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Red Bucket Follies

New Amsterdam Theatre

(214 West 42nd Street)

Produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Ryan Steele

Ryan Steele For Dancers Responding To AIDS Red Bucket Follies 2018 Photo By Monica Simoes

When a friend offered me two “Red Bucket Follies” tickets, I said sure, and then asked, “What the hell is that?” I soon learned that this seasonal variety show offered a unique set of song-and-dance numbers especially produced for the event by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) — one of the nation’s leading AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations.

Joel Grey

Joel Grey With Fiddler On The Roof In Yiddish Red Bucket Follies 2018 Photo By Monica Simoes

This highly respected non-profit draws on the talents and resources of the American theatre community. Since 1988, it has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States. The major supporter of social service programs at The Actors Fund (which includes the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Samuel J. Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts), BC/EFA also awards grants annually to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., providing lifesaving medication, healthy meals, counseling and emergency assistance.

Since 1989, 29 editions of “Gypsy of the Year” shows raised money to benefit BC/EFA (“Gypsy” is ancient theater slang for the “chorus girls” and “chorus boys” –- ensemble players — who move from show to show). This year, the event’s recently renamed successor, “Red Bucket Follies”, built on that tradition with a two-day variety show uniquely focused on talents from Broadway’s community — especially those in various musicals.

Throughout the season, ensemble members reach out to audiences for donations to these charities. The “red bucket” refers to what various cast members hold as a way to collect contributions to worthy causes made as audiences are leaving a show.

Six weeks of fundraising culminated in the extravaganza I saw with exceptional ensembles and one-of-a-kind performances.  These were held in Broadway’s New Amsterdam Theatre on Monday, December 3rd(at 4:30 pm) and on Tuesday, December 4th (at 2 pm), 2018. Showcasing ensemble members, swings and company dancers, the performers shared original numbers with various special guests. On the second day, awards were given for the best musical presentation overall, as well as for the top fundraising results from Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring shows for their six weeks’ of fund-raising effort.

Sponsored by The New York Times and United Airlines, “Red Bucket Follies” built on its original “Gypsy of the Year Competition” legacy. The inaugural night offered quite a range of performances from pure dance routines set to recorded music to comic sketches by Seth Rudetsky, the event’s MC and ultimate Broadway buff. The host of SiriusXM’s “On Broadway” channel, he returned to lead the festivities for the 11th year.

Having joined my friend and host Mike Greenly at the show — he’s a long-time supporter who has attended these productions many times before — Mike noted that, “Rudetsky was a phenomenal host — funny, smart and drenched with his in-depth knowledge of vocal techniques and theater tradition. He’s always as educational as he is entertaining.”

One matter which Broadway has long been ahead of the curve is that of diversity. This year’s focus embraced the Asian-American legacy on Broadway. The opening number —celebrated the trailblazing production of “Flower Drum Song” (on its 60th anniversary); members of its original 1958 Broadway cast, the 1961 movie and first road company joined actors from the 2002 revival company and the first national touring company for a once-in-a-lifetime reunion. The rousing performance hailed both Broadway’s multi-cultural community and the diversity among Asian-Americans. Conceived by Lainie Sakakura and Telly Leung — directed and choreographed by Alex Sanchez — such legends as Baayork Lee (who was also in the original “A Chorus Line”) hit the stage, showing that no matter how old a performer may be, they can remain quite the hoofer. In all, more than 40 Asian performers were onstage including Sandra Allen, Marcus Choi, Ali Ewoldt, Ericka Hunter, Alvin Y. F. Ing, Jose Llana, Jodi Long, Ashley Park and Leung himself.

With the whole event directed by Jason Trubitt (and helped by production stage manager Matthew Kurtis Lutz and music director Ted Arthur), this year’s songs, skits and dances featured more than 150 performers from such shows as “Chicago,” “Frozen,” “Hamilton,” “Kinky Boots,” “The Lion King,” and “Wicked,” as well as Off-Broadway’s “Avenue Q,” “Fiddler on the Roof – in Yiddish” and “NEWSical The Musical.”

