|Photo by Monica Simoes|
"Born to the Playground," a nimble dance number in which the gypsies of The Lion King skipped, leaped and whirled over sets of thick jump ropes, earned that show the title honor of the 25th Annual Gypsy of the Year Competition, the second year in the a row the show took that honor at the event.
The Dec. 9-10 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS fundraising event collected a grand total of $4,343,234, up sharply from last year’s $3.9 million, but not quite up to 2011’s record $4.9 million.
Top fundraiser among all shows was the Broadway company of Kinky Boots, whose collection baskets brought in $377,301. The Lion King’s winning presentation, choreographed by Ray Mercer, was offered in memory of South Africa’s late President Nelson Mandela.
First runner-up for Best Stage Presentation went to "Cosmic Love" by the cast of Newsies, in which 16 of the show’s young male dancers wearing black trousers and tees, presented a dance full of leg-swinging acrobatics choreographed by David Guzman, Jacob Guzman, Jess LeProtto, Julian Guzman and Evan Kasprzak.
Top Broadway musical fundraisers were The Phantom of the Opera with $125,373, Newsies with $125,469, The Book of Mormon with $209,943, Wicked with $273,940, and the aforementioned Kinky Boots with $377,301.
Other top national tour fundraisers included Wicked (Emerald City Tour) with $182,926, Book of Mormon (Jumamosi Tour) with $296,279, Book of Mormon (Latter Day Tour) with $314,133 and Wicked (Munchkinland Tour) with $333,086.
Top Broadway play fundraisers were The Glass Menagerie with $161,218 and Twelfth Night/Richard II I with $116,653. The top fundraisers among Off-Broadway shows were Avenue Q with $27,066 and Peter and the Starcatcher with $23,360.
This year's “Gypsy” featured more than 250 Broadway and Off-Broadway performers. Shows that performed original numbers included After Midnight, Avenue Q, Chicago, Disaster!, First Date, Kinky Boots, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Newsies, Once, Pippin, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and Twelfth Night/Richard III. Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, were represented by an original piece choreographed by Jeremy McQueen for the 2013 Fire Island Dance Festival.
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 show's untitled opening number offered Klea Blackhurst doing her patented impression of Broadway diva assoluta Ethel Merman, upbraiding the corps of modern-day gypsies that they have it so much easier than gypsies did in the old days, to the tune of "You Gotta Get a Gimmick" from the show Gypsy. The youngsters (one of whom paused to take a "selfie" with the Merm) then proceeded to demonstrate how much harder it is today to be a triple-threat dancer-singer-actor who has to commute from Queens on the R train. The number ended with Merman blowing a trumpet and allowing "I stand corrected/I realize we're connected/You're connected to every gypsy that ever performed on a Broadway stage."
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