Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS

Event honored 46 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies that participated in fall fundraising for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

By: Dec. 06, 2023
Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
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An exultant and effervescent Red Bucket Follies returned after a four-year, pandemic-induced hiatus to celebrate six weeks of enthusiastic and dedicated fundraising. The star-studded variety show, performed December 4 and 5, 2023, honored 46 Broadway, Off-Broadway and national touring companies that participated in fall fundraising for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. See photos from the show below!

Red Bucket Follies (#RedBuckets) raised a remarkable $4,553,203. The total was announced at the conclusion of Tuesday’s performance by Jonathan Groff (Merrily We Roll Along), Rachel Bay Jones (Here We Are), and Leslie Odom Jr. and Kara Young (Purlie Victorious).

This year’s top overall fundraising award went to Merrily We Roll Along, which raised an astounding $631,932. Surprising the standing-room-only audience to accept the award was one of Groff’s co-stars, Daniel Radcliffe, who for six weeks energetically led nightly auctions from the stage offering one-of-a-kind show props and other signed treasures. 

Best onstage presentation went to the company of The Lion King. Set to spoken word written by Daniel Watts and performed by Bongi Duma, the timely and meaningful piece was directed and choreographed by cast member Ray Mercer. The piece challenged how toxic masculinity often forces men to suppress their emotions, asking, “what happens to boys when boys don’t cry?”

Back to the Future: The Musical earned the runner-up presentation title for an original number that had cast members revving their engines in an audition for the role of the national tour’s time-traveling DeLorean. Representing theater’s most iconic modes of transportation, from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Greased Lightning to Miss Saigon’s helicopter and Starlight Express’ dining car, the cast comedically competed in a “Car-us Line” to earn the starring role. The number was directed by Billy Hipkins and Jelani Remy.

Here's the breakdown of this year’s fundraising leaders:

Broadway Musical

Top Fundraiser – Merrily We Roll Along ($631,932)

1st Runner-Up – Sweeney Todd ($291,902)

2nd Runner-Up – Some Like It Hot ($186,437)

3rd Runner-Up – Gutenberg! The Musical! ($170,418)

Broadway Play

Top Fundraiser – Purlie Victorious ($87,781)

1st Runner-Up – The Shark is Broken ($56,647)

Off-Broadway (Play or Musical)

Top Fundraiser – Little Shop of Horrors ($52,727)

1st Runner-Up – Here We Are ($41,478)

National Tours

Top Fundraiser – Wicked / Munchkinland ($202,894)

1st Runner-Up – Beetlejuice ($176,861)

2nd Runner-Up – Frozen ($172,284)

3rd Runner-Up – Aladdin ($151,635)

In this year’s opening number, Bonnie Milligan (Kimberly Akimbo) met the ghost of Tony Awards present - the magnetic J. Harrison Ghee (Some Like it Hot) - in a delightful dream sequence that ushered in the return of Follies. Traveling through time in a DeLorean, they met Back to the Future: The Musical’s Jelani Remy who joyfully announced, in the style of the Backstreet Boys, that Red Buckets are back. Complete with a joyful ensemble, spirited choreography and Milligan dressed as a Red Bucket that transformed into a sparkling gown, the number was written by Jed Resnick and directed and choreographed by Andrew Turtletaub.

Seth Rudetsky, host of SiriusXM’s “On Broadway” channel, returned for the 13th time to host the show with his quintessential deconstructions. He thrilled the crowd as he unpacked the vibrato and vocal choices of Broadway’s most legendary names.

Among Red Bucket Follies’ performances: 

  • After eight years of performing the role of Samuel Seabury, Hamilton’s only remaining original cast member, Thayne Jasperson, was fed up of losing to the 10-dollar founding father eight times a week. So Jasperson humorously hijacked the number to transform Seabury into the show's central star in its most pivotal moments. He took the throne as King George, suffered a dramatic post-duel death as Philip and stole the show’s final moments as Hamilton’s loving wife Eliza.
  • Here Lies Love shared “Pasko Na, My Love,” an original Christmas carol with a Filipino twist composed by cast member Angelo Soriano. Despite the song’s heart wrenchingly affecting lyrics about a lost love missed on Christmas, the cast’s buoyant energy and uplifting harmonies brought the spirit of the show to the New Amsterdam stage.
  • Though it seemed like a dozen Broadway dames graced the stage, it was simply SiriusXM “On Broadway” host Christine Pedi (Forbidden Sondheim) sharing her spot-on impressions of Broadway’s most legendary ladies. Set to the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” her riotous impressions celebrated stars from Barbara Streisand and Patti LuPone to Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch.
  • Representing Off-Broadway’s hit Here We Are, Rachel Bay Jones shared a poignant rendition of Paul Simon’s classic “American Tune.” Jones’ unparalleled ability to imbue emotion into lyrics had the audience reflecting on the challenges of the past four years, while looking to brighter times ahead.
  • Hadestown star Lillias White led a bracket of Broadway’s best in renditions of “It’s All Over” and “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” - songs she sang as Effie White in the original 1981 and revival 1987 productions of Dreamgirls. Joined by Javier Colon (TV’s The Voice), Bobby Daye (Moulin Rouge! The Musical), J. Harrison Ghee (Some Like It Hot), Ta'Nika Renee Gibson (Into the Woods), Leslie Odom Jr. (Purlie Victorious), Jelani Remy (Back to the Future: The Musical) and Kimber Elayne Sprawl (Wicked), the powerhouse vocals brought the New Amsterdam audience to its feet.
     
