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Broadway’s Annual Easter Bonnet Competition Returns!

April 21st, 2014 Comments off
The 2012 Easter Bonnet Competition (photo: Monica Simoes) via The Broadway Blog.

The 2012 Easter Bonnet Competition (photo: Monica Simoes)
via The Broadway Blog.

The Easter Bonnet Competition is the culmination of six intensive weeks of fundraising efforts by company members of Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring productions. Curtain speeches, bucket collections, autographed poster and program sales, auctions and cabaret performances bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars from audiences prior to the competition.  The winner of the Easter Bonnet Competition will be the company that raises the largest amount of money for Broadway Cares.  Awards are also presented to the Broadway play, national tour and Off-Broadway production raising the most money. The judges determine awards given to the company with the best bonnet design and presentation.

Broadway veterans will share the stage with celebrated newcomers as Bryan Cranston, Fran Drescher, James Franco, Idina Menzel, Denzel Washington and more than 200 of Broadway and off-Broadway’s most talented performers come together for the 28th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition.  Presented by and benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, this year’s Easter Bonnet Competition (#bcefabonnets) will be held Monday, April 21 and Tuesday, April 22.

The 2012 Easter Bonnet Competition (photo: Kevin Thomas Garcia) via The Broadway Blog.

The 2012 Easter Bonnet Competition (photo: Kevin Thomas Garcia) via The Broadway Blog.

Tickets start as low as $30.  They are available online at broadwaycares.org or by calling 212.840.0770, ext. 268. The show will be performed at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre, 200 West 45th Street, home to Disney’s The Lion King. A limited number of tickets will be available one hour prior to each performance in the lobby of the Minskoff Theatre.

Cranston (All the Way), Drescher (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Menzel (If/Then) and Washington (A Raisin in the Sun) will announce the top fundraising and best presentation awards at the Tuesday performance. Franco and his Of Mice and Men co-stars, Chris O’Dowd and Leighton Meester, will introduce the competition’s judges.

More of Broadway’s biggest names this season will grace the stage throughout the competition.  Stars scheduled to appear include Brandon Victor Dixon (Motown The Musical), Hunter Foster (The Bridges of Madison County), Ramin Karimloo (Les Misérables), Andy Karl (Rocky), Ron Kunene (Disney’s The Lion King), LaChanze (If/Then), Tshidi Manye (Disney’s The Lion King), Jefferson Mays (A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder), Cass Morgan (The Bridges of Madison County), Jessie Mueller (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Bryce Pinkham (A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder), Christopher Sieber (Matilda The Musical) and Karen Ziemba (Bullets Over Broadway).

Rory O’Malley (The Book of Mormon) and original Matilda Sophia Gennusa will appear in the original opening number, directed and choreographed by Al Blackstone. Hugh Panaro (The Phantom of the Opera) will close the show with the traditional performance of “Help is on the Way,” BC/EFA’s Easter Bonnet anthem.

The show also will include a special appearance by Kim Zimmer (Wicked) in the national touring show presentation, choreographed by Adam Fleming.

Productions scheduled to perform and present bonnets include After Midnight, Avenue Q, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Disaster!, If/Then, Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia!, Mothers and Sons, Murder for Two, Newsies, Once, Disney’s The Lion King and, with a special performance by MOMIX representing Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares, and special presentations by BC/EFA’s affiliate organizations: ASTEP, Broadway Green Alliance, Broadway Impact, Broadway Serves and R.Evolución Latina.

The 27 previous editions of the Easter Bonnet Competition have raised more than $53 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Last year’s event raised $4,250,542.

Kids’ Night on Broadway Kicks Off

February 24th, 2014 Comments off

Kids'_Night_on_Broadway_Logo

Kids’ Night on Broadway begins tonight and runs through March 2, 2014. Sparking even more excitement for the 18th annual event is National Ambassador, Tony-winner Idina Menzel. Kids’ Night on Broadway is when kids ages 6 to 18 can see Broadway shows for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult. Tickets also include restaurant discounts, parking discounts, educational programs, and some very special events still to be announced! 

“When I first went to Broadway, it was a life-changing experience,” says Menzel, who will be starring in the forthcoming Broadway musical If/Then. “There’s something magical about walking through the theatre district and seeing the marquees and the lights. Nothing compares to a live Broadway performance! As an adult, I still have that nostalgic feeling I had as a child.”

Idina Menzel (photo: Facebook)

Idina Menzel (photo: Facebook)

“It’s important that kids come to theatre because they get to see life through different characters. The arts are so important in general,” says Menzel, “and I’m so grateful that my career awards me with so many special opportunities to connect with young people. I’m honored to be the Kids’ Night on Broadway National Ambassador and extra thrilled that this year’s cause-related component is our arts-centered foundation, A Broader Way, which enables expression, empowerment, and enlightenment. As does Broadway.”

Idina Menzel made her Broadway debut in the Pulitzer Prize-winner, Rent, for which she was nominated for a Tony Awardâ and followed that with her Tony Award-winning performance in Wicked, which she subsequently brought to London’s West End. She will make her highly anticipated return to the Broadway stage this March in the new musical, If/Then.  Menzel’s voice can currently be heard in the hit Disney animated film, Frozen.

On film, she recreated her role of Maureen Johnson in Chris Columbus’ film version of Rent, and has appeared in movies as varied as Enchanted and Ask the Dust.  On television, Menzel recurred over multiple seasons of “Glee” and has guest-starred in numerous other shows. She starred in her own PBS special, “Barefoot at the Symphony,” with an accompanying album. Menzel recently concluded a highly successful international concert tour with a sold out performance at Carnegie Hall.

In 2010, Idina Menzel founded A Broader Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering girls from urban communities an outlet for self-expression and creativity through arts-centered programs, with an emphasis on building self-esteem, developing leadership qualities and striving for personal and social achievement. Kids’ Night on Broadway is proud to salute A Broadway Way Foundation as this year’s cause-related component. Visit ABroaderWay.org for more information.

Kids’ Night on Broadway will also take place in multiple cities around the country, with different shows and venues putting their own spin on the event, on numerous dates throughout the year. Check kidsnightonbroadway.com/across for specific dates and locations.

“Annie” Returns to Broadway

November 9th, 2012 Comments off

Lilla Crawford & Sunny in "Annie". Photo by Joan Marcus.

The bitch is back.

OK, technically speaking “Sandy” in Annie is a boy dog but…you get the point. And with a spanking new Broadway revival — which opened last night to solid and at times glowing reviews — the tail wagging charmer and the belting moppet are back to incite more girlish sighs and cynical eye rolls.  I mean, has there ever been a musical more beloved and simultaneously maligned (as everything horrible about relentlessly cheery, vocal chord popping musical theater) than this show? And yet…and yet the songs are damn solid — “Easy Street” is a truly dynamite number — and undeniably a part of our cultural fabric.

Who hasn’t sung “Tomorrow”–either in earnest or in jest? I’ll admit it, there are cassette tapes that exist of an eleven year old me belting out my boy soprano version in my bedroom. These recordings will remain under lock and key until 25 years after my death so don’t bother looking for them…and instead check out these amazing renditions:

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