50,000 Theatre Fans Turn Out for 'B'way on B'way' Event

News   50,000 Theatre Fans Turn Out for 'B'way on B'way' Event
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At "Broadway on Broadway" (clockwise from top left): Paul Simon boosts his first musical Cape Man; Emily Alice and Alice Ripley play Siamese twins in Side Show; Susan Egan models the t-shirt from her Triumph of Love; Robert Montano, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jose Llana of On the Town; David Alan Grier of Forum; Christiane Noll, Robert Cuccioli and Linda Eder of Jekyll & Hyde. At center: confetti fills the air as the stars sing "Give My Regards to Broadway.

Photos by Starla Smith

An estimated 50,000 theatre fans converged on Times Square at noon Sept. 7 for the annual "Broadway on Broadway" concert to hear some 200 actors performing songs from 23 Broadway shows -- both familiar hits and some of the season's most eagerly anticipated forthcoming musicals.

The event provided the Broadway premiere for songs from Paul Simon's The Capeman, Henry Krieger's Side Show, Frank Wildhorn's Scarlet Pimpernel, as well as Triumph of Love, Street Corner Symphony. One man and his niece arrived at 5 AMjust so they could get a good spot near the stage, erected on 43rd Street beneath the spot where the lighted ball descends each New Year's Eve. Others traveled in from other states including New Jersey and Connecticut. The event was dedicated to the memory of the recently-deceased Princess Diana of Great Britain and Mother Teresa.

The first new show to "show off" was Paul Simon's, The Capeman. The show, which is based on actual events, tells about a boy, Salvador Agron, 16, who brutally murders two people in 1959 while wearing a cape. After being sent to prison the boy becomes a poet and the song, "Time Is An Ocean," sung by both Ruben Blades and Marc Anthony, recounts his life. Anthony, who plays the boy at 16, and Blades who plays him when he is 38, sing the song together while reflecting on prison life saying that "Time is an ocean...of endless days".

The next new musical of the season to perform was Triumph of Love, starring Susan Egan, Broadway's original Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Triumph has lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, music by Jeffrey Stock and book by James Magruder, based on the play The Triumph of Love by Pierre Marivaux. Egan sang "Anything," a ballad about what she would do for the man she loved. She stirred the crowd by belting out the final notes, "I'd do anything for his love"

The next debut was from Side Show, Henry (Dreamgirls) Krieger's musical about the real-like Hilton Sisters, a pair of Siamese twins who became vaudeville headliners in the 1920s. Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner, who play Daisy and Violet Hilton, sang a heartfelt song about what it's like to be part of the carnival/vaudeville life with people constantly staring at you and laughing. "Who Will Love Me As I Am?" is a touching song sung by the twins simply asking just that.

Douglas Sills, along with the 11 actors who play his band of outlaws, gave a powerful rendition of the song "Into The Fire." Pimpernel, by Frank (Jekyll & Hyde) Wildhorn, is scheduled to start previews Oct. 7 and open on Nov. 9, 1997 at the Minskoff Theatre.

Earlier in the day a reporter from the local ABC-TV affiliate was interviewing Sills and asked him to sing the weather report. Sills obliged, in front of the Times Square crowed, and mentioned that eight world-ranked fencers will compete for a walk-on role in the show. The competition - supervised by Metropolis Fencing -- will take place Sept. 10 at noon, again in Times Square on West 43rd Street. After the interview Sills walked over to the crowd and posed for pictures, shook hands with fans, and answered questions. As he was walking away the audience started clapping and he turned around, smiled and said, "Thank you, this means so much to me"

As expected many of the currently running Broadway shows got the chance to come out and sing and dance for all of New York. Shows like Les Miserables, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Smokey Joe's Cafe, Bring in Da Noise/Bring in Da Funk, Grease! which recently added Lucy Lawless to their cast, Rent, Forum with David Alan Grier, Beauty and the Beast, which will soon add Deborah Gibson to its cast, The King and I, now starring Faith Prince, and Miss Saigon had their turn.

So shows that just started this past season, like the 20th Anniversary revival of Annie with Nell Carter, the revival of Chicago with Bebe Neuwirth and Marilu Henner, this year's Tony Award winning musical Titanic, plus Jekyll & Hyde, The Life, and 1776.

New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani gave a speech that welcomed the new season. Confetti rained down as the performers gathered on stage for the finale to the event, singing "Give My Regards To Broadway."

-- By Andrea Prince

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