With sentimental New York traditions taking on extra resonance this season, add another to the list: Theatre Development Fund, the League of American Theatres and Producers and the Times Square Business Improvement District have scheduled their annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in Manhattan's Duffy Square for Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 5:15 PM (i.e., between the matinee and evening shows).
Broadway notables generally do the honors and join in singing Christmas carols and holiday songs during the brief ceremony. According to a TDF spokesperson, lighting up this year's event will be George Hamilton, currently making his Broadway debut in Chicago, and Rue McClanahan, spending her first time on Broadway in 20 years in The Women. Michael McElroy and The Broadway Inspirational Voices will perform, with policeman Daniel Rodriguez offering a "God Bless America" finale.
Also at the event, $5,000 will be presented by TDF and The League to theatre-district fire department Ladder 4/Engine 54/Battalion 9.
Last season, Michele Lee (The Tale of the Allergist's Wife) and David Hasselhoff (Jekyll & Hyde ) lit the tree on Dec. 13 in a ceremony that also featured the Broadway Tenors and marked the performance debut of The Times Square Bid Kidz, described in TDF production notes as “an exciting musical theatre company made up of young performers from The New Dance Group Arts Center musical theatre program.” Also performing will be the Broadway Tenors. Last year's lighting also continued a three-year-old tradition of TDF and the League donating $5,000 to a not-for-profit organization. In this case, it was the Manhattan Plaza AIDS Project (MPAP).
The tree-lighting event is free and open to the public. The Broadway holiday tree (a white spruce) is decorated each year with colored holiday lights and ornaments representing every show currently playing on and Off Broadway. The ceremony takes place at Duffy Square, where TDF's TKTS booth is located on 46 St. and Broadway.
—By David Lefkowitz