Broadway Bares: Hit the Strip Brings Vegas Magic to NYC

The bright lights of Vegas couldn’t compete with the starpower of more than 200 of NYC’s most dazzling dancers as they erupted into electrifying modern-day burlesque production numbers at Broadway Bares: Hit the Strip on Sunday, June 23, 2024, at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.

This year’s Broadway Bares invited two sold-out performances into a Las Vegas-inspired world of luxury, liberation and love, which raised a record-shattering $2,259,134 and bested the previous record of $2 million set in 2019. Included in that total is Stripathon, the online fundraiser led by the show’s cast and crew, which raised a record $1,155,133.

Broadway Bares is produced by and benefits Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

The audience was led through this larger-than-life trip down the strip by best friends Taylor Iman Jones; Jelani Remy; Constantine Rousouli and Johnny Sibilly, who were set to slay at a bachelor party for Jay Armstrong Johnson. Along the way, they met up with a lineup of frisky and fabulous Vegas characters, including Laverne Cox, Nathan Lee Graham and Rachelle Rak.

Remy opened the show as he invited friends and chosen families of all identities to join in the Vegas bachelor bonanza, flanked by dozens of feathered showgirls and showqueers, mesmerizing aerialists and bedazzled dancers from NYC’s all-male dance revue Brolesque. The opening number was choreographed by Hit the Strip director Kellen Stancil. He was assisted by this year’s associate director, Paula DeLuise, and assistant director Andres Acosta. The number was written by Lynne Shankel and two-time Tony nominee Amanda Green.

The quixotic quintet then explored the most seductive spots the strip had to offer.

Benjamin Rivera ensured all 3,000 people inside Hammerstein at each performance “got lucky” as he sexily shuffled up and raucously rocked the roulette table in “Jackpot.” Rolling the dice was extra nice as an all-male identifying ensemble left their cards (and clothes) on the table in a heart-pumping, high-rolling number choreographed by John Alix.

There was a little less conversation and a whole lot of action when Michael Graceffa shared a sexed-up and sizzling spin on “The King.” With just a wink, the exuberant ensemble got “all shook up” and stripped down, while Graceffa was left wearing only his blue suede shoes. The perky piece was choreographed by Billy Griffin.

A trip to the “XXXcaliber” got mythically steamy as dueling knights and spellbinding seductresses revealed their reigning royal, 2024 Tony Award nominee Amber Iman. The performers bowed down and bossed up in a number choreographed by Maleek Washington.

Amber Ardolino went head-to-head with burlesque star Jake DuPree in a sensationally spirited twist on the film Showgirls, choreographed by Rachelle Rak. Joined by a gaggle of golden and glittering dancers, a cheer-inducing series of death drops, splits and flips landed both of them the role.

A detoxifying trip to an oxygen bar found Ehizoje Azeke “Feeling Thorny” as he descended into a trippy, tantalizing world of provocative plants come to life. The fiery flowers, complete with sky-high aerialists from the Living Art of Armando, stripped Azeke down to his fig leaves in a number choreographed by Karla Puno Garcia with aerial choreography by Brandon Grimm.

The “TOPicana” was hotter than the tropics as Yani Marin led a captivating company in a luscious, Latin-infused number choreographed by Leo Moctezuma. The sensuous squad had the audience grooving as they salsaed down the runway in a rainbow of billowing skirts and skin-tight pants, which eventually found their way off their bodies and on the floor.

Two brides heading to the chapel took a turn for the titillating in “Ménage à Trois,” an all-women-identifying number choreographed by Amber Jackson. Newlyweds Cajai Kennedy and Kristina Doucette shared their marital bed with their alluring officiant Michael Samarie George as dancers beguilingly beckoned and strutted across the stage.

The extravagance and lavishness of “Liberace” took center stage as Elliot Mattox, paying homage to the original piano man, stripped Ben Schultz down to his sparkling skivvies. A bountiful bevy of dashing dancers transformed from bedazzled piano keys into seductive showpeople in the light-hearted piece choreographed by Michael Lee Scott.

The cigar bar went from smoking to scorching when Broadway Bares Executive Producer Nick Kenkel, a former Bares director and choreographer, led “Smoke Show,” choreographed by Phil Colgan. Billows of sensual smoke were exchanged between Kenkel and his seductive ensemble as they set the stage ablaze with steamy moves.

Uppercuts and uber-hot abs were on display in the boxing ring as Wayne “Juice” Mackins and Andrew Slane devilishly duked it out in “Knock Out.” A series of jabs, hooks and bodacious body rolls revealed a stripped-down Mackins to be the winner, all while being cheered on by risque ring guys and ferocious fans. The hip hop-infused piece was choreographed by Jonathan Lee.

