Playwright Terrence McNally has written special material in a "letter format," structured as a series of exchanges between family members, for A Joyous Family Christmas, a star-studded holiday benefit concert to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Dec. 13-14.
Betty Buckley, Victor Garber, Julie Harris and Cherry Jones are among the readers of McNally's untitled material in the gala New York City production that will also feature 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.
Embraced and denounced for his controversial Jesus-themed 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) will likely find an entirely different reception.
"It was written specifically for [the actors] by McNally, with a Christmas theme," a spokesperson told Playbill On-Line. The text is titled Some Christmas Letters (and a Couple of Phone Calls, Too). 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.
The holiday gala will be performed in candlelit splendor. The show's lighting designer is Peggy Eisenhauer (The Will Rogers Follies, Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk).
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 $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