Broadway Backwards Raises $329,000; Gender-Bending Tunes Featured Betty Buckley, Andrew Rannells, Robin De Jesús

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06 Mar 2012

Robin De Jes
Robin De Jes
Joseph Marzullo/WENN

The seventh annual Broadway Backwards concert — featuring male singers performing songs traditionally sung by women and women singing tunes written for men — raised a record-breaking $329,000 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (the Center). Playbill.com was there.

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The 2012 Broadway Backwards star-studded benefit, which was held March 5 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, surpassed last year's previous record total of $281,243. Additionally, this year's one-night-only concert weaved through a storyline, which featured leading men—or, by Broadway Backwards standards, "leading ladies"—Robin De Jesús and Jason Michael Snow.

As two-time Tony nominee De Jesús took the stage at the Hirschfeld—current home of Broadway's How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying—he thought, "Wouldn’t It Be Loverly" (from My Fair Lady) to move out of the Bronx and take on Manhattan, a place where he could find himself and, most importantly, find love.

"Jason Michael Snow and I were scene partners throughout the night. There was a bit of heaviness today," De Jesús told Playbill.com following his performance. "This year, Rob [Bartley], the director, and the creators decided to do a through-line that centered around me. I'm playing this kid from the Bronx who moves to New York... and meets this boy played by Jason Michael Snow. They start dating, and you find out that Jason's character is HIV-positive."

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"It’s this mini-encapsulating moment of what [BC/EFA] is all about," Snow added at the Broadway Backwards after-party, held at John's on 44th Street. "We all sat down and shared our experiences—if [similar situations] had ever happened to us—and ended up with the script. It was beautiful."

When De Jesús left the Bronx, he began to explore the New York City nightlife, encountering characters like Bryan Batt, who refrained from hitting on the NYC newcomer—reminding himself of his "Life With Harold" (from The Full Monty); shady nightclub dancers at "Hernando's Hideaway" (from The Pajama Game); and Dan Butler, who preached the benefits of finding the proper "Boy Friend" (from The Boy Friend). Enter Book of Mormon's Snow.

"This is an entire evening devoted to the LGBT community, so you get to sit there as a gay man or a gay woman and [make] connections that you don't get to sometimes make in a Broadway theatre or concert," said Snow. "It's a really beautiful thing for the theatre community to say, 'This is a community for everyone.'"

The couple bonded on a park bench, enjoying a game of lesbian softball ("The Game" from Damn Yankees, highlighting Jenn Colella and Jackie Hoffman) and realized that love was in the air ("Tonight" from West Side Story, featuring Sierra Boggess and Elizabeth Stanley). Then, Snow revealed that his character was HIV-positive.



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