Sunday afternoon was standing room only in Times Square as musical theater’s newest joined legendary stars at the 20th Broadway on Broadway concert. NBC “Today” show host and writer of upcoming Broadway musical “Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson” Katie Lee Gifford hosted the free concert produced by The Broadway League and Times Square Alliance that closed down a block smack in the heart of Manhattan’s Theater District for two hours of sunshine-baked lyrical whimsy.
Broadway on Broadway started 20 years ago as Broadway’s welcome the 1992 Democratic National Convention as reported by NY1, in its first year as well. The concert has continued every year since, with the notable exception of last year’s solemn tribute for the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
The New York Times reports that Broadway helps New York’s economy to the tune of $11 billion. The crowd let it known they appreciated the effort. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced New York City’s appreciation with the first annual Spotlight Awards. The crowd echoed the sentiment with a roar of applause as Chita Rivera strolled up among other recipients. As Tommy Tune towered over the stage, murmured spontaneously throughout the audience could be hear over the clapping, “oh, he is SO tall!”
The spectators were not the only ones enjoying the day. Libby Unsworth, stage manager for Gifford’s “Scandalous,” does not see it as work. “It is not about future ticket or advertisement,” she explains. “For us, it is more of a fun event.”
Musical acts followed, ranging from an acoustic quartet for last year’s eight Tony award winning hit “Once” to the synchronized music-creating broom dancing of “Stomp” to a video sneak peak of season two of NBC’s Broadway based television series “Smash” blasting former “American Idol” winners Jennifer Hudson and Katharine McPhee belting out “On Broadway.”
Actor Ed Asner took time from rehearsals of his new play “Grace” to announce the upcoming 2012-2013 plays, including Henry Winkler in “The Performers.” The New York Times reports that the actor best know as Fonzie from “Happy Days” will now play a porn actor in this romantic comedy set at the adult video awards in Las Vegas. Or, in Asner’s own word, “aging X-rated star Chuck Wood. Well, maybe he is hung.”
The public got the rare experience of seeing that unknown chorus girl that may one day be the next Chita Rivera standing onstage right beside her. For the performers and the stage crew, they got something just as special. “Seeing everyone you know, seeing everyone you don’t see every day. That’s the best part,” Unsworth says.