The 18th AnnualGYPSY OF THE YEAR COMPETITION brought in just under $3 million for BC/EFA, thanks to the efforts of 58 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and National Touring shows.
Held December 4th and 5th at 52nd Street’s Neil Simon Theatre (home of Hairspray),this year’s event earned $2,992,800,edging past 2005’s total of $2,972,721. To date, the 18 annual editions of Gypsy have raised a combined total of$28,764,000 to benefit BC/EFA.
The Color Purple won the fundraising award, bringing in $194,500. Wicked was second with $192,900; followed by The Drowsy Chaperone, $185,900; The Phantom of the Opera, $153,800, and Jersey Boys with $133,250.
Special awards were given for the top fundraising Broadway play, Off-Broadway company, and touring company. This year the top fundraising play was The Little Dog Laughed with$44,330. The Clean House took the Off-Broadway award by raising $26,700 and Wicked – Chicago “Shiz” companytook the touring prize for raising an inspiring $175,000 with special honorable mentions to the Mamma Mia II tour with $152,153 and The Lion King – Cheetah company, which raised $137,094. BC/EFA is deeply appreciative for the efforts of all 21 national touring companies which in their travels across the country raised$1,010,888, more than a third of this year’s grand total!
With two performances, The Gypsy of the Year Competition is the culmination of six weeks of intensive fundraising. Performing for an audience of their peers and many of BC/EFA’s corporate sponsors and major donors, New York’s most talented “gypsies,” chorus members from Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, join in a competition/variety show. This year, 16 of the 58 fundraising shows participated in the on-stage presentations.
SILLY AND SERIOUS
Jonathan Hadary and Marin Mazzie (Spamalot) hosted this year’s event with Christine Ebersole (Grey Gardens) andMartin Short (Fame Becomes Me) joining them onstage during the awards presentation.
The competition’s opening number “The Genesis of The Gypsy” was an original number with music and lyrics by Lance Horne and directed and choreographed by Lorin Latarro (The Apple Tree), and Josh Rhodes (Chicago). Featuring Jay Johnson and “Bob” (The Two and Only) and Capathia Jenkins (Fame Becomes Me), it offered a look at the “birth” of that unique species, the Broadway gypsy.
Highlights from this year’s presentation included the cast of Hairspray with star Diana DeGarmo presenting “Hairspray 2.0,” the tale of two teen boys who find love playing dodge ball and all that can come with that love now that the state of New Jersey has passed a law permitting same-sex marriage. The cast of Beauty and The Beast performed a number called “(We Are Working on That)” with Marla Mindelle and company giving a hilarious rendition of Pocahontas’ “The Colors of the Wind.”
The Color Purple beautifully mixed song and dance in their number “When, Where, Why Will I Go?,” and the cast of The Times They Are A-Changin’ performed an exquisite original song “Thou Winter Wind” a number written specifically for the show and sung by Times star Michael Arden and choreographed by Chase Brock.
The Little Dog Laughed stars Tom Everett Scott, Julie White, Ari Graynor, and Johnny Galecki showed up wearing only towels (a reference to the play’s nude scene) and then (backs to the audience) bared all to a screaming crowd for a supposed large donation from an anonymous “Texas millionaire.”
Two renowned theatre composers gave heartwarming performances. Tony Award® winner Marc Shaiman (Fame Becomes Me) presented “And Now a Word From Mark.”
During Gypsy’s fundraising period, Shaiman auctioned off his songwriting skills to the highest bidders at the end of numerous performances of Martin Short’s show. Shaiman performed one of these songs: a tribute to the donor’s late mother, who had taken her daughter to the theatre despite financial hardships, as he movingly asked the audience to hear the song as they thought of their own loved ones who could “not be with us in the theatre today.” Remembering friends who have passed during 25 years of the AIDS epidemic, Shaiman referenced “a generation of men who would fill this balcony to heaven,” his voice trailing off and he began the song.
Another beloved composer, Tom Jones (The Fantasticks), performed a funny ode to downtown theatre called “Mr. Off-Broadway,” while cast members from Rent– along with a number of teens impacted by HIV – offered a moving spoken-word piece.
Other show’s offering skits included Mamma Mia!,Spamalot, The Drowsy Chaperone,The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Tarzan, the revival of A Chorus Line and ThePhantom of the Opera’s hilarious send-up of Grey Gardens. (“Mother, darling! I think our pussies are talking to us,” referring to six dancers in Cats costumes mumbling behind them on stage.)
This year’s celebrity judges included Cynthia Nixon, Jill Clayburgh, Marian Seldes, and choreographer Christopher Gattelli. Keith McNutt, current Director of The AIDS Initiative of The Actor’s Fund, who is leaving his job on December 8 to become The Director of The Actors Funds’ Western Office in Los Angeles. Major donors from Atlanta – Linda Graham, Wisconsin’s Judy Dove andNew York City’s own Marion Duckworth-Smith were joined by Ned Walker, the Senior Vice-President of Worldwide Corporate Communication at Continental Airlines, “the airline of Broadway” and one of BC/EFA’s most ardent annual corporate sponsors.
OVER $3 MILLION!!!
But the event’s biggest surprise occurred once the Gypsy of the Year curtain came down when, at the post-event party at Sardi’s, BC/EFA president Paul Libin generously sponsored by Playbill presented Tom Viola, BC/EFA executive director, with a $10,000 check from Jujamcyn Theaters as well as his own personal check for $5,000 which brought the grand total to$3,007,827.
Unaware of Libin’s donation the night before, the following day, Joe McGinnis, BC/EFA major donor and one of the producers of Spring Awakening, who had also been in the show’s audience, sent in a check for $7,200 – thinking he was jumping the event over the $3 million mark – but in fact bringing the day’s grant total to: $3,015,027!!!
We may be onto something here.
The Gypsy of the Year Competition was sponsored by: Continental Airlines, the official airline of BC/EFA, MAC Viva Glamand The New York Times.
(Photo Credits: Gary J. Cooper)