The 26th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition raised $3,677,855, the result of six weeks of intensive fundraising for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS by 51 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies.
The grand total was announced Tuesday at this year’s Easter Bonnet Competition, which ended in two shows featuring original presentations, songs, dances and 18 elaborate, custom-made bonnets.
Since the Easter Bonnet Competition began in 1987, the event has raised more than $49 million for Broadway Cares.
Ricky Martin (Evita), Audra McDonald (The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess) and Eric McCormack (The Best Man) were on hand to announce the grand total to a standing-room-only audience at the Minskoff Theatre, home to Disney’s The Lion King. The pair also presented awards to the top fundraising companies and the outstanding bonnet presentation.
This year’s hosts included Stockard Channing, Judith Light and Stacy Keach (Other Desert Cities); Gavin Creel (Hair); Jeremy Jordan (Newsies); Rory O’Malley (The Book of Mormon); Raven-Symoné (Sister Act); Nick Jonas, Michael Urie and Rob Bartlett (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying); Corbin Bleu, Lindsay Mendez and George Salazar (Godspell); and Selloane Nkhela and Ron Kunene (Disney’s The Lion King).
The company of The Lion King took top honors for bonnet presentation while Mary Poppins was runner up.
The special award for bonnet design was given to Mamma Mia!. The winning bonnet was created by Glen Russo, Rodd Sovar, Monica Kapoor, Don Lawrence, Lisa Brescia, and John Maloney.
The Easter Bonnet Competition, directed this year by Kristin Newhouse, is the culmination of spring fundraising efforts for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS by company members of Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring productions.
This year’s top fundraising award went to The Book of Mormon, which raised $286,725.
Other winning fundraisers were:
Top Fundraiser: The Book of Mormon - $286,725
First Runner-up: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark – $231,997
Second Runner-up: Wicked – $204,777
Third Runner-up: The Phantom of the Opera – $144,899
Fourth Runner-up: How to Succeed in Business… - $144,179
National Touring Shows
Top Fundraiser: Wicked – Emerald City – $280,504
First Runner-up: Wicked – Munchkinland – $166,434
Second Runner-up: Les Misérables – $158,816
Third Runner-up: American Idiot – $141,661
Fourth Runer-up: Mamma Mia! – $128,033
Top Fundraiser: Other Desert Cities – $71,965
Top Fundraiser: Rent – $38,265
First Runner-up: Avenue Q – $30,094
Highlights from the 26th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition:
- The show started with a sequined and sparkly send-up of the plethora of religious-themed shows suddenly appearing on Broadway, mixed with a friendly jab at television’s Broadway-themed hit “Smash.” The number was directed and choreographed by Rommy Sandhu, with music direction and arrangements by Ben Cohn. It was written by David Beach and Stacia Fernandez.
- The company of Chicago, which recently celebrated its 15th year on Broadway, poked fun at their reputation for employing older dancers with a side-splitting geriatric version of “All That Jazz,” led by Broadway’s current Velma, Amra-Faye Wright, and complete with wheelchairs, walkers and a motorized scooter. Supermodel Christie Brinkley, who is completing a return engagement in the show before embarking on its national tour, escorted by her Chicago leading man Tony Yazbeck, dashed all images of the “senior citizens” as she dazzled the crowd in the show’s flamboyantly floral bonnet.
- After an hysterical performance at last year’s Gypsy of the Year competition, the young cast members of Mary Poppins returned with more “junior” versions of classic shows, this time taking on the darkest and bloodiest of scenes from Medea, Macbeth and Sweeney Todd.
- The presentation from Anything Goes literally went to the dogs as Julie Halston pandered for judges’ votes by acknowledging that when there are animals on stage, they’ve got everyone’s attention. Then she proceeded to introduce a parade of more than a dozen adorable pooches, escorted by their owners, all members of the Anything Goes cast.
- An intricately designed trio of bonnets, the “Scenic Bonnets of Broadway,” represented scaled down versions of the spectacular sets from three current Broadway hits. Tony Award-winner John Glover gracefully presented the bonnet from his current show, Death of a Salesman; Matthew Risch joined the parade with a replica of the set he appears on eight nights a week from Other Desert Cities; and young Ripley Sobo from Once even broke into song while balancing her guitar-shaped bonnet.
- Off-Broadway was well-represented by performances from two shows: The Awesome 80s Prom and Avenue Q, including a special appearance by original cast member Ann Harada.
- A special tribute to the national touring productions that help fundraise in cities across the country featured a comedic take on life and fundraising on the road, set to Stephen Sondheim’s “Putting it Together,” led by an all singing and dancing Felicia Finley.
- Tituss Burgess, from Guys and Dolls and The Little Mermaid, sang a rousing and uplifting rendition of the Easter Bonnet anthem, “Help is on the Way,” written by David Friedman.
- Other fabulous presentations included The Book of Mormon, Jersey Boys, Disney’s The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, The Phantom of the Opera, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares.
The Easter Bonnet judges included Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy (Venus in Fur), Celia Keenan-Bolger and Adam Chanler-Berat (Peter and the Starcatcher), Megan Hilty (TV’s “Smash”), comedian Lisa Lampanelli, costume designer Carrie Robbins, Frank Wood (Clybourne Park) and Mark Anderson, United Airline’s senior vice president of corporate and government affairs. Also joining the judging panel was Karen Walter, who won her spot by being the high bidder on an exclusive VIP package at the 25th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction in September.
The judges were introduced by Seminar star Jerry O’Connell and Godspell star Corbin Bleu.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $195 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.
Broadway Cares awards annual grants to more than 400 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide 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.