The New York Pops' Birthday Bash

May 14, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

The New York Pops' 18th birthday gala Performance at Carnegie Hall; Dinner at the Plaza Monday, 05.07.01, 7 PM onward
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It would have taken a lot more than a hoarse voice to stop Liz Smith from co-hosting the New York Pop's 18th birthday gala. And the gossip's sometimes incomprehensible voice didn't stop her from teasing Pops founder and music director Skitch Henderson about his attire for the evening: “You're not even dressed!” she exclaimed upon seeing his all-black, Nehru-collared ensemble. CBS 2 news anchors Dana Tyler and Ernie Anastos served as Smith's co-hosts, and despite speaking much more clearly, they didn't match the trademark Smith sass that the audience so enjoyed.

The gala began with a Pops performance at Carnegie Hall with Broadway stars including Craig Bierko, Dorothy Bishop, Marc Heller, Linda Lavin, Marni Nixon (whom Smith described as “the only Nixon most of us ever liked") and Emily Skinner. (Meanwhile, more Broadway singers were performing at the New York Fashion Cares benefit at Studio 54 and the Rainforest Foundation's benefit at the Supper Club. Apparently they don't even get a break when the theaters are dark.) Despite all of this singing talent, the performances that really brought down the house were by Annie Get Your Gun star Reba McEntire, singing police officer Daniel Rodriguez, Vicki Lewis of NBC's Three Sisters and Ben E. King.

Following the performance (which was attended by more than 2,500 guests), 800 gala guests headed over to the Plaza's Grand Ballroom to dine with the hosts and some of the performers. Pink and green balloons served as simple centerpieces, and matched the colors of the shrimp, crab and.phparagus first course. The gala raised $662,000 for the New York Pops education programs and the orchestra's free summer concert series.

--Suzanne Ito

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