BROADWAY BACKWARDS 6, the one-night-only event held Monday at the Longacre Theatre, raised a record-breaking $281,243 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (the Center).
This year’s total far surpassed last year’s previous record total of $186,780.
BROADWAY BACKWARDS is the only Broadway event custom-made for the gay and lesbian community, our friends and families. This year’s edition featured a stunning 64-person cast that included Tony Award winners Hinton Battle, Len Cariou, Alan Cumming, Debra Monk, Bebe Neuwirth, Denis O’Hare, Karen Olivo and Lillias White, Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham and American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken.
BROADWAY BACKWARDS re-interprets the songs of musical theater by featuring women singing songs originally written for men and men singing songs written for women. By keeping the lyrics intact, including the pronouns, each song takes on an entirely new dimension. It’s Broadway in a whole new key.
Some highlights from this year’s sold-out BROADWAY BACKWARDS:
A rousing and naughty rebuke of the military’s soon-to-be-obsolete “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gay troops. Until the law is fully revoked, soldiers still can’t “tell,” prompting Alan Cumming (CBS’s The Good Wife) to plunge into a military-themed “Don’t Tell Mama” from Cabaret, the show which garnered him a Tony Award.
Bebe Neuwirth (The Addams Family) returned to her Chicago roots, this time taking on the role of scheming lawyer Billy Flynn in the self-promoting “All I Care About is Love,” surrounded by a bevy of glamorous, feathery fan-whirling chorus girls.
American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken, who appeared on Broadway in Spamalot, brought the house to tears with his heart-felt yearning for “Home” from The Wiz.
Lillias White, Tony winner for The Life and most recently seen in Fela!, had the audience dancing in their seats and stopped the show cold, showing off seemingly limitless vocals with a Ray Charles arrangement of “Some Enchanted Evening.”
Denis O’Hare, Tony winner for Take Me Out and currently starring in HBO’s True Blood, partnered with Brooks Ashmanskas for a hilarious, updated version of “Marry the Man Today” from Guys and Dolls.
Tony Yazbek, who appeared as the scene-stealing Tulsa in the recent revival of Gypsy, left the audience in awe after a breathtaking, heart-pounding redition of “Music and the Mirror” from A Chorus Line.
The leading ladies from the original Broadway cast of In the Heights – Mandy Gonzalez (Wicked) and Karen Olivo (West Side Story) – reunited for a new take on the In the Heights show-stopping love song “When You’re Home.”
F. Murray Abraham (Academy Award-winner for Amadeus) concluded the show with an emotional finale with “Hello Young Lovers” from the King and I, celebrating the courageous and brave in our community who stand-up to oppressors and bullies.
Other featured performers included Farah Alvin (The Marvelous Wonderettes), Hinton Battle (Miss Saigon), Ward Billeisen (Anything Goes), Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid), Len Cariou (Sweeney Todd and CBS’s Blue Bloods), Colman Domingo (Scottsboro Boys), Robin De Jesús (La Cage aux Folles), Derek Hanson (A Chorus Line), Jose Llana (Wonderland), Jan Maxwell (The Royal Family), Debra Monk (Curtains), Mo Rocca (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Brian Charles Rooney (The Threepenny Opera), Bobby Steggert (Ragtime) and Jason Tam (A Chorus Line).
Dan Butler (The Only Thing Worse… and NBC’s Frasier) and Kirsten Wyatt (Elf) served as co-hosts for the evening.
Broadway Backwards Creator Robert Bartley directed and choreographed with co-choreographer/associate director Kathryn Kendall and musical direction by Chris Haberl. The creative team also included lighting designer Paul Miller, costumer designer Philip Heckman and musical supervisor Patrick Vaccariello.
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