Easter Bonnet Competition Raises Millions for BC/EFA

News   Easter Bonnet Competition Raises Millions for BC/EFA
The 18th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition — benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS — raised over $3 million for the worthy organization.

The two-day spectacular — April 19 and 20 at Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre — raised a whopping $3,420,537 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the nation's leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fund-raising and grant-making organization. The annual fundraiser ends a six-week period of intensive fundraising by the assorted Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Awards are presented annually to the companies that raise the most funds for BC/EFA; awards are also distributed to the shows with the best bonnet designs and presentations.

The Boy From Oz — starring Hugh Jackman — raised the most for BC/EFA, bringing in $539,058. The other top fundraisers included The Producers ($368,050), Hairspray ($217,813), Wicked ($158,497) and Gypsy ($149,595). Additional fundraising prizes were given to the Broadway play that raised the most money (Golda’s Balcony, $78,654), the Off-Broadway production that raised the most money (Fame, $21,882), and the national tour that brought in the most funds (Mamma Mia! tour #2, $151,830).

Best bonnet presentation was awarded to Avenue Q and Fiddler on the Roof, who joined forces to present a skit entitled “Avenue Jew.” The Producers was awarded second prize in this category for its skit about gay marriage, which included a parody of Stephen Sondheim’s “Getting Married Today.” Thoroughly Modern Millie won third prize in the bonnet presentation category for a moving performance entitled “Letters from Home.”

Most viewers agreed the highlight of the entertainment was the combined efforts of Avenue Q and Fiddler on the Roof, which had the former's puppet don hats, babushkas and sidelocks to sing about going home to "Avenue Jew." Trekkie Monster opened the skit by scratching out the Fiddler theme on a fiddle and then eating the instrument. A version of Fiddler's "Tradition" pitted the puppets versus the humans. And the sketch ended with a rewrite of an Avenue Q number called "Everyone's a Little Bit Jewish." Also making appearances were a puppet version of George W. Bush and an actor impersonating Times critic Ben Brantley.

Tovah Feldshuh single-handedly shouldered the burden for her show Golda's Balcony, imagining a stand-up routine as performed by Golda Meir. (Feldshuh wrote her own material.) The cast of Movin' Out did a parody of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" in which hetero ballet dancers were transformed into "chorus boys." And The Producers borrowed the song "Getting Married Today" from Company to spoof the American public's reaction to gay marriage. Though the show Urinetown has closed, the musical's characters Officer Lockstock and Little Sally still made an appearance, pretending to have just ascended from Hell. During Urinetown's Broadway run, the show became famous for their caustically funny routines, in which a shot was taken at every show and performer on Broadway. This year was no exception. Among those to suffer the duo's barbed wit were Kristin Chenoweth, Hugh Jackman, Nathan Lane, Thouroughly Modern Millie, Wonderful Town, Fiddler and Caroline, or Change. The two closed with a "Grapes of Wrath"-like speech, saying "When Avenue Q wins Tonys for Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction, but the Best Musical award goes to Wicked, we'll be there!." The remark was a reference to Urinetown having lost to big prize to Millie a couple seasons back.

The afternoon included guest hosts Bernadette Peters, Joel Grey, Ann Harada, Tovah Feldshuh, Randy Graff, Joe Machota, Michael Mulheren, John Tartaglia, Christopher Sieber, Ron Kunene and Tsidii Manye. Harvey Fierstein, Audra McDonald and Sean Combs announced the winners after Wicked’s Idina Menzel belted out the David Friedman anthem “Help Is On the Way.”

Last year's competition raised $2,149,744 for BC/EFA. La Boheme won the bonnet competition, with 42nd Street first runner-up and Mamma Mia! the second runner-up. Fundraising winners included the casts of Hairspray ($191,000), Thoroughly Modern Millie ($122,200), Mamma Mia! ($117,800) and Les Misérables ($87,700).

For more information about Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, visit www.broadwaycares.org.

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