A Joyous Family Christmas, a star-studded holiday benefit concert to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS will feature special material by playwright Terrence McNally. The show runs Dec. 13-14 at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City.
A production source told Playbill On-Line that the Dec. 13 show features a special $150 ticket offer which includes access to the stars at a post performance reception. Rehearsals continue at this writing. The source said that the musical elements of the show are coming together to good effect.
McNally's contribution to the show is structured in a "letter format," as a series of exchanges between family members. The material was written especially for Betty Buckley, Victor Garber, Julie Harris and Cherry Jones. The text is titled Some Christmas Letters (and a Couple of Phone Calls, Too).
The focus of scrutiny over a Gay Jesus character seen last fall in his play, Corpus Christi, McNally has been something of a lightning rod for controversy during the past year. This holiday season, however, the material he's written for Buckley (Sunset Blvd.), Garber (Sweeney Todd, TV's "Annie"), Harris (The Gin Game, The Belle of Amherst) and Jones (The Heiress) is likely to find an entirely different reception.
"It was written specifically for [the actors] by McNally, with a Christmas theme," a spokesperson told Playbill On-Line. A Best Play Tony Award-winner for Love! Valour! Compassion!, McNally penned the books to Ragtime (which earned him a Best Book Tony), The Rink, Kiss of the Spider Woman and the upcoming musical, The Visit, with songs by John Kander and Fred Ebb. His plays include Lips Together, Teeth Apart, Bad Habits, Master Class, The Ritz and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
Also featured in the show will be the St. Bartholomew's Choir, St. Bartholomew's Boy and Girl Choristers and the St. Bartholomew's Chamber Orchestra.
A Joyous Christmas Concert, with carols, music and the McNally writings, will take place at the historic St. Bartholomew's, a landmark located at Park Avenue and East 51st Street in Manhattan.
The holiday gala will be performed in candlelit splendor. The show's lighting designer is Peggy Eisenhauer.
All proceeds from the two-day event will benefit the social services programs of St. Bartholomew's Church and BC/EFA, production sources said.
Ticket prices are $35 and $75 with the $150 VIP tickets available for the concert Dec. 13. VIP tickets include a post-concert reception with the artists and an autographed, pre-release copy of Buckley's "Betty Buckley," a live recording of her first New York concert which also took place in St. Bartholomew's Church back in 1984.
Tickets may be purchased at St. Bartholomew's Church Concert Office at (212) 378-0248. VIP seats may be purchased by calling Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS at (212) 840-0770.
-- By Murdoch McBride