Thanks to the tireless efforts of 59 Broadway, Off-Broadway and National Tour companies, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ 24th Annual EASTER BONNET Competition raised an impressive $3,265,700. Since 1987, 24 editions of this highly-anticipated annual event have brought in more than $42 million.
From centenarians to teen idols and precocious kids, the 2010 edition of EASTER BONNET was an all-ages tribute for the ages. This year’s competition – held April 26th and 27th at the Minskoff Theatre, home of The Lion King – featured beloved Broadway veterans and energized newcomers who had put their hearts into six weeks of fundraising and came together to make The 24th EASTER BONNET Competition a smashing success.
Gaggle of Gagas!
The afternoon started with a sizzling, high-energy 50-person opening number, “Gaga For Broadway!,” with choreography by Shea Sullivan, associate choreographer Pamela Remler, direction by Nick Demos, music direction by Ben Cohn and lyrics by Bill Russell. As the stage flooded with some of the best dancers on Broadway, the number culminated with the presentation of the opening bonnet featuring “the eternal Gaga,” Doris Eaton Travis, the 106-year old Ziegfeld Follies girl and longtime BC/EFA friend, making her 12th and final EASTER BONNET appearance. (Doris passed away on May 11, 2011, just two weeks after her appearance at The 24th Annual EASTER BONNET Competition. Learn more about the extraordinary life of Doris Eaton Travis.)
Gaga-mania was followed by a tribute to the much smaller, but equally fabulous, original EASTER BONNET Competition which was hosted in 1986 by the original company of La Cage aux Folles in the basement of the Palace Theatre. 24 years later, “the notorious and dangerous Cagelles” from the new revival of La Cage offered a high-style Broadway drag fashion show with sassy commentary as scantily-clad performers in designs that paid homage to such heroines as Eliza Doolittle and Scarlett O’Hara – “the only woman who can wear a Confederate flag in New York and not get shot!” – sashaying across the Minskoff stage.
Throughout the afternoon, more than a dozen performers served as hosts including Dylan Baker (God of Carnage), Corbin Bleu (In The Heights), Colman Domingo (The Scottsboro Boys), Chad Kimball (Memphis), Ron Kunene (The Lion King),Leigh Ann Larkin (A Little Night Music),Tshidi Manye (The Lion King), Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages), Jan Maxwell (Lend Me A Tenor), Laura Osnes (South Pacific), Emily Padgett (Rock of Ages),Loretta Ables Sayre (South Pacific) and Michael Urie (The Temperamentals).
Superheroes, Bonnets and Bride Dolls!
Corbin Bleu, star of High School Musical, was featured in two presentations – joining his cast mates from In the Heights in “Heights Cool Musical” and in a special presentation by R.Evolución Latina called “Daring to Say Thank You.”
The National Tour Bonnet presentation, “Broadway Cares Love Affair,” featured choreography by Melissa Mahon and Sean McKnight to Crosby Stills Nash and Young’s “Love the One You’re With” and bonnet presentations from Grease, A Chorus Line and three companies of Wicked (Emerald City, Munchkinland and San Francisco).
The company of Wicked paid tribute to the Broadway Green Alliance with “Let’s Recycle” led by the environmentally friendly superhero, “Captain Green.”
Performing a parody of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” the acclaimed six-member cast of Next Fall presented a tongue-in-cheek tribute to their show’s most producer. A moment of silence was followed by a serene and beautifully sung version of “Peace in the Valley” sung by the cast of Million Dollar Quartet.
The cast of Billy Elliot paid tribute to victims of the April 5th Montcoal, West Virginia Mining Disaster with the stunning and moving “The Stars Look Down… in West Virginia.” An exploding bonnet – half bomb, half heart – was the sensational finale of Memphis’s “Love Terrorists,” a provocative dance choreographed to a poem by Daniel J. Watts and music by Derrick Baskin. From My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, Leslie Jordan’s presentation offered a side-splittingly funny tale of a gay three-year old dreaming of the ultimate Christmas gift, a life-sized bride doll from his father, an army colonel.
With “Charlie’s Angels,” three members of Divine Rhythm Productions, representing BC/EFA’s Dancers Responding to AIDS, brought the house down tapping to the music of Charlie Parker. In “All I Really Need to Know I Learned on Broadway,” the children of South Pacific offered sage advice to the Broadway community such as, “What happens in the hair room, stays in the hair room!” and “When in doubt, fill out an accident report.” Jim Brochu, star of the one-man show about Zero Mostel, Zero Hour, was joined by a dozen friends including Broadway veterans Victoria Mallory and Kurt Peterson.
The Phantom of the Opera offered made three appearances at EASTER BONNET Competition – with each time a different character being shot by the previously innocent Meg Giry. The company of Mamma Mia!offered “Spice Up Your Life!” a musical featuring the Spice Girls and the possibility that “Posh,” “Baby” or “Ginger” might be Sky’s mother. The cast of Fela! mourned the loss of cast members to other Broadway shows and at their auditions for replacements, had some surprising individuals show up including President Obama. Marquis Rodriguez, a former “Simba” in The Lion King, bemoaned outgrowing his role and plotted his next career move which included targeting the Billies in Billy Elliot.
Both performances ended with the EASTER BONNET anthem, “Help is on the Way” by David Friedman, given a moving interpretation by Memphis star Montego Glover.
Munchkinland Stands Tall
Catherine Zeta-Jones (A Little Night Music) joined The Addams Family’s Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane to present the awards for top fundraising companies and outstanding bonnet presentations. The top Broadway fundraisers were:
Top Broadway Fundraising
The Lion King
In the Heights
Billy Elliot the Musical
The Phantom of the Opera
Of the 59 shows that participated, there were an astounding 20 touring companies that joined in the six week audience appeals. BC/EFA is especially grateful for the generosity shown by Broadway fans around the country and in Canada in response to these appeals made by our friends in touring productions. The top earners were:
Top Tour Fundraising
Wicked – San Francisco
Jersey Boys – the First National Tour
Wicked – Emerald City Tour
For 2010, the Top Overall Grand Prize for Fundraising went to the extraordinary Munchkinland Tour ofWicked, which raised $251,332.
Introduced by Million Dollar Quartet stars Hunter Foster, Robert Britton Lyons and Elizabeth Stanley, this year’s select group of judges included: Dan Butler (The Irish Curse), Jennifer Cody (Shrek The Musical), James Claffey, Jr. (President / Local One – IATSE), Katie Finneran (Promises, Promises), Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins), Beth Leavel (Mamma Mia!), Janet McTeer (God of Carnage), Alfred Molina (Red), Brian Stokes Mitchell (President of The Actors Fund of America), and Chris March (“Project Runway”).
The awards for Best Bonnet Presentations went to:
The special award for Outstanding Bonnet Design was given to Fela! and the five designers who created its winning bonnet, a beautiful fabric construction which resembled an enormous Caribbean headdress: Afi McClendon, Chanon Judson, Jill Vallery, Rujeko Dumbutshena and Catherine Foster.
Directed by Kristin Newhouse with the invaluable support of production stage manager Valerie Lau-Kee Lai leading a team of Broadway’s top stage managers, The 24th Annual EASTER BONNET Competition would not be possible without the incredible support of thousands of volunteers on and off stage who made it a success through extraordinary commitment, creativity and tireless fundraising on behalf of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The 24th Annual EASTER BONNET Competition is sponsored by:
The New York Times and Continental Airlines, the official airline of BC/EFA.