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Champion & Saddler to Help Celebrate Merman's 99th B'day

Marge Champion (Hello, Dolly!, Follies) and Donald Saddler (Mary Martin and Ethel Merman: Together on Broadway, My Fair Lady, Follies), as well as an array of Ethel Merman impersonators, will help celebrate the Gypsy star's 99th birthday on Tuesday, January 16th.

They will join the stars of The Big Voice: God or Merman Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin - for the festivities.  At 10 PM, there will be a "Merman-off" costume parade hosted and judged by Champion and Saddler. The costume parade will conclude with a cake and ice cream celebration at the theater.

Audience members are invited to dress up like Ethel Merman for free admission to the show that evening at 8pm.

Written by and starring Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin (The Last Session), The Big Voice "hilariously proves that showbiz is as much a calling as the priesthood. This high energy, razzle-dazzle show chronicles the lives of a Baptist from Arkansas and a Catholic from Brooklyn who find eternal salvation in the temple of musical theatre." 

The show "traces Jim and Steve's meeting aboard a ship in the Atlantic Ocean, Steve's struggle with AIDS, the production of their hit off-broadway musical The Last Session, their separation and their reconciliation. It's a comedy about a "gay marriage" between two men created by the couple themselves."

Ethel Merman, born in Astoria, Queens in 1908, was the clarion-voiced star of such Broadway classics as Anything Goes, Annie Get Your Gun, Call Me Madam and - most famously - Gypsy.  She died in 1984 after a fabled career that spanned more than half a century.

The Big Voice: God or Merman? currently plays Tuesday at 8pm, Wednesday at 3pm & 8pm, Thursday at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm & 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm & 7pm at The Actors Temple Theater (339 W. 47th Street) . Tickets can be purchased by calling Telecharge (212) 239-6200 or going to For more information, please visit:

Photo - Marge Champion

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