15th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition Raises $2,275,658!

Monday, April 23rd, 2001
Tuesday, April 24th, 2001
The New Amsterdam Theatre
214 West 42nd Street

17 Companies Present Bonnets / 57 Companies Raise Funds

The 15th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition ended with a triumphant bang when Mary Louise Parker, Bebe Neuwirth and Alan Cumming announced that a grand total of $2,275,658 had been raised by 57 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies $146,000 above last year’s previous record-breaking total of $2,129,168.

The Easter Bonnet Competition, presented for the fourth year in the beautiful New Amsterdam Theatre, the heart of a shimmering new 42nd Street, is the grand finale of six weeks of intensive fundraising efforts by these 57 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring shows. Awards were presented to the competitions top fundraisers: 4th Runner-up, RENT with $97,992; 3rd Runner-up was THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for raising $116,477; 2nd Runner-up THE LION KING raising $120,714; 1st Runner-up ANNIE GET YOUR GUN at 175,146. The Grand Fundraising Award was presented to the company of Neil Simon’s THE DINNER PARTY for raising $176,824. Yes, that’s a $678 difference!!! More importantly, it is also the first time in the 15 year history of BC/EFA’s competitive fundraising that a play has ever come even placed in the top four let alone won the top fundraising prize. Hats off to the entire company of THE DINNER PARTY.

Acknowledging the substantial difference in size between Broadway and Off-Broadway theatres, the Off-Broadway fundraising award was presented to the company of STOMP for raising $27,902. This is the first time that this long-running Off-Broadway hit has participated in a competitive fundraising event, barely knocking off perennial Off-Broadway fundraising champ, NAKED BOY SINGING with $26,228.

Presented on Monday and Tuesday, April 23 and 24, the Easter Bonnet Competition starred the companies of 17 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, as well as from the national tours of THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS and Barry Manilow’s COPACABANA.. Hosts Rebecca Luker and Patrick Quinn; Betty Garrett and Lea De Laria; Kathleen early, David Burtka and Denis O’Hare; Jennifer Ehle and Howard McGillin; Kevin Chamberlin and Charles Busch; Ruthie Henshall and Ron Kunene; Faith Prince and James Barbour were joined by over 250 members of the participating companies on stage at the New Amsterdam.

It was an afternoon of highlights, beginning with BC/EFA’s own Ziegfeld girl, Doris Eaton Travis, joining the Broadway Bonnet dancers in the CONTACT’s “Simply Irresistible” as part of the afternoon’s opening number. Ms. Travis at 97 years young first appeared on stage at the New Amsterdam Theatre at the age of 16 in THE ZIEGFELD FOLLIES OF 1920. Diedre Goodwin, Michelle Robinson and Rosa Curry – the EASTER BONNET “Dreamgirls”- and a chorus of 26 Broadway dancers opened the show with “One Week Later”, a number written by Seth Rudetsky and choreographed by Lucille Lortel Award-wining choreographer Christopher Gattelli.

The bonnet were extraordinary including bonnets from CHICAGO, THE LION KING and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. Milena Govich and “the mad cow chorus” from CABARET and a street-wise bonnet from Off-Broadway’s STOMP were audience favorites. But the unofficial “most unusual Bonnet award” would have to go to the company of A CLASS ACT and a bonnet entitled, “Nothing”, held by Randy Graff.

Surprise appearances were made by Dick Cavett (note the costume) and the company of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW performing “There’s Nothing Like a.Dick”. A more traditionally dressed Reba McEntire the star of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN sang her own composition “I’ll Be”, before being joined by the entire company in “Why Haven’t I Heard from You” the first time this country standard has ever served as a successful fundraising “plea”.

Before the show was over, Chuck Swenson, Manager of Marketing and Promotions of TARGET Corporation presented a check for $350,000 to BC/EFA to John Ritter and Henry Winkler – the stars of Neil Simon’s THE DINNER PARTY. Carol Woods, of the Broadway revival of FOLLIES closed with show with David Friedman’s HELP IS ON THE WAY.

Companies compete not only in fundraising but also with their specially designed and handcrafted Easter Bonnet creations. The “Fabulous Bonnet Presentation Award” was presented to CABARET. The “Even More Fabulous Bonnet Presentation Award” went to MUSIC MAN; with the company of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN winning the “Most Fabulous Bonnet Presentation Award”, as determined by a panel of judges, including Mercedes Ellington, Terrence McNally and Marin Mazzie.

Produced by Michael Graziano, Tom Viola and the BC/EFA production team, this year’s Eastern Bonnet Competition would not have been possible without the assistance of hundreds of volunteers – actors and stage managers, wardrobe and hair personnel, ushers and front of house staff, technicians, stagehands and musicians, producers, company managers and concessionaires.

Special recognition must go to director Sam Ellis, production supervisor Doc Zorthian and the entire management team, crew and company of THE LION KING. Their tireless efforts, as well as those of all at Walt Disney Theatricals and the New Amsterdam Theatre, provided the foundation for this tremendous Easter Bonnet success.

Our thanks to all who make the Easter Bonnet Competition a rousing success!