New York parades used to be limited to floats and waving beauty contest winners, but more and more, Broadway musical production numbers are becoming part of the mix. Six current shows will be represented at this year's Columbus Day Parade, Oct. 11, to be broadcast on NBC-TV 13-3 PM (EST).
Scheduled to perform in the Monday parade are the Radio City Rockettes, opening the festivities with "Happy Holidays;" Susan Egan singing the title tune from Cabaret; four cast-members from Smokey Joe's Cafe offering "On Broadway;" Fosse's Stephanie Pope crooning "Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries," The Scarlet Pimpernel's Carolee Carmello doing "Storybook;" Les Miserables offering "I Dreamed a Dream;" and the Ragtime cast singing "Wheels of a Dream."
The Broadway numbers will be staged at 69th Street between 12-3 PM, but New Yorkers can get an early preview (with better sight-lines) of the songs before the parade even starts. That morning, between 10:45-11:40 AM, on Fifth Avenue between 44th & 45th Streets, the performers will do the same numbers, and kids can also meet Disney characters and have their faces painted.
Frank Fusaro, chairman of the Columbus Citizen's Foundation (which runs the parade), told Playbill On-Line the Foundation extends, "a real vote of thanks to the Broadway community for participating. Yes, it's a promotional opportunity for the shows, but they all do it gratis on their day off."
Fusaro stressed that the parade is moving away from specific ethnicity to something more philanthropic and broadly New Yorkish. "Last year's events raised over $750,000 for our scholarship fund to high schools and colleges. And unlike every other ethnic parade, we've made a concerted effort to make [ours] more ecumenical. More than 35 ethnic groups are represented." (The several hundred thousand dollars needed to stage the parade is offset by the television commercial time sold, Fusaro noted.) "In the last six years, we've really turned this parade around," Fusaro concluded, "from just high school bands and the Sons of Italy of Asbury Park to something shown all over the world."
-- By David Lefkowitz