  • Harmony’s Sierra Boggess took the “Music of the Night” to new heights when she shared a continent-spanning spin on Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera. She delighted the crowd as she seamlessly switched between singing “Think of Me” in English, French, Japanese and a Christina Aguilera-inspired rendition straight from a Vegas run.
  • The original Sweeney Todd Len Cariou told the tale of when Stephen Sondheim took away the promise of his 11 o’clock number in A Little Night Music, instead writing the iconic “Send in the Clowns” for a different character. The leading light reclaimed his moment when he performed the song to a standing ovation.
  • Some Like It Hot’s composer and lyricist Marc Shaiman shared the story of his travels with illustrious actor Jenifer Lewis (TV’s Black-ish) when she surprised the crowd and burst onto the stage. The duo performed two uproariously off-color songs they wrote together during their globe-crossing travels.

The show also included a rapturous rendition of “Stand By Me” from Tony Award-winning Broadway Inspirational Voices, as well as tribute to legendary lyricist Sheldon Harnick from Danny Burstein, Jessica Hecht and Andrea Martin.

Hamilton’s Thayne Jasperson directed and choreographed a celebratory salute to the 14 national touring productions that joined in the fall fundraising.

Representing Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the Verdon Fosse Legacy’s Tyler Eisenreich led Sam Faulkner and Hannah Sides in “Mexican Shuffle” from Sweet Gwen Suite, a trio of dances originally performed by Gwen Verdon for television performances in the 1960s. The piece was performed at this fall’s Hudson Valley Dance Festival.

Patrick Page led the audience in a soul-stirring moment of silence to remember lives lost to and affected by HIV/AIDS. Currently starring in his one-man show All the Devils Are Here: How Shakespeare Invented the Villain, Page further shares appreciation of the Bard with a few words from his 30th sonnet, which examines the healing nature of silence: “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend / All losses are restored and sorrows end.”

Other special presenters included Julie Benko, Sierra Boggess, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owen and Chip Zien(Harmony); Corbin Bleu (Little Shop of Horrors); Victoria Clark (Kimberly Akimbo); Lorna Courtney (& Juliet); and Jelani Remy (Back to the Future: The Musical).

The panel of judges who chose the best presentation award winners was introduced by Roger Bart (Back to the Future: The Musical), Alex Brightman (The Shark is Broken, Spamalot) and Danny DeVito (I Need That).

This year’s judges were Museum of Broadway co-founder Julie Boardman; and actors Casey Cott and Courtney Reed (Moulin Rouge! The Musical); Lucy DeVito (I Need That), Melanie La Barrie and Ben Jackson Walker (& Juliet) and Kimberly Marable (Chicago). Also joining the panel were Corey Brunish, Gary Wendlandt and Peg Wendlandt, who won their judging spots by bidding on exclusive VIP packages at the 37th annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction in September.

Red Bucket Follies was directed by Jason Trubitt with Bernadette Schoenborn serving as production stage manager, leading a team of 16 accomplished stage managers. Ted Arthur was music director and Charles Gordonwas music coordinator. Lighting design was by Anthony Pearson with sound by Marie Renee Foucher.

Since 1989, the 31 editions of Red Bucket Follies (formerly called Gypsy of the Year) and last fall’s in-theater fundraising effort have raised $98.9 million to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. 

Red Bucket Follies was performed at the New Amsterdam Theatre, home to Disney’s Aladdin. Red Bucket Follies was sponsored by The New York Times.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, the philanthropic heart of Broadway, 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 theater community, since 1988 Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the major supporter of the social service programs at the Entertainment Community Fund (formerly The Actors Fund), including The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts, the HIV/AIDS Initiative and the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative. Broadway Cares also awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., providing lifesaving medication, healthy meals, counseling and emergency assistance.

For more information, please visit Broadway Cares online at broadwaycares.org

Photo Credit: Rebecca J. Michelson

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
The 2023 Red Bucket Follies Judges

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Red Bucket Follies 2023 Fundraising Awards

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Kara Young, Willa Bost, Leslie Odom Jr.

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Alex Brightman, Leslie Odom Jr.

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Kara Young, Leslie Odom Jr., Denis O'Hare, Rachel Bay Jones, Jonathan Groff

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Daniel RadcliffeLeana Rae Concepcion, Jonathan Groff

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Kara Young, Leslie Odom Jr., Rachel Bay Jones, Jonathan Groff

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Seth Rudetsky

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Christine Pedi

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Cast Members from HAMILTON

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Broadway Inspirational Voices

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Jessica Hecht, Danny Burstein

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Danny Burstein, Andrea Martin

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Marc Shaiman, Jennifer Lewis

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Sierra Boggess

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
The Red Bucket Follies 2023 Opening Number

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
J. Harrison Ghee, Bonnie Milligan

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Jelani Remy and company

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Victoria Clark Corbin Bleu Jelani Remy Lorna Courtney

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Cast members from HERE LIES LOVE

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Cast members from THE LION KING

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Lillias White

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Lillias White and friends

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Rachel Bay Jones

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Cast members from Broadway national tours

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
The Verdon Fosse Legacy

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Cast members from Back to the Future

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Seth Rudetsky, Len Cariou

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Danny DeVito, Alex Brightman, Roger Bart

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Patrick Page

Photos: RED BUCKET FOLLIES Raises $4,553,203 For Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS
Cast members from HARMONY








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