Since 1989, Gypsy Of The Year’s 20 Editions Have Raised
A Grand Total of $35 Million!!
The 20th Annual GYPSY OF THE YEAR COMPETITION announced a total of $3,061,000 had been raised by the 63 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway, and National Tour companies to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Since 1989, the 20 editions of Gypsy of the Year have raised a combined total of $35,730,000 to benefit BC/EFA.
Broadway personality and Sirius Satellite Radio host Seth Rudetsky served as this year’s host, providing his now eagerly anticipated ‘deconstructions’ of his obsessions with some of Broadway’s best – and perhaps a few more dubious – performers.
Rudetsky was joined by Tyne Daly and Jonathan Hadary, who enthusiastically returned for this 20th edition, two decades after serving as the hosts of the first Gypsy of the Year Competitionthat took place at the St. James Theatre on November 28, 1989.
Highlights of this year’s show included:
- The show’s opening number, “The Gypsy Robe” – featuring five of the legendary Gypsy Robes. The number was directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, created by musical director Ben Cohn and lyricist Nathan Tysen, and featured 24 of Broadway’s gypsies as they parodied “La Vie Boheme” from Rent and “Brand New Day” from The Wiz. The number featured Broadway favorite Harvey Evans as “the stage manager,” Tracee Beazer as “the understudy” and Jeff Johnson-Doherty as “wardrobe manager,” plus five of the legendary Gypsy robes worn by past Gypsy robe recipients Evans, Beazer, Pascale Faye, Rommy Sandhu and Judine Somerville.
- Two of Broadway’s current musical revivals used their respective presentations to imagine what would happen to Broadway should the family of Sarah Palin come to roost. The cast of Gypsy showcased the Alaska governor in the role of Rose, while Grease featured Palin’s daughter, Bristol, as the hopelessly pregnant teen Rizzo singing ”There Are Worse Things I Could Do.”
- The cast of Broadway’s Mamma Mia! developed their own plan to dominate Broadway with a presentation called “Mamma Mia Presents: Mamma Mia Presents” where several major Broadway shows fashioned the classic Abba song catalog to hilarious effect.
- Ensemble members from The Lion King continued their Gypsy of the Year tradition by presenting a stunning dance piece entitled “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” that featured six dancers performing breathtaking feats all around an over-sized dinner table.
- The cast of Equus featured star Daniel Radcliffe performing an original song, written by Mr. Radcliffe, entitled “The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Neigh” that included the show’s “horses” dancing and cavorting with their young star.
- The entire young cast of Broadway’s 13 filled the stage for “Under Eighteen,” a take-off of The Little Mermaid’s “Under the Sea.” Written, choreographed, costumed and accompanied exclusively by the teenage actors and musicians who appeared in the show, this exhilarating song and dance was performed by its joyous cast to a wildly receptive audience.
- For their last appearance at a BC/EFA event, Tony Award® winning composer and lyricist Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman welcomed Hairspray cast members past and present, including Harvey Fierstein, Matthew Morrison and Marissa Jaret Winokur, in the anthem “I Know Where I’ve Been.” This showstopper was led by the four actresses who played Motormouth Maybelle – Charlotte Crossley, original cast member Mary Bond Davis, Jennifer Lewis and Darlene Love.
- Monty Python’s Spamalot also welcomed cast members past and present for their farewell appearance. Their number offered a medley of “Get Happy,” featuring the show’s ensemble leading a thrilling tap break, and culminating with many former cast members – including Jonathan Hadary, Martin Moran, David Hyde Pierce, and Christopher Sieber – joining other cast members for the show’s iconic “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.”
- ….as well as delightful presentations from The Little Mermaid; The Marvelous Wondrettes; Naked Boys Singing; August: Osage County; Rock of Ages; South Pacific; and In The Heights.
- It wouldn’t be a Gypsy of the Year without a special appearance, this year entitled “The Broadway Bailout,” by crowd favorites “Officer Lockstock” and “Little Sally” – as courageously portrayed by Don Richard (in from the Chicago company ofWicked) and Jen Cody (Shrek). As always, our dynamic duo elicited guffaws, gasps and howls of laughter as the politely unspoken spoke out (or in one or two cases simply implied in silence) all in good-natured fun… “Less time keeping lesbians from marrying and more time keeping them from tap dancing.” Say what?
