It’s Time to Book Tickets for BC/EFA’s Holiday Extravaganza Gypsy of the Year
By: Ellis Nassour
It’s the time of year that dedicated theatergoers eagerly look forward to: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ annual Gypsy of the Year Competition. The 26th edition is December 8 at 4:30 P.M. and December 9 at 2 at the historic New Amsterdam Theatre, home of Disney’s Aladdin.
The event rings down the curtain on the Fall season’s six weeks of intensive fundraising by the dozens of dedicated volunteers of BC/AFA’s Red Bucket Brigade and all sorts of special activities by Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring companies to garner support for the myriad programs allocated locally and nationwide by BC/EFA and funded by the incredible generosity of theatergoers.
Gypsy of the Year [#gypsyoftheyear] presents original, wildly-costumed all-singing, all-dancing Broadway-caliber skits along with notable guests and loads of surprises. Afternoon host of SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s On Broadway and music director/composer Seth Rudetsky return for the seventh year as host.
"This event, like our annual Eastern Bonnet and Broadway Bares shows, honors the tireless work of the ensemble singers and dancers in theater, known as ‘gypsies,’" says BC/EFA executive director Tom Viola. "For two afternoons, more than 200 of Broadway’s and touring shows’ gypsies and their special guests perform in celebration of the donations raised. The annual largesse of theatergoers is truly awesome."
At the second performance, celebrity guests present honors to the top fundraisers and also the best presentation." The winners are selected by a large celebrity panel of judges and two of the high bidders from the annual BC/EFA flea market.
Shows here and on the road offer autographed Playbills and posters in exchange for a generous donation. Some shows have special offers, such as Phantom of the Opera‘s ceramic monkey music box, similar to the one seen in the musical, which goes for a $500 donation. During the curtain call, the Phantom autographs it. At It’s Only a Play, cast members take turns speaking of the BC/EFA programs, offer autographed posters and Playbills. Then, there’s an auction for a selfie with the entire cast onstage in costume. Bids have been averaging between $1,000 and $1,500.
As you might expect, no one tops the showmanship and salesmanship of long-time BC/EFA champion Hugh Jackman, starring in The River, who becomes a professional auctioneer as he finds donors of $1,000 to $10,000 for the honor of owning tee-shirts he wears in the play. The donation comes with a backstage visit and photo opt. From the way hands have been flying up for amounts upward of $5,000, obviously money’s not as tight as we’ve been led to believe.
Of course, all funds raised go to a great cause. The 25 editions of Gypsy of the Year have raised more than $57.2 million. Last year, 51 participating shows raised $4,343,234. Since 1988, BC/EFA, one of the nation’s leading industry-based nonprofit fundraising organizations, has raised more than $250-million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the U.S.
BC/EFA also awards grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in 50 states and is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic.
Watch and share a special video about BC/EFA’s Fall donation drive featuring Tony-winner Alan Cumming at www.broadwaycares.org/gypsy2014video.
Gypsy of the Year is sponsored by The New York Times and Unit
Tickets to Gypsy of the Year can be purchased online at www.broadwaycares.org or by calling (212) 840-0770 X. 268. VIP and Priority tickets are $250 and $375. Other tickets are available at $30, $50, and $130.
You can donate online and also bid for specialty items and do holiday shopping for clothing, jewelry, DVDs, posters, much more; and unique souvenirs, such as the Broadway Legends Collection of exclusive ornaments [including Gwen Verdon, Julie Andrews, and Liza Minnelli], at www.broadwaycares.org, where you can find more information on programs and grants. Follow BC/EFA on Facebook. Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.