Lion King Wins Gypsy of the Year Competition; 24th Annual Event Raises $3.9 Million

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04 Dec 2012

Chita Rivera and Ricky Martin
Chita Rivera and Ricky Martin
Photo by Monica Simoes

"Tossed Around," an athletic dance number that sent the gypsies of The Lion King whirling over sets of wooden chairs, earned that show the title honor at the 24th Annual Gypsy of the Year competition. The Dec. 3-4 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraising event collected a grand total of $3,902,608, the fourth highest total ever, although down from last year's record of $4.895 million.

Top fundraiser among all shows was the national tour of The Book of Mormon, whose collection basket brought in $478,130.

Hosted by Seth Rudetsky, this year's edition of the revue at the New Amsterdam Theatre offered a mix of comedy songs, dance and honest sentiment, especially from some of the older stars and presenters, who recalled the darkest days of the epidemic in the 1980s — before treatments that have controlled but not cured the illness, which gave birth to the first Gypsy of the Year competition in 1989. The event has raised more than $65 million in the ensuing near-quarter century.

Among the highlights were an opening number that celebrated the history of Broadway dance from West Side Story (including a cameo from original cast member Harvey Evans) to A Chorus Line and a salute to late Cabaret and Chicago lyricist Fred Ebb, performed by members of the combined casts of Chicago and Curtains performing "Show People" from the latter musical.

Ebb's bequest of a percentage of his royalties to BC/EFA has resulted in a reported $6.9 million windfall for the charity since his death in 2004.


The cast of Curtains reunited to pay tribute to Fred Ebb.
photo by Monica Simoes

First runner-up for Best Stage Presentation went to "Feel Ur Beat" by the cast of Bring It On: The Musical, in which dancers from various shows and periods tried to raise the spirits of a would-be gypsy who had lost heart about finding a job. Their message: "You're never beaten as long as you feel your beat."

Fundraising awards were handed out by Chita Rivera (The Mystery of Edwin Drood), Ricky Martin (Evita) and Katie Holmes (Dead Accounts).

Other fundraising awards:

Top Broadway musical fundraisers: Once with $232,770, Evita with $224,105, The Book of Mormon with $209,265, and Wicked with $165,370.

Other top national tour fundraisers: Wicked (Emerald City Tour) with $357,379, Wicked (Munchkinland Tour) with $252,152, and Les Miserables with $172,290.

Top Broadway play fundraiser was The Heiress with $50,204.

The top fundraisers among Off-Broadway shows were Avenue Q with $24,940 and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike with $20,700.

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.

The production was packed with surprises. Rudetsky did one of his trademark "deconstructions" of one of his own youthful recordings featuring a tragically misguided attempt at bluesing-up "Tomorrow" from Annie. To cleanse the audience's palate Rudetsky brought out Broadway's new Annie, Lilla Crawford, to show how to do it right. That brought a huge hand. But then, in an only-at-"Gypsy" moment, she was joined by now-adult Andrea McArdle — the original Annie of 1977 — for a duet on the show's signature anthem.


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