Photo Flash: Tituss Burgess, Lena Hall, Florence Henderson, Norm Lewis, Rob McClure, Lily Tomlin and More Raise Over $460K in BC/EFA's BROADWAY BACKWARDS
The 10th anniversary of Broadway Backwards capped off an exuberant, exhilarating and emotional evening of performances on Monday, March 9, 2015 with news that this year's event raised a record $466,717 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. Scroll down for photos from the show, and see more images here!
The sold-out show included 20 audience-pleasing numbers and multiple standing ovations for Tituss Burgess, Lena Hall, Florence Henderson, Norm Lewis, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Lillias White and more Broadway favorites, as well as a special appearance by recent Kennedy Center Honoree Lily Tomlin. Julie Halston and Rob McClure served as the evening's jovial hosts.
Broadway Backwards (#bwaybackwards) is the annual celebration where gays and lesbians see their stories told through the great songs of musical theatre, sung by their favorite Broadway performers. It is produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and was presented again in the historic Al Hirschfeld Theatre, home to the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Kinky Boots.
This year's edition of Broadway Backwards featured a spirited 66-person cast and an onstage orchestra of 13 performing some of the most memorable numbers from previous editions of the benefit. Highlights from this year's show included:
- A rousing finale of "I Am What I Am" featuring Shawna M. Hamic and the full ensemble turning a gospel-fueled version of the La Cage Aux Folles anthem into rallying cry for acceptance and equality for all.
- Stage and television icon Florence Henderson exploring a fleeting attraction to "dames" in a decidedly bawdy twist to the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic "There's Nothing Like a Dame" from South Pacific.
- Lillias White adding a funky, disco beat and booty-shaking dance break to South Pacific's "Some Enchanted Evening," which she first performed inBroadway Backwards in 2011.
- Tituss Burgess reviving his crowd-pleasing 2013 performance of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls, again bringing the audience to its feet with his emotional, heartbreaking rendition. Burgess was joined by Charl Brown, Jaime Cepero, Steven Cutts, Brandon Pearson, Dennis Stowe andCurtis Wiley.
- Brian Stokes Mitchell tugging at audience members' heartstrings with a bewitching rendition of George and Ira Gershwin's "The Man I Love," originally sung on Broadway in Lady, Be Good, then in Strike Up the Band. He elevated the moment with an instrumental interlude played on a melodica.
- Lena Hall turning up the volume to rock out on a distinctly personal version of "Feed Me (Git it)" from Little Shop of Horrors.
- Norm Lewis returning to Broadway Backwards to once again fill the theatre with his rich baritone voice and an impassioned version of "Home" from The Wiz.
- Chicago's "six merry murderesses" were represented in a sexy, all-male version of "Cell Block Tango" featuring Joshua Buscher-West, Marty Lawson,Alfie Parker Jr., Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, Alex Ringler and Ryan Steele.
Other outstanding performances included: Robin De Jesús, Rob McClure and Micah Stock opening the show with a dating app-inspired rendition of "Matchmaker" from Fiddler on the Roof; Douglas Sills dreaming "I Could Have Danced All Night" with the male members of the ensemble; Jim Brochu andHarvey Evans delightfully realizing that "It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love;" Len Cariou and Lee Roy Reams sweetly recalling different versions of their first date in "I Remember It Well" from Gigi; Mario Cantone flipping on the comedy switch with "Chief Cook and Bottlewasher" from The Rink; leading men Aaron Lazar andTony Yazbeck with the emotional "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love" from West Side Story; Ann Harada performing "I Won't Send Roses" from Mack and Mabel;Charles Busch confessing his love for a less-than-perfect man, "Bill" from Show Boat; Maureen McGovern revisiting "This Nearly Was Mine" from South Pacific; and a special performance by the all-male string quartet Well-Strung, which flipped an Edvard Grieg classical music piece into a mash-up with the "Let It Go" from the blockbuster Disney movie Frozen.
Tomlin offered her personal thanks to the audience for their 10 years of gracious support of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Center. She also shared insight into the good work being done by both organizations to collaborate and share resources to make a difference for our friends and neighbors right here in New York and so many more around the country.
This year's fundraising total surpassed the previous record of $423,182, set last year. In its 10 editions, Broadway Backwards has raised more than $2.4million for Broadway Cares and The Center.
Broadway Backwards creator Robert Bartley again directed and choreographed the show. Also returning were Mary-Mitchell Campbell as music supervisor and Tim Rosser as music director. Production Stage Manager Peter Lawrence led a team of 12 stage managers. Adam Roberts served as associate choreographer with lighting design by Ryan O'Gara and costume design by Bernadette Banner.
Florence Henderson and Company
'Cell Block Tango' Cast
Shawna M. Hamic and Company
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