With New York about to feel the first, albeit premature, taste of spring, what better time to announce the dates and venue for this year's Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet competition. As with the past couple of events, this year's hat fest will be held at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre (home of The Lion King) on the early afternoons of Monday and Tuesday April 23-24.
BC/EFA spokesperson Michael Kumor told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 13) it's too early to tell who will host or appear in the music and comedy show, since "so much is based on what will be playing then." He added that V.I.P. Tickets generally go on sale a month before the event, with remaining tickets made available to the general public a week beforehand.
At the 14th annual Easter Bonnet competition last year (April 24-25, 2000), Bernadette Peters, Kelsey Grammar and the Broadway company members wearing their shows' chapeaus were the first to see the figure as the Easter Bonnet dancers tapped out onto the stage of the New Amsterdam: $2,129,168 — a new record amount raised for BC/EFA.
Peters had more than that number to squeal about — her company, for Annie Get Your Gun, raised the most money of any Broadway show, bringing in $181,000. Runners up were The Lion King ($136,000), Rent ($121,700) and Chicago ($118,000). The Off-Broadway fund-raising award went to Naked Boys Singing, who collected $26,490.
While the focus is always on the funds for BC/EFA, run by executive director Tom Viola, and producing director Michael Graziano, the show is about the hats — and the sketches that set up the presentation of each company's bonnet. Footloose garnered the award for best bonnet and presentation with their highly original, no-doubt youthfully-inspired headgear: a large derriere belonging to what looked like a Footloose chorus boy. Star Jeremy Kushnier sang about the fact that his company, despite horrific reviews and mockery by the news media, managed to near their two year anniversary before vacating the Richard Rodgers for the September arrival of Seussical. He urged the critics to kiss their Easter bonnet before representations of the major newspapers, complete with big red lips, took him up on the offer.
Beauty and the Beast came in second with its Evita-inspired, long-run rant delivered by one of the musical's best pieces of cutlery, the Spoon, and Chicago came in third with their own Jeff Shade, who, stepping in as Roxie Hart due to the apathy of his company, performed high-flying baton tricks.
The previous year's 13th Annual Easter Bonnet raised a then-record $2,096,862 to assist people living with HIV, AIDS and other diseases. Top earners were The Scarlet Pimpernel ( $104,000), The Lion King ($142,000) and Rent ($162,000).