Talk about sell-out houses. Broadway's stars and gypsies will have their biggest audience ever -- an estimated two billion viewers in 190 countries -- when they perform the half-time show at the Feb. 8 NBA All-Star Game,to be broadcast live from Madison Square Garden at 6:30 PM (ET) on NBC-TV (check local listings).
The half-time show, directed by John Carrafa, will include scenes from Chicago, Cats, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jekyll and Hyde, Miss Saigon, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Les Miserables and Titanic.
An NBA spokesperson reached at the media room of the Javits Center (Feb. 6) told Playbill On-Line that NBC would broadcast the half-time show, rather than talk over it or interrupt it with taped segments on the players.
Sunday's game, which could mark the 11th and final All-Star appearance of Michael Jordan, is to be broadcast live around the world. According to spokesperson Stephen Pitalo, prior to the game introductions, the cast of Noise/Funk will perform, as will Smokey Joe's Cafe's Ken Ard, Adrian Bailey, James Meeks and Frederick B. Owens, who will sing "On Broadway." Also (according to publicist Judy Katz) Jekyll & Hyde's Robert Cuccioli will sing the Canadian national anthem before the tip-off.
Carrafa, who choreographed the dance sequences in Love! Valour! Compassion!, will direct the half-time show, to be co-produced by NBA Entertainment and Dodger Productions and scripted by Douglas Bernstein. The tentative half-time line-up starts with "All That Jazz" from Chicago, featuring Bebe Neuwirth and the ensemble, followed by another Noise/Funk sequence. Then it's Ted Keegan and Sandra Joseph doing the title tune from The Phantom of the Opera, followed by Liz Callaway belting "Memory" from Cats and Douglas Sills offering "Into The Fire" from The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Linda Eder and Christiane Noll duet on "In His Eyes," followed by Cuccioli singing "This Is The Moment" from Jekyll & Hyde. Next up are two songs from Miss Saigon: "The Heat Is On In Saigon" and "The Last Night of the World." Then it's DeLee Lively doing the "Shimmy" from Smokey Joe, followed by "One Day More" from Les Miz. Closing the festivities will be Titanic's "Godspeed Titanic," featuring stars Michael Cerveris, John Cunningham, Brian d'Arcy James and David Garrison.
Also, eight cast members from 1776 will rush over after their matinee at the Gershwin Theatre to perform the American national anthem before the game. (Then they'll rush back for the 7:15 PM evening performance.) An unconfirmed report says that the floor of Madison Square Garden will be transformed into a giant map of Broadway. Also, there will be taped comedy segments of NBA stars attending Broadway shows.
As a prelude, Broadway performers have been taking part in the NBA's "I Love This Game" TV promotion. Since Christmas Day 1997, 30-second ads have shown the performers singing original, "Broadway-style" tunes as a paean to basketball. Carrafa choreographed the spots, featuring the casts of Smokey Joe's Cafe, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, The King and I, Titanic, Jekyll & Hyde and Bring in `Da Noise/Bring in `Da Funk. The commercials feature actors such as John Cunningham (Capt. Smith in Titanic) and Tom O'Leary (the current Phantom in Phantom of the Opera), each holding a basketball and exclaiming, "I love this game!"