her rendition of “I’m Going Back” from the Judy Holliday musical “The Bells Are Ringing,” was total destruction and dynamite. You can see this big talent on B’way eight times a week in “Mamma Mia!” I also loved Elaine Stritch, who did a low key offering of the lovely “I Like Myself”” from “It’s Always Fair Weather.” Stritchie is at her most effective in a soft ballad. Every gesture and intonation — perfect. Also loved Lucie Arnaz channeling Roz Russell in “100 Easy Ways to Lose A Man” and Lypsinka closing in a faux striptease, dragging a big glam stole, moving her lips (and everything else) to Dolores Gray singing “Thanks a Lot But No Thanks.” And thanks a lot that this priceless evening was filmed for posterity for NYC’s Library for the Performing Arts. I have one small carp. A singer comes onstage in a major B’way theater to perform a famed lyricist’s written words, but she hasn’t memorized them. That’s not legit, not after Lauren Bacall has opened by saying, “Welcome to the theatah!” Theater is all about remembering words.
THE DIANE English version of “The Women” will be like Claire Booth Luce’s original in that it boasts an all female cast. But the 1939 era depicted is being brought up to contemporary standards. At the moment Bette Midler, Cloris Leachman, Carrie Fisher, Lynn Whitfield, Joanna Gleason, Ana Gasteyer and Debi Mazar have joined Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Candice Bergen in this rich cast.
THE BARBARA Walters-Bill Geddie weekly live call-in Sirius radio show is turning out to be even more fun than what they do mornings on ABC-TV. Here, the star and her producer dish what has happened backstage and on air at “The View.” They discuss their new cast member Sherri Shepherd who doesn’t know whether the earth is round or flat. (Unbelievable!) They comment on Rosie, Joy, Star, Donald, Meredith and they deplore the popular Barry Manilow’s recent “View” refusal. Geddie says, “I’ve never heard Jane Fonda (or Susan Sarandon) say ‘I won’t sit with Elizabeth Hasselbeck.'”
(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)