Many annual Broadway events exist including Stars in the Alley, "Broadway on Broadway", Broadway Bonnet Competition, Broadway Under The Stars and many more
Stars in the AlleyShubert Alley, which runs alongside the Shubert Theatre and connects West 44th and West 45th Streets (between 7th and 8th avenues) is a landmark in Broadway lore, as it's often filled with Broadway actors and musicians running to and from their Broadway shows. It is also lined with posters for all the currently-playing Broadway shows. Each June (usually the week of the Tony Awards), a FREE concert is held there, to mark the end of the Broadway season. Cast members from Broadway musicals perform songs from their shows, and cast members from the various plays usually make appearances as well.
Broadway on BroadwayIf "Stars in the Alley" is an intimate gathering of theater fans, "Broadway on Broadway" is its rock star cousin. Each September, to kick off the new Broadway season, tens of thousands of people fill the streets of Times Square for this open-air FREE concert that unfolds right in the heart of the theater district. A stage, speakers, and giant screens are erected to turn midtown into a temporary concert arena for Broadway fans. There are performances from existing and forthcoming Broadway musicals, while Broadway stars act as presenters. Attending "Broadway on Broadway" is also a great way to get some Broadway-themed swag, as promoters for the new Broadway shows are usually handing out fans, posters, and other merchandise hawking their shows.
Bonnet CompetitionEvery Spring, for a few weeks, all the Broadway shows ask their audiences for post-performance donations to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The Easter Bonnet Competition is the culmination of this fundraising drive, and the Broadway show that collected the most money is honored. But the fun part is that the Broadway shows also all compete for the best bonnet presentation award. Most of the Broadway shows create their own giant Easter bonnets, and then write a sketch (often an elaborate musical parody) that the cast performs to present the bonnet. The Easter Bonnet Competition is usually held at a Broadway theater and the public is welcome to buy tickets. This is a great way to see what is essentially a fantastic backstage Broadway talent show - lots of fun, lots of laughs, spectacular Easter bonnets, and it's all for a good cause! (www.broadwaycares.org)
Broadway in Bryant Park
In what's becoming a great summer tradition that offers midtown workers a lovely Broadway-themed lunch break, "Broadway in Bryant Park" is a weekly series of hour-long FREE concerts that take place in the early afternoon. Usually 3-5 Broadway (and sometimes Off-Broadway) shows perform at each concert, and occasionally the audience even gets a sneak peek at a musical that's set for the upcoming Broadway season. Bryant Park is on 6th Avenue, between 40th and 42nd streets. (www.bryantpark.org)
Broadway Under the Stars
What about those of us who don't work in midtown, but would still like to be able to get in on this free concert action, you might be asking? Well, there is the annual summertime Broadway concert that takes place after dark, "Broadway Under the Stars," which has been held in both Bryant Park and Central Park in the past. Viewers settle down on the lawn early and picnic while listening to some of Broadway biggest stars sing classic show tunes on a beautiful summer evening. (www.broadwayleague.com)
Most Broadway events are for the whole family, but this one is for grown-ups only. "Broadway Bares" began in the early '90s when Jerry Mitchell -- then a dancer, now a famous Broadway director and choreographer (Legally Blonde, Hairspray, The Full Monty) -- decided to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS with some of his Broadway dancer buddies by stripping at a gay club for donations. "Broadway Bares" has since turned into a huge yearly event at the Roseland Ballroom, involving the participation of full-fledged Broadway stars as well as Broadway chorus boys and dancing gals. The show is a lavishly produced burlesque on a different theme each year, with original dance sequences that have the performers appearing in varying states of undress. (www.broadwaycares.org)
Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction
This is the garage sale of any Broadway fans' dreams. Every autumn, Broadway shows and Broadway-related organizations set up tables in Shubert Alley and on West 44th Street to sell all kinds of cool Broadway stuff for charity. Looking for an old Playbill, a playscript, a prop or costume from your favorite Broadway show, or even Broadway-themed baked goods? Look no further than the Broadway Flea Market! Throughout the day, Broadway and daytime TV stars sit at the celebrity tables and sign autographs, and in the afternoon there is a Grand Auction in which the big items (walk-on parts in Broadway and TV shows, dinner with a Broadway star, etc.) are auctioned off. (www.broadwaycares.org)
Gypsy of the Year
The Broadway theater community also does a period of post-show collecting for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in the later part of the year. This fundraising effort leads to the annual Gypsy of the Year competition, which, like the Easter Bonnet Competition event, awards the Broadway show that raised the most money. Gypsy of the Year also includes a sort of high-quality talent show competition for the various Broadway shows, with the focus being on the talents of the Broadway "gypsies," a term used for the often unsung members of the Broadway' chorus. (www.broadwaycares.org)