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BC/EFA's 28th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition Kicks Off Today at Minskoff Theatre

BC/EFA's 28th Annual Easter Bonnet Competition Kicks Off Today at Minskoff Theatre

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 today, Monday, April 21 and Tuesday, April 22.

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 includeBrandon Victor Dixon (Motown The Musical), Hunter Foster (The Bridges of Madison County), Ramin Karimloo (LES MISERABLES), 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 byAdam Fleming.

The Easter Bonnet judges will include costume designer Gregg Barnes (Kinky Boots) and actors Christopher Hanke (Buyer and Cellar),Carly Rae Jepsen (Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella), Michael McKean (All the Way), Jim Norton (Of Mice and Men), Patrick Page(Casa Valentina), Annie Potts (Pippin) and Anthony Rapp (If/Then). Also joining the judging panel are Eric Forst and Peg Wendlandt, who both won their spots by being high bidders on exclusive VIP packages at the 27th Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction in September.

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.

This year's Easter Bonnet Competition will be directed by Kristin Newhouse with music supervision by Ben Cohn.

The Easter Bonnet Competition is a two-day Broadway spectacular that features the companies of Broadway, Off-Broadway and touring productions singing, dancing and donning elaborate and often outrageous original bonnets. There will be two opportunities to see theEaster Bonnet Competition: Monday, April 21 at 4:30 pm and Tuesday, April 22 at 2 pm.

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.

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.

The Easter Bonnet Competition is sponsored by The New York Times and United Airlines.

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 $250 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

Broadway Cares awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide and is the major supporter of the social service 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, visit Broadway Cares at broadwaycares.org.

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