India Bolds, Rosie Lani Fiedelman and Pia Hamilton of “The Lion King” presented an emotional dance set to recordings from the Senate testimony of Anita Hill and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Choreographed by Ray Mercer, it closed with the piercing statement, “It’s time to listen to women.”

Representing Dancers Responding to AIDS — a BC/EFA program — choreographer Billy Griffin showcased an original piece that had been created for this year’s Hudson Valley Dance Festival. They performed a remarkable piece set to Peggy Lee’s big hit, “Is That All There Is” — a wonderfully wistful song that offers an attitude towards life that we all should have. As my friend remarked to me, “That was a big hit back in 1969 when I was a newbie to NYC, basking in the culture that defines this marvelous town.  But it was a hit once again at the Red Bucket Follies, re-invented for this special evening.”

That wasn’t the only great moment through this magical two-plus hours of theatrical bliss. As Mike and I agreed, there were several highlights that have to be mentioned. We both loved the way the cast of “Chicago” brought tap dance to life.

And as he added, “Throughout the night, I heard classics re-discovered and transformed with artistry and zest. Some of my favorites were from outside the theater world… including dance numbers performed to songs like ‘Survivor’ by Beyonce and ‘Shape of You’ by Ed Sheeran.”

The show also included a number directed and choreographed by ”Hamilton” cast member Karla Puno Garcia, which honored national touring shows that participated in the fall fundraising drive. Also featured was a tribute to Broadway Cares’ iconic redbuckets (directed and choreographed by Chaz Wolcott).

Even the Yiddish language — once a source and inspiration for many a theatrical production — was heard through a performance by the troupe of “Fiddler on the Roof — In Yiddish.” And on a perfect note, the night concluded with “Hamilton” cast members performing a stirring dance to “Cheering for Me Now;” its creator Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the lyrics (celebrating NYC) to a melody by John Kander — the legendary producer and composer of “Cabaret” and “Chicago” — as one of his monthly viral “Hamil-drops.”

A distinguished panel of judges awarded best presentation honors on the following day. This year’s judges were: music supervisor Mary-Mitchell Campbell (“Mean Girls”, “The Prom”); Ali Ewoldt and Jay Armstrong Johnson (“The Phantom of the Opera”); the legendary Rosemary Harris (“My Fair Lady”); Andy Karl and Orfeh (“Pretty Woman”); Caitlin Kinnunen and Isabelle McCalla (“The Prom”); Peppermint (“Head Over Heels”) and Nicolette Robinson (“Waitress”).  Also joining them were Nathan Noh and Peg Wendlandt who won their spots by bidding on exclusive VIP packages at the 32nd Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction in September.

A total of 67 Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring productions (up from 56 last year) raised a collective $6,113,301 — the highest fall fundraising total in the organization’s 30-year history. The record was announced Tuesday by special guests Cherry Jones, Christopher Sieber and Michael Urie who also presented awards for the top fundraisers and best performances across the two afternoons. The “Angelica” leg of the “Hamilton” tour was named the top overall fundraiser, collecting $515,152. The hit musical was also Broadway’s top fundraiser, with the New York company raising $414,971. As it prepares for its final bows next April after six unforgettable years, “Kinky Boots” was awarded this year’s Best Onstage Presentation for its parody of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” Dressed in their “True Colors” —a rainbow of head-to-toe spandex bodysuits — the cast performed its farcical rendition as they lamented saying goodbye.

The company of “Frozen” was the runner-up with a glorious dance piece — choreographed by Donald Jones Jr. — set to VV Brown’s “What We All Need Now More than Anything is to See People Enjoying Each Other.”

And once again, another aspect of the fundraising came with the commemorative ornament sold during this holiday period. This year, as the fabulous Harvey Fierstein proved in the musical “Hairspray,” he makes a great woman and a great ornament. Bedazzled in colorful stripes and glitter, Harvey’s Tony®-winning Edna Turnblad character becomes the 11th ornament in BC/EFA’s Broadway Legends series — designed by Glen Hanson with the Christopher Radko Company. It’s also for sale at their website.

