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

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24 Apr 2012

Audra McDonald and Ricky Martin announce the winners
Audra McDonald and Ricky Martin announce the winners
Monica Simoes

The 26th annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet Competition raised $3,677,855 in six weeks of nightly curtain-call appeals, the third-highest total in the history of the event. The number was revealed at the April 24 performance of skits, songs and dances that make up the unique fundraiser-show, at the Minskoff Theatre.

This year's top fundraising award went to The Book of Mormon, which raised $286,725.

The community total ebbed slightly from last year's $3,706,085 and the $3,734,000 all-time record set in 2008. This year's total was raised by 52 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring shows.

Special guests Ricky Martin (Evita), Audra McDonald (The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess ) and Eric McCormack (Gore Vidal's The Best Man) presented the awards at the Minskoff on April 24 following the two Easter Bonnet performances (one on Monday, one on Tuesday).

The award for outstanding bonnet design went to the Broadway company of Mamma Mia! for a hat consisting of a giant lavender blossom opening on an earthlike blue globe brightened by sparkling LED lights.

The company of Broadway's The Lion King took the top prize for bonnet presentation, with a performance called "Hallelujah Harlem," featuring members of the Broadway cast tapping and singing gospel in period clothes in an evocation of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance era. Church women in big hats combined the hats to make a bonnet resembling the marquee of Harlem's iconic Apollo Theatre.

The Lion King wins the prize for bonnet presentation
photo by Monica Simoes

Named runner-up for performance were the precocious kid thespians of Mary Poppins, who once again (as they did a year ago) tackled scenes from grownup dramas. This year they went for the jugular, waving gory weapons in scenes from Sweeney Todd ("A Little Priest"), Medea and Macbeth. "I gave you my womanhood," one moppet proclaimed as Medea and she waved two bloody dolls, "and now I'm taking it back!" The Scottish Play's curse continued, however, and the presentation missed the top prize once again.

As they did in 2011, the two touring companies of the musical Wicked took the top fundraising awards among national tours. The "Emerald City" company earned $280,014 and the "Munchkinland" company the (last two years' top fundraiser) was a runner-up this year, collecting $166,434 in the fight against AIDS.

Some other facts and figures:

Broadway Runners-Up for Fundraising
Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark at $231,997, Wicked at $204,777, The Phantom of the Opera at $144,899 and How To Succeed… at $144,179

Touring Runners-Up for Fundraising
Les Misérables at $158,816, American Idiot at $141,661 and Mamma Mia! at $128,033

Broadway Play That Raised the Most
Other Desert Cities at $71,965

Off-Broadway Shows That Raised the Most
Rent at $38,265 and Avenue Q at $30,094

Dollar totals may change after a detailed accounting is completed.

Similar to BC/EFA's annual Gypsy of the Year event, the Easter Bonnet Competition presents cast members from various shows performing skits, songs and/or dances frequently spoofing themselves and other shows before unveiling their elaborate "Easter Bonnet" presentation (literally, a trouper wearing an outsized novelty bonnet).

Though top prize went to The Lion King's fondly nostalgic evocation of Harlem's golden age, funny skits laced with insider jokes once again predominated at Easter Bonnet.

Several skits parodied popular TV shows and films. The "Easter Bonnet" opening number paid tribute to the Broadway-set TV series "Smash" (along with Broadway's bumper crop of religion-themed shows) in a piece directed and choreographed by Rommy Sandhu, and written by David Beach and Stacia Fernandez.



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