The Les Miz finale of the 14th annual"Gypsy of the Year" competition(Photo: © Michael Portantiere)
The Les Miz finale of the 14th annual
"Gypsy of the Year" competition
(Photo: © Michael Portantiere)
The 14th annual "Gypsy of the Year" competition raised $2,623,825 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. That record-breaking sum was amassed by the companies of more than 40 participating Broadway, Off-Broadway, and national touring shows.

As always, the windup event of the competition was an alternately hilarious and touching variety show, held this year at the Palace Theatre on Monday and Tuesday afternoons, December 9 and 10. Presented by chorus "gypsies" from any number of shows, with a few star turns to spice up the proceedings, the show began with a terrific opening number titled "The Gypsy Museum," in which Broadway maven Seth Rudetsky played producer Fran Weissler as a tour guide leading a group through a museum full of theater of theater memorabilia -- a sailor cap from On the Town, Gwen Verdon's "Lola" hat from Damn Yankees, etc. The ovation-inducing final sequence had Donna McKechnie recreating a section of her legendary "Music and the Mirror" dance (and song) from A Chorus Line, thrillingly shadowed by a group of present-day gypsies.

Harriet Harris and Harvey Fierstein(Photo: © Michael Portantiere)
Harriet Harris and Harvey Fierstein
(Photo: © Michael Portantiere)
Hosted by Harvey Fierstein (Hairspray) and Harriet Harris (Thoroughly Modern Millie), the show had many highlights. A very mean but very funny skit by Urinetown cast members, introduced by Don Richard as Officer Lockstock and Megan Lawrence as Little Sally, showed a milquetoast rep from Actor's Equity (played by David Beach) being confronted by Dr. Phil (Rick Crom) for selling the AEA membership down the river. Several actors from Metamorphoses (Kyle Hall, Anjali Bhimani, Naomi Peters, Chris Kipiniak, and Erik Lochtefeld) offered a beautiful staging of the Achilles legend as an AIDS metaphor. Phyllis Newman, widow of Adolph Green, took part in a tribute to her husband by the cast of Oklahoma!. Veterans of the long-running Off-Broadway show Naked Boys Singing performed a parody version of Stephen Sondheim's "I'm Still Here," retitled "We're Still Nude" (new lyrics by Jonathan Brody), then stripped at the climax of the number. And, in what was pointed out to be the last "Gypsy of the Year" appearance for Les Misérables, past and present company members performed the finale of that show.

Each year, the "Gypsy of the Year" competition is presented as the culminating event of six weeks of intensive fundraising on behalf of BC/EFA. This year's event ended with the following shows announced as the top fundraisers:

Fourth Runner Up: Flower Drum Song, $114,802.31
Third Runner Up: Mamma Mia!, $136,766.32
Second Runner Up: Thoroughly Modern Millie, $143,890.42
First Runner Up: Rent, $237,689.03
Winner: Hairspray, $375,307.52

Naked Boys will be Naked Boys(Photo: © Michael Portantiere)
Naked Boys will be Naked Boys
(Photo: © Michael Portantiere)
The most fundraising play was Metamorphoses, with $106,155.41. Naked Boys Singing won the Off-Broadway award for raising $15,343.50, and Mamma Mia! Tour #2 took the touring prize for raising $130,760.50. Urinetown won the presentation award; Les Misérables was the runner-up. Fierstein and Harris were joined on stage for the awards presentations yesterday by Sally Field (The Goat) and Joey Fatone (Rent).

Since its founding in 1988, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has distributed over $65 million to help provide services for people with AIDS, HIV, or HIV-related illnesses. For more information, visit the website www.BroadwayCares.org.