VIDEO: Turn Things Around with Highlights from Record Breaking BROADWAY BACKWARDS
A bevy of Broadway's brightest stars joined a sold-out audience on March 11, 2019, to celebrate and motivate the LGBTQ community and its allies through gender-reversed renditions of beloved show tunes, spectacular choreography and a record-breaking fundraising total at Broadway Backwards.
Check out highlights from the evening below!
The 14th annual edition of the show raised $704,491 to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City. The previous fundraising record was set last year at $680,273.
Broadway Backwards (#BroadwayBackwards), which was produced by Broadway Cares at the New Amsterdam Theatre, featured a cast of 130 performers and a live, 12-piece orchestra. It started with two of Broadway's favorite singing-and-dancing leading men - Gavin Creel and Andrew Rannells - and ended with a stirring anthem led by the evening's host, Tony Award nominee Jenn Colella (Come From Away).
As the evening's openers, the Tony-winning Creel (Waitress, Hello, Dolly!) and two-time Tony nominee Rannells (The Boys in the Band, TV's Girls and Black Monday) invited the audience to join in the celebration and "come play with [them]" in a playful rendition of "Where You Are" from Kiss of the Spider Woman. They were joined by the Broadway Backwards ensemble in effervescent choreography created by Paul McGill, which paid homage to some of the most iconic dances in Broadway history.
The show rapturously ended with Colella singing "Louder Than Words" from Tick, Tick...BOOM!, backed by Broadway Inspirational Voices. The soul-stirring performance asked: "Why do we follow leaders who never lead? Why does it take catastrophe to start a revolution?... Actions speak louder than words."
Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Darren Criss (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, TV's The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story) battled a case of pre-wedding jitters with the rapid-fire patter of Stephen Sondheim's "Getting Married Today" from Company. Criss, who just got married himself last month, was joined by Ward Billeisen, Michael James Scott and the Broadway Backwards ensemble.
Spurred by a gaggle of attention paid to Tony winner Donna McKechnie (A Chorus Line), two-time Tony winner Bebe Neuwirth (Chicago) sought reassurance with a playful and affectionate rendition of "I Still Get Jealous" from High Button Shoes. The audience revelled in the opportunity to see the two legendary dancers break into Jerome Robbins' iconic choreography, restaged by Stephen Reed.
Robyn Hurder (Moulin Rouge) and Alexandra Silber (Fiddler on the Roof) put a twist on the roles of Tulsa and Louise in a romantic restaging of Gypsy's "All I Need is the Girl." Silber lovingly and wistfully watched Hurder fantasize about her perfect partner. The piece, originally choreographed by Jerome Robbins, was restaged by Tony nominee Tony Yazbeck (The Prince of Broadway), who played the role of Tulsa and performed the choreography in the 2008 revival of Gypsy.
Tony nominee Ariana DeBose (Summer: The Donna Summer Musical) showed off her impressive dancing skills, backed up by a female ensemble, in a fun and flirty rendition of Bye Bye Birdie's "A Lot of Livin' to Do." The sultry and salsa-infused number was choreographed by Karla Puno Garcia (Hamilton).
Iconic Bob Fosse choreography got the Backwards treatment when Clyde Alves (On the Town) and Nathan Lee Graham (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) led Sweet Charity's iconic "Big Spender." The song's quintessential dance hostesses were replaced with an alluring all-male ensemble, with Fosse's choreography meticulously restaged by Mimi Quillin.
A lovestruck Bonnie Milligan (Head Over Heels) sought advice from a park bench-sitting stranger in "I Met a Girl" from Bells are Ringing. As an the archetypal cynical New Yorker, Tony winner Debra Monk (Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, TV's Mozart in the Jungle) helped Milligan find herself amid a park full of LGBTQ love connections. The number was choreographed by Broadway Backwards' creator Robert Bartley and Robbie Roby.
When Abercrombie and Fitch employee Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Tuck Everlasting) was bullied by his brawny coworkers and menacing manager, played by Casey Garvin, Brian Martin, Alex Ringler and Janelle lutz, he remained unphased because he was head-over-heels in love. Choreographed by Bartley and Roby, the group performed West Side Story's "I Feel Pretty," complete with rhythmic shirt folding and an homage to the show's "America" choreography.