Easter Bonnet Competition Raises $2.15 Million

News   Easter Bonnet Competition Raises $2.15 Million
Hairspray won the grand prize at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' 17th annual Easter Bonnet Competition April 22 by raising $191,000 for the fight against the deadly disease.
The Producers' bonnet at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' 17th annual Easter Bonnet Competition.
The Producers' bonnet at the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' 17th annual Easter Bonnet Competition. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The prize for best bonnet and skit went to newcomer La Boheme, which performed "Seasons of Love from sister show Rent, sung partly in Italian with supertitles.

All told, $2,149,744 was raised by 54 participating shows in six weeks of post-show appeals from their respective stages, up from last year’s $1,826,392, and just shy of 2001’s record $2,275,659.

Special guests Chita Rivera, Antonio Banderas and Harvey Fierstein presented the awards at the New Amsterdam Theatre following two days of performances April 21 and 22.

Other awards:


  • The Broadway play that raised the most money: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom wiht $77,300.  



  • The national tour that raised the most: Mamma Mia! wiht $128,800.  



  • The Off-Broadway show that raised the most: Zanna Don’t! with $20,000.  



  • Runners-up for fundraising: Thoroughly Modern Millie ($122,200), Mamma Mia! ($117,800), Les Miserables ($87,700), La Boheme and Man of La Mancha (tie, $81,500).  



  • Runners-up for bonnet and skit: 42nd Street, Mamma Mia!.  



  • Special award for Best Designed and Constructed Bonnet: Chris March for The Producers.  

  • Similar to BC/EFA's "Gypsy of the Year" event, "Easter Bonnet" has cast members from various shows performing songs and frequently spoofing themselves and other shows before presenting their elaborate "Easter Bonnet" entry.  

    The show opened with a medley of Bacharach-David songs from The Look of Love, with lyrics altered to fit the day’s theme. "Raindrops Are Falling on My Head" turned into a rueful chronicle of Broadway’s season-long battle with bad weather, work stoppages and wartime terror alerts. This segued into "Easter Bunny Time," a spoof of "Turkey Lurkey Time" from Promises, Promises, in which men dressed as Hugh Hefner pursued dancers dressed as Playboy/Easter bunnies. "We don’t want any old men jumping on our bones," the ladies protested. The men countered with, "Don’t complain, it worked for [Oscar-winner and Michael Douglas wife] Catherine Zeta-Jones."

    The cast of the drama Take Me Out presented various tongue-in-cheek ideas for a musical version of their show, about a major league baseball player who comes out of the closet as gay, titled, The Empires [CQ] Strike Back. One of the songs was a sendup of "Tomorrow" with the lyric, "I wanna come out tomorrow/Bet your bottom bottom I’ll be gay…" Their bonnet, two dolls of different color embracing under a shower, was modeled by Patti LuPone.

    Urinetown offered a high-concept sketch that had Iraq war correspondents "embedded" backstage at the Bonnet competition, overhearing snarky comments about all the shows on Broadway. Example: "Did you see that show with Marissa [Winokur] and Harvey [Fierstein]? You mean A Year With Frog and Toad?

    Two shows went high-tech. Aida inverted the musicians’ strike by imagining if the orchestra were live but the actors were virtual, in a malfunctioning video that the producers think is indistinguishable from the real thing. Brian Stokes Mitchell played himself "lurking" in a Man of La Mancha chat room trying to talk up his show to a gang of sarcastic theatre fans.

    Movin’ Out twitted its own choreographer-director Twyla Tharp by imagining how she would have staged various recent hit musicals.

    Naked Boys Singing gave a gay twist to some of the same musicals, imagining those never-never hits, Okla-homo! and Thoroughly Modern Willie.

    Beauty and the Beast poked fun at Hairspray by performing "Can’t Stop the Beat" with the new lyric, "Can’t Stop the Beast," observing "A family show has new crowds born every day."

    La Boheme’s winning sketch ended with the presentation of their bonnet, a miniature recreation of their set, which features a giant neon sign reading "L’Amour." It also helped some audience members to recall the short-run fall musical, Amour.

    The Phantom of the Opera had cruel fun at the expense of original star Michael Crawford, singing "Accident of Accidents" to the tune of "Miracle of Miracles" as they bemoaned another autumn flop, Crawford’s Dance of the Vampires.

    Cabaret delighted Retro fans by imaginging the ghosts of their theatre, Studio 54, performed the title song in the style of various 1970s disco groups.

    The Lion King sent up "We Need a Little Christmas" from Mame, with a song titled "We Need a Little Disney," in which an actress complained that "Instead of starring in Aida," she finds herself playing "a friggin’ cheetah."

    The cast of Off-Broadway hit Avenue Q explained how to have a hit, with Gypsy’s "You Gotta Get a Gimmick" reconfigured as "You Gotta Get a Puppet."

    Serious entries in this year’s contest included a gospel performance of "God Save the City" by the cast of Hairspray, and an "Easter Sonnet" by the rappers of Def Poetry Jam, who wondered where are the holiday fantasies for children of war and poverty. Momix’ elegant Cynthia Quinn performed "White Widow" in a white dress, spinning, running and appearing to take wing while suspended in the air on a sling, after which presenter Brian Stokes Mitchell commented, "If art gets more beautiful than that, I don’t think I’ve seen it."

    Not to be outdone, the stubby, ragged little girl from Urinetown came out next and protested, "That bitch stole my dance!"

    <i>Nine</i>'s Jane Krakowski and the <i>Zanna Don't</i> entry at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' 17th annual Easter Bonnet Competition.
    Nine's Jane Krakowski and the Zanna Don't entry at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS' 17th annual Easter Bonnet Competition. Photo by Aubrey Reuben
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