Billy Elliot Wins Gypsy of the Year; Event Earns a Record $4.9 Million

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06 Dec 2011

The <i>Billy Elliot</i> presentation
The Billy Elliot presentation
Photo by Monica Simoes

Literally auctioning the shirt off his back at performances of Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway helped Tony-winning Australian native Hugh Jackman to raise a one-show record of $857,740 as part of the 23rd Annual Gypsy of the Year competition, pushing the total for the Dec. 5-6 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraising event to a new overall record of $4,895,253.

Jackman's share of the total was so large—more than twice the next largest total ($325,935 raised by How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)—that the judges took him out of the competition and gave him a Special Award for the effort.

A farewell performance from the cast of Billy Elliott earned the soon-to-close musical the title of 2011 Gypsy of the Year/Best Stage Presentation.

Jackman was on hand with Daniel Radcliffe (How To Succeed), Tony winner Bernadette Peters (Follies) and host Seth Rudetsky to hand out the awards. A total of 52 other Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring shows raised the rest of the money in six weeks of curtain-call appeals at theatres across New York and around the country.

A highlight of this year's event at the New Amsterdam Theatre was the opening number, featuring a reunion of the original 1972 Broadway cast of the musical Grease. Thirteen original performers including Barry Bostwick, Carole Demas and Adrienne Barbeau (original Danny, Sandy and Rizzo, respectively) led a chorus of younger dancers in a medley of hits from the score.

The Mary Poppins presentation
photo by Monica Simoes



First runner-up for Best Stage Presentation went to Mary Poppins, which riffed on the "Junior" versions of popular musicals offered by rights organizations for school performances. In Tom Souhrada's skit, titled "Junior Edition," the precocious child performers of Mary Poppins offered kid versions of some of Broadway's heaviest dramas, including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Other fundraising awards:

Top Broadway musical fundraisers: How to Succeed with $325,935, Book of Mormon with $315,968, Wicked with $240,809, Spider-Man with $197,285 and Follies with $186,405.

Top national tour fundraisers: Wicked (Munchkinland Tour) with $326,902, Wicked (Emerald City Tour) with $316,299, Mary Poppins with $169,709 and Jersey Boys with $157,831.

Top Broadway play fundraiser was Other Desert Cities with $77,712.

The top fundraiser among Off-Broadway shows was the AIDS-themed Rent, which took in $43,300.

As has become custom, the event featured a vaudeville-like 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.

As has become custom, the event featured a vaudeville-like 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.

Kids and cast reunions were the two main themes of 2011's Gypsy of the Year. In addition to the Grease gathering, Billy Elliot's winning skit featured most of the show's cast, plus a reunion of nine lads who have played the title character during show's nearly three-year run.

Chicago dancers gloated over the fact that the show has surpassed A Chorus Line to become the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. They performed "Chicago Now and Forever," a mashup of choreography from the two shows, then rolled out a long line of dancers who have appeared in the show during its 15-plus-year run.

Off-Broadway's NEWSical the Musical contributed Amy Griffin and Christine Pedi doing their respective impressions of Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli. When "Gaga" began campaigning for gay marriage, "Minnelli" applauded her, saying, "Up til now I've been marrying them all myself."

Continued...

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