Waiting tables for the arts: stars don aprons, take orders to help N.Y. theatrical group

Some arts organizations are turning the tables on traditonal fund raising.

At a time when many a business manager would shudder at even the idea of hiring big-name stars - what with federal cutbacks and a decline in box-office receipts - the Second Stage theatrical group has not only managed to enlist big names, it has put them to work as waiters and waitresses.

Recently, Patti LuPone, who starred in the hit musical ''Evita,'' Kevin Kline , John Heard, Elizabeth McGovern, and others put on aprons and went to work waiting tables to help the Second Stage, a highly respected Off Broadway group here, defray some of the expenses of moving to a new theater home.

While waiting on tables is not something they want as a regular diet, these stars were more than willing to donate their day's tips to Second Stage, which originally helped some of them get started in the theater when the only job they could get was waiting tables. Now other groups are considering copying the fund-raising recipe.

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