BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition Raises Record-Breaking $6,379,572
By: Ellis Nassour
Broadway audiences and show auctions helped Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS break another fund-raising record with their donations: $6,379,572. Results were announced and awards were presented at Tuesday’s Easter Bonnet Competition finale at Nederlander’s Minskoff Theatre, home to The Lion King. The total far surpassed last year’s record-setter of $5,528,568.
The top overall fundraising award went to Glenn Close and company of Sunset Boulevard, which raised a jaw-dropping $509,246.
Handing out awards to shows raising the most cash were Gavin Creel, a most excited Bette Midler – amazed at the staggering numbers, and David Hyde Pierce (Hello, Dolly [not represented since it opened April 20]).
With 57 Broadway and Off Broadway shows and those on tour participating, it was an entertainment and dance extravaganza with many skits pillaging the Trump administration’s planned cuts to 20 knock-out, handmade bonnets.
Introducing the panel of celebrity judges were Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole (War Paint). Also appearing were Ben Platt and Rachel Bay Jones (Dear Evan Hansen), Mark Ruffalo (The Price). Andy Karl and Barrett Doss (Groundhog Day), Denée Benton, Josh Groban, and Lucas Steele (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812), Rob Falconer, Dave Hearn, and Charlie Russell (The Play that Goes Wrong), Bongi Duma, Tshidi Manye, and L. Steven Taylor (Lion King), Gideon Glick and Sas Goldberg (Significant Other), Sheryl Lee Ralph (original cast of Dreamgirls; currently: Wicked’s Madame Morrible), and John Mulaney and Nick Kroll (Oh, Hello).
Monday and Tuesday’s shows opened with Marissa Rosen, Jason Kravits, and Hannah Shankman headlining the high-energy “Resist,” parodying Annie, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Wicked, respectively, and encouraging the performing community to “give audiences hope,” “make them laugh,” and “be a light” in today’s political climate. The number was written and directed byPeter Gregus with dance ensemble choreography by Geoffrey Goldberg.
The Lion King won for Best Presentation, which celebrated world unity; and Best Bonnet Design, a tribute to Mother Earth, by Mikey Clifton, Matthew Keating,
Brenda O’Brien, and Ilya Vett. The company of Cats was runner-up with “The Battle of 52nd Street: Cats vs. Hogs,” a parody of the “Jet’s Song” from West Side Story.
As always, Avenue Q came through with jabs of topical humor, this year to the show’s hit song “For Now” for sharp comments about President Trump, debuting his puppet, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Sunset Boulevard performed a satirical skit in response to the proposed defunding of PBS. Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, delivered a trippy medley of parodied songs from Assassins, Big River, Cabaret, Chess, Fiddler on the Roof, Hair, Of Thee I Sing, Ragtime, and 1776.
Tribute was paid to the volunteers of Broadway Cares’ Bucket Brigade and national tour productions raising money across the country.
Easter Bonnet Competition director was Bess Marie Glorioso; Ben Cohn was music supervisor; production stagte manager was Arabella Powell , leading a team of 10 stage managers.
Musicals: Top Overall Fundraiser: Sunset Boulevard, $509,246; Top Fundraiser, Sunday in the Park with George, $382,780; 1st Runner-Up, Dear Evan Hansen, only slightly behind with $381,732; 2nd Runner-Up, Hamilton, $348,585; and 3rd Runner-Up Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, $288,166; Off Broadway Top Fundraiser, Avenue Q, $49,485. The Top Play Fundraiser was The Price, $122,114.
For complete results, visit broadwaycares.org.
Since the Easter Bonnet Competition began in 1987, $75.2-million has been raised for BC/EFA programs, medical research, the Actors Fund, HIV/AIDS Initiative, Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, and the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts. Broadway Cares also awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states.
The Easter Bonnet Competition is sponsored by The New York Times and United Airlines.