Broadway Still Cares: 'Tis the Season for Curtain-Call Appeals

By Tom Viola
26 Nov 2012

Tom Viola
Tom Viola

Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, reflects on the importance of — and the passion behind — the annual curtain-call appeal period on Broadway and beyond. 

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There's an extra buzz backstage this time of year. Cast and crew members are carefully crafting their encores for each night's audience, customizing the script, dividing up parts and finishing unique props for a special, twice-a-year production: the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS audience appeals.

For six weeks cast members at participating shows step out during the curtain call to invite the audience to open its heart (and wallet) to men, women and children across the country struggling with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. By filling BC/EFA's famous red buckets with ones, tens, twenties and the occasional Benjamin, theatregoers help the organization maintain a safety net of social services for those who need it most.

Contributions help buy medicines and counseling for those who would otherwise do without.

They keep the doors open at a health clinic or a food pantry. They provide diapers for a child and bus fare to a recovery meeting. In these times of continued economic hardship, your donations make it possible for BC/EFA to reach those who do not have the resources or blessings that many of us can be thankful for.

But audience appeals are also a competition. A lot of heart goes into these efforts as shows try to out-fundraise each other. Each cast delivers an audience appeal in its own unique way; some are heartfelt, some quite humorous.

During the collections this spring, the cast of The Book of Mormon jokingly reminded audiences, "If you could afford $450 tickets to a show, you can afford to donate a dollar to Broadway Cares."

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