Shimmering and sparkling like a glass of Dom Pérignon, out-of-this-world aerialists mounted a chandelier to bring high-flying flair to the “Champagne Bar.” Among the aerialists was Aneliese Biwer, whose spinning by only her ponytail left the audience spellbound. On solid ground, Aydin Eyikan and Jimin Moon shared a sensual duet as passionate bar patrons, joined by an ensemble of sophisticated imbibers. The fantastical floor choreography was created by Stancil, with aerial choreography by John Bitley.

In a final spectacular surprise for bachelor boy, Remy welcomed a performance by The Boy Band Project’s Jesse Corbin, John Edwards, Jesse JP Johnson, Chris Messina and Travis Nesbitt, who shared a spin on the beloved “Backstreet’s Back” with adapted, Las Vegas-infused lyrics by Kyle Ewalt. The besties and boy banders were joyously joined by the entire Hit the Strip cast, set to choreography by Mike Baerga.

The show’s famous “rotation” was ushered in with a video message from Jerry Mitchell, Broadway Bares’ Tony Award-winning creator and executive producer. Though he’s currently in Great Britain working on two musicals in production – The Devil Wears Prada and Becoming Nancy, Mitchell expressed his gratitude for the cast and creative team, as well as the audience’s unending generosity.

“I’m sending you my very best, full-out love and energy for a successful night at Broadway Bares: Hit the Strip,” Mitchell said. “I could not be more proud of you all.”

As part of rotation, the entire cast danced to encourage tips from the audience after each show. This year’s rotation raised an additional $27,003.

Tony and Olivier Award winner Alan Cumming, who serves on the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Board of Trustees, made a special appearance at the show’s conclusion. “This is an example of our community’s joy,” Cumming said. “Us coming together is all the more important right now because of what’s happening in November. I want each and every one of you to make a commitment with me tonight – that you will get your asses to the polls or vote by mail. You must be counted. Your voice must be heard. However you do it, vote!”

Cumming also accepted presenting sponsor M•A•C Viva Glam’s check of $200,000 from Aida Moudachirou-Rebois, global general manager of M•A•C Cosmetics. Moudachirou-Rebois was accompanied by Sandy Joseph and César Silva, who represented the production’s more than 85 brilliant makeup artists. This year marks the 30th anniversary of M•A•C Viva Glam and its mission of supporting gender, sexual, racial and environmental equality. Over the years, M•A•C has donated $5 million to Broadway Cares.

In Stripathon fundraising, dancer Mark MacKillop raised an all-time record of $212,625. His phenomenal achievement was followed by top fundraiser Jennifer Geller, whose total hit a spectacular $53,103. They were followed by runners-up Steve Bratton at $29,615, Aydin Eyikan at $25,645, Katie Thrasher at $22,487 and Broadway Bares host committee member Steve Symonds at $19,342. An inspiring 357 people joined in the online fundraising efforts this year.

The Hit the Strip cast of 223 dancers represented 19 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows from this season including & Juliet; A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical; Aladdin; Back to the Future: The Musical; Chicago; The Great Gatsby; Hamilton; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Hell’s Kitchen, Here Lies Love; How to Dance in Ohio; Lempicka; MJ; The Outsiders; Sweeney Todd; Titanique; Water for Elephants; The Wiz and Wicked.

The book for this year’s show was written by Hunter Bell, Steven Cutts and Troy Britton Johnson.

Production Stage Manager Johnny Milani with Sarah Helgesen, T.J. Kearney and Kassi Wilson led a team of 38 stage managers with more than 600 volunteers behind the scenes to create the show.

Broadway Bares 2024 poster

Joel Shier was the production’s lighting designer, with sound design by Nick Borisjuk and scenic design by CJ Howard. Jeffrey Wallach was costume coordinator; Ian Joseph coordinated hair and wig design; and Caite Hevner managed video design.

Stancil, a Broadway Bares veteran who recently concluded an 11-year run as dance captain at Broadway’s The Lion King, took the reins as director. He was joined by associate director DeLuise and assistant director Acosta.

The rich history of Broadway Bares began when Mitchell, then a Broadway dancer, gathered seven of his friends to raise awareness and stop the stigma of HIV diagnoses by stripping and strutting on the bar at New York City’s Splash. They raised $8,000 that first night to help those living with HIV/AIDS. Since then, Broadway Bares has raised $28.7 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Photos by Marc J. Franklin, Michael Hull, Thomas Mundell and Jonathan Tichler
Video by Bardo Arts Productions, Víctor Rodríguez and Josh Drake; Video edited by Josh Drake

Event program

Broadway Bares 2024 sponsors

Additional corporate sponsors included CAA, FlySpace Physical Therapy, Gay Beer, New York Marriott Marquis, PUMP! and Spirit of Gallo.