Top-Earner Book of Mormon Helps Easter Bonnet Raise $3.6 Million; Ricky Martin, Audra McDonald Appear

By Robert Viagas
24 Apr 2012


Jersey Boys cast members spoof "The Hunger Games."
Photo by Monica Simoes

Jersey Boys poked fun at "The Hunger Games" in an elaborate skit imagining the year 3012, after the great war between Broadway musicals left only Jersey Boys still running. "Literally starving actors" are forced to undergo auditions in which they must kill one another for parts. One actor got stabbed while singing "Being Alive." Observing another death, the Narrator observed, "The last time I got the ax like that it was at an audition for [casting director Bernard] Telsey!"

Phantom of the Opera poked both "Downton Abbey" and "The Dating Game" with a skit titled "Phantom Abbey," in which the prim ingénues from the PBS series are matched up with wildly inappropriate Broadway husbands including Ricky Martin, Jesus of Jesus Christ Superstar and the Phantom himself.

Two of the presentations were answers to bitingly satirical skits from a year ago. Responding to a skit that implied the long-running Chicago had grown "old and tired," members of the company appeared with walkers, oxygen masks, adult diapers and one motorized wheelchair to wheeze their way through a song in which they claimed, "We've got dance belts older than the cast of Newsies." At the song's conclusion, however, the cast stripped down to their skivvies and did some high kicks to show they were still buff. The bonnet was presented by model Christie Brinkley, who is completing a return engagement in the show before embarking on its national tour, escorted by her youthful leading man, Tony Yazbeck.

Anything Goes dancers vented their bitterness at being bettered by Mary Poppins' irresistibly cute kids in 2011, and came back with a promenade of the cast's pet dogs, including a pair of pups in sailor outfits, introduced by Julie Halston, who observed that when children and animals are on stage, no one else gets any audience attention. But while the adorable pooches were met with coos from the audience, the Mary Poppins kids once again topped them in the awards.

Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark, which was the target of much comedy at the 2011 Easter Bonnet, poked fun at itself this year in "Kiss of the Spider Man," a sketch using the music from the title song of Kiss of the Spider Woman to laugh at the show's chronic technical troubles.

Actors representing more than a dozen touring shows sang of the headaches and rewards of life on the road with a customized rendition of Stephen Sondheim's Putting It Together, during which they also "put together" their bonnet, a skyline with iconic buildings from the many cities they'd played in.

Not all was comedy, however. Dancers Responding to AIDS performed "Boys, Boys, Boys," consisting of shirtless, muscular dancers attired only in dark kilts, tight orange shorts and body paint. At one point, the kilts came off.

Ripley Sobo, the child actress from Once, performed a song on a ukulele flanked by two other musicians from the show. At the climax she donned the show's bonnet, a guitar that opened to reveal a model of the show's set. Two other shows recreated models of their sets on their bonnets: Death of a Salesman sent John Glover to the stage in a bonnet consisting of a salesman's suitcase topped with a mini recreation of Jo Mielziner's iconic house set; Matthew Risch showcased a mini version of the Other Desert Cities set on his chapeau.

Mamma Mia! dancers went from Greece to India, performing a Bollywood-style dance extravaganza in brightly-colored outfits.

Tituss Burgess (The Little Mermaid) filled in for ailing Norm Lewis to cap the show with heartfelt rendition of the Easter Bonnet anthem, "Help is on the Way."

Easter Bonnet judges included Nina Arianda and Hugh Dancy (Venus in Fur), Celia Keenan-Bolger and Adam Chanler-Berat (Peter and the Starcatcher), Megan Hilty ("Smash"), comedian Lisa Lampanelli, costume designer Carrie Robbins, Frank Wood (Clybourne Park) and United Airlines' Mark Anderson. Stephanie Toups and Karen Walter, who were the high bidders on VIP packages at the Broadway Flea Market, are also part of the judging panel.

Broadway stars who appeared at the event included Judith Light and Stacy Keach (Other Desert Cities); Gavin Creel (Hair); Jeremy Jordan (Newsies); Rory O'Malley (The Book of Mormon); Ann Harada (Avenue Q); Raven-Symoné (Sister Act); Nick Jonas, Michael Urie and Rob Bartlett (How to Succeed...); Corbin Bleu, Lindsay Mendez and George Salazar (Godspell); and Tshidi Manye and Ron Kunene (The Lion King).