NEW YORK, July 20, 2009
(CBS) This story was reported by CBSNews.com’s Gina Pace and Ken Lombardi
Play CBS VideoVIDEOBroadway SurpriseOnly On The Web: What, at first, appeared as a scuffle on the streets of Time Square in fact emerged as a surprise song and dance routine by the “Break Out in Song” team.
Ever wish that real life were just a bit more like a Broadway musical?
Well, for New Yorkers and tourists who happened to be in certain spots of the Big Apple this weekend - such as South Street Seaport or Times Square - it did. Dozens started singing and dancing as part of a public arts project, Break Out In Song
Although those who read theater listings would be clued into the performance, most in Times Square Sunday afternoon had no idea that a Broadway number was about to erupt. Although it did seem, as more and more people gathered on the sidewalk, that something was about to happen.
On these busy streets filled with pedestrians, one man bumped into another knocking him down. A heated argument ensued as, at first appearance, one of the men viewed the accident as an insult. Spectators began to express concern as the conversation seemed as if it was about to turn physical.
A police officer quickly stepped in to break up the escalating fight. But as a woman started singing “Consider Yourself” from “Oliver!” the police officer, along with the rest of the crowd, realized that it was a performance. Dancers joined one by one until about 40 performers were in unison.
By the end of the number, the two men had made amends, as part of the routine, symbolizing the sense of unity and inclusion the performers and producers of this show strive to evoke.
The idea came to producer Ryan Mackey as he would listen to show tunes on his iPod, wishing that he could start singing and dancing. After seeing the viral video of about 200 dancers perform a song from “The Sound of Music” in a train station in Antwerp, Belgium, he decided he wanted to do something similar in New York.
“Everyone has a song in their heart that’s bursting to come out,” Mackey said.
Jessica Hartman, who worked as the choreographer for in “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl,” said that it was key to plan the performances to look good from any angle - so no matter where passersby stood, they could enjoy the performance.
“We want everyone to feel involved and part of the number,” Hartman said.
Mackey, whose Broadway credits range from being the assistant director of “The Boy from Oz” to Mel Brooks’ assistant on “The Producers,” started calling in favors from entertainment contacts and formed a non-profit group to raise money for the show. All the dancers volunteered their time.
He plans on bringing the performances to Chicago, Los Angeles and London - then back to New York City in time for Tony Awards season next year.
Jessica Lea Patty, who was the lead in “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” said she couldn’t turn it down after hearing of the project .
“We are brining theater to the masses,” Patty said. “And the reaction of people not expecting it - it will brighten everyone’s day.”
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We cannot thank our performers, directors/choreographers, crew, supporters, families, friends, the venues and New York City enough. BREAK OUT IN SONG was a great success and we couldn’t have done it without you. We look forward to bringing a little bit of Broadway magic to you again very soon.
Our videos will be up shortly and they’ll be just as good as the performances. So please be sure to join our email list to receive the video links, and updates about our future projects.
Until then, let that song out of your heart. You’ll be glad you did.
A great big hand for the amazing cast of “Consider Yourself”, who blew Times Square away with their wonderful performance. Heck, we were even able to get the NYPD involved in the action (which was unplanned):
Leslie McDonel (Vocal and lead performer)
Theis Weckesser (Featured performer)
Kyle Pleasant (Featured performer)
Joshua James Campbell
Leigh S Vaynberg
Joshua James Campbell
Rebekkah Sue Rosenberg
Dawn Rene Fowler
Directed and choreographed by Josh Walden
We hope the Intrepid Museum got a kick out of our rousing rendition of “Anything Goes”, complete with a cast of over 100 —including 30+ dancing children, and one adorable little red head!
Katie Thompson (Vocals and lead performer)
Tyler O’Daniels (featured performer)
Zipporah M Bruce
Rebekkah Sue Rosenberg
Directed and Choreographed by Andrew Turteltaub
New York Times - City Room Blog
For Dance, 10. For Spontaneity? You Decide.
By LIBBY NELSON
The scene: The Shops at Columbus Circle in Time Warner Center at the end of a weekday.
