Sing. Sing a song. Sing Out loud. Sing out strong. But most importantly, Sing Broadway!
That's what 20 young performers have been doing every weekend since Nov. 8 at Off-Broadway's John Houseman Theatre. The Broadway Kids Sing Broadway features tunes from shows like Bye, Bye, Birdie, The Wizard Of Oz and The Sound Of Music, sung by children who are currently, or were recently, in Broadway productions.
Now the show will have its official opening weekend: Jan. 10-12. (The show is having an opening weekend, rather than a traditional opening night, because so many cast-members alternate performances.) Presented by Eric Krebs, Sing is directed by Christopher Scott, a veteran of TheatreWorks/USA.
Folks across America got an early taste of the show when most of the cast appeared Dec. 12, on CBS-TV's holiday special, "Kathie Lee: We Need A Little Christmas." The 10 PM (EST) special featured the Kids singing along with Kathie Lee Gifford on (what else?) "We Need A Little Christmas." The gig was essentially a tie-in to the Kids' latest album, "The Broadway Kids Sing Christmas," on which Gifford appears. Like the Kids' previous CDs, "The Broadway Kids Sing Broadway" and "The Broadway Kids At The Movies," "Christmas" was recorded by SugarBeet Records, released on Light Year Entertainment Records and available commercially.
Here's the current ensemble: Imani Parks (soon to go into B'way's Wait Until Dark), Eden Riegel, Michael Zeidman, Brandon Uranowitz, Christopher Truesdale, Christy Romano, Ashley Pettet, Cassidy Ladden, Alexandra Kiesman, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Braverman, Kai Braithwaite (who understudies Simba in The Lion King), Alex Bowen (The King And I), Jillian Bowen, Peter William Dunn, Rachael Holmes, Jenna Noel Ushkowitz, Angel Wils, Lindsey Watkins and Joanna Pacitti. If that last name sounds familiar, it's because Pacitti was the young lady selected in a special contest to star in the national tour and Broadway anniversary revival of Martin Charnin & Charles Strouse's Annie. Pacitti was then replaced after 106 performances on the road by understudy Brittny Kissinger, who went on to do the redheaded role in New York. Pacitti went on to become the "Little Ousted Annie" of tabloid fame, and her family filed a lawsuit against the sponsoring department store, Macy's, charging them with reneging on the contest prize: starring in Annie on Broadway. The production asserts that the competition was not a contest, and that producers retain the right to fire cast members if they don't work out. A motion to dismiss the case was denied by the court.
As of Jan. 9, the trial is still in the discovery process. The timing of Broadway Kids Sing Broadway is no doubt especially savory for Pacitti, since Annie closed at the Martin Beck Theatre, Oct. 19, to tour.
She, like several others in the Sing ensemble, will appear in one show per weekend, as six of the 14 cast-members will rotate throughout the open run.
The Broadway Kids Sing Broadway is not to be confused, by the way, with a previously announced Pacitti project: Kids Are People, Too. According to Pacitti's manager, Patty Claffy, that Center Stage production has been put off until Spring 1998, likely beginning with a national tour. Pacitti first told Playbill On-Line about People July: "They're thinking of it as `a kids' Chorus Line." she said. "It'll be about kids in show business and have a lot of dancing and singing in it." Claffy mentioned in July that the original Chip from Beauty & The Beast will also be in the cast. Production manager Jared Bloom also penned some of the songs in the show.
For tickets ($20) and information on The Broadway Kids Sing Broadway, which plays weekend matinees at the John Houseman Theatre, call (212) 354-2220.
(In other Pacitti news, her first CD is due out sometime in the spring on the Black Tie Entertainment label. As a preview, she's released a single -- of "Maybe" and the inevitable "Tomorrow" on cassette. For more information, check out Pacitti's own website, http://www.joannapacitti.com.