1998's Gypsy of the Year show opened with the Broadway gypsies (singers and dancers) excitedly calling each other up to talk about -- what else? -- the 10th Anniversary Gypsy competition. "Are you performing? Are you going?" they asked, each one dressed to represent a current show (everything from Rent and On the Town to Swan Lake and The Lion King).
This year's event, hosted by Lea DeLaria (On the Town) and Martin Short (Little Me), was yet another mix of comic and serious sketches entirely created by the casts and crews of current Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. The purpose? To "compete" against each other in order to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
On Dec. 1, the following awards will be presented:
*"Gypsy of the Year Award": Awarded to the performer(s) rated "Best of the Year" in the concerts by a panel of judges.
*"The BC/EFA Award": Awarded to the company raising the most money for BC/EFA in curtain-speech fundraisers. *"The Off-Broadway Award": Awarded to the OB company raising the most money for BC/EFA in curtain-speech fundraisers.
Nineteen shows presented skits for the 10th Annual Gypsy. A list of them follows:
* Being on a Lort B contract was the torment of Little Me's cast as they explained all the other jobs they had to work to afford to live. Faith Prince made a special appearance in her second job as Ben Brantley's janitor at the New York Times.
* The Sound of Music sang a sample from their BC/EFA fundraising Christmas CD, "Simple Gifts", which included the title song, "Simple Gifts."
* Nuns of a very different order followed, with the cast of Nunsense A Men inviting the audience to join the convent in a Village People parody, "In the Convent," complete with a cowboy nun, construction worker nun and indian nun.
* The cast of Footloose tried to dance their show's acrobatic choreography while injuring themselves throughout the title number. Soon, they were reduced to crying over the torment of their various wounds in "Almost Paralized."
* Lion King's "Wonderful World of Disney" envisioned a new "Mary Poppins." "Supercalifagiliciousexpelaidocious" became a hip-hop number with men in shades playing clouds and umbrellas, chimney sweep/stick dancers and a very cool Mary Poppins.
* Changes in cast were celebrated -- and mocked -- by Beauty And The Beast. Sure, they have Grammy winner Toni Braxton now and the guarantee of another year of work, but remember when the show got out at 10:15 and was just a little less R&B?
* Ute Lemper represented Chicago with "I'm a Vamp," a Berlin cabaret song from her CD "Ute Lemper: Berlin Cabaret Songs" that included several multiple personalities and "All That Jazz" in German, French and Japanese.
* In "The Quick Change" from Swan Lake, the audience was invited, ala a British nature television show, to observe the strange patterns of the Swan's "Quick Change" ritual, as performed by both the male and female of the species.
* Current Emcee Robert Sella and a limber Ron Rifkin performed a dance number around "The Glory Of Love" for Cabaret's skit. The Kit Kat Klub band provided the Big Band-esque back up.
* Miss Saigon sang of life "At the Broadway" to the tune of A Chorus Line's "At the Ballet." Sylvia Dohi, in her ninth year as a swing, celebrated being the only original cast member left, Roger Seyer embraced becoming a singing soldier just like Gomer Pyle, and Lucy Vance ("the white girl") finally realized her dream -- to belt on Broadway.
* Rent exposed an outshoot of their popularity -- high school choirs performing their songs. These " Buck Eye Jazzateers" presented a medley of Rent tunes with cheesy choreography and in four part harmonies.
* In the Christmas spirit, Ragtime's cast sang the traditional "Hallelujah Chorus" in a gospel vein.
* In a "Broadway Buzz" commercial, Titanic revealed a strange cult that has begun to form around their show in a "Rocky Horror Picture Show" parody featuring a cross-dressing Captain, movie footage complete with shouted commentary and the Titanic Warp ("It's just a turn to the port...").
* Jekyll and Hyde did a serious reading of their song, "A New Life" with solos sung by Christiane Noll and Luba Mason. A trio of dancers complemented the singers with a final draping of both a red AIDS ribbon and pink breast cancer ribbon.
* Since Radio City Music Hall and Madison Square Garden BOTH have a piece of The Scarlet Pimpernel, the cast parodied the traditional Rockettes' "March of the Wooden Soldiers" as the minions of Robespierre hunted down and guillotined a "very special guest" -- Santa Claus.
* Morris Beasley, Jr. rapped a piece of poetry called "Conquering the Blues" in Bring in Da' Noise, Bring in Da' Funk.
* The cast of Les Miserables, including Alice Ripley, sang the David Friedman song, "We Can Be Kind".
* Cats went after Swan Lake with "Cats is for the Birds." In the skit, the cats try hard to seduce and/or devour a hapless swan who has wandered into their midst.
For ticket information, call (212) 840-0770.
Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS was founded Oct. 1987 and has raised millions in the fight against HIV and AIDS and raised tens of millions "through the mobilization of the theatrical expertise of the entertainment industry."