Historic “Strip-opoly” Breaks the Bank

The iconic monocled millionaire “Rich Uncle Pennybags” would be in awe and feeling a bit avaricious —BROADWAY BARES XX: “Strip-opoly” was a landmark success, breaking all previous fundraising records, filling legendary Roseland Ballroom with nearly 6,000 ticket buyers and raising an astounding $1,015,985!

BROADWAY BARES XX: “Strip-opoly” featured 216 of the sexiest dancers in town, performing in more than a dozen numbers by 15 choreographers.  Created and executive produced by Tony Award®-winner Jerry Mitchell, this year’s Monopoly-inspired “Strip-opoly” edition was conceived and directed by Josh Rhodes and associate director Lee Wilkins. The first BROADWAY BARES was presented in 1992, featuring Mitchell and seven dancers stripping on a bar at Splash and raising $8,000. Since then, nineteen editions have raised more than $7.5 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  In January, Mitchell announced the goal of $1 million for the 20th edition, throwing his support and personal fundraising muscle behind a series of “Solo Strips” events (held at the site of the original BROADWAY BARES) and even returning to the stage to shed some layers in a new routine in June 6’s “Classic Strips,” which brought back some of the most titillating numbers from past editions.

Opening Roll of the Dice
Broadway and Scotland’s own Euan Morton sang the opening number, “The Best Game in Town,” by David Nehls welcoming the audience to the 20th edition of BARES and introducing eight female dancers dressed as legendary Monopoly playing pieces, including the beloved “car,” “iron,” and “dog.”

This lavish Atlantic City-style floor show continued with five dancing boys swinging fuzzy dice and ended with a dozen energetic tap dancers supporting the celebrated stars of Promises, Promises and Sondheim on Sondheim, Kristin Chenoweth and Vanessa Williams. The opening ended to roaring applause as two of Broadway’s most beautiful and talented ladies rose above the stage on a red velvet swing, laughing and holding on tight.

Joshua Buscher showed off tremendous assets and an impressive stimulus package in “The Bank,” a boys-only affair with a dozen bankers spreading two suitcases of Monopoly money around the stage and into the audience to Lady GaGa’s “Money Honey.” “Connecticut Avenue” offered hot and delicious favorites Felicia Finley and Rachelle Rak in a lip-smacking, all-girl musical, choreographic and fashion mash-up. Pretty-in-pink Finley led a corps of Desperate Housewives versus Rak and her denim-clad good-old girls in Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman.”

After bringing back childhood memories with the theme from the Sesame Street spinoff, “Electric Company” slowed things down with Alysha Umphress of American Idiot giving a torchy rendition of that high school slow-dance Journey classic “Lights” as barely clad dancers vied for a trio of spotlights.

A Pocketful of Gold

As the “Community Chest,” God of Carnage star Lucy Liu and “Community Change Purse,” hunky Reichen Lehmkuhl, made guest appearances reminding the audience of the $1 million goal and the importance of opening wallets during the end-of-show “rotation.” The next two numbers definitely revved the crowd’s engine. “Pass Go” fused a NASCAR theme and asphalt-hot innuendo to Rihanna’s “Shut Up and Drive,” as six women (led by trophy girl Michelle Dowdy) and seven men – including Kenny Frisby who performed with two large checkered flags – never lost a turn through the final lap.

“Railroad” told the inspiring tale of “The Little Engine That Could” with Mamma Mia!’s Gerard Salvador moving from disappointed caboose to happy engineer in three jaunty turns around the track. All aboard! Clothing optional!!

“Orient Avenue” dazzled on – and high above – the Roseland stage. Armando Farfan, Jr. and six other aerialists from his Las Vegas-based troupe “The Living Art of Armando” spun in the air from “the Lantern” with breath-taking precision while dancers and tumblers below backed them in an Asian-inspired number featuring moves borrowed from martial arts and yoga. Perhaps the evening’s biggest round of applause was garnered by the sexy, hilarious “Boardwalk,” with John Carroll (“The Situation”) and Broadway Bares favorite, the irrepressible Jen Cody (“Snooki”) and more than a dozen iron-pumping, tanning-crazed dancers skewering MTV’s Jersey Shore.

With choreography by modern dance wizard Larry Keigwin to Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell,” “Hotels” featured BROADWAY BARES XX poster boy andMemphis hock-a-doodle Charlie Williams as an eager-to-please bellhop answering repeated calls from petulant hotel guests played by a trio of Cagelles from La Cage aux Folles demanding “more towels, please.” By the end of the number, Williams ended up in only a washcloth and was joined on-stage by a bevy of bare-chested, wash-cloth clutching hotties.

Jackie Hoffman, taking a break from scaring the dinner guests at The Addams Family, arrested Katie Finneran, still glowing from her recent Tony win, for stealing scenes nightly in Promises, Promises.This lead directly into “Go to Jail,” which lived up to its name as newbie Kyle DesChamps and a host of hot inmates lost their stripes and then turned the tables on the warden, played by BARES master Sebastian LaCause.

