Five surviving real-life Ziegfeld Girls are scheduled to be featured guests at the 12th annual Easter Bonnet Competition, being hosted by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS April 13 and 14 at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York.
The Follies revues began in 1907 and continued more or less annually through 1931, with special editions in 1936 and 1943. Many were presented at the New Amsterdam home to The Lion King. Five of the women who danced in various editions reportedly have agreed to take part in the Easter Bonnet show:
* Eleanor Dana O'Connell, born 1904, who appeared in Ziegfeld's 1921 Midnight Frolic at the New Amsterdam's Roof Garden Cabaret, then graduated to the Follies from 1922 to 1925. She's now national president of the Ziegfeld Club in New York.
* Doris Eaton Travis, born 1904, who joined the 1918 Follies at age 14, and continued through 1920. She also co-starred with Al Jolson in films.
* Lucile [CQ] Layton Zinman, born 1903, also began at New Amsterdam Roof Garden's Midnight Frolic and graduated to the Follies from 1921 to 1925. * Nona Otero Friedman, born 1908, danced in the Follies from 1923 to 1927. She also appeared in Ziegfeld's musical Kid Boots with Eddie Cantor.
* Yvonne Arden Hyde, birth date unreported, danced in the Follies of 1936. She also appeared in the George White Scandals of 1935.
Travis is the only one scheduled to dance.
Benefactor tickets for the Easter Bonnet event went on sale Mar. 16 for one of the most popular special events of Broadway's spring season. A limited number of lower-priced general admission tickets went on sale April 6, but the event is now virtually sold out.
In this event, cousin to the annual fall "Gypsy of the Year" contest, casts and crews from dozens of Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring shows compete to raise money, and to create the most impressive Easter Bonnet, which is presented with an original song or skit.
Money is raised through intensive fund raising via curtain speeches and special sales in the six weeks leading up to the event.
* Benefactor -- $250: includes reserved orchestra seat and listing in program
* VIP -- $150: reserved orchestra seat
* General Admission -- $50: Rear Orchestra; $35: Mezzanine and Balcony
Benefactor and VIP tickets went on sale Mar. 16 and can be ordered by calling Carla Cherry at (212) 768-4329. General admission tickets go on sale April 6 and can be bought only in person at the BC/EFA offices, 165 W. 46th St., New York City, Suite 1300.
The cast of Rent, which deals intimately with AIDS, is making a special effort to raise money this year. They're holding a silent auction of special items and services -- including a chance to perform in the hit musical.
Here are some of the items:
SIGNED SCRIPT: A copy of Jonathan Larson's entire libretto signed by the cast. Opening bid - $350.
RENT BATHROBE: Two white, terrycloth robes with the Rent logo embroidered on the back. One size fits all. Unsigned - bidding starts at $150. Signed - bidding starts at $250.
PLAYBILL - Signed by the entire cast. Bidding starts at $50.
WATCH FROM THE WINGS - Sit on stage in the "chair of love" right next to the Rent band and the stage manager's calling desk. You'll also meet the cast. Opening bid - $500.
DINNER WITH ANGEL & COLLINS - Two seats to the show followed by dinner with cast members Wilson Cruz and Michael McElroy. Opening bid - $500.
BACKSTAGE TOUR - See the inner workings of Rent's backstage, guided by one of the stage managers. Opening bid - $200.
DINNER WITH MIMI & MARK - Two seats to the show followed by dinner with cast members Marcy Harriell and Jim Poulos. Opening bid - $500.
RENT WATCH - Special limited edition engraved Storm wristwatch given to the cast for Christmas. Not available in any store. Opening bid - $250.
DINNER WITH MAUREEN & JOANNE - Two great seats for RENT and dinner with cast members Kristen Lee Kelly & Gwen Stewart. Opening bid - $500.
BE IN RENT - A cameo appearance in the "life support" scene in Act I. You will have a costume fitting and a rehearsal with the stage manager on the set. You will also receive four seats so friends can come and cheer you on. Opening bid - $2,500.
Bids can be faxed to (212) 869-7238 or mailed to: RENT SILENT AUCTION, C/o Nederlander Theater, 208 West 41st Street, New York, NY 10036. Bids must be received by April 13, 1998. For questions on the Rent silent auction: (212) 391 8226.
Check out Playbill On-Line's coverage of the last two Easter Bonnet events:
* Also coming up: BC/EFA's 7th Annual "Broadway Bares" will be held at Webster Hall in N.Y., Sunday May 10, 1998 -- 9:30 PM and midnight performances. In this event, those buff and limber dancers from Broadway and Off-Broadway shows perform as close to the altogether as taste and the law will allow.
For more information on the entire Easter Bonnet or Broadway Bares events, see BC/EFA's website at www.bcefa.org. Money from both events goes to the continuing struggle against the ravages of AIDS.
-- By Robert Viagas