As previously announced, the songs of Academy and Grammy Award-winning pop composer Burt Bacharach — whose one Broadway musical, Promises, Promises, earned eight 1969 Tony nominations — will be the focus of the benefit concert. Entitled Blame It on Bacharach!, the annual AIDS benefit will be presented March 8 at 8 PM and March 9 at 3 PM at the Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills, California. David Galligan will direct the concerts with musical direction by Mary Ekler.
The first act will feature the aforementioned abridged version of Promises, Promises, while the second will boast a mix of Bacharach hits. Among Bacharach's impressive catalogue of songs are "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," "Alfie," "Walk on By," "I Say a Little Prayer," "The Look of Love," "This Guy's in Love With You," "Do You Know The Way to San Jose?," "That's What Friends Are For," "One Less Bell to Answer" and "What's New Pussycat?"
Those scheduled to interpret the works of Bacharach include Grammy Award winner Melissa Manchester, "American Idol" finalist Justin Guarini, stage and screen star Marilu Henner, Oscar and Grammy nominee Stephen Bishop, R&B singer Deniece Williams and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" host Jai Rodriguez as well as Marilyn Maye, Betty Garrett, Carole Cook, Pat Marshall and Nancy Dussault. The original "Plaids" from the long-running Forever Plaid — Stan Chandler, David Engel, Roger Befeler and Larry Rabin — will also be part of the concerts.
In addition to Lewis, Gurwin and McKechnie, the Promises portion of the evening will also include Sandahl Bergman, Jane Lanier and Valarie Pettiford, who will join McKechnie for "Turkey Lurkey Time," and Ian Abercrombie, Catte Adams, Paul Ainsley, Cate Caplin, Gary Franco, Paul Del Vecchio, Alvin Ing, Dave Koz, Jon Maher, Jamie McMurray, Linda Michele and Stefanie Powers.
Ty Treadway, host of the upcoming "Merv Griffin's Crosswords," will host a live auction. The S.T.A.G.E. Producers Award will be presented to award-winning actress Doris Roberts and to community activist Brenda R. Freiberg for "their long-standing personal commitment to worldwide battle against HIV/AIDS."
The first S.T.A.G.E. benefit took place in October 1984, honoring the music of Leonard Bernstein. Subsequent presentations have paid tribute to Stephen Sondheim (1985, 1987, 1996), Jule Styne (1988), Jerry Herman (1989), John Kander and Fred Ebb (1990), Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein (1991), Irving Berlin (1992), George and Ira Gershwin (1993), Harold Arlen (1995), Cole Porter (1997), Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe and Burton Lane (1998), Richard Adler, Jerry Bock and Cy Coleman (1999), Charles Strouse, Arthur Schwartz and Stephen Schwartz (2000), Jerome Kern (2001), Johnny Mercer (2002), Frank Loesser (2003), Andrew Lloyd Webber (2004), Marvin Hamlisch and Harry Warren (2005), Betty Comden and Adolph Green (2006) and Stephen Sondheim (2007).
Burt Bacharach's songs have earned the composer three Academy Awards and seven Grammy Awards, including one for the original Broadway cast recording of Promises, Promises.
The S.T.A.G.E. concerts are the longest continuously running AIDS benefit in the world. Proceeds from this year's event will go to AIDS Project Los Angeles.
The Wilshire Theatre is located in Beverly Hills, CA, at 8440 Wilshire Blvd. For ticket information call (866) 679-0958 or visit www.stagela.com.