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Broadway Music as Free as the Air

Brooke Shields hosts this Sunday's Broadway on Broadway event in Times Square.

By New York City

Brooke Shields in Cabaret
Brooke Shields in Cabaret
This past Wednesday, in a preview event called "Broadway Karaoke," Jammin' 105's Diana King and Z-100's Christine Nagy offered Times Square passersby an opportunity to sing on Broadway--i.e., to perform tunes from such musicals as Cabaret and Oklahoma! karaoke-style on the street. But this Sunday, September 9, the warbling will be left to the professionals as cast members from most of the big Main Stem shows turn up to sing at the annual live concert Broadway on Broadway.

Fans will want to get down to Times Square early, as many thousands of people will show up to see this very popular free performance of songs from current Broadway attractions. The concert doesn't start until noon, but you can bet that dedicated fans will start arriving early. (The prime spots in front of the stage are usually taken by 9 or 10am.) This year's event will be hosted by Brooke Shields, the most recent star to take on the coveted role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Joining her as guest stars will be Valerie Harper, Michele Lee, and Tony Roberts of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife. Kate Burton, star of the upcoming revival of Hedda Gabler, will also appear. They will introduce performers from various shows, who, backed by a full orchestra, will give the crowd a free taste of Broadway.

Aside from everything else, Broadway on Broadway usually offers a great opportunity to preview the new season; last year, we heard songs from Jane Eyre and The Full Monty. This time around, we'll only be getting one real preview--albeit it a hotly anticipated one--as the company of Mamma Mia! sings "Dancing Queen." And Urinetown--not quite a new show, but new to Broadway--will be represented by Hunter Foster and cast singing "Run, Freedom, Run."

Idina Menzel, the most recent former Rent cast member to join the company of Aida, will perform "My Strongest Suit" from that show; this is an especially interesting inclusion, given the fact that Disney's three shows were the only Broadway musicals not represented in Broadway on Broadway last year. (The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast remain absent.) The current Phantom of the Opera, Howard McGillin will again serenade us with "Music of the Night," as he did last year. Also falling into the 'oldies but goodies' category: Bebe Neuwirth, perpetually in and out of Chicago, will lead the cast in "All That Jazz"; Trey Ellett and Manley Pope will do "What You Own" from Rent; Rebecca Luker will offer "My White Knight" from The Music Man; and Terrence Mann, Jason Wooten, and the company of The Rocky Horror Show will present a medley of two of that cult show's most popular songs, "Sweet Transvestite" and "Time Warp." Carolee Carmello and Burke Moses, the semi-new leads in Kiss Me, Kate, will sing "So in Love." (With Sweet Smell of Success going into the Martin Beck in the spring, Kate won't be around for Broadway on Broadway in 2002.)

Two of the more peculiar choices for this year's event are "It's a Woman's World," one of the least notable songs from The Full Monty, and "Haben Sie Gehoert Das Deutsche Band" from The Producers. At least these numbers will finally give the spotlight over to those shows' undercelebrated talents, The Full Monty women (Annie Golden, Laura Maria Duncan, Jannie Jones, Liz McConahay) and The Producers' Brad Oscar. Blast! and 42nd Street will be performing at B on B for the first time; 42nd Street will close the show with "Lullaby of Broadway."

Last year, NBC finally picked up on the idea that an event important enough to draw 50,000 people to Times Square might be of interest to TV viewers, and the concert was telecast by the network's New York affiliate. This year's Broadway on Broadway will be shown on several stations in major cities across the nation, though not live; folks in Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Hartford, L.A., Providence, San Diego, and D.C. should watch out for the broadcast sometime in late November or early December. New Yorkers who can't make it down to the theater district won't have to wait that long; NBC4 will air the show on Monday, September 10 at 7pm. There will also be a live webcast at www.earthcam.com.


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