The casts of Broadway shows are knocking themselves out trying to raise the most money for the 11th annual Easter Bonnet Competition, April 7-8, a benefit for Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS.
Some of the stars simply make an appeal at the end of the show, and then cast members collect money. Others, like the casts of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Stanley, have been doing even more.
At the conclusion of Forum, star Whoopi Goldberg has been offering visits to her dressing room, signed copies of the Lion King videocassette (she supplied the voice for one of the hyenas) and other treats to audience members who contribute large sums to the cause. At a recent performance, the visit, video and a Pumbaa doll (contributed by Forum and Lion King co-star Ernie Sabella) went for $600.
At Stanley, the Pam Gems drama about the British painter, sketches done during the show have been going for $50.
Similar in concept to the annual, holiday-time "Gypsy Of The Year" competition, the two-day "Broadway spectacular" features companies of more than 20 shows singing, dancing and wearing "exclusively designed, one-of-a-kind bonnets." Last year's Bonnet bash raised $1,304,525 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS -- an all-time record for a BC/EFA event. The event caps six weeks of intensive fundraising by the industry to combat, and provide care for sufferers of, HIV and AIDS. Curtain speeches are given by stars across the country to raise money for the cause, and sales of autographs, posters and auctioned theatre merchandise also bring in "hundreds of thousands of dollars."
First prize in the Bonnet competition goes to the company raising the most money for BC/EFA. There's also a special Off-Broadway award, since it's not fair to pit Broadway-sized houses against under-500 seats venues. Target Stores, a division of Dayton-Hudson Department Stores, is sponsoring the 1997 event. The company will match up to $100,000, the greatest amount raised by one of the Broadway shows this year.
And, since each Broadway and Off-Broadway company participating in the contest tries to top the other in clever and outrageous fashions for the chapeau, a second prize will be given for best bonnet design.
Since October 1997, BC/EFA has distributed millions in the fight against AIDS, and helped raise far more through "mobilizing the expertise of the entertainment industry."
For tickets ($20-$50, also $125 VIP seats) and information on the BC/EFA Easter Bonnet Competition at the Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway (home of Beauty & The Beast), April 7 at 4:30 PM and April 8 at 4 PM, call (212) 840-0770.
For a look at last year's Competition, please see Playbill On-Line's story, "Fun At Easter Bonnet Competition."
MORE ON TARGET STORES
Fast, fun and friendly is the essence of Target Stores, the Minneapolis-based upscale discounter that recently opened its first Metropolitan store at Menlo Park in Edison, N.J., with a gala event sparked by the appearance of Once Upon a Mattress's Sarah Jessica Parker. Those same three adjectives could equally describe the annual Easter Bonnet Competition, so, it seems a natural that Target has joined forces with this year's fund-raiser on April 7 and 8 at the Palace Theatre.
Full disclosure: Target is a Playbill advertiser.
Target Stores will offer a special Target Award at the Eleventh Annual Competition, a matching donation to the theatrical production that raises the most funds, up to $100,000. A Target executive will present BC/EFA with an oversized check for the amount onstage, and a special bonnet prepared by Target employees will also be displayed.
Target has a history of charitable donations. Since 1962 Target Stores have been giving back five percent of their pretax profits to the communities where they conduct business. And, Target's motto of "reduce, reuse and recycle" is more than just an environmental slogan; it's a way of doing business for a company that has demonstrated a commitment to operating in an ecofriendly manner.
For tickets to the competition or donations to BC/EFA, call (212) 840-0770. Playbill On-Line will cover the event.