Thanks to the fundraising efforts of casts of such musicals as Hamilton: An American Musical, Mean Girls and The Lion King, the 33rd annual Easter Bonnet Competition raised $6.59 million for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) — a new record for a Broadway Cares event.
The eye-popping sum was raised by 69 Broadway, off-Broadway and national touring productions over the course of six weeks. Cast and crew of those shows would make appeals to their audiences, seeking donations for BC/EFA, often auctioning off signed memorabilia and unique gifts. For example, the cast of The Cher Show on Broadway raised $22,000 by auctioning off a meet-and-greet opportunity with Cher herself (who was on-stage for the auction), along with a pair of tickets to her upcoming concert at Madison Square Garden.
The fundraising drive concluded in the annual Easter Bonnet Competition on April 22 and 23, where some of Broadway’s brightest singers, actors and dancers put on a razzle-dazzle show. The Easter Bonnet Competition featured, of course, 20 one-of-a-kind handcrafted bonnets, with many presented via skits and musical numbers by the casts of current Broadway shows. (See highlights of the show, below.)
The year’s top overall fundraising award went to the Hamilton — and Peggy tour, which raised $513,734. The show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, made a surprise appearance at the Competition to accept the award. The top fundraising musicals on Broadway were Hamilton ($325,305), Mean Girls ($238,005) and The Lion King ($191,378), while the Broadway play that raised the most was To Kill a Mockingbird ($196,464). The award for best presentation went to the cast of the off-Broadway production Fiddler On the Roof – In Yiddish, while best bonnet design went to Broadway’s Come From Away.
The Easter Bonnet Competition benefits and is produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and is one of a number of charitable events produced by the organization each year. Among BC/EFA’s other annual charity events: Broadway Backwards, Broadway Bets (May 13), Broadway Bares Fire Island (June 1), Broadway Bares (June 16), Broadway Barks (July 13), Fire Island Dance Festival (July 19), Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction (Sept. 22), Hudson Valley Dance Festival (Oct. 12), Broadway Run (Nov. 2), and Red Bucket Follies (Dec. 9-10). (All dates subject to change.)
According to BC/EFA, the organization has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States since 1988.