Hamilton Stars Give Kinky Boots a Gypsy of the Year Edge – $4.79 Million Raised for BC/EFA

News   Hamilton Stars Give Kinky Boots a Gypsy of the Year Edge – $4.79 Million Raised for BC/EFA Wayne Brady of Kinky Boots (with a hand from Lin Manuel Miranda and Christopher Jackson of Hamilton) broke the Lion King’s three-year Best Onstage Performance streak at the 27th annual Gypsy of the Year Competition, which raised $4.79 million for the charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Brady, who made his name on the improv TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" brought out fellow Kinky Boots cast members for some comically half-baked raps. To show the audience how it’s done, he then enlisted a pair of ringers—Miranda and Jackson from the rap filled Hamilton to demonstrate some virtuoso freestyling to words shouted out by the audience. The skit, titled "We All Can Rap, Too" will have to go down in Gypsy of the Year history with an asterisk, since it beat the presentation by Hamilton itself.

The champion fundraiser overall proved to be the "Latter Day" touring company of Book of Mormon, which raised $344,643, more than any other touring, Broadway or Off-Broadway show.

The 2015 Gypsy of the Year, which took place Dec. 7 and 8 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, collected a grand total of $4,786,239, landing at the third-highest total in history.

The second-highest fundraiser among all shows was the Broadway company of Book of Mormon, whose collection baskets brought in $313,857.

First runner-up for Best Stage Presentation went to reigning champ the Lion King, whose "Unplug & Connect" used eight dancers and a narrator to explore the world of human interaction both within and beyond the world of social media. Clad in grey briefs, with their bodies festooned with the @ and # signs of the internet, the dancers whirled in a circle around the stage in patterns choreographed by Ray Mercer to music by Bongi Duma and L. Steven Taylor.

Fundraising awards were handed out by Michael Cerveris, George Takei and Julie White.

Top Broadway musical fundraisers were The Book of Mormon with $313,857, Hamilton with $271,666, Jersey Boys with $264,374 Beautiful with $168,955 and Kinky Boots with $161,242.

Top national tour fundraisers included Book of Mormon (Latter Day Tour) with $344,643, Kinky Boots with $290,339, Wicked (Munchkinland Tour) with $284,399, Beautiful with $191,901 and Newsies with $159,915.

<i>The Lion King</i>, which has won top prize the previous three years, was named runner-up with their dance, "Unplug &amp; Connect"
The Lion King, which has won top prize the previous three years, was named runner-up with their dance, "Unplug & Connect" Photo by Monica Simoes

The top-earning Broadway play was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time with $78,258. The top fundraiser among Off-Broadway shows was The Humans with $34,122.

These are the figures as announced from the stage Dec. 8. Some changes may be announced when accountants review totals received.

As has become custom, the afternoon show featured a vaudeville-like mixture of satirical skits, inspirational songs and virtuoso dance numbers, all performed by the "gypsies," the Broadway dancers who go from show to show and provide singing and dancing support to the leads.

This year's Gypsy of the Year featured more than 150 Broadway and Off-Broadway performers. Shows that rolled out original numbers and skits included An American in Paris, Avenue Q, The Book of Mormon, Chicago, Finding Neverland, Fun Home, Hamilton, The King and I, Kinky Boots, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Company XIV’s Nutcracker Rouge, On Your Feet! and Trip of Love. Celebrities and guest stars included Wayne Brady, Andréa Burns, Gavin Creel, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Christopher Jackson, Laura Michelle Kelly, Judith Light, Camryn Manheim, Lesli Margherita, Leslie Odom Jr. , Brad Oscar, Christopher Sieber and Brandon Uranowitz.

Among the highlights:

  • The opening number presented an homage to 42nd Street, in which a stage manager (Ryan Kasprzak) got his dreamed-of chance to join the tapping chorus line.

 

  • The show was hosted by Seth Rudetsky who did several of his trademark "deconstructions" of songs from Broadway cast albums. He told the story of meeting idol Barbra Streisand and deconstructing one of the concert recordings with her in his audience—and then not recognizing her when he was introduced to her backstage.
  • He provided another of the show's highlights with the help of Andrea Burns of On Your Feet!, with whom he appeared in the 2007 revival of The Ritz. Burns understudied the role of Googie Gomez in that production, but never got to go on and perform the crazy Broadway showtune medley, arranged by Rudetsky. Righting that wrong, Burns got to segue from "The sun will come out manana" to the vamp from Jesus Christ Superstar leading into “Sabbath Prayer” from Fiddler on the Roof and "Everybody Loves a Winner," which, in her cartoonish accent, was pronounced like "wiener."
Andrea Burns
Andrea Burns Photo by Monica Simoes
  • Finding Neverland poked fun at itself in a skit that showed the Darling children clustered breathlessly around Peter Pan, trying to imagine what it would be like to visit, not Neverland, but the show Neverland, sung to the tune of "Neverland" from the 1954 musical Peter Pan: "You’ll find no Tonys on display there...." "So come with me it’s time to go/We'll fly there hand-in-hand./Second star till dawn./Kelsey Grammer? No, he’s gone./But not forever/From Never-Neverland!" The new lyrics were written by Courtney Balan, Jonathan Ritter and Paul Slade Smith.
  • The kids of Fun Home appeared in leather and metal studs to perform "Ring of Keys" punk-style in a skit titled "Fun Home School of Rock."
  • The cast of Chicago offered another unexpected take on a familiar song from the show. James T. Lane sang "All I Care About Is Love" in the style of R&B god James Brown, complete with soul screams, back-talking backup singers and a moment when he was overcome with emotion, wrapped in a sparkly towel and led offstage, only to fling off the towel and leap back to the microphone.
  • Avenue Q delivered a solid comic concept: updated lyrics to its familiar songs. "If You Were Gay" became "If You Were Transgender," "Mix Tape" was reborn as “Dick Pic” and "A Little Bit Racist" was transformed into "A Little Bit Basic" (as in ridiculously obvious). The skit ended with a new version of "I Wish I Could Go Back to College," retitled, "I Wish I Could Go Back to Broadway," a reference to the fact that the Tony-winning show transferred Off-Broadway in 2009—at a lower pay scale.
<i>Avenue Q</i>
Avenue Q Photo by Monica Simoes
  • Another mini classic of self-parody was delivered by the cast of The King and I, who repurposed the "Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet into a satire on the personalities of the 2016 presidential contest, "Small House of Bernie Sanders." Sample lyric: "Run Miss Clinton, run! Run for office!" Her husband, "Faithful lover Bill" (with big air quotes on the "faithful") helps her escape from "King Donald of Le Greed," to be reunited in the big white house across the river with "Dear Old Bernie Sanders," "Blessed Speaker Nancy [Pelosi]" and "Mischief–maker [Rachel] Maddow."
The <i>King and I</i> presentation, "Small House of Bernie Sanders"
The King and I presentation, "Small House of Bernie Sanders" Photo by Monica Simoes
  • Finally, in the winning skit "We All Can Rap, Too," Brady came onstage with three fellow cast members who quickly proved they had no idea how to throw down, freestyle or otherwise. Brady then called for help, bringing out Miranda and Jackson from Hamilton. The audience gave them six words: "chicken," "sarsaparilla," "tsunami," "succubus," "scaffolding" and "condom,” which they had to work into a rap titled, "Boo-yah, I Just Plotzed."
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda and Christopher Jackson make a guest appearance in the Kinky Boots skit, which took top prize this year
    Photo by Monica Simoes
  • As usual, not all the skits were comic. Eleven cast members of Book of Mormon performed a shivering close-harmony a capella version of Charlie Chaplin’s "Smile."

 

  • Dancers from more than a dozen touring musicals collaborated on a dance to Frank Sinatra’s recording of "Come Fly With Me," turning the chore of constant air travel into a light-hearted ballet based on the mundane movements of flight attendants demonstrating oxygen masks and wheeling a drink cart up and down an airplane aisle.
  • An American in Paris contributed a gathering of seven dancers dressed in white who cavorted around piano and violin players who performed a holiday medley of "Carol of the Bells" and "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

Judges for the 2015 "Gypsy of the Year" competition were Philip Birsh, president and chief executive of Playbill and BC/EFA’s Board of Trustees treasurer; John Cariani and Kate Reinders from Something Rotten!; Veanne Cox from An American in Paris; Alma Cuervo and Ana Villafane from On Your Feet!; Telly Leung and Lea Salonga from Allegiance; Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle and On Your Feet! choreographer Sergio Trujillo. Also joining them were returnee panelists Lee Perlman and Gary Wendlandt, who won their judging spots by bidding on exclusive VIP packages at the 29th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction in September.

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