Gypsy of the Year Competition Raises $4.8 Million for BC/EFA

by Jacob Coakley

Shows raised a record amount for the 23rd annual Gypsy of the Year competition.
Shows raised a record amount for the 23rd annual Gypsy of the Year competition.
Big congrats to the 53 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies who raised a record $4,895,253 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, during their 23rd annual Gypsy of the Year drive. The Gypsy of the Year competition pits ensemble members of Broadway shows in good-spirited competition with each other to win the title of Gypsy of the Year, and is combined with a six-week drive to raise funds for BC/EFA during shows. The company of Billy Elliot took honors for the best onstage presentation while the cast of Mary Poppins was runner-up. In terms of donations, How to Succeed in Business… was this year’s donations leader, raising more than $325,000. Hugh Jackman received a special award for his efforts, though, as he raised $857,740 in just three weeks of fundraising during his run in Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway. More info about the competition and video highlights of the opening number—a reunion of the original Broadway cast of Grease—after the jump!

 

BROADWAY CARES/EQUITY FIGHTS AIDS’23RD ANNUAL GYPSY OF THE YEAR RAISES RECORD-BREAKING $4,895,253

The 23rd Annual GYPSY OF THE YEAR raised an all-time high $4,895,253 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, thanks to the tireless work of 53 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies during six weeks of intensive fundraising this fall.

The grand total was announced Tuesday, December 6, at this year's GYPSY OF THE YEAR, which included songs, original skits and dances performed by more than 300 singers, dancers and musicians.

Since 1989, the 23 editions of GYPSY OF THE YEAR have raised a total of $49,031,973 to benefit Broadway Cares. The previous fundraising record was $4.6 million in 2009. Last year's event raised $3.7 million.

Hugh Jackman (Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway), Bernadette Peters (Follies) and Daniel Radcliffe (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) announced 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 presented awards to the top fundraising companies and best performances in this year's show.

Jackman also was honored with a special award for raising $857,740 in just three weeks of fundraising for Broadway Cares during his run in Hugh Jackman Back on Broadway.
This year’s fundraising competition ended with the following shows landing on top:

Broadway (Musical)
Top Fundraiser            How to Succeed in Business… $325,935
1st Runner-Up             The Book of Mormon $315,968
2nd Runner-Up            Wicked $240,809
3rd Runner-Up            Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark $197,285
4th Runner-Up            Follies $186,405

Broadway (Play)
Top Fundraiser            Other Desert Cities $77,712

Off-Broadway (Play or Musical)
Top Fundraiser            Rent $43,300

National Tours
Top Fundraiser            Wicked – Munchkinland $326,902
1st Runner-Up             Wicked – Emerald City $316,299
2nd Runner-Up            Mary Poppins $169,709       
3rd Runner-Up            Jersey Boys $157,831

The company of Billy Elliot took honors for the best onstage presentation while the cast of Mary Poppins was runner-up.

The 2011 edition of GYPSY OF THE YEAR, which was presented in two shows on December 5 and 6, is the culmination 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."

GYPSY OF THE YEAR opened with a spirited reunion of the original Broadway cast of Grease in celebration of the show's upcoming 40th anniversary.  Stars Barry Bostwick, Carole Demas, Adrienne Barbeau, Alan Paul, Walter Bobbie, ­Don Billett, James Canning, Daniel Douglas, Katie Hanley, Tom Harris, Ilene Kristen, Joy Rinaldi and Mews Small kept the audience screaming as they revisited songs from one of the most popular musicals in Broadway history.

The opening number celebrating Grease was created by director/choreographer Rommy Sandhu and music director Ben Cohn, with the generous participation of original choreographer Patricia Birch.

Grease, with book, music and lyrics by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey and originally directed by Tom Moore, garnered seven Tony Award nominations and played 3,388 Broadway performances before closing April 13, 1980.

GYPSY OF THE YEAR performances ended with a heartfelt send-off to Broadway's Billy Elliot, which will close January 8 after three years at the Imperial Theatre. Singing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down" as current ‘Billy,’ Julian Elia, captivated the audience with his dance, more than 80 current and past company members appeared on stage including several of the ‘Billys’ who have played the role on Broadway.

GYPSY OF THE YEAR also featured a slew of other appearances that left the sold-out crowd cheering:
Leslie Uggams made a surprise appearance during Anything Goes’ spoof of Uggams notoriously flubbing the lyrics to "June is Busting Out All Over," which has been a must-see YouTube sensation for any theatre lover.
Four of the younger Mary Poppins cast members uproariously offered dramatic snippets of the "middle school editions" of some classic adult plays, such as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Jan Maxwell, Elaine Paige, Terri White and the cast of Follies hilariously lamented the January departure of their show from the Marquis Theatre to make room for Ricky Martin in Evita.
The Broadway company of The Lion King displayed exceptional grace and control in a captivating dance that encourages trust in yourself and others.
With a classic melding of choreography inspired by the legendary Bob Fosse, Ann Reinking and Michael Bennett, a cast of more than two dozen dancers celebrated Chicago, which this year became the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.
The cast of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying playfully explored the commitment to doing eight shows a week and not missing a single performance, no matter the injury or ailment, in a song-and-dance presentation written by the show's star, Daniel Radcliffe.
The Addams Family's Adam Riegler, who plays the young ‘Pugsley,’ delivered a dead-pan stand-up monologue transforming the traditional Broadway Cares collection bucket into his own fundraising scheme as his show's run comes to an end.

The 2011 edition of GYPSY OF THE YEAR also featured outstanding and often show-stopping performances by the companies of The Awesome 80s Prom, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Memphis, Naked Boys Singing, NEWSical the Musical, The Phantom of the Opera, Silence! The Musical, Sister Act, and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.

Celebrity presenters included Nick Adams (Priscilla Queen of the Desert), Danny Burstein and Jan Maxwell (Follies), Russell Fischer  and Quinn VanAntwerp (Jersey Boys), Beth Leavel (Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays), Judith Light (Other Desert Cities), Michele Mais (Rock of Ages) and Patrick Page (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark).

Judges included Stephanie J. Block (Anything Goes), director and choreographer Jeff Calhoun (Bonnie & Clyde, Newsies), Kim Cattrall (Private Lives), Nikki M. James (The Book of Mormon), Paul Libin (Executive Vice President of Jujamcyn Theaters and President of the BC/EFA Board of Trustees), and Tony Sheldon (Priscilla Queen of the Desert). Also joining the panel were Stephanie Toups and Karen Walter, who both won judging spots by being high bidders on exclusive VIP packages at the 25th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction in September.

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).

The 23rd Annual GYPSY OF THE YEAR was directed by Valerie Lau-Kee Lai with Jason Trubitt serving as production stage manager.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is one of the nation’s leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organizations. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, since 1988 BC/EFA has raised more than $195 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

BC/EFA awards annual grants to more than 400 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide and is the major supporter of seven programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic.

For more information, please visit Broadway Cares online at broadwaycares.org.