In Their Easter Bonnets: Annual BC/EFA Fundraiser Held April 23 and 24

News   In Their Easter Bonnets: Annual BC/EFA Fundraiser Held April 23 and 24 The 21st Annual Easter Bonnet Competition — the annual benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS — is presented April 23 and 24 at the Minskoff Theatre, the new home of the Tony-winning musical The Lion King.
Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen have written an original opening number for the annual Easter Bonnet Competition.
Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen have written an original opening number for the annual Easter Bonnet Competition.

Hosts for the two-day event include Ashley Brown (Mary Poppins), Laura Bell Bundy (Legally Blonde), Todd Buonopane (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Hugh Dancy (Journey's End), Paige Davis (Chicago), Jared Gertner (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening), Edward Hibbert (Curtains), Amy Irving (The Coast of Utopia), Ron Kunene (The Lion King), Gavin Lee (Mary Poppins), Tshidi Manye (The Lion King), Lea Michele (Spring Awakening), Patrick Page (The Lion King), Christine Pedi (Talk Radio), Mo Rocca (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Seth Rudetsky (Legally Blonde) and Karen Ziemba (Curtains).

This year's judges boast an equally starry lot: Stephanie J. Block (The Pirate Queen), John Connolly (executive director of Actors' Equity Association), Joan Didion (author of The Year of Magical Thinking), Tom Jones (lyricist of 110 in the Shade and The Fantasticks), Baayork Lee (A Chorus Line), Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago) and Richard M. Sherman (composer of Mary Poppins).

Choreographer Christopher Gattelli (Altar Boyz, High Fidelity) and [title of show] authors (and co-stars) Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen have created the opening number for the competition. And, Raul Esparza, back on Broadway this season in the acclaimed revival of Company, will perform David Friedman's "Help Is On the Way," which is the official anthem of The Easter Bonnet Competition. That song, originally recorded by the late Nancy LaMott, has been performed at the annual event by LaMott, Alix Korey, Andrea McArdle, Idina Menzel and Maureen McGovern, among others.

The two-day spectacular (April 23 at 4:30 PM and April 24 at 2 PM) features the companies of various Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring productions, who offer skits, songs and/or dances as well as bonnets created specially for the competition.

A benefit for BC/EFA, the Easter Bonnet Competition ends a six-week period of intensive fundraising by the assorted Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Curtain speeches, autographed posters and program sales, auctions and cabaret performances are all part of the fundraising effort, which brings in hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company that raises the most funds for BC/EFA will be awarded a prize at the Easter Bonnet Competition. A second prize will be awarded to the company with the best bonnet design and presentation. Additional awards will be presented to the Broadway play, national tour and Off-Broadway production raising the most money. Last year's competition raised a record-breaking $3,187,496.

Tickets, priced $20-$350, are available by visiting www.broadwaycares.org or by calling (212) 840-0770, ext. 268. Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the nation's leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fund-raising and grant-making organization.

The Minskoff Theatre is located in Manhattan at 200 West 45th Street.

Raul Esparza will sing "Help Is On the Way" at the annual Easter Bonnet Competition.
Raul Esparza will sing "Help Is On the Way" at the annual Easter Bonnet Competition.