The 22nd Annual Easter Bonnet Competition

Harvey Fierstein, Faith Prince and David Hyde Pierce Present Awards

Thanks to the efforts of 53 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway, and National Touring companies, the 22nd Annual Easter Bonnet Competition, presented at The Minskoff Theatre on Monday, April 28 and Tuesday, April 29 raised a record-breaking $3,734,129 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

In 22 editions, this iconic annual event has raised more than $35 million, fully 25% of the over $140 million raised by BC/EFA since 1988.

Making it Work
This year’s opening number was titled “Project Broadway,” and featured “Project Runway” designers Malan Breton, Kayne Gillaspie, Angela Keslar, and Chris March. The number was written by Michael Lee Scott, directed and choreographed by Connor Gallagher with musical direction by Brad Haak.  Special appearances were made by Xanadu’s Jackie Hoffman playing Rivka Klum, Heidi’s half-Jewish sister, with Legally Blonde’s Andy Karl as a singing Tim Gunn.

Harvey Fierstein and Faith Prince (A Catered Affair) and David Hyde Pierce (Curtains) were on to present the awards for top fundraising companies and the judges’ outstanding bonnet awards.

The winner for “Most Fabulous Bonnet Presentation” went to Sunday in the Park with George’s Kelsey Fowler and Alison Horowitz, who share the role of the young girl, ‘Louise,’ in the current Roundabout production at Studio 54, performing Stephen Sondheim’s “We Do Not Belong Together” as ‘George’ and a very pregnant ‘Dot’ to a roaring standing ovation from the audience of Broadway veterans and VIPs.

First runner up was a tie between presentations from The Lion King – “True Colors” and Naked Boys Singing – “Off-Broadway Lament,” with In The Heights’ “Una Dia Mas” – a salsa-driven version of the classic “One Day More” from Les Miserables – second runner-up.

Other highlights included:

  • The cast of Passing Strange performing a parody of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” entitled “Passing Strangest.”  A special award for bonnet design was given to Passing Strange for their dazzling bonnet, designed by Susan Goulet and Rebecca Naomi Jones and inspired by the show’s lighting designer, Kevin Adams.
  • The cast of Spring Awakening offering a hilarious parody of the entire score of Grease, giving newer, cruder interpretations of songs like “Summer Lovin’” and “Greased Lightening.”
  • The Pulitzer Prize winning, acclaimed “dysfunctional family” from August: Osage County offering “The One-Two Punch:”three ribald and rude scenes from their acclaimed play displayed in short vignettes and reexamined as “perfect for K-6 grammar school presentations.”
  • Spamalot juxtaposing a stirring duet between stars Clay Aiken and Hannah Waddingham with a roller-skating nun, Spamalot’s Lee Wilkins, scuttling back and forth across the stage in accompaniment.
  • Lots of great dancing!!! Mary Poppins offering Kathleen Nanni and Brian Letendre in a charming dance duet to Bobby Darin’s “Up the Lazy River;” cast members from Wicked and Legally Blonde joining forces in an dynamic presentation, “Feedback,” choreographed by Nick Kunkel; Dancers Responding to AIDS represented by Nicole Loizides of dance troupe MOMIX, presenting “Aquaflora,” a dazzling solo piece.
  • Easter Bonnet favorites Officer Lockstock and Little Sally, better known as Don Richard and Jen Cody, making a return appearance perhaps best characterized as a humorous version of “shock and awe.”
  • Amidst all the cutting-up and fun, Hairspray’s Leslie McDonel reminding the audience why we are all united in the theatre as she recalls her father, Kelly McDonel, who took her to pageants as a child and encouraged all her show business ambitions before his death from AIDS in 1990. Leslie accompanied the cast as they performed her dad’s favorite song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

To see photographs from all the afternoon’s wonderful presentations, please visit again soon to check out  “the slideshow” of this event.

BC/EFA’s, and Ziegfeld’s, Favorite Show Girl Swings It

Introduced by Phylicia Rashad (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), BC/EFA’s favorite Ziegfeld girl, Doris Eaton Travis, made her 10th appearance at the Easter Bonnet Competition at 104 years young!

