After a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the annual Easter Bonnet Competition returns to raise funds for Broadway Cares. The 34th annual competition is held April 24 at 4:30 PM and April 25 at 2 PM at Broadway's Minskoff Theatre, currently home to Disney's The Lion King.
During the fundraiser, performers from Broadway, Off-Broadway, and national touring companies share original songs and skits, as well as their unique bonnet designs, marking the end of six weeks of fundraising efforts by 42 productions.
Shows scheduled to perform and present handcrafted bonnets include Bad Cinderella; A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical; Chicago; Hamilton; Kimberly Akimbo; The Lion King; Little Shop of Horrors; Parade; The Phantom of the Opera; Six; and Some Like It Hot as well as Broadway Cares affiliate organizations Broadway Green Alliance, Broadway Serves, and R.Evolución Latina. The show will also pay tribute to Starlite Deli, set to close this month after 39 years as owner Jung Min Kim retires.
The competition is hosted by several current Broadway performers, including Christian Borle and J. Harrison Ghee (Some Like It Hot); Victoria Clark (Kimberly Akimbo); Micaela Diamond and Ben Platt (Parade); Bongi Duma and Lindiwe Dlamini (The Lion King); Kimberly Marable (Chicago); Stark Sands (& Juliet); Will Swenson (A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical); and the current queens of Broadway’s Six: Bella Coppola, Leandra Ellis-Gaston, Zoe Jensen, Taylor Imán Jones, Nasia Thomas, and Hailee Kaleem Wright.
The opening number is directed and written by Billy Hipkins with choreography by Alex Sanchez. The fundraising efforts of national tours are represented in a number conceived and choreographed by Lainie Sakakura, and Parsons Dance will present a piece on behalf of Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares. Kimberly Akimbo's Bonnie Milligan will perform David Friedman’s “Help Is on the Way,” the competition's longtime closing anthem.
Paul Smith directs this year's competition with Mahlon Kruse serving as production stage manager, Ted Arthur as music supervisor, and Charles Gordon as orchestra coordinator. Sound design is by Greg Reif, and lighting design is by Jessica Creager.
Carolee Carmello (Bad Cinderella), Arian Moayed (A Doll’s House), and Brandon Uranowitz (Leopoldstadt) will introduce the judges at the April 25 performance, who include producer and Broadway Cares Trustee Barry Brown; Kevin Cahoon and Caroline Innerbichler (Shucked); Wayne Cilento (Bob Fosse's Dancin'); Jordan Dobson and Linedy Genao (Bad Cinderella); Tovah Feldshuh (Funny Girl); Elijah Rhea Johnson (MJ The Musical); and Paulo Szot (& Juliet).
Announcing the winners at the April 25 performance will be Annaleigh Ashford (Sweeney Todd), Jessica Chastain (A Doll’s House), Josh Groban (Sweeney Todd), and Lea Michele (Funny Girl). The four will reveal the total amount raised by shows and supporters across the country and winners of top fundraiser and best bonnet design.
Donations raised through the competition will be put to action through Broadway Cares’ National Grants Program, providing meals, health care, and hope for those facing illness, personal challenges, and crises.
The last in-person edition of the Easter Bonnet Competition, held four years ago, raised a record-breaking $6,594,778. Since the fundraiser began in 1987, the event has raised $87.5 million.
Broadway Cares 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 Broadway Cares has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and other critical illnesses across the United States.