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NEW YORK Some of the biggest celebs on Broadway came out to promote New York theater for the League of American Theatres and Producers' Stars in the Alley free performance in Shubert Alley. Although no one from The Producers showed, a huge crowd of more than 4,000 jammed themselves behind the police barriers to see stars like Vicki Lewis, Ben Vereen, Gina Gershon and Heather Headley perform songs from their respective musicals. Robert Sean Leonard, John Ritter, Deborah Yates and Henry Winkler served short stints as MCs.
The League's event managers Britt Marden and Tahra Millan coordinated the annual outdoor event, which is put on to promote ticket sales to Broadway shows. (Twelve million theatergoers attended Broadway shows just last year.) United Staging set a stage in the middle of Shubert Alley (in front of Shubert Theatre), and chairs were set in front of the stage for guests from the event's sponsors, Continental Airlines and J.P. Morgan Chase. A small band pit sat next to the stage, including a piano and drum kit from Carroll Music.
In the middle of the show, Annie Get Your Gun star Reba McEntire and Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert Organization, presented NYC & Company CEO Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas with the Star award for her work promoting Broadway shows through the convention and visitors bureau. Later in the program, Ritter and Winkler joined Continental's Paul Stevens to present students Pauline Pisano and Joel Daniels with the Rising Star award, given to outstanding graduating seniors from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts.
The performance had some audio problems: Some microphones didn't work, and the speakers occasionally emitted static noise during the performances. Sam Ellis, the league's production manager, frantically switched mikes between performances and tried to solve the problems while the singers tried to make light of the situation. The windy conditions in the alley didn't help the situation, which had the performers shivering a little onstage and the sound of wind blowing across the microphone head.