GYPSY OF THE YEAR Raises $3,902,608 for BC/EFA; THE BOOK OF MORMON Tour Tops Fundraisers
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by BWW News Desk
The 24th Annual GYPSY OF THE YEAR Competition, the culminating celebration of six weeks of fundraising by 51 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies, raised $3,902,608 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The grand total was announced Tuesday, December 4, at this year's GYPSY OF THE YEAR, which included songs, original skits and dances performed by more than 200 of New York's best singers, dancers and musicians.
Since 1989, the 24 editions of GYPSY OF THE YEAR have raised a total of $52,934,581 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
Two-time Tony Award winner Chita Rivera (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) joined Katie Holmes (Dead Accounts) and Ricky Martin (Evita) in announcing the grand total to a standing-room-only audience at the New Amsterdam Theatre (214 West 42nd Street), home to Disney's Mary Poppins. The three actors presented awards to the top fundraising companies and to the best performances in this year's show.
This year’s top fundraiser was the national tour of The Book of Mormon, which raised $478,130. Here's how this year’s fundraising competition total ended:
Off-Broadway (Play or Musical)
The company of The Lion King took honors for the best onstage presentation for an outstanding piece, choreographed by Ray Mercer, that transformed a spoken word introduction into a graceful, powerful dance metaphor. The cast of Bring It On: The Musical was runner-up with a high-flying, acrobatic hip-hop number.
The 2012 edition of GYPSY OF THE YEAR, which was presented in two shows on December 3 and 4, is the finale of six weeks of intensive fundraising by Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies. The entire theatre community gathers for the competitive variety show, put on by the most talented singers and dancers in the ensemble of shows, known as "gypsies."
Broadway Cares announced last month that $250,000 of this year's GYPSY OF THE YEAR fundraising dollars had already been sent to three relief agencies – Community FoodBank of New Jersey, AmeriCares and the American Red Cross of Greater New York – and The Actors Fund to help provide immediate assistance for those in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut affected by the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. On Tuesday, BC/EFA announced that an additional $100,000 has been given to The Actors Fund to help continue providing emergency financial assistance for temporary shelter, food, clothing and transportation for members of our theatrical family bringing BC/EFA's hurricane relief efforts to $350,000.
The 24th Annual GYPSY OF THE YEAR Competition featured a tribute to legendary lyricist Fred Ebb, led by Tony Award winners David Hyde Pierce (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike) and Debra Monk (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Ebb is renowned for his legendary collaborations with composer John Kander. Together, Kander and Ebb created some of the most delightful, smart and hilarious songs in more than a dozen groundbreaking and acclaimed musicals of the last 50 years, including Zorba, Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Scottsboro Boys, winning three Tony Awards. Ebb died in 2004. As a stipulation in his will, Ebb created the Fred Ebb Award of $50,000 to be given annually to an aspiring musical theatre songwriter and generously left Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS the remaining portion of royalties earned on his collective works – a donation totaling an astonishing $6.95 million since 2005. In 2012, the Foundation's award to BC/EFA was $1.3 million, the largest single gift in Broadway Cares history.
This year’s GYPSY OF THE YEAR tribute to Ebb featured Hyde Pierce and Monk leading a reunion of the cast of Curtains and alumni from Chicago in a stirring finale tribute of "Show People," staged and choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter.
The show's opening number celebrated the history of Broadway dance, spotlighting iconic choreography from West Side Story, Fosse, 42nd Street, The Will Rogers Follies, Crazy for You, Legally Blonde and A Chorus Line. It was directed and choreographed by Rommy Sandhu with music arrangements by Ben Cohn and lyrics by Stacia Fernandez.
This year’s GYPSY OF THE YEAR was again hosted by noted Broadway personality Seth Rudetsky (“Seth’s Big Fat Broadway” on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio), who presented his trademark "deconstructions" of over-the-top musical moments. Rudetsky shared one of his own over-the-top moments: a recording of a 12-year-old Seth performing a unique version of "Tomorrow" from Annie. He was joined by surprise guest stars Andrea McArdle, the original Annie, and Lilla Crawford, who currently stars as Annie in the hit Broadway revival.
The 24th Annual GYPSY OF THE YEAR also featured a variety of other appearances that left the sold-out crowd cheering:
The singing and non-dancing ensemble members of Disney's hit Newsies comically lamented their plight, wishing they could "dance like the Newsies," the high-kicking, acrobatic, attention-getting young newsboys of the show's title.
Members from the cast of Broadway's ill-fated Rebecca, which never opened this season despite several attempts, grieved their almost-run on Broadway in a comical tune that poked fun at the production's well-publicized missteps.
With younger cast members from Mamma Mia! texting seriously around him, Bryan Scott Johnson and special guest Len Cariou remembered – to the tune of "Yesterday" – the "old days" when people talked to each other backstage rather than today's constant obsession with tweeting and texting.
In a spirited number, choreographed by David Marquez, 21 dancers swinging 42 of the well-recognized red BC/EFA collection buckets saluted the 17 national touring shows that together raised $1.9 million of the event’s grand total.
GYPSY OF THE YEAR also featured outstanding and often show-stopping performances by the companies of Evita, Mary Poppins, Newsical The Musical, Once and Rock of Ages.
Celebrity presenters included Tony Award winners Katie Finneran (Annie) and Steve Kazee (Once). Introducing shows that helped fundraise but did not perform were Wayne Alan Wilcox (Chaplin) and Billy Magnussen and Genevieve Angelson (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike). Tony Award winner Judith Light (Other Desert Cities) returned once again to lead an emotional moment of silence.
Judges included John Bolton (A Christmas Story), Judith Ivey (The Heiress), composer John Kander (Chicago, Cabaret), Judy Kaye (Nice Work If You Can Get It), producer Hal Luftig (Evita, Kinky Boots), Laura Osnes (Cinderella), Adam Pascal (Memphis) and Michael Shannon (Grace). Also joining the panel were Hollis Stern and Peg Wendlandt, who both won spots by being high bidders on exclusive VIP packages at the 26th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction in September. The judges were introduced by Peter and the Starcatcher stars Adam Chanler-Berat and Celia Keenan-Bolger.