Rory O'Malley and original Matilda Sophia Gennusa appear in the opening number — directed and choreographed by Al Blackstone — while Hugh Panaro will close the show with the traditional performance of David Friedman's "Help is on the Way," BC/EFA's Easter Bonnet anthem.
Other stars scheduled to appear include Brandon Victor Dixon, Hunter Foster, Ramin Karimloo, Andy Karl, Ron Kunene, LaChanze, Tshidi Manye, Jefferson Mays, Cass Morgan, Jessie Mueller, Bryce Pinkham, Christopher Sieber and Karen Ziemba.
Bryan Cranston, Fran Drescher, Idina Menzel and Denzel Washington will announce the top fundraising and best presentation awards at the April 22 performance. James Franco and his Of Mice and Men co-stars, Chris O'Dowd and Leighton Meester, will introduce the competition's judges.
Those judges include costume designer Gregg Barnes and actors Christopher Hanke, Carly Rae Jepsen, Michael McKean, Jim Norton, Patrick Page, Annie Potts and Anthony Rapp as well as Eric Forst and Peg Wendlandt, who both won their spots as high bidders on exclusive VIP packages at the 27th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction.
The show, which is directed by Kristin Newhouse with music supervision by Ben Cohn, also includes a special appearance by Kim Zimmer in the national touring show presentation, choreographed by Adam Fleming. Productions scheduled to perform and present bonnets include After Midnight, Avenue Q, Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella, Disaster!, If/Then, Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia!, Mothers and Sons, Murder for Two, Newsies, Once and Disney's The Lion King. There is also a special performance by MOMIX representing Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares, and special presentations by BC/EFA's affiliate organizations: ASTEP, Broadway Green Alliance, Broadway Impact, Broadway Serves and R.Evolución Latina.
The Easter Bonnet Competition, according to Broadway Cares, is a "two-day Broadway spectacular that features the companies of Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring productions singing, dancing and donning elaborate and often outrageous original bonnets.
"The Easter Bonnet Competition is the culmination of six intensive weeks of fundraising efforts by company members of Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring productions. Curtain speeches, bucket collections, autographed poster and program sales, auctions and cabaret performances bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars from audiences prior to the competition. The winner of the Easter Bonnet Competition will be the company that raises the largest amount of money for Broadway Cares. Awards are also presented to the Broadway play, national tour and Off-Broadway production raising the most money. The judges determine awards given to the company with the best bonnet design and presentation."
The 27 previous editions of the Easter Bonnet Competition have raised more than $53 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Tickets start at $30. They are available online at broadwaycares.org or by calling (212) 840-0770, ext. 268. The show will be performed at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre, 200 West 45th Street.
Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $250 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.