Gypsy of the Year Brings in Over $3 Million for BC/EFA

By Robert Viagas
and Andrew Gans
09 Dec 2008

The 20th annual Gypsy of the Year Competition, which celebrates the Broadway gypsy and was presented Dec. 8 and 9 at the New Amsterdam Theatre, earned $3,061,148 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.



The Lion King won the Gypsy of the Year award for Best Stage Presentation, performing Ray Mercer's athletic "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," a number in which dancers gamboled over, under and around a giant table, sometimes leaping off it into one another's arms.

The Chicago company of Jersey Boys was the biggest fundraiser, bringing in $220,000 for BC/EFA.

The cast of Equus — which stars Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths — was the top Broadway fundraiser, raising $203,747. (Radcliffe made the headlines several times for auctioning the jeans he wears in the acclaimed production.) It was also the first time a non-musical raised the most cash since The Dinner Party in the early 2000s.

Equus was also runner-up for the Best Stage Presentation, performing a homoeroticized parody musical version of their show, titled "The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Neigh," which included Equus and "Harry Potter" star Radcliffe performing a kick line with the show's horses.

Other top-raising Broadway productions included Wicked ($172,301), South Pacific ($140,552) and Hairspray ($125,291). The Chicago "Shiz Company" and Los Angeles productions of Wicked also brought in top dollars for BC/EFA, raising $178,500 and $161,868, respectively.

A special award was given for the top fundraising Off-Broadway company: The Marvelous Wondrettes raised $17,824.

Actor, musician and Playbill.com columnist Seth Rudetsky hosted the Competition, which also featured appearances by Tyne Daly and Jonathan Hadary, who hosted the first Gypsy of the Year Competition; Jen Cody and Don Richard, who reprised their comical turns as Little Sally and Officer Lockstock; and the cast of [title of show] — Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Heidi Blickenstaff and Susan Blackwell — who made a special appearance when they presented the show's final number.

Rudetsky, Daly and Hadary were joined by Christine Baranski, Harvey Fierstein and John Lithgow for the presentation of the afternoon's awards.

Celebrity judges included Elizabeth Ashley (Dividing the Estate), Paige Davis (Boeing-Boeing), Patrick Page (A Man For All Seasons), Howard McGillin (The Phantom of the Opera), Kate Mulgrew (Equus), Peter Sarsgaard (The Seagull) and BC/EFA major donors Dr. Harold Brody, Marion Duckworth Smith and Kendall D. Ward.

As has become custom, the event featured a 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.

Since 1989 the 20 editions of Gypsy of the Year have raised a combined total of $35,730,000 to benefit BC/EFA, which distributes the money to more than 400 service organizations and charities.

The annual competition comes after six weeks of intensive fundraising by various shows on and off Broadway as well as touring productions throughout the country. It's a chance to celebrate the Broadway gypsies while raising funds for the worthy organization.

Awards are presented in two categories: for best skit and for most money raised for BC/EFA. Last season, the competition set a new record, bringing in $3,927,110 despite the 19-day stagehands strike that virtually blacked out the peak of the charity's fundraising season.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the nation's leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grants making organization. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, BC/EFA raises funds for AIDS-related causes and other critical illnesses across the United States. Since its founding in 1988, BC/EFA has raised over $150 million dollars for critically needed services for people with AIDS and other serious illnesses.

For more information visit www.broadwaycares.org.