Ms. Travis, who appeared on stage at The New Amsterdam Theatre Ziegfeld Follies of 1918, 1919 and 1920 before embarking on career appearing in many musicals on Broadway through the “Roarin’ Twenties,” danced with partner Bill George to “Singin’ in the Rain.”

This now classic song, written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, and perhaps best known as the title song of the legendary movie musical of the same name, was, in fact, written for Ms. Travis and introduced by her in 1929’s Hollywood Music Box Review in Los Angeles.

“Things had slowed down for me on Broadway,” Doris told the audience. “I went to Los Angeles looking for a job and sure enough found a show my first week there and was rehearsing the next day.”

Sung for the Easter Bonnet Competition by Curtains star John Bolton and joined by 8 considerably younger Broadway gypsies, the number was choreographed by Curtains ensemble member Ward Billeisen. Seventy-nine years later, Doris stopped the show, bringing a full house of Broadway’s best to their feet as she danced to this classic song once again.

Going Out on Top

After 12 years on Broadway and raising over $3.7 million for BC/EFA, the cast of Rent appeared for the last time at theEaster Bonnet Competition, singing a medley of “Seasons of Love” and “Love Heals,” filling the stage with current and past cast members of the hit show.

It seemed wonderfully appropriate that in their final Bonnet appearance, Rent won the afternoon’s Top Fundraising Award with a grand $277,739.

The other Broadway fundraising champs were:

1st Runner-up                         Spamalot                                          $264,900
2nd Runner-up                        Wicked                                              $197,889
3rd Runner-up                         The Phantom of the Opera            $151,267
4th Runner-up                         The Lion King                                   $147,283

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 August: Osage County ($64,500); and, the top fundraising Off-Broadway company was Altar Boyz ($19,632).

Meanwhile, national touring companies continue to flex their fundraising muscles. This year, 16 national touring shows raised a grand total of $1,123,387, with top fundraising awards going to:

Top National Tour Fundraiser          Jersey Boys / Chicago                     $255,000
1st Runner-up                                     Jersey Boys / National Tour            $184,781
2nd Runner-up                                   Wicked / Los Angeles                      $160,023

Lane, Metcalf, Bart, Mullally and More
This year’s hosts included: Roger Bart and Megan Mullally (Young Frankenstein), Sierra Boggess and  Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid), Daniel Evans and Jenna Russell (Sunday in the Park with George), Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele (Spring Awakening), Ron Kunene and Tshidi Manye (The Lion King), Kate Shindle (Legally Blonde) and Tom Wopat (A Catered Affair).

This year’s judges included: Sebastian Arcelus (Jersey Boys), Stephanie J. Block (Wicked), Dylan Baker (November), Norm Lewis (The Little Mermaid), Chris March (Project Runway), S. Epatha Merkerson (Come Back, Little Sheba),Matthew Morrison (South Pacific), as well as general manager Albert Poland and casting director Bernie Telsey who were hilariously introduced by Nathan Lane and Laurie Metcalf (November).

Anika Noni Rose (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’s sensational Maggie) sang David Friedman’s “Help is on the Way,” the official anthem of The Easter Bonnet Competition, as the 2008 collection of Easter Bonnets from Broadway, Off-Broadway and the national touring shows were presented “en tableau” to the audience.

The Easter Bonnet Competition is the culmination of six intensive weeks of fundraising efforts by Broadway and Off-Broadway company members, as well as numerous productions currently on national tour. Curtain speeches, autographed poster and program sales, auctions, and cabaret performances bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars from audiences prior to the competition. The winner of the competition is determined to be the company which raises the largest amount of money for BC/EFA.  A second award is granted to the company with the best bonnet design and presentation. Awards are also presented to the Broadway Play, National Tour and Off-Broadway productions raising the most money for BC/EFA.

The 22nd Annual Easter Bonnet Competition is sponsored by The New York Times and Continental Airlines, the official airline of BC/EFA.