The audience members: Shoppers and office workers, gathered around the balconies, waiting.
Then it happened: a musical number broke out, as dancers clutching small shopping bags came up the escalators and, reaching the entrance, began moving to “If My Friends Could See Me Now” from the 1966 Broadway musical “Sweet Charity.” It came booming out of loudspeakers.
Though the performance was billed as being spontaneous — just as people start singing and dancing, all knowing the same words and steps, in movie musicals. Of course, the presence of more than 100 people gathered on three floors in anticipation of the performance suggested that it might not have been much of a surprise as the dancers, still holding their shopping bags, took their places in front of the Williams-Sonoma for an enthusiastic, if short, dance.
Ryan Mackey directed Thursday’s performance and has scheduled three more “spontaneous” musical numbers by the group, Break Out in Song. It is the result of a lifelong dream: to bring musical theater to life.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a musical, and I discovered I’m not a very good actor,” Mr. Mackey said. “But it didn’t stop me from wanting a musical to happen around me. I’ve had this whole dream of making musicals happen throughout everyday life.”
So when Mr. Mackey, who has worked as an assistant director on Broadway productions, saw just such a performance on YouTube — “Do Re Mi” from “The Sound of Music” in the Central Station of Antwerp, Belgium — he did what any man with a musical dream would do: cashed in his 401(k) and began planning a similar performance in New York.
Mr. Mackey called choreographers and held open auditions. He picked songs off his iPod — in addition to “If You Could See Me Now,” there is “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” from “Funny Girl”; “Anything Goes,” from the musical of the same name; and “Consider Yourself,” from “Oliver!” He solicited donations from friends and family and tapped into money saved to buy a house with his partner when not enough donations came through. Though the performers worked free and the production team was paid almost nothing, he still got 45 dancers to join the troupe.
Rehearsals sometimes lasted hours, but there was no dress rehearsal in the actual site. As a result, Thursday’s dance had an impromptu, slightly madcap feel, with the production team only one step ahead of the performance. Passers-by were hastily motioned out of the way for the dancers, who were occasionally out of sync. No one appeared to mind.
“If you’re not precise, it’s O.K., because that adds character,” Mr. Mackey had said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “It adds to the whole feel of the project, to the number. Not everybody needs to know how to pirouette, not everybody knows how to dance professionally.”
After it was over, he was smiling. “Now we know what we need to work on,” he said, adding that he was very happy with how it had turned out.
Future performances were planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Intrepid Museum, Times Square and the South Street Seaport.
The performance had received enough publicity beforehand that it was not really a surprise to many of the passers-by, though those taking the elevator up from the Whole Foods beneath the shops were an exception.
Debbie Engel, who had read about the performance in the newspaper beforehand, said she might have enjoyed it more if it had been completely spontaneous.
“I thought it was very cute,” she said.
As for the dancers, the number itself was brief, ending with a high-energy can-can line. Then the music stopped, the audience dispersed, and — still holding their shopping bags — they melted into the crowd.
Wow! If you weren’t at South Street Seaport today, you missed something truly spectacular. Another wonderful performance and it’s all thanks to this talented cast:
Jessica Lea Patty (Vocals and lead performer)
John Pinto Jr.
Directed and Choreographed by Jessica Hartman
Associate Choreographer, Jonathan Day
Two days ago we told you about Break Out in Song, a fun project that aims to surprise New Yorkers with public explosions of musical theater. Yesterday, the Time Warner Center was the site of the first of the week’s four planned numbers: Sweet Charity’s “If My Friends Could See Me Now.” TONY designer Marc Whalen, a friend of one of the dancers involved, was there—and took a few casual pictures of the event, which you can flip through above. “The unsuspecting shoppers rewarded the performers with explosive applause,” Whalen reports, adding that the pseudo-impromptu musical number “left its large crowd thrilled and wanting more.” If you want to be part of the fun, you have two more chances: Break Out in Song is scheduled to perform the title number from Anything Goes at the Intrepid tomorrow at 3pm, and “Consider Yourself” from Oliver! in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square on Sunday at 1pm. Out of the piano bars and into the streets!