The theater community rallied together once again with spirited skits, dynamic dance and brilliant bonnets as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’ Easter Bonnet Competition returned April 24 and 25, 2023.
The performances celebrated in-theater Red Bucket appeals that raised $3,601,355 for meals and medication, health care and hope for those who need them most.
The vibrant festivities, the first since 2019 because of pandemic restrictions, perfectly concluded six weeks of Spring Fundraising by 42 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies.
The production featured one-of-a-kind performances and 17 meticulously handcrafted bonnets created especially for this 34th annual edition of the Easter Bonnet Competition.
The award for best presentation went to the cast of The Lion King for a heartwarming dance that explored a moment in the life of a young couple. Cast members India Bolds-Browne and Malcolm Miles Young performed fellow castmate Ray Mercer’s piece, set to the spoken word poetry of Shanessa Sweeney.
The number cleverly referenced some of the most widely known Broadway shows exclusively written by or starring Black artists. The show’s bonnet, made by Kenneth Griffin, skillfully integrated an afro wig to create a beautifully abstract structure worn by cast member Lindsey Jackson.
First runner-up for best presentation went to The Phantom of the Opera. Alumni cast members parodied the harrowing romance between Christine Daaé and the Phantom in a humorous skit set in a New Jersey nursing home haunted by the Geezer of Music.
The feathery bonnet adorned with masks that paid homage to the show’s 35-year run on Broadway was created by Aaron Carlson, Jena Goldberg, Addie Gerber, Haley Tynes and Lizzy Ghent.
The award for best bonnet design went to Chicago. Created by Patrick Rinn and the Chicago wardrobe department, the bonnet was an elaborate double feature that honored the closing of The Phantom of the Opera and the ascension of Chicago to status of longest currently running show on Broadway.
Broadway Cares also recognized the brilliant work of three legacy bonnet designers: Philip Stoehr, who created this year’s opening number bonnet; Ricky Jay Yates for the bonnet of the national tours; and Billy Hipkins for his towering Ghost Light bonnet, which honored the time theaters were otherwise dark during the pandemic.
This season’s top fundraisers:
Top Fundraiser: & Juliet – $231,536
1st Runner-up: The Phantom of the Opera – $223,274
2nd Runner-up: Moulin Rouge! The Musical – $198,586
3rd Runner-up: Wicked – $169,445
4th Runner-up: Funny Girl – $166,178
Top Fundraiser: A Doll’s House – $176,480
1st Runner-up: Pictures from Home – $86,373
Off-Broadway Plays and Musicals
Top Fundraiser: Little Shop of Horrors – $54,441
1st Runner-up: The Play That Goes Wrong – $43,198
Top Fundraiser: Wicked – Munchkinland – $204,090
1st Runner-up: Hamilton – Philip – $112,731
2nd Runner-up: Frozen – $96,348
3rd Runner-up: Six – Aragon – $94,008
The Easter Bonnet Competition is the culmination of six weeks of fundraising efforts by company members of Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring production.
The efforts play a crucial role in Broadway Cares’ National Grants Program, which supports health care, counseling, meals, medication and emergency financial support in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.