Like I Don’t Love Broadway Enough Already

Y’all know well and good how much I love Broadway.  Nothing makes me happier than dance belts, spray glitter, jazz hands, and huge choreographed numbers.  Truth be told?  I have to bite my lip each and every time I settle into my seat and that first swell of music washes over me, just to keep from crying at the beauty and excitement of it all.  The quickest way to make me feel like an eight year old again is plop me in a velvet covered chair and hand me a program.

And I love the Broadway community.  Hell, I love talent in general, especially when that talent is tempered with a strong sense of humor – like when the guys from the current production of The Importance of Being Ernest (which is just delicious and you should go see it) put together some videos of Jersey Shore transcripts in the style of Oscar Wilde.

But what I love most about the Broadway community is their heart.  As I already mentioned, I was lucky enough to attend a performance of 25th annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS Easter Bonnet Competition.  I LOVE this charity and always jump at the chance to attend any of their events.  I just think there’s something so beautiful in watching people that passionately love what they do harness that passion into devotion to helping their fellow man.  Obviously I’m just a big softy.

As it does every year, the show consists of various skits, songs and/or dances performed by cast members from various shows, often spoofing themselves (and other shows) before unveiling their elaborate “Easter Bonnet.”  Mind you, the bonnet is usually the size of a small rhinoceros and is probably equally as heavy.  See this example from the performance by the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

This year, the event raised over $3.7 million to “fund the social service work of The Actors Fund and award grants to AIDS service organizations nationwide.”  And pardon me while I brag, but Rocco’s show raised the most money of any Broadway production with a whopping $270k!  You go, Harry Potter!  And I have to give mad props to my friend Tree for c0-designing the winning bonnet for Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo!

La Cage aux Folles won the award for best bonnet presentation.  Frankly, it was no contest.  I’m still haunted by that performance.

Twenty-five years ago, the very first Easter Bonnet presentation took place at La Cage’s theater, during its first run on Broadway.  That was in 1987, the same year AZT was first approved for the treatment of HIV/AIDS by the FDA.  Between lines of song, each of the dancers stepped forward and somberly spoke the name of one of the original company members who has since died of AIDS.  Those dancers were then joined by members of the original 1983 company and the 2004 revival to sing “The Best of Times.”  The performance ended with the unveiling of the bonnet – a reproduction of the original bonnet from 1987.

Obviously I bawled.  I mean, you’d have to be dead inside to not be moved, right?

Between numbers, stars of stage and screen would take the podium to recount the accomplishments and gifts the charity made over the past year.  I was particularly touched by the letter they read from someone in South Carolina.  Forgive me, I didn’t have anything to write with at the show so I have to paraphrase, but essentially the letter went something like, “I never thought I could feel the warmth of the lights of the Great White Way all the way down here in Charleston, but I do.”

Some days I just love people.  Let’s face it, I love beautiful gay male dancers EVERY day – especially in drag.  But it’s nice to have reaffirmation that the beautiful people I so love to watch tap dance in the spotlight are just as beautiful inside.

So come visit New York.  Go see a show.  Support this beautiful community.  And leave an hour or two in your calendar to split a piece of cheesecake with me.

If you’d like to support Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, you can make a donation here.


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28 thoughts on “Like I Don’t Love Broadway Enough Already

  1. This is one of the reasons I am jealous of people who live close enough to NYC to go regularly — the ability to attend events like this. I am so in love with theatre and high school productions of The Sound of Music just don’t cut it.

    If I ever get to come visit, I will not split cheesecake with you. Cheesecake is too good to share. I will buy you a piece of your very own though.

  2. Um…yea. There is NOTHING I wouldn’t do to eat cheescake with you, kiddo.

    And I mus confess – much as I adore the West End (and I do), it isn’t a patch on good old Broadway.

    ((sigh))

    – B x

  3. Great post! And I’m jealous all over that I haven’t seen a show since, well, probably 2001. And it may or may not have been a play, The Dead, likely, in which Chris Walken was as creepy as ever.

    All not info you need to have. Yay!

  4. Broadway is what I miss about living in NYC the most! Congrats to Rocco. And yay to you for being able to witness such awesomeness.
    I can’t wait to take my kids to their first show, I still remember mine like it was yesterday!

  5. One of these days I will bring Laura to NYC. I would love to meet you (and the parasite). Maybe we can see a show together.

  6. I would so love to come visit NYC. It’s my dream. Alas, my dream is also to get my kids into college, so I have to pick…decisions, decisions…

  7. I think I need to go back and read all of your posts because there is so much I don’t know about you. I know you are knocked up, beat cancer, and move a lot and used to love the occasional motherfuckinboozeday but there’s info I’m missing. But hurray for Rocko who is obviously not a male gay dancer, right, I’m right on there? And hurray for you and your lovely posts about the things you care about. I wish I was in a red velvet chair right now looking at Easter bonnets. On motherfuckinboozeday, though, not on allknockedupday.

  8. I am a free crier. I cried reading your description of the show. As much as humans can get on my nerves, seeing someone(or a group) reach out to help others never fails to move me.

    Also, cheesecake. Planning on it.

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