Lion King Wins Gypsy of the Year Competition; 24th Annual Event Raises $3.9 Million

By Robert Viagas
04 Dec 2012


Original Annie star Andrea McArdle dueted with current Annie, Lilla Crawford.
Photo by Monica Simoes

The long-running Broadway production of Chicago saluted the show's late choreographer Fosse">Bob Fosse with a recreation of his high-powered "Sing Sing Sing," but not before the revival's current leading man, country star Billy Ray Cyrus, reduced the house to silence with an a cappella version of "Bye Bye Blackbird."

Introduced as "the non-dancing ensemble from Newsies" a group of older adults, young kids and singers bemoaned the fact that they'll never be able to "Dance Like the Newsies" (original music by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx of Avenue Q) — until it dawns on them that they're getting paid the same rate as the strenuously-working dancers. Parody choreography included two of the youngsters gingerly helping one of their elders to do a spin on a newspaper broadsheet, as in the popular Disney show.

Two of the production assistants from Once picked up the guitar and cello to perform "The Ballad of the Once PAs," in which they told their sad tales of trying to get audience members to stop taking pictures, get off the stage — and stop trying to touch leading man Steve Kazee.

The cast of Mary Poppins, which graciously consented to share the New Amsterdam for the event, offered one of the audience-favorite skits, a takeoff on the "Island of Misfit Toys" sequence from the perennial TV Christmas special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." In this Broadway-ized version, however, it was "The Island of Misfit Shows." Thus, they presented Murray Poppins, a Jewish alter kocker who uses an umbrella to fly — but nobody seems to care. He was joined by the dubious stars of Little Orphan Grannie, WarWhores, The Book of Merman, and, in a swipe at the never-opened Rebecca, the leading character of that show.


The Mary Poppins presentation.
photo by Monica Simoes

Speaking of which, surviving cast members of Rebecca rallied to present "Keep the Home Fires Burning," a lament about their show succumbing to a alleged financial fraud perpetrated against their producer, Ben Sprecher, whose name they pronounced to rhyme with "Rebecca."

In a salute to Les Miserables, shortly to appear in a film version, master impressionist Christine Pedi of Off-Broadway's NEWSical rolled out a medley of songs from the Tony-winning pop opera…as they might have been interpreted by the unlikely likes of Liza Minnelli, Eartha Kitt, Carol Channing, Bernadette Peters and Julie Andrews. As a topper, Pedi demonstrated how Elaine Stritch might have sung "Master of the House."

Among the other shows that performed dances or skits: Rock of Ages, Evita, Mamma Mia!, Complexions Contemporary Ballet for Dancers Responding to AIDS and an ensemble of gypsies from more than a dozen different national tours dancing an energetic salute to the bright red buckets "Gypsy" volunteers use to collect donations at the end of each show.

This year's performance competition judges were John Bolton (A Christmas Story); Judith Ivey (The Heiress); Judy Kaye (Nice Work If You Can Get It); Laura Osnes (Cinderella); Adam Pascal (Memphis); Michael Shannon (Grace); producer Hal Luftig; composer John Kander; plus Hollis Stern and Peg Wendlandt. The introduction of the judges was interrupted by a prolonged standing ovation for Kander.

Celebrity presenters included Katie Finneran (Annie), Steve Kazee (Once), David Hyde Pierce (Off-Broadway's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike), Debra Monk (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Celia Keenan-Bolger and Adam Chanler Berat (Peter and the Starcatcher) and Judith Light (The Assembled Parties).

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Ricky Martin, Katie Holmes and Chita Rivera
Photo by Monica Simoes