Billy Elliot Wins Gypsy of the Year; Event Earns a Record $4.9 Million

By Robert Viagas
06 Dec 2011

Mamma Mia! did a self-deprecating sketch in which they revealed new advertising slogans including "Mamma Mia!—When You Can't Pay Full Price," "Only Steps Away When Perfect Crime Is Sold Out" and "If You Don't Know the Music—You've Never Ridden an Elevator!"

Off-Broadway's Silence! The Musical, a spoof of the horror film Silence of the Lambs, brought out the cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter character to flog his new Christmas album, "Hannibal Holidays," including a lyric about New York Post theatre columnist Michael Riedel "roasting on an open fire."

"The show must go on" was the theme of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying's skit showing Broadway dancers going on despite varying degrees of aches and injuries including, at one point, a severed limb.

The gypsies of Spider-Man, Memphis and The Lion King served up graceful dance numbers.

The perennial Off-Broadway nudie review Naked Boys Singing! did a tribute to the Broadway revival of Follies with all the lyrics changed to reflect the content of their show, from "Off-Broadway Baby" to "In Nobody's Eyes."

Follies troupers mourned the fact that they are closing to make the Marquis Theatre available for a revival of Evita by performing a mock funeral scene to the opening number of the latter show. However, the cast interrupted star Jan Maxwell's tongue-in-cheek eulogy, getting excited over the fact that Ricky Martin will star in the Andrew Lloyd Webber revival. The topper of the number was the surprise appearance of Follies co-star Elaine Paige—the first star of the original London Evita—who sang "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" with lyrics changed to "Don't Cry for Me, Marquis Theatre."

Another soon-to-close musical, The Addams Family, brought back one of the highlights of the 2010 Gypsy of the Year show, young Adam Riegler (Pugsley) performing a comic monologue. This year, the boy kvetched about the fact that the show will be closing at a financial loss despite its two-and-a-half-year run ("and, to be honest, how many of you expected that would happen?") and how difficult it's going to be for him to find a job. "I have way too much stage experience to be offered the lead in Chicago" he lamented. "At my height I'm not exactly leading man material. Kristin Chenoweth doesn't even have a show this season."

Host Seth Rudetsky stepped up with three of his trademark "deconstructions" of singing styles. One explored the difference between singers' chest and head voices; another demonstrated the proper form for vibrato. Not to be outdone by the many child stars who dominated this year's Gypsy of the Year, Rudetsky unearthed a recording of his teen-aged self performing a hilariously angry, bluesy version of..."Tomorrow" from Annie.

Among the other shows that performed dances or skits: Anything Goes, The Phantom of the Opera, Sister Act, The Awesome 80s Prom and an ensemble of dancers from several different national tours, who tapped to "Every Day I'm Shufflin'."

This year's judges: Stephanie J. Block (Anything Goes); Jeff Calhoun (Bonnie & Clyde); Kim Cattrall (Private Lives); Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon); Tony Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert); Paul Libin (The Broadway League); Stephanie Toups; and Karen Walter.

Celebrity presenters included Jan Maxwell and Danny Burstein (Follies), Patrick Page (Spider-Man), Beth Leavel (Baby It's You!) and Judith Light (Other Desert Cities).