Below is the list of top fundraisers:

Top Overall Fundraiser

Hamilton – Angelica Tour ($515,152)

Broadway Musical

Top Fundraiser: Hamilton ($313,971)

First Runner-Up: Mean Girls ($202,769)

Second Runner-Up: Dear Evan Hansen ($170,061)

Third Runner-Up: The Lion King ($162,109)

Broadway Play

Top Fundraiser: The Lifespan of a Fact ($257,653)

Off-Broadway (Play or Musical)

Top Fundraiser: Fiddler on the Roof – in Yiddish ($42,053)

First Runner-Up: Jersey Boys ($37,193)

National Tours

Top Fundraiser: Wicked – Munchkinland ($324,945)

First Runner-Up: Dear Evan Hansen ($305,412)

Second Runner-Up: Waitress ($231,020)

Third Runner-Up: Come From Away ($216,050)

For more information, visit


The Glorious Corner



G.H. Harding

WOODSTOCK COVER STARS — (Via Best Classic Bands) — Bobbi Ercoline’s name may not be familiar to most, but millions own her photograph: Bobbi, whose last name at the time was  Kelly, and her then-boyfriend, Nick Ercoline, were huddled together under a quilt at the 1969 Woodstock festival when photographer Burk Uzzle snapped their picture. The couple, both then 20, were unaware that their photo had even been taken until several months later, when the three-LP Woodstock soundtrack album was released. They were among friends when they first realized the couple on the album cover was them.

“We were passing the jacket around when someone pointed out the staff with the orange and yellow butterfly,” Nick told AARP in 2019 for the organization’s magazine. “That belonged to Herbie, a guy from Huntington Beach, Calif. He was lost and having a bad trip, and we hooked arms with him until he was clear-headed. Then we saw the blanket. Oh my lord, that’s us!”

Bobbi and Nick only lasted one night at Woodstock, and never even got near the stage. They had given it their all trying to get to the festival, ditching their car when traffic became snarled and walking the final two miles. They spent most of their single day there on the hillside where the famous photo was taken.

Two years later, in 1971, they married. They remained together until Bobbi Ercoline’s death Saturday (March 18, 2023).

Nick posted the news on Facebook: “It’s with beyond great sadness that I tell my FB family and friends, that after 54 years of life together, of the death of my beautiful wife, Bobbi, last night surrounded by her family. She lived her life well, and left this world in a much better place. If you knew her, you loved her. She lived by her saying, ‘Be kind.’ As a School Nurse she always championed the kids … ALWAYS! As a person, she always gave. ‘How much do you really need if you have all you need or want?’ So she gave and gave and gave. She didn’t deserve this past year’s nightmare, but she isn’t suffering from the physical pain anymore and that brings some comfort to us.”

We’ve spoken much over the years about how that Woodstock event was so cataclysmic – culturally; musically; and certainly philosophically. Elliot Tiber wrote beautifully about it in his first book Taking Woodstock – a classic if you’ve never read it.

They tried to re-create it in 1994 and though it was good, it just didn’t have that magical flavor of the first one. I wasn’t at either, but as you can imagine, music from that 1969 concert still lives passionately today. I was, however, at Live Aid and that was my Woodstock for sure.

Not to get too poetic, but I came across a great quote yesterday: It’s worth being older now, to have been young then.

