Inaugural Hats Off to You Honors Dedicated Donors with Exclusive Performances

A luminous lineup of Broadway’s brightest stars joined forces to honor the kindness and commitment of Broadway Cares donors in the inaugural performance of Hats Off to You.

The shows, on April 29 and 30, 2024, coincided with the celebratory conclusion of Broadway Cares’ annual Spring Fundraising Competition. The fierce and fabulous #RedBuckets fundraising effort across 45 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring shows raised a spectacular $4,702,394 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Read more about the Spring Fundraising Competition.

Hats Off to You invited a bevy of beloved Broadway stars to sing songs from their dream roles while celebrating the unwavering compassion of Broadway Cares’ Visionary Circle, Angels Circle, NextGen Network and Colleen Dewhurst Legacy Society.

These holy grail performances featured Gavin Creel bringing his signature charisma to the iconic “Ya Got Trouble” from The Music Man; J. Harrison Ghee bringing the house down with a joyful spin on “Run and Tell That” from Hairspray; Andrea McArdle honoring her friend, the late and great Jerry Herman, with “If He Walked into My Life” from Mame; Lorna Courtney bringing powerhouse vocals to the Cat Scratch Club with “Out Tonight” from Rent; Jordan Fisher tackling a new role in the show that served as his Broadway debut with “Wait for It” from Hamilton; and Ben Platt bringing an overdue queer perspective to “Being Alive” from Company.

“Judging from the high school and college productions I’ve seen, [Bobby is] already gay,” Platt joked from the stage.

Fisher tied his desire to portray Aaron Burr to his personal growth, which parallels his evolution with the show. “I’ve been fascinated with Burr’s arc in general as a person and as a character,” he said. “The references he draws from, the swagger he’s built as a mask is, to me, something every artist and creative can connect to.”

Fisher said he met his now-wife while he was in Hamilton. “Our lives together as a family began here,” he said. “As an actor, getting to sink my teeth into the dynamics and complication that is Burr is something that fuels that fire in my gut creatively.”

For McArdle, her drive to play Mame is rooted in a personal connection to Herman, as well as reverence for the woman who originated the titular role – the luminous Angela Lansbury.

“Jerry Herman loved women – the heroes in his life were his aunts, his grandmother and mother, and I know that personally because he told me,” McArdle said. “The whole reason I’m in the business is because I saw Angela Lansbury in Gypsy at 8 years old. I knew that very day that this was what I was going to do, come hell or high water.”

The show also included an energetic opening number that found Aladdin’s Michael Maliakel searching for the elusive Easter Bonnet, as well as a punchy piece honoring the national tours that participated in the fundraising, both directed and choreographed by Hamilton’s Thayne Jasperson and arranged by the event’s musical supervisor and arranger, The Heart of Rock and Roll’s Will Van Dyke. The Broadway Easter Bonnet featured in the opening number was designed and created by Billy Hipkins.

Hats Off to You 2024 poster

Katie Rose Clarke, who is stopping the show nightly at Merrily We Roll Along, shared a breathtaking rendition of “Help is on the Way,” the empowering anthem that’s been the finale at every spring fundraising season event since 1995. The number was first written by David Friedman in 1990 in direct response to the AIDS crisis.

Historically, Broadway Cares’ spring fundraising effort culminated in the Easter Bonnet Competition. Beginning in 2024, the in-theater fundraising appeals taking place in the spring and fall will be celebrated singularly at Red Bucket Follies, the variety show spectacular set for December at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Tickets will be available to the public to join the theater community for this special celebration.

Hats Off to You was presented at the Hard Rock Cafe in the heart of Times Square. The show was directed by Kristin Newhouse with Jennifer Rogers serving as production stage manager.

Hats Off to You was sponsored by The New York Times.

Photos by Rebecca J. Michelson

Video by Bardo Arts

Event program