If you wanted to go and see 16 Broadway musicals, you'd need to set aside two full weeks, not to mention hundreds of dollars. However, if you want to catch a snippet of 16 Broadway musicals -- free -- you'll want to be in Manhattan's Times Square, Sept. 13, at noon.
That's when the Times Square Business Improvement District and the League of American Theatres & Producers will present the 7th annual "Broadway On Broadway" Concert -- their way of officially kicking off the fall theatre season.
According to spokespersons from Rubenstein Associates Inc., and the League, as with last year's event, more than 50,000 people are expected to attend the 90-minute revue. Featured this year are casts from 15 current shows, plus a preview of On The Town, which starts previews Oct. 20.
Presented by Continental Airlines and American Express, the concert will offer songs and stars from Cabaret, Ragtime (including star Brian Stokes Mitchell), The Sound of Music, The Lion King, Rent, Chicago, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Noise/Funk, Jekyll & Hyde, Beauty & The Beast, (including new stars Toni Braxton and Meshach Taylor), Smokey Joe's Cafe, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Les Miz and Cats.
Admission is free. The stage is located at the downtown end of Times Square, near 43rd Street. Audience members stand during the show. Last year's event served as the first, pre-opening showcase for tunes from The Capeman, Triumph of Love and The Scarlet Pimpernel. *
In other Broadway event news, the charitable organization Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) has announced its special New York fundraising events for the months ahead:
Sept. 27, 10 AM: 12th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction
Sept. 27 & Oct. 5: 5th Annual Gospel Celebration at Symphony Space
Nov. 30-Dec.1: 10th Annual Gypsy of the Year Competition
Feb. 14, 1999: 2nd Annual Broadway Bears Auction
The 12th annual Broadway Flea Market will be held Sunday, Sept. 27, according to a spokesperson at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Sunday date is a departure for the yearly event, usually held in Times Square's Shubert Alley on a Saturday. The availability of city permits was greater for Sunday, explained BC/EFA.
Other than the change in day, however, many of the other Flea facts remain the same. As always, a Grand Auction will be held. There will be the usual "celebrity table" full of Broadway, Off-Broadway, sitcom and soap opera stars with their John Hancocks at the ready. The event will last 10 AM to 7:30 PM. All proceeds from the Flea Market and auction will go to BC/EFA; last year's event raised $484,000.
Here, according to the BC/EFA website, is the celebrity line-up for the Flea Market:
10 AM-4 PM: Thom Christopher (Carlo Hesser on TV's "One Life to Live")
10-noon: Kevin O'Rourke - TV's "Remember WENN"; Judy Kaye, Peter Friedman, Mark Jacoby & Marin Mazzie (all from Ragtime), Christiane Noll (Jekyll & Hyde); Patti Cohenauer (The Sound of Music); Jere Shea (Passion).
12-1 PM: Liz Callaway (Cats), Marcia Lewis (Chicago); Kim Hunter (original Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire); Betty Comden (co-author Bells Are RInging, On The Town), Sandra Joseph (The Phantom of the Opera).
1-2 PM: Bob Cuccioli (Jekyll & Hyde); Ednita Nazario (The Capeman); DeLee Lively (Smokey Joe's Cafe).
2-3 PM: Barnard Hughes (Da), John Littlefield (TV's "Another World")
Lots to be auctioned off at the Flea Market include:
Opening Night tickets and party passes to Footloose, Swan Lake, On The Town and Peter Pan.
A free conducting lesson and a chance to conduct the curtain call for Broadway's Phantom of the Opera.
Walk-on roles in TV's "Friends" and "Buffy The Vampire Slayer," including airfare and hotel.
A walk-on in the group therapy scene of Broadway's Rent, including 4 tickets for friends and family, autographed CD and participation in the show's curtain 0Br> A walk-on in several scenes of Broadway's Jekyll & Hyde
A signed and framed musical phrase from Stephen Sondheim's Assassins.
Tickets to Gypsy at NJ's Paper Mill Playhouse, including taking dressing room tea with star Betty Buckley.
Vintage (1920s) Playbills, including one signed by Ruby Keeler.
Autographed Playbill from Jerry Seinfeld's recent solo
Autographed program from Elizabeth Taylor's 1997 Birthday Celebration.
The 1997 Gypsy of the Year competition was won by the dancers of The Lion King. The Broadway company of Rent also won for raising the most money: $106,622, a new record. Total raised by 58 Broadway and Off-Broadway companies and tours) totalled $1,335,313.18 -- also a record. That number also includes more than $15,000 in corporate sponsorship and $41,670 in ticket sales to the Gypsy shows. In 1996, 49 companies raised a then-record $1,262,633.40.
The awards capped a 150-minute revue in which the "gypsies" or dancers from 20 Broadway and Off Broadway shows alternately poked fun at themselves and promised to fight for a cure to the disease that has devastated so many theatre folk.
For more information on these and other BC/EFA events - please visit their website at www.bcefa.org or call (212) 840-0770.
-- By David Lefkowitz