Lion King company members accept first prizefor their presentation at last year’sGypsy of the Year ceremony(Photo: Jay Brady)
Lion King company members accept first prize
for their presentation at last year’s
Gypsy of the Year ceremony
(Photo: Jay Brady)
The variety show that other theater variety shows want to be when they grow up, the annual "Gypsy of the Year" competition, is due back to Broadway on December 9 and 10.

Each year, the Gypsy of the Year shows cap a six-week period of intense fundraising on behalf of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. All shows on Broadway, and many Off-Broadway, try to raise the most money during that time by making impassioned speeches during curtain calls, informing audiences of the good work that BC/EFA does for show folk with AIDS and other serious illnesses, and selling autographed posters, programs, CDs, and just about anything else that might get patrons to part with some money. The Broadway musical, Broadway play, and Off-Broadway show that raise the most money get awards from BC/EFA, but not as part of some boring, corporate-style ceremony; this being the New York theater community, where anything worth doing is worth doing to excess, the awards are handed out on the stage of the Palace Theatre at the end of each Gypsy of the Year show.

Billed as an "all-singing, all-dancing, all-dishing extravaganza" and more than living up to that billing, the show gives the companies of participating shows a chance to perform skits and songs that -- sometimes gently and sometimes not -- skewer their profession, themselves, and their colleagues. At the conclusion of the December 10 show, the fundraising awards will be given, along with awards for the best presentations of special material.

The first Gypsy of the Year show, in 1989, was hosted at the St. James Theatre by Jonathan Hadary, Tyne Daly, and the company of (appropriately enough) Gypsy. It featured gypsies from 12 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and raised $67,000. Last year, the hosts were Gary Beach and Roger Bart of The Producers, and the total amount raised was $2,037,922 -- the third consecutive year that the total was more than $2 million.

Tickets for the 2002 Gypsy of the Year range from $20 to $350 and can be purchased in person at BC/EFA, located at 165 West 46th Street, Suite 1300, or by calling 212-840-0770 after December 3. Remaining tickets, if any, will be sold at the door on the day of the event.