Derek And The Dominoes

SHORT TAKES — Derek & The Dominoes Bobby Whitlock on Jim Gordon: “Carl Radle and Jim Gordon … Didn’t get any better than that. The only other alternative [for Derek and the Dominoes] was Jim Keltner. And that’s who should have been the guy and who was supposed to be the guy. But it didn’t turn out that way. He was busy. The rhythm section of Carl and Jim propelled the songs we put together. Jim Gordon is the most musical drummer I ever heard. All of the drums were in tune. literally tuned to a key on the piano. Big kit. But Jim had this wonderful ability to interpret the nuances you could feel but not hear. Carl was solid as a rock. A downbeat player and right on it. So, we have Carl who is solid and down and Jim who is up and on it. So, it was perpetual motion” …

The Ides of March

Do you remember “Vehicle” by The Idea of March back in 1970? It became the fastest-selling single in Warner Brothers history. A little-known fact is that 14 seconds of the completed master of “Vehicle” was accidentally erased in the recording studio, (primarily the guitar solo), and the missing section was spliced in from a previously discarded take. The song reached #2 in Billboard, and #1 in Cashbox. The album “Vehicle” reached #55 nationally … Dolly Parton sings with Elton John on “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” on her forthcoming rock ‘n roll album. I bet it’ll sound great, but how many covers of that song has there been? Maybe they should have picked a John/Taupin deep-cut like “Come Down In Time” or “Amoreena.” Just saying … Does the phrase DLYZECOMKIN mean anything to you?

Micky Dolenz

Believe it or not, in one of those crazy-jumble games online, the phrase translates into Micky Dolenz. Crazy, right? See for yourself:

… Speaking of Dolenz, he departs Thursday on a Flower Power Cruise; then starts his Headquarters-tour on April 1 in Orlando …

Charles F. Rosenay does the Zach Martin Big Fat American Podcast next week, for his new release,  The Book of Top 10 Beatles Lists (KIWI Publishing) … HAPPY BDAY Gia Ramsey!

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Carol Geiser; Bob Meyerowitz; eYada; Andy Rosen; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Paul Haig; Terry Jastrow; Anthony Pomes; Mark Bego; Charles F. Rosenay; Bill Graham; Kip Cohen; Heather Moore; Charley Crespo; [Robert Miller; John Luongo; LIME;  Carl Strube; Jen Ramos; and CHIP!

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Rockefeller Center presents Ice Theatre of New York, Inc



Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) is proud to hit the ice at The Rink at Rockefeller Center on March 23, 2023 at 12:30pm with ITNY Ensemble members Liz Yoshiko Schmidt and Danil Berdnikov performing Lorna Brown’s Timelessness. For more information, visit