- The afternoon’s performance ended with the cast of the recent Broadway musical [title of show] – Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, Heidi Blickenstaff, Jeff Bowen and Larry Pressgrove – presenting an original number entitled “My First Time.” This moving piece featured Bell and Blackwell recounting the experience of seeing their first Broadway shows – Annie(Hunter) and Angels in America (Susan) and the manner in which each show struck a personal chord. Bell sang sections from Annie, while Blackwell delivered portions of Angels’ closing monologue.
The Gypsy of the Year Competition is the culmination of a period of intensive fundraising where New York’s most talented “gypsies,” chorus members from Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, join in a competition/variety show as six weeks of intensive fundraising by the community come to a close.
Blake Daniel (Spring Awakening), Carey Mulligan (The Seagull) and Adam Fiorentino (Mary Poppins) announced the 45 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring shows that very generously participated in the fundraising but were not a part of the on-stage presentations.
Harvey Fierstein (Hairspray), John Lithgow (All My Sons) and Christine Baranski (Boeing, Boeing) presented the afternoon’s fundraising and presentation awards. This year the JERSEY BOYS – Chicago Tour raised the most money of any show with $220,000 – winning fundraising awards for both top National Touring Show and the Top Overall Fundraising Award.
This year’s competition ended with the following top-dollar raising shows:
Third Runner-up HAIRSPRAY $125,291
Second Runner-up SOUTH PACIFIC $140,552
First Runner-up WICKED $172,301
Top Fundraiser EQUUS $203,746
The $203,746 raised by the cast of EQUUS, enthusiastically lead by Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths, is the most raised by a Broadway play in the history of BC/EFA fundraising.
National Touring Shows:
Second Runner-up WICKED – Los Angeles $161,868
First Runner-up WICKED – Chicago, “Shiz” Company $178,500
Top Fundraiser JERSEY BOYS – Chicago $220,000
17 National Touring Shows raised $1,210,868 of the event’s grand total.
A special award was given for the top fundraising Off-Broadway company. This year recipient is THE MARVELLOUS WONDRETTES with $17,824.
The results of this year’s best presentation went to:
First Runner Up: EQUUS
Winner: THE LION KING
This year’s celebrity judges included: Elizabeth Ashley (Dividing the Estate), Paige Davis (Boeing, Boeing) and her husband Patrick Page (A Man for All Seasons); Howard McGillin (The Phantom of the Opera), Kate Mulgrew (Equus), Peter Sarsgaard (The Seagull), and BC/EFA major donors Dr. Harold Brody, Marion Duckworth Smith and Kendall D. Ward. They were introduced by Rudetsky and Greg Jbara (Billy Elliot) – with an able assist from Jbara’s young sons, Zack and Aidan.
With expert direction by Paul Smith and associate director Schele Williams Kleinberger, this year’s two performances of the20th Annual Gypsy of the Year Competition played before two sold-out houses of over 3,500 members of the Broadway community, fans, BC/EFA donors and enthusiasts. With a total cast of more than 200 and scores of volunteers involved in tasks large and small, an event of this size would not be possible without the extraordinary support of our team of stage managers, lead by Jason Trubitt of the stage management team at Mary Poppins.
Hats off to our Gypsy of the Year stage managers: Terry Alexander, Alix Clapps, Michael T. Clarkston, Casey Cook, Christopher Economakos, Bess Marie Glorioso, Alexis Prussack, Jennifer Rogers, Kim Russell and Nancy Wernick and to the terrific crew at The New Amsterdam Theatre.
Finally – and certainly most importantly – BC/EFA is deeply grateful for the generous fundraising efforts and support of all 63 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring shows whose extraordinary work made this year’s grand total possible.
Our thanks to all – those on-stage, backstage, in the orchestra pit, in wardrobe rooms and at sound consoles, front-of-house and in management offices – whose good will, talent and time make this kind of fundraising and show possible.
All photos: Peter James Zielinski