The 30th annual Easter Bonnet Competition, celebrated six weeks of fundraising by 58 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies, raising a record-shattering $5,528,568. This was the largest grand total from any fundraising campaign in Broadway Cares history. A surprise performance by rocker Stevie Nicks, two top awards for Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton, and more than 230 of the best actors, singers and dancers in New York.
The grand total was announced April 26, 2016, by Christian Borle, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jennifer Hudson following two afternoons of inspiring and creative performances at the Minskoff Theatre, home to Disney’s at the Minskoff Theatre, home to Disney’s The Lion King. The production featured 17 extravagant, handmade bonnets presented by some of Broadway’s most popular shows.
The award for bonnet design went to the company of An American in Paris for its two-sided bonnet of an exploding smartphone, created by Billy Hipkins, Veanne Cox, Christy Morton, Shannon Rugani, Kelly Saxon, Jeffrey C. Sousa and Tory Trowbridge.
The company of Hamilton took top presentation honors for turning their opening number into an homage to Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Miranda chillingly portrayed the “demon barber of Fleet Street” as his fellow cast members retold the dark, twisted tale.
The company of Fun Home was runner up turning West Side Story’s “Gee Officer Krumpke!” into a plea to Miranda to write a show for them. But they ultimately realized that they could control their own destinies by creating the roles themselves, just as Miranda has done.
This year’s top fundraising award also went to Hamilton, which raised an astounding $516,029.
Here’s the breakdown of this year’s other fundraising leaders:
|1st Runner-Up||Jersey Boys||$266,996|
|2nd Runner-Up||The Book of Mormon||$259,496|
|3rd Runner-Up||The Lion King||$164,151|
|Top Fundraisers – Tie||The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time||$68,282|
|Off-Broadway Plays and Musicals|
|Top Fundraiser||Avenue Q||$27,501|
|Top Fundraiser||The Book of Mormon – Latter Day||$362,842|
|1st Runner-Up||Wicked – Munchkinland||$320,581|
|2nd Runner-Up||Kinky Boots||$266,812|
This year’s Easter Bonnet Competition was hosted by Cynthia Erivo fand Leslie Odom Jr., Kerry Butler and Jennifer Simard, Alex Brightman and Carmen Cusack, Adam Kantor and Alexandra Silber, and Tshidi Manye and L. Steven Taylor opened with a rousing production number honoring the 25th anniversary of the Tony Award-winning The Will Rogers Follies. Original cast member Cady Huffman led the Easter Bonnet Competition dancers in a grand tribute to the Best Musical of 1991. Joined by fellow original cast members Dana Moore and Wendy Waring and The Lion King’s L.
Max von Essen and Brandon Uranowitz from An American in Paris lamented theatre audiences’ addiction to taking photos and using their smartphones during shows with the comedic “Turn It Off, Seriously,” topped off by their award-winning bonnet.
The company of Chicago, carrying illuminated versions of Broadway Cares’ iconic red buckets, mesmerized the audience with an inspiring number featuring the voices of people helped by HIV/AIDS organizations that receive Broadway Cares grants.
In a jubilant, drum-infused song, South African cast members from Broadway’s The Lion King praised the power of humanity to overcome even the biggest challenges when united by one cause. The number featured Snothando Mbanbo, a South African teenager, and Nosipho Duma, co-founder of Umthwalume Community Services, one of more than 50 HIV/AIDS organizations funded by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lion King in South Africa.
Dancers from Broadway’s Wicked, in a piece choreographed by Josh Daniel Green, delivered an elegant and touching performance to Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” sung live by cast member Daniel Quadrino.
The company of Off-Broadway’s Avenue Q took the opportunity to add a humorous “In Memoriam” tribute to Easter Bonnet Competition, bidding farewell to everything from American Idol to Chris Christie’s political career.
Kinky Boots’ Ellyn Marie Marsh, at the urging of social media personality “Annoying Actor Friend” Andrew Briedis, dropped her heartfelt version of “Meadowlark” from The Baker’s Wife in lieu of a Hamilton-inspired rap rendition.
Cast members from Off-Broadway’s Straight joined Jake Epstein and understudy Greg Balla as they faced off in an impressive, invisible pingpong battle complete with human sound effects.
Disaster!’s Kevin Chamberlin was joined by special guest Andrew Keenan-Bolger from Tuck Everlasting to recreate their “Alone in the Universe” from Seussical the Musical. The pair had reunited earlier this month as part of a post-show fundraising auction for Broadway Cares, organized by Disaster! creator Seth Rudetsky.
The show ended both days with Rachel York from Disaster! delivering an emotional and powerful rendition of the traditional Easter Bonnet Competition anthem, “Help is on the Way,” written by David Friedman.
Since the Easter Bonnet Competition began in 1987, the event has raised more than $68.8 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.