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Agents, Managers, CDs Go On Stage in 'Labors of Love'

It's a dream come true for any actor who has felt the sting of a dismissive "Thank you, we'll let you know" after auditioning: an opportunity to see exactly how well casting directors and agents measure up as performers.

The theatrical community will have that chance Oct. 30, when agents, managers, and casting directors take the stage at Symphony Space—2537 Broadway, at 95th St.—to face a skeptical public at "Labors of Love 2000." The show, a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and SHARE, a group that provides help to women with breast and ovarian cancer, is all in fun: rotten tomatoes are not allowed, but agent H. Shep Pamplin told Back Stage that laughter is encouraged, whether audiences are cackling with, or at, whoever is onstage.

Pamplin, a senior agent at Oppenheim-Christie Associates, was one of the creators of "Labors of Love" when it debuted last year; the others who are "at the helm of this project" are Carole J. Russo from Agents for the Arts and Barry Kolker of the Carson Organization. This year, Pamplin is a performer, author, and director for the event—which has opened his eyes to what his clients routinely endure. "It's a wonderful experience," he said, "and interesting to compare the agents and casting directors with all the actors we call 'divas': How good are they about showing up with pencils, with their lines learned?"

He laughed as he considered his own question, then added, "And of course, each one has to be treated as someone special."

Pamplin grew more somber as he acknowledged that he does, in fact, feel "they are all so special." Despite the demands of their profession (which frequently require them to attend the theatre five or more times each week), the agents are setting aside plenty of rehearsal time to ensure the show will be enjoyable and professional.

All told, 17 agents, casting directors, and managers will perform in the 95-minute show—or, more accurately, shows: one performance will be at 5 pm, and another will be at 8 pm. The first half of each performance will emphasize parody, while the last half will be more serious and will feature Broadway standards and at least one new number specifically written for the fundraiser. In addition, speakers from the beneficiary organizations will speak about what they do, and a celebrity will almost certainly host the event.

Ken Lundie is musical director of "Labors of Love 2000," and Brian J. Laughlin is choreographer. At press time, the group was still looking for a stage manager, a drummer, and a bass player. Volunteers for those jobs should call Pamplin at (212) 213-4330; he guarantees they'll have a good time.

"When we did the show last year, we weren't sure that we'd ever do it again," he said. "But it was a blast and it raised money, so now I think it would be great to do it every year." Of course, Pamplin added, everyone involved sincerely hopes to see an end to the need for AIDS fundraising, but he sighed, "There'll always be something to raise money for."

Tickets for "Labors of Love 2000" are $36 each and are available by calling (212) 864-5400 or at the Symphony Space box office.

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