We've seen Broadway make inroads recently into nationally televised parades, morning TV talk shows and late night variety shows, but this winter offers a rare union between Broadway and professional sports. The National Basketball Association (NBA) is linking up with eight Broadway musicals to do a co-promotion on NBA All-Star weekend in Feb. 1998.
As a prelude, Broadway performers will be used as part of the NBA's "I Love This Game" TV promotion. Beginning Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 30-second ads will have the performers sing original, "Broadway-style" tunes as a paean to basketball. John Carrafa has choreographed the spots, featuring the casts of Smokey Joe's Cafe, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, The King and I, >Titanic, Jekyll & Hyde, and Bring in 'da Noise/Bring in 'da Funk.
In a joint announcement (Nov. 19) by Adam Silver (CEO of NBA Entertainment) and Jed Bernstein, Executive Director of the League Of American Theatres & Producers, told the press that all eight shows will also take part in the Feb. 8, half-time show of the NBA All-Star Game, set for 6 PM (EST) on NBC and broadcast to more than 190 countries.
Why the sudden interest in Broadway? Because the All-Star game is in New York this year, with the Knicks hosting at Madison Square Garden.
The half-time show will be co-produced by NBA Entertainment and Dodger Productions and feature a medley of the above shows, with the performers in full costume. Also, by special arrangement with Paul Simon, cast members from The Capeman will perform the American and Canadian national anthems before the game. Since this year's All-Star weekend will likely bring thousands of tourists to Manhattan, the eight Broadway shows participating will move their Sunday (Feb. 8, 1998) matinees up to 1 PM. The NBA has purchased 5,000 total tickets to these shows to go to NBA guests, with proceeds going to the community-based charity, New York Cares.
Said the League's Bernstein, "We are sure this new relationship will be a slam-dunk for everyone involved."
-- By David Lefkowitz