(Photo Credit: Jay Brady)
Vanessa Redgrave, David Hyde Pierce and other big names were on hand to announce very big numbers at the 21st Annual Easter Bonnet Competition, held Monday and Tuesday, April 23rd and 24th at the Minskoff Theatre.
A total of $3,345,997 was raised and, for the first time, a National Tour (Jersey Boys) was the top overall earner among the over 60 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway, and National Touring companies. Their tour’s historic efforts brought in $236,844.
This year’s result marks the second-highest total ever raised at Easter Bonnet, Broadway Cares’ oldest fundraising event.The record ($3,435,997) was set in 2004. Other fundraising winners were:
1st Runner-up Wicked $227,768
2nd Runner-up The Color Purple $168,620
3rd Runner-up Mary Poppins $164,373
4th Runner-up The Lion King $163,174
Special awards were also given to the top fundraising Broadway play—The Coast of Utopia ($18,412) and top Off-Broadway company—In The Heights ($26,658).
Eight Broadway shows broke the $100,000 mark. In addition to the awards winners, Rent came in with $146,726; The Phantom of the Opera / $142,630; Mamma Mia / $120,419 and Hairspray with $111,540.
The national tours of Wicked – The Shiz Company in Chicago with $158,000; Wicked at the Pantages in Los Angeles with $155,334; Wicked, the Emerald City Company with $128,464; Mamma Mia / $114,348 and The Lion King – Cheetah Company were also members of the “over $100,000 club”.
High Dollars and High Hats
Pierce (Curtains) and Redgrave(The Year of Magical Thinking) were on hand to present the awards for top fundraising companies and the outstanding bonnet presentation, which went to “Journey’s End: The Underdogs of War,” an unexpected musical/comic turn from the cast of the tragic Journey’s End. Based on Jersey Boys, the show’s stars lampooned their status as a critically acclaimed production struggling at the box office.
Other highlights included the company of Hairspray performing “Small House of Edna Turnblad,” a re-imagining of their own show ala the classic retelling of Uncle Tom’s Cabin from The King & I, and the cast of The Lion King presenting a number called “The End Starts Here,” which featured cast member Selloane A. Nkhela, a native South African, singing her original song “Thari E Ntsho” while a video showed moving scenes of men, women and children impacted by Africa’s HIV epidemic.
The cast of Wicked performed “Weeked,” which featured the show’s opening number retooled for The Grand Ole Opry. Tweaks to the production included a fiddle duel between Elphaba and “Glinda Jean” and a square dancing ensemble singing a twangy version of “One Short Day in The Emerald City.” The cast of Company parodied A Chorus Line with a voice imitating director John Doyle and his search for “quadruple threats”: actors who can sing, dance, act, and play their own instruments; the cast of In The Heights performing “Tradizzle” which took “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof and transformed the show tune into a hip hop anthem; and dancers representing Dancers Responding to AIDS performing “Tumultuous Tides,” a number choreographed by Darrell Grand Moultrie and first performed in December 2006 at the DRA event Dance From The Heart.
In addition to Journey’s End, in the category of artistic presentation, two shows–In The Heights and Hairspray— tied for first runner up; The Lion King was second runner up.
The special award for bonnet design was given to Phantom of the Opera and its designer Robert Strong Miller.
A Hilarious Beginning & Touching Finale
An inspired bit of silliness that briefly transformed the Minskoff Stage into a dancing, shirtless circuit party, the 2007 opening number was created by choreographer Christopher Gattelli and the team behind the Off-Broadway hit, title of show, Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen. It featured guest appearances by Barrett Foa (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee),Cheyenne Jackson (All Shook Up), Julia Murney (Wicked), and Carla Hargrove (Hairspray).
Raul Esparza (Company) concluded the entertainment portion of the afternoon singing David Friedman’s “Help is on the Way,” – the official anthem of The Easter Bonnet Competition – in an arrangement that included Theresa Finamore, Robert Fowler, Justin Greer, Eric Gunhus Shauna Hoskin and Aryn Lawrence from The Producers.
After 2,502 performances, The Producers played its last performance on Sunday, April 22nd. In its six smash hit years at Broadway’s St. James Theatre, the company of The Producers has presented some of the largest hats ever seen at past Easter Bonnet Competitions and raised over $1.7 million for BC/EFA!
An All-Star Roster
This year’s hosts included Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins), Laura Bell Bundy & Bruiser (Legally Blonde), Hugh Dancy (Journey’s End), Paige Davis (Chicago), Jared Gertner (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Gideon Glick(Spring Awakening), Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening), Edward Hibbert (Curtains), Amy Irving (The Coast of Utopia),Ron Kunene (The Lion King), Gavin Lee (Mary Poppins), Tshidi Manye (The Lion King), Lea Michele (Spring Awakening),Patrick Page (The Lion King), Christine Pedi (Talk Radio), Mo Rocca (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee),Seth Rudetsky (Seth’s Broadway Chatterbox), Michael Howie Smith & Rod (Avenue Q), and Karen Ziemba (Curtains).
Judges included: Stephanie J. Block (The Pirate Queen), John Connolly (Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association), Joan Didion (author of The Year of Magical Thinking), Tom Jones (Lyricist of 110 In The Shade and The Fantasticks), Baayork Lee (A Chorus Line), Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago) and Richard M. Sherman (composer of Mary Poppins).
The 2007Easter Bonnet Competition is sponsored by: The New York Times, Continental Airlines, the official airline of BC/EFA, and The MAC AIDS Fund. For information about previous Easter Bonnet Competitions, click on the links below.
(Credit For Photos 2-9: Tomas Vrzala)