Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Pop Music Review

Divinely Humorous Approach to 'Divas' Show

May 10, 1999|DON HECKMAN

Sheryl Lee Ralph's "Divas Simply Singing!" concerts just keep rolling along. Saturday night at the Wilshire-Ebell Theatre, in the ninth annual installment, the always-enticing lineup of talent was supplemented by several impressive production numbers.

Each of the program's two halves was opened with Ralph, appropriately costumed, sitting in a swing. Kicking the show off, she was garbed as an angel--predictably, one with plenty of attitude--aided by a group of bare-torso, muscular young men waving white feathered fans. To start the second half, Ralph was in bright red, skin-tight spandex and a fiery red wig, once again accompanied by a chorus of beefcake.

Did it seem like an excess of ego on the part of the producer and creator of the Divas shows? Not really, in part because Ralph did it all with such a sharply honed sense of humor, in part because she is a first-class musical artist who used her appearances to define both the art and the artifice in the concept of diva.

Supporting Ralph in what was the real purpose of the show--the generation of funds for Project Angel Food and the Safe Place for Pediatric AIDS--were Whoopi Goldberg and Sharon Stone, both making humorous appearances, both making passionate appeals for the importance of the funding.

The balance of the lengthy production was filled with performers, youthful and mature, familiar and unfamiliar, each impressive in their own right. The long list included now-legendary divas Nancy Wilson and Rita Moreno (in a particularly impressive scene from "Sunset Boulevard"), Broadway performers Susan Egan and Deborah Gibson (a hot pop artist in the late '80s), disco queen Evelyn "Champagne" King and dance diva Lonnie Gordon, TV stars JoMarie Payton ("Family Matters"), Megan Mullally (Karen on "Will & Grace") and Julie Moran ("Entertainment Tonight"), veteran studio singers Jeanie Tracy and Carmen Twillie, Australian artist Tina Arena, singer Erin Hamilton (daughter of Carol Burnett), and, in Ralph's description, divas-in-training Vann Johnson and the vocal trio Before Dark.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|