The friendly competition to win top fundraiser in this year’s Broadway Gypsy of the Year just got serious.
Jim Irsay, the billionaire owner of the Indianapolis Colts, dropped $20,000 in the red bucket at Hamilton December 3, according to Forbes magazine, reportedly after actor Rory O‘Malley told the audience in a curtain speech that he was locked in a competition with Josh Groban at Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, to take top fundraising honors in this year’s competition.
Groban responded by offering to match it with another $20,000 if O’Malley, who plays King George III in Hamilton, would agree to kneel before him. O'Malley accepted.
The competition, which consists of six weeks of fundraising at various Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring shows, comes to a peak December 5 and 6 with two afternoon performances of skits and songs, held this year at the New Amsterdam Theatre, leading up to the announcement of top fundraisers after the December 6 performance.
Stars often try to goose their shows’ totals by auctioning off signed posters, Playbills, and other memorabilia.
Hugh Jackman entered BC/EFA legend by auctioning his sweaty t-shirts during the run of his 2009 hit, A Steady Rain, raising a record $1.5 million for a single show.
Groban reportedly has been selling $40 pins ”mocking King George” at Great Comet. O’Malley, who plays King George III in Hamilton and usually leads the post-show fundraising appeal, mentioned the competition, and, in response, auctioned off a photo of Groban wearing a moustache, autographed by the cast. Irsay, who was sitting in the front row of the Richard Rodgers Theatre, made the winning $7,500 bid. Invited to visit the cast backstage, he boosted the total to $20,000.
O’Malley thanked him in a tweet.
Hamilton won the similar spring 2016 BC/EFA Easter Bonnet competition, raising $516,029 of the $5.5 million with $516,029 total.
Irsay told Forbes, “It was a great show and an incredibly talented cast.... The money is for the on-going fight against AIDS, a great cause.”
Check out the Broadway Cares Collection in the Playbill Store: https://www.playbillstore.com/shop-by-show/the-broadway-cares-collection.asp.