With Audra McDonald (Ragtime) and the Who's Roger Daltrey (A Christmas Carol), Broadway lit its 1998 Broadway Christmas Tree at 5:30 PM Dec. 9 in Duffy Square. The 25 foot tree is decorated each year with colored holiday lights and star-shaped ornaments representing every show currently playing on and off Broadway. Easily visible were stars for Sideman, Beauty Queen of Leenane, Parade, Ragtime, Visiting Mr. Green among the shows.
Audra McDonald spoke on the joys of celebrating Christmas in New York and in the community along with a good natured knock at the recent warm weather -- finally they could hold the tree lighting because finally it felt like winter.
Pegged to actually light the tree, Daltrey asked the crowd, "Anyone got a match?"
With Daltrey leading, the crowd counted "One-two-three." No lights. Daltrey tried again. "One-two-three-four-five!" Failure.
"We can't afford the electricity," he quipped. Immediately following his comment, the tree lit.
As a part of the lighting ceremony, the Theatre Development Fund also introduced the creation of a $5,000 annual gift to be donated to a not-for-profit organization serving the theatre community. This year's recipient was the Actors' Fund.
Following the presentation of the Actors' Fund check, the Broadway Kids (featuring cast members from Ragtime, The Sound of Music, A Christmas Carol and their own Off-Broadway show, Broadway Kids) sang two Christmas carols for the crowd, "White Christmas" and "Deck the Halls."