A Galaxy of Star Power Will Be on Hand for BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet Competition: April 24 and 25
By: Ellis Nassour
What better signifies Spring is officially in the air, and does it with extraordinary finesse — not to mention gorgeously-crafted Easter bonnets and original musical/dance skits? Yes, yes, yes! It’s Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ semi-annual fundraiser, the Easter Bonnet Competition (#BroadwayBonnets). The curtain raises on the end of the 31st annual six-week appeal to audiences on Monday, April 24 at 4:30 P.M., with an encore performance on Tuesday, April 25 at 2 P.M. at Nederlander’s Minskoff Theatre — home to Disney’s long-running The Lion King. A huge roster of stars will participate as special guests and judges for top prizes (awarded on the 25th). More than 150 actors and dancers, including actors representing Off Broadway and national tours will headline.
There are scheduled appearances by Denée Benton and Lucas Steele (Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812); Barrett Doss and Andy Karl (GroundhogDay); Bongi Duma and Tshidi Manye (The Lion King); Gideon Glick and Sas Goldberg (Significant Other) and Rachel Bay Jones and Ben Platt (Dear Evan Hansen). Returning to Broadway for another hilarious turn will be Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, who’ll reprise their curmudgeonly characters of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland from their recent smash run of Oh, Hello.
On Tuesday’afternoon Gavin Creel, Bette Midler, and David Hyde Pierce (Hello, Dolly!) will present the awards for Best Presentation and Best Bonnet Design to the top fundraisers from the preceding six weeks. Christine Ebersole and Patti LuPone (War Paint) will introduce the competition’s judges.
Shows set to perform original numbers created by cast members include A Bronx Tale, Avenue Q, Cats, Chicago, Dear Evan Hansen, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Sunset Boulevard, and Wicked. The parade of bonnets will also honor The Price, Sunday in the Park with George, and Waitress. The cast of The Play That Goes Wrong will make a special appearance. There’ll also be tributes to the indefatigable BC/EFA volunteers, known as the Red Bucket Brigade, who with cast members, crews, and volunteers collecti donations at theatre exits. The Lion King’s L. Steven Taylor will perform Easter Bonnet Competition’s anthem, “Help Is on the Way.”
In addition to autographed posters and Playbills, various shows have ingenious fund-raising opportunities such as photos with stars, and, certainly unique this season, an auction for casts worn by Ben Platt during the first act of Dear Evan Hanson, which, amazingly have received bids up to $20,000!
Comprising the judges panel will be music director Kristen Blodgette (SunsetBoulevard); Jon Jon Briones and Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon); Kate Burton and Kristine Nielsen (Present Laughter); Ed Dixon (Georgie: My Adventures with George Rose); and award-winning costume designer Catherine Zuber (Oslo, War Paint). Joining them are Lee Perlman and Peg Wendlandt, who won spots with winning bids on VIP packages at September’s 30th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction.
Easter Bonnet Competition is a celebration of the tireless efforts of theatrical companies and volunteers who raise money for the most vulnerable among us. The donations become grants that provide lifesaving medication, healthy meals, counseling and emergency financial assistance in 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
A limited number of tickets, starting at at $30, are still available, along with VIP packages. Purchase at broadwaycares.org.
The 31st Easter Bonnet Competition will be directed by Bess Marie Glorioso, with music supervision by Ben Cohn and music direction by Ted Arthur. Arabella Powell will be production stage manager.
Since 1987, the 30 editions of the Easter Bonnet Competition have raised more than $68.8 million to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The Easter Bonnet Competition is sponsored by The New York Times and United Airlines.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. Through the generosity of the national theater community, BC/EFA has raised more than $285-million since 1988 for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses. It’s the major supporter of social service programs of The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts. Broadway Cares awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC.