Hosted by Drowsy Chaperone's Bob Saget and Xanadu's Jackie Hoffman and Mary Testa, the annual fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is scheduled to open with a medley of West Side Story tunes boasting appearances by original West Side Story cast members Chita Rivera (Anita), Mickey Callan (Riff), Carol Lawrence (Maria), Ken LeRoy (Bernardo), Jamie Sanchez (Chino) and Reri Grist (Consuelo).
Other cast members from the show's 1957 production will also be part of the opening: Genii Charnin, Harvey Evans, Marilyn D'Honau, Alan Johnson, Gene Gavin, Ronnie Lee, George Marcy, Liane Plane, Martin Charnin, Grover Dale, Bill Guske, Ed Kressley, Sandy Leeds, Tony Mordente, Carole D'Andrea, Frances Davis, Lowell Harris, Julie Oser-McLeod, Noel Schwartz and Gina Tricones. These gypsies will be joined by gypsies from currently running shows as well as Rivera's daughter, Lisa Mordente.
The competition, which had been scheduled for Dec. 3 and 4, was postponed because of the recent stagehands strike. The postponement allowed the various productions extra time for fundraising.
In a Dec. 14 statement BC/EFA executive director Tom Viola said, "I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the community for their truly generous, indeed heroic, efforts following the strike. Together, we have turned a time of crisis for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and those who depend upon our fundraising, into a time of good fortune and, without doubt, sincere gratitude. . . .The first Gypsy of the Year Competition in 1989 raised $64,000. Total. Today, we are projecting fundraising numbers for this 19th edition that could come in at over $3 million and break all previous records. This is a monumental achievement, proving once again that all of you are among the most generous people in the world. There is no other community, no other business or industry that has joined hands in a grassroots fundraising effort as the Broadway community has with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for nearly 20 years. This theatre community has never let us down. The on-going fundraising efforts of our friends Off-Broadway, in national touring shows and theatres across the country as well as the Broadway shows not affected by the strike, kept the fundraising fire burning and BC/EFA afloat during those 19 dark days. Then as the lights of Broadway came back the entire community, without even being asked, redoubled their fundraising efforts with amazing speed and enthusiasm. It was extraordinary. By pushing [back the competition a few weeks], BC/EFA was able to make up much of the fundraising opportunities that were lost to the strike, for which we are very grateful." The annual competition usually follows six weeks of intensive fundraising by various shows on and off Broadway as well as touring productions throughout the country. Because of the recent stagehands strike and the loss of fundraising revenue at the theatres, Broadway Cares introduced Team Raiser, a chance for interested parties to donate to the competition on-line. Contributions can be made to one's favorite show, and people can also register to fundraise themselves. For more information click here.
Awards are presented at Gypsy in two categories: for best skit and for most money raised for BC/EFA. Last season, the competition raised $2,992,800. Best skit honors went to The Color Purple with The Lion King and The Beauty and the Beast tying for runner-up. Purple also raised the most money for BC/EFA, bringing in $194,500. Other front-runners: Wicked ($192,900), The Drowsy Chaperone ($185,900), The Phantom of the Opera ($153,800) and Jersey Boys ($133,250). The top touring company was the Wicked Chicago company with $175,000. The Little Dog Laughed was the top play with $44,330, and The Clean House won the Off-Broadway award with $26,700.
Tickets, priced $20-$350, can be purchased by calling (212) 840-0770, by visiting the Broadway Cares website, or in person at the New Amsterdam Theatre (214 West 42nd Street) the day of the event.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) is the nation's leading industry based, not-for-profit AIDS fundraising and grant making organization. For further information visit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS on the web at http://www.bcefa.org.