Keith Roberts, star of MOVIN’ OUT in the opening number.
BC/EFA’s 17th Annual Gypsy of the Year Competition raised $2,972,721, over $200,000 more than 2004’s total of $2,754,632 thanks to the efforts of 59 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and National Tour companies.
The high-energy cast of Spamalot led the fundraising during this six-week period, contributing $367,083. Wicked was second with $221,298, followed by The Lion King ($137,118), Rent ($130,791) and Mamma Mia! ($129,034). The Pulitzer-Prize winning Doubt was the top fundraising play with $105,715; The Great American Trailer Park Musical took the Off-Broadway award by raising $34,661, followed closely by our good friends at Lincoln’s Center production of Third with $34,392.
Special recognition should go to the ever-growing number of touring companies that collect on BC/EFA’s behalf (some year-round). This year, touring shows brought in more than $800,000 of the Gypsy total, with Wicked-Chicago Shiz Companyraising $214,000, followed by the Mamma Mia! tour with $160,120 and The Lion King – Cheetah Company with $111,907!!
An Artistic Smash as Well
This year’s event was breezy, organized and fast-moving, thanks in large part to hosts Lee Wilkoff and Brad Garrett, currently starring in the smash hit revival of Neil Simon’s classic The Odd Couple. Rosie O’Donnell (Fiddler on the Roof) appeared to introduce the event’s 8 presentation judges. Patti LuPone (Sweeney Todd), Harvey Fierstein (Fiddler on the Roof) and Tim Curry (Spamalot) joined the hosts onstage for the awards presentation.
Seventeen shows of the 59 raising funds appeared on stage in special presentations. Top artistic honors went to Ray Mercer and Gabriel Croom from The Lion King, who performed a moving piece to music by Moby, with runner-up honors for the letter-perfect kids from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, who laughed at their show closing with a skit based on “So Long, Farewell” From The Sound of Music.” Other highlights included 12-year-old Brynn Williams (In My Life) belting out Stephen Sondheim’s timeless classic “I’m Still Here,” Huey Lewis and the Chicago cast performing a slightly altered version of Huey’s 1980s anthem ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll,” and three renditions of the current revival of Sweeney Todd – including the Sweeney Todd cast’s own truncated and explosive version of “You Could Drive a Person Crazy” and two unique takes on Sweeney byThe 25 th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Off Broadway’s long running hit, Naked Boys Singing.
The afternoon’s opening number was a singular sensation, created by gypsies Lance Horne, Lorin Latarro, Jason Rhodes, Lee A. Wilkins and Mary-Mitchell Campbell and featuring star turns by Shoshana Bean, Luther Creek, Billy Porter, Keith Roberts and featuring 28 dancers and singers and four of the fabled “gypsy robes.”
The Gypsy of the Year Competition is sponsored by The New York Times and Continental Airlines, the official airline of BC/EFA.
Brynn Williams of IN MY LIFE
Photo Credits: Studio 66 / Kenneth Blauvelt