Choreography by Lorna Brown
Performed by Liz Yoshiko Schmidt and Danil Berdnikov
Music: Nocturne in D Flat Major “Un Rêve” by Brooklyn composer/pianist Eric Christian
Commissioned by ITNY for the upcoming Home Season and Gala in May 2023
A duet by ITNY ice artists Liz Yoshiko Schmidt and Danil Berdnikov, the piece explores “Timelessness.” This piece will preview at Bryant Park before its performance at ITNY’s Home Season and Gala.
“Every shape that my body can make… flowing from one movement to another, being able to see yourself in yourself in your mind’s eye… connected with every creature that has lived or died,” said Lorna Brown.
Danil Berdnikov hails from the city of Samara, Russia, from which he competed as part of the junior national team as well as across his vast native land through high school. He then moved to Moscow both to continue his education and to join Stage Entertainment Russia to begin performing as a skater. Performing for an audience allowed Danil to fall in love with skating in a new way and his career has blossomed over eight years with Willy Bietak Productions and Wheeler Productions in the United States, Stageworks Worldwide Production in the UK and Holiday on Ice Productions and Dynamic Shows Entertainment in the EU. ITNY welcomes Danil as an artist, grateful to his parents, coaches, choreographers, and the fellow skaters who have supported him along the way.
Elizabeth (Liz) Yoshiko Schmidt has been skating with ITNY since 2017. Luscious edges, artistic dynamic movement, and traditional ice dancing and fundamentals in figures inform her skating and professional career which began in 2013, at the age of 18, performing internationally in Germany, France, Austria, Egypt and across the United States. A Japanese/German American skater who hails from Chicago, IL, she recently moved from San Francisco, CA, to New York City. A U.S. Figure Skating double gold medalist in Freestyle and Moves in the Field, and a silver medalist in Ice Dancing, Liz received her BFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2018, and has exhibited her paintings and art work across the Bay Area. Liz took Jazz Fusion dance class at the Alonzo King Lines Dance Center in San Francisco from Lynn Brilhante for 7 years. Her former skating coaches are: Lorna Brown, Beata Handra, Paul Spruell, Phillip DiGuglielmo, Louis Vachon, Audra Shindo-Chan, and most importantly Larry Holliday (African American 6x US Adult Nationals Campionship champion, former Ebony on Ice performer and her first coach).
Lorna Brown, a British and World Professional Champion and World and Olympic coach, has been a principal performer in numerous ice shows across the globe, including John Curry’s Ice Dancing on Broadway and Theatre of Skating at the London Palladium. She has appeared in TV specials, touring galas, and commercials worldwide and has studied contemporary dance, working with some of the world’s leading choreographers. She has coached and choreographed for over 50 national champions including two world professional champions. Lorna most recently choreographed for Emanuel Sandhu, (three-time Canadian Champion), Kevin Van Der Perren (Belgium Champion, two-time European medalist and 2011 silver medalist in Bratislava and Skate America) and Jenna McCorkell (10-time British Champion). Lorna has given workshops on all aspects of figure skating at National and International seminars for both skaters and coaches. She has produced and directed her own international skating school in the UK called Skate of the Art with the world-famous Rafael Arutunian. She specializes in the latest physics and aerodynamics in skating techniques, focuses a great deal on expression and style in her choreography, and has written several articles for skating magazines on these subjects. Lorna moved to the USA several years ago, has been awarded the PSA Level 7 ranking and holds a Bachelor’s in sports science. “Timelessness” is Lorna’s second commission for ITNY.
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Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and More To Perform at TheaterWorksUSA Spring Gala



TheaterWorksUSA, currently presenting the hit family show Dog Man The Musical at New World Stages, will host its annual Spring Gala on Monday, April 24 (cocktails begin at 6 PM) at The Current at Chelsea Piers.

100% of the net proceeds from the event will support our mission to create exceptional, transformative theatrical experiences that are accessible to young and family audiences in diverse communities across New York City and North America.

This year TWUSA will honor Lisa Chanel (TWUSA Board Chair 2019-2022), Andréa Burns  (Award-winning Broadway actress & educator), Peter Flynn (TWUSA alumnus and award-winning director, writer, and educator), and Holly McGhee (Founder and Creator of Pippin Properties, New York Times best selling author). The event will feature appearances by some of Broadway’s biggest stars, including Jason Robert Brown, Chuck Cooper, Janet Dacal, Kevin Del Aguila, Sutton Foster, Lillias White and more.

On behalf of TheaterWorksUSA’s Board of Directors, we are thrilled to celebrate the people who have generously supported our mission, making it possible for us to bring high-quality theater to young audiences of all backgrounds throughout the country. We look forward to recognizing Lisa, Andréa, Peter, and Holly publicly at this very special event. – Tracy A. Stein, Board Chair

It’s a privilege to honor these individuals for playing such an important role in the work we do. Their vision, creativity, and ongoing commitment to our mission is truly something to celebrate. They are very much a part of our TheaterworksUSA family.- Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director

TheaterWorksUSA (Barbara Pasternack, Artistic Director; Michael Harrington, Executive Director) has led the Theater for Young and Family Audiences movement in New York City and across North America for over half a century. At TWUSA, we believe that access to art—and theater, in particular—is vital for our youth. Since 1961, the 501(c)3 not-for-profit has captured the imaginations of 100 million new and veteran theatergoers with an award-winning repertoire of over 140 original plays and musicals. Acclaimed alumni include Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (Disney’s Frozen), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent), Jerry Zaks (The Music Man), Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Dear Evan Hansen), Miguel Cervantes (Hamilton), Kathleen Chalfant (Angels in America), and Chuck Cooper (Tony award-winning actor, The Life). WWW.TWUSA.ORG

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