The annual Easter Bonnet competitions held to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS are famous as much for the wonderfully creative skits concocted and performed by cast members of Broadway shows as for the fabulous bonnets fashioned by these folks--and, Lord knows, there are tons of grist for this year's mill. It's a pretty safe bet that the Henry Goodman situation will be comically referenced in the show's two performances on Monday and Tuesday, April 22 and 23, as that poor fellow's abrupt firing from The Producers is fresh in everyone's mind. But will the Easter Bonnet gypsies "go there" and lampoon Patti LuPone's well-publicized refusal to participate in post-curtain speeches intended to raise money for this very event? Can you imagine what kind of a skit that affair might inspire?
Whether or not Ms. LuPone gets a ribbing, the 2002 Easter Bonnet show sounds like it's not to be missed. Aside from the rank and file of almost every Broadway production, those scheduled to participate include Brad Oscar (the beneficiary of Henry Goodman's misfortune) and Mrs. Robinson herself, Kathleen Turner, along with Molly Ringwald, Tony Roberts, Brian d'Arcy James, Mary Testa, and the Mamma Mia! trio of Louise Pitre, Judy Kaye, and Karen Mason. Also on hand will be 98-year-old Doris Eaton Travis, "BC/EFA's own Ziegfeld girl." (If you haven't seen Travis in any of the recent Easter Bonnet shows and you're guessing that they bring her out in a wheelchair, guess again: The lady still dances. Brilliantly.)
Rated with little exaggeration as "the hottest ticket on Broadway," the Easter Bonnet shows have certainly grown in terms of both quality and fundraising power: Compare the $51,000 take of the first such event in 1987 with last year's total of $2,275,658. The show represents the culmination of six weeks of efforts by company members of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring productions. This year's performances are scheduled for 4:30pm on the 22nd and 3:30pm on the 23rd at the New Amsterdam Theatre--home of The Lion King--at 214 West 42nd Street. (Doris Eaton Travis first appeared on the New Amsterdam stage at the age of 16 in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1920!) Benefactor and VIP level tickets at $350 and $200 may be purchased only by phoning BC/EFA at 212-840-0770. You may also call that number to secure general admission tickets at $75, $35, and $20, or stop by the BC/EFA offices at 165 West 46th Street, Suite 1300, during regular weekday business hours.