The 20th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition Raises $3.1 Million


(Photo Credit: Gary J. Cooper)

BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition turned 20 with a bang on April 25, earning more than $3 million and thrilling two sold-out audiences with splashy headgear, a tribute to 1986 and a host of surprise guest stars.

Special guests Julia Roberts (Three Days of Rain), Harry Connick Jr. (The Pajama Game) and Ana Gasteyer (The Threepenny Opera) presented the fundraising and bonnet presentation awards at the glorious New Amsterdam Theatre following two days of performances April 24 and 25.


Thanks to the support of Hugh Jackman and a host of hit shows, Easter Bonnet2004 continues to hold the fundraising record with $3,435,000. However, more than 50 participating shows raised $3,187,496 during six weeks of post-show appeals, beating last year’s total of $2,849,067 by a substantial margin and making this year the 2 nd highest earning Bonnets ever!

The afternoon’s hosts and presenters included: Michael Benjamin Washington as “Mahogany”; Victoria Clark (The Light in the Piazza) and Michael Cerveris (Sweeney Todd); Jersey Boys’ Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and John Lloyd Young; The Lion King’s Tshidi Manye and Ron Kunene; Felicia P. Fields (The Color Purple)andKelli O’Hara (The Pajama Game); Rob Bartlett (The Odd Couple) and Michael McKean (Hairspray), as well as Tyler Maynard (Altar Boyz) andAvenue Q’s Barrett Foa, Jennifer Barnett and Christian Anderson with Rod and Trekkie Monster.

This year’s fundraising award winners were:

Winner Wicked $227,111
First Runner Up The Color Purple $185,398
Second Runner Up Phantom of the Opera $176,411
Third Runner Up Rent $149,735
Fourth Runner Up The Lion King $146,805

Special awards were also given to the top fundraising Broadway play, Off-Broadway company, and touring company.

This year, the top fundraising Broadway play was Barefoot In The Park with $76,694.45; the top fundraising Off-Broadway company was Altar Boyz with $19,870.16; and the top touring company was Wicked – Chicago Shiz Company with $206,043!

The results of this year’s bonnet presentation were:

Winner The Color Purple
First Runner Up (tie) The Lion King and Mamma Mia!
Second Runner Up Beauty and The Beast 

The Color Purple won for Best Bonnet Presentation for the dance number “Lillies in the Field.” The musical’s extraordinary bonnet featured purple and green streamers, which dancers unfurled and displayed like a festive maypole.

20 Golden Years  

In honor of its 20 th anniversary, Bonnets’ opening number, “Bonnet Gold”, was created by Lorin Latarro, Josh Rhodes and Seth Rudetsky saluting 1986 with a flashy fusion of Solid Gold-style singers/dancers interpreting Broadway show tunes from that year. Featured numbers included Me and My Girl’s “The Lambeth Walk”; Les Miserables’ “Castle on a Cloud,” and “Lovely Ladies”; “It’s Hot Up Here” from Sunday in the Park With George and “Jellicle Cats” from Cats, ending with a final verse of the 80’s anthem, “We Are the World”.

Other skits and bonnet presentations featured the casts of The 25 th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Menopause: The Musical, Beauty and the Beast, The Pajama Game, Ring of Fire, Wicked, Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Blue Man Group, The Color Purple, Sweeney Todd and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. (See the slideshow for photos and descriptions of each).  

A Favorite Return Engagement


BC/EFA Executive Director Tom Viola introduced Ziegfeld girl Doris Eaton Travis who, at 102 years young, made her ninth annual appearance, earning a standing ovation for her rendition of “Ballin’ the Jack” with Broadway’s Eric Sciotto – her favorite dance partner (photo credit: Gary J. Cooper).

Mrs. Travis – who first appeared at the 1998 Easter Bonnet Competition at the tender age of 94 – originally danced at the New Amsterdam in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1917, 1918 and 1919. At subsequent Bonnet Competitions since, she has kicked up her heels with a line of chorus boys in “Simply Irresistible”, bantered with Mahogany, taught Sutton Foster to dance “The Black Bottom,” lead a chorus line in the “Conga”, reprised “Mandy” – the song she introduced in 1918 – and celebrated her 100 birthday in 2004. Doris’ grand and gracious spirit will be a part of The New Amsterdam Theatre and BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competitions forever.

Before the show concluded, hosts Rob Bartlett and Michael McKean expressed what it is about the actual Easter Bonnet Competition and the six weeks of appeals that preceed it that makes us a “community:  

“Although it’s the actors that generally get all the glory, these efforts require the participation of everyone in the theatre.

So in addition to the actors and stage managers of Actors Equity Association we’d also like to recognize the members of all the theatrical unions who make these appeals possible, including American Federation of Musicians – Local 802 ; the company managers, house managers and press agents in ATPAM ; the stagehands — including carpenters, electricians and props people of IATSE – Local 1; the ushers, ticket takers and doormen of IATSE — Local 306, the makeup artists and hair stylists IATSE – Local 798, and the Theatrical Wardrobe Union – Local 764.  

Last but not least, we thank everyone at The League of American Theatres and Producers for welcoming the message of BC/EFA into their theatres as part of their productions.  

Without the cooperation of everyone in all of these unions, the appeals and all of Broadway Cares’ work would not be possible, so let’s give all these union members a big round of applause!”

And then we were done! In honor of becoming the longest running show in Broadway history, The Phantom of the Operaclosed the show with the BC/EFA Bonnet anthem David Friedman’s “Help Is on the Way,” performed by members of the show’s cast, crew, front-of-house staff and the orchestra.

The 20 th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition was produced by Michael Graziano and Tom Viola, directed by Paul J. Smith, and scripted by Raymond T. Shelton. Martin E. Vreeland provided lighting design.

Kristin Newhouse, our incomparable production stage manager, was assisted by some of Broadway’s finest stage managers including Michael T. Clarkston, Timothy Eaker, Vienna Hagen, Nathan Hurlin, Bart Kahn, Valerie Lau-Kee Lai, Karyn Meek, Debora F. Porazzi, Jennifer Rogers, Tim Semon, Jason Trubitt and Ron Vodicka.


See you in April 2007!