Meanwhile, soccer studs, classical music, a Bellagio-inspired fountain and a “holistic” cure for athletes’ foot converged in a sweaty locker room during “Waterworks.” “Luxury Tax” mixed “Sparkling Diamonds” from Moulin Rouge and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in a snazzy dance sequence.

The Game That Never Ends

As Hair and American Idol’s Diana DiGarmo sang Queen’s “Play the Game,” the “Strip-opoly” finale became a “Cavalcade of Stars” as the best and brightest from 20 editions of BROADWAY BARES returned to the stage, including Nick Adams, Heidi Blickenstaff, Kevin Burrows, Charles Busch, Kevin Chamberlin, Jennifer Cody, Alan Cumming, Lea DeLaria, Katie Finneran, Barrett Foa, Julie Halston, Cheyenne Jackson, Denis Jones, Sebastian LaCause, Julia Murney, Christopher Sieber, Rachelle Rak, Andrew Rannells, Bruce Vilanch, Lillias White and, of course, Jerry Mitchell.

Mitchell, sporting the original revealing red-white-and-blue “Indian of the Dawn” costume he wore in The Will Rogers Follies, was joined by Jennifer Balbier, Senior Vice-President of Global Production from The M•A•C AIDS Fund, who presented BC/EFA with a check for $150,000. This marks M•A•C’s 13th year sponsoring Broadway Bares. Since 1997, The M•A•C AIDS Fund has awarded BC/EFA $1,564,500.  In addition to this generous support, 93 M•A•C make-up artists volunteered their time and talents to help make the evening a success. “MAC has never let us down,” said Mitchell.

There were fifteen exceptionally talented choreographers working with 216 dancers and bringing “Strip-opoly” to life including director Josh Rhodes, associate director Lee Wilkins, Enrique Brown, Tammy Colucci, Josh Dean, Armando Farfan, Jr., Nick Kenkel, Larry Keigwin, Dontee Kiehn, Steve Konopelski, Stephanie Lang, Lorin Latarro, Melissa Rae Mahon, Sean McKnight and Barry Morgan.

Rotation Donations Not Monopoly Money!

It wouldn’t be BROADWAY BARES without “the Rotation,” the pulse-raising tradition that ends the show. The crowd erupted into cheers and began reaching into their pockets as the ever-charming Christopher Sieber and BC/EFA’s spitfire Jen Cody returned as rotation masters, urging the sold-out audience to stuff every variety of currency into g-strings, jock straps and brassieres. Overall, the sweaty sessions following the 9:30 and Midnight shows raised more than $28,000.

Strip-a-thon Collects Big Dividends

This year, a record $243,977 was raised through the efforts of the 255 people who participated in “Strip-a-thon,” an online fundraising competition which has quickly become a major part of the BROADWAY BARES fundraising.  Since 2006, “Strip-a-thon” has raised more than $650,000, through the tireless fundraising efforts of dancers and BC/EFA supporters alike. The top fundraising team featured cast members from the show’s “Boardwalk” number, raising an amazing $50,740, followed by “Hotels” ($37,885) and “Go to Jail” ($33,543).

With $42,395, Reed Kelly was the 2010 individual winner, setting a new “Strip-a-thon” record. Other fundraising standouts were:

Male Runners-up

First Runner-up: Ben Ryan $12,045
Second runner-up: Steve Bratton $10,348

Female Runners-up

First Runner-up: Nikka Lanzarone $4,135
Second Runner-up: Amy Brewer $3,329

Joining Presenting Sponsor MAC AIDS Fund, BROADWAY BARES XX corporate sponsors included The New York Times and Continental Airlines, as well as 1-800 Postcards, Absolut Vodka, Actors Connection, aussieBum, CAA, Club H Fitness (the official gym of Broadway Bares), Caesar’s in Atlantic City, New York Marriott Marquis, NextMagazine, Showtime and the Zarley Family Foundation.

Under the Broadway/A Cast of Thousands. Broadway Cares thanks more than 700 volunteers whose tireless efforts and generosity make such a complicated event like BROADWAY BARES possible.

Special thanks to Production Stage Manager Jennifer Rogers and the extraordinary stage management team of 38 men and women. Their tireless efforts were joined by an outstanding team of hundreds of choreographers, designers, technicians, volunteers on-stage, backstage, under the stage, upstairs in the VIP area, below the stage and front-of-house.

The End!

See you in June, 2011.

Special thanks to the photographers whose work is represented on this page:
Rex Bonomelli, Gary Cooper, Aaron Epstein, Peter Gibbons,
Matthew Murphy, Ryan Mueller,
Greg Weiner, and Peter James Zielinski