The 2000 Stars in the Alley, peppered generously with plugs for the upcoming Tony Awards, had more than a few of the 2000 nominees. Eartha Kitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Karen Ziemba, Laura Benanti, Cherry Jones and Jennifer Ehle were among the performers and presenters at the Stars event, held at 11:30 AM in Shubert Alley.
Ziemba, who didn't dance a moment from Contact but did put in several appearances during the hour and a half event, opened the proceedings by welcoming the crowd to the thoroughfare between 44th and 45th street, "Broadway's favorite footpath -- or carpath for some of those producers."
With setting the mood in mind, Orfeh and Janine Myers offered Saturday Night Fever's "Nights on Broadway." They were followed by 1998 Tony nominee Tsidii Le Loka, Brian Kennedy and the Riverdance and Amanzi Singers with one of Riverdance's new Broadway tunes, "Endless Journey."
Two-time 2000 Tony Award nominee Claudia Shear, spouting Mae West isms, introduced her next door neighbors, Swing!, whose Benanti sang her sexy duet with trombonist Steve Armour.
Jennifer Ehle, the star of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, connected revivals like her play and long-established pieces by Anton Chekhov and Noel Coward with the new "classics": Les Miserables, Miss Saigon and The Phantom of the Opera. Jessica Boevers, currently Eponine, did "On My Own," Luoyong Wang, the Engineer's "American Dream" and Howard McGillin, Broadway's Phantom, sang "The Music of the Night." Noting that it will be the last "Stars in the Alley" for the long-running show, Ziemba introduced Cats. Linda Balgord sang the signature tune, "Memory."
Hoffman and his stage partner and fellow Tony nominee, John C. Reilly, played up Broadway's reputation before Kitt took the stage. With her trademark purr and dressed in all black, she launched into The Wild Party's "When It Ends."
Tony nominee Craig Bierko, clutching his Daily News "like a real New Yorker," brought on his fellow castmates, The Hawkeye Four, who, he said, are always whispering the most obscene things to him before curtain call, and Rebecca Luker, whose voice he described as "having someone pour God all over you from a pitcher." She and the four sang "Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You."
A pink summer dress-clad Bernadette Peters introduced her show, Annie Get Your Gun, the first of three classic musical comedies to sing a number. Nicole Ruth Snelson and Andrew Palermo did the duet, "Who Do You Love, I Hope."
New Sally Bowles and former "Ellen" cast member Joely Fisher sang Cabaret's "Maybe This Time." Another TV vet, "NYPD Blues" Sharon Lawrence, a new addition to Chicago, dueted with Charlotte D'Amboise on "My Own Best Friend."
The Green Bird's Tony Award nominee Derek Smith brought on the last two musical revivals, Jesus Christ Superstar and Kiss Me, Kate. Glenn Carter in less than Christ-like flared jeans and leather, sang "Gethsemane" backed by two acoustic guitars. Tony nominated "gangsters" Lee Wilkof and Michael Mulheren did their only -- but unforgettable -- number in Kiss Me, Kate, "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."
Finally, Roger Rees and Rosemary Harris, neither native born but both describing the happiness of performing on Broadway, introduced the last shows of the event, Jekyll & Hyde, Footloose and Fosse. Andrea Rivette and Coleen Sexton sang Jekyll's "In His Eyes."
Footloose, too, provided one of their most popular tunes -- "Footloose" -- but with a completely different beat. The newly conceived "Footloose Five" (Jeremy Kushnier, Casey Miles Good, Bradley Madison, Curtis Holbrook and Sean Haythe) sang their "boy band" conception of the title tune (interspersed with "Let's Hear It For My Girl") complete with choreography to make Backstreet Boys or N'Sync jealous and the young girls in the audience (from the sound of it, there were many) swoon.
Or at least, to make Rees jealous. The Uncle Vanya star cried out at the end of the number, "That's the show I want to be in!"
Closing out the afternoon was Stephanie Pope with Fosse's "Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries." Rees, who worked with Fosse, cheered especially for the deceased director-choreographer.
Two special presentations were made during the afternoon: two Rising Star scholarships for two students from LaGuardia High School from Continental Airlines and the annual Star Award were awarded. Patrick Stewart and Jones gave out the $2,500 scholarships and two free tickets to their shows to Jed Peterson and Eliza Segell. Policeman Allan H. Hoehl, commanding officer of Midtown South, Broadway's precinct, received the 2000 honor for his valuable service to the Broadway community. Hoehl, a police officer for 38 years, in turn thanked his men, who he feels changed the Broadway neighorbhood from what it was to what it is now.
The Mayor's Office also read a special proclamation naming May 29-June 4 "Theatre Week."
"Stars in the Alley," presented by Continental Airlines and The Chase Manhattan Bank, is a production of The League of American Theatres and Producers. The annual event features music and dance numbers from currently running shows in a free concert held in Broadway's Shubert Alley.