'Divas and Dames' tackles the broad subject of cabaret singers 

Turning the spotlight on mostly local performers, the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation is offering up a bevy of “Divas & Dames” at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre on Sunday.

On the local side, the show will feature Connie Champagne, Maureen McVerry, Carmen Milagro and Carly Ozard. They will be supported by faux gals Matthew Martin and Donna Sachet, along with the bounteous babes of B.O.O.B.S. (Leanne Borghesi, Jessica Coker and Soila Hughes) and the Motown moves of La’Chic (Felicia Curtis, Jacqueline McBride and Chayla Smith).

Playing with the home team are “Idol” San Franciscan La Toya London, “Honorary” San Franciscan Sharon McNight, “Should Be” San Franciscan Valarie Pettiford and “Phantom” San Franciscan Lisa Vroman.

Put this much girl power together and the question you have to ask is: Are you a diva or a dame? Your mileage might vary, but for better or worse, four out of four responding singers volunteered the Sinatra-esque term broad over the double D’s.

“I’d say dame, but I’m really more of a broad,” says Pettiford, one of the stars of the new film “Jumping the Boom,” which opens Mother’s Day weekend. “A broad is someone who knows who she is. She’s strong and confident, but likes to have a good time.”

“I hate the word diva used as a negative behavioral adjective. It should be a well-earned honor!” says soprano Vroman, who has inspired her former “Phantom” co-star Franc D’Ambrosio to paint several canvases he calls “The Diva Series.”

“It always meant some woman with a selfish, self-centered attitude who thought courtesy was a sign of weakness,” McNight says. “The irony for me is the name of the character I played on Broadway was Diva and the song I sang was ‘Hard To Be Diva.’ I cringed several times just thinking about it!”

Ozard echoes concerns about being thought a diva, though on the plus side she says, “I like to set my goal high enough to take over the stage when I’m on it, which I think lends itself more to diva style.”

Asked to name some great divas or dames (or broads), the ladies delivered an eclectic list that included Rosalind Russell, Tyne Daly, Bette Midler, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Sutherland, Freddie Mercury, Bette Davis and, of course, Dame Edna.

Whatever the label, one thing they all agree on is supporting the cause.

“There can never be too much help,” Ozard says.

Vroman, a frequent REAF player, says, “I have made lifelong friends being involved with REAF! It always feels like home base!”


One Night Only: Divas and Dames

Where: Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St., San Francisco
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $30 to $75
Contact: (415) 273-1620, www.richmondermet.org

About The Author

Robert Sokol

Robert Sokol

Robert Sokol is the editor at BAYSTAGES, the creative director at VIA MEDIA, and a lifelong arts supporter. Diva wrangler, cinefiler, and occasional saloon singer, he has been touching showbiz all his life. (So far no restraining orders have been issued!)... more
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