According to the Broadway League, Broadway shows grossed $1.1 billion last season. Clearly, theatre plays a large part in supporting New York City’s economy. However, Broadway sales are not solely for commercial profit and economic gain. The Broadway community is a benevolent one, giving back to the world and often lending its talents for free in the spirit of charity. Whether performers strip down to g-strings and pasties, give away old memorabilia, or just plain sing their hearts out, Broadway veterans are willing to freely give their time to raise money for organizations near and dear to their hearts.
Broadway Sings for Pride
I had the pleasure this summer of being asked to sing in two benefit concerts. Last month was the Third Annual Broadway Sings for Pride concert, an organization started in 2011 by Neal Bennington, a fellow Rent head who I’d wave to while waiting in the ticket lottery line. It makes perfect sense that someone so passionate about theatre would create such an organization.
According to the website, Broadway Sings for Pride seeks to raise money to “provide community groups with funding for their family counseling, anti-bullying, and other youth services offered to the LGBTQ community,” such as the Hetrick-Martin Institute.
My involvement with the evening was rewarding on multiple levels. Firstly, I got to support a cause that affects my peers and colleagues. Secondly, not only did I get to sing, (and for an overabundance of paparazzi!) but I got to sing with stars I grew up admiring. I sat at designated tables in the roped off “performance area” with performers from Rent, Rocky Horror, The Book of Mormon, and Hair, not as a fan, but as an equal.
The other singers, despite being seasoned entertainers, were just as nervous. We calmed each other’s nerves and offered support and praise. It was a dream to finally feel like a part of the community. There was a real sense of belonging as we were united by our talents, our passion for what we do, and our love for a common cause.
|Erika Amato and I at the the Iguana Lounge singing, “Who Will Love Me As I Am” – an apropo song choice for Broadway Sings for Pride.|
Don’t Tell Mama features its Annual Broadway Meows Concert, which raises money for the Humane Society of New York. Vocalists with Broadway and Off-Broadway credits gather to sing the songs of composer Seth Bisen-Hersh (Love Quirks, Stanley’s Party), who started this annual concert “as a way of thanking the Humane Society for saving my cat’s life for an affordable price.”
Singers get to feature pictures of their pets on a collage board, while telling their favorite anecdotes about the animals. Aside from my 12-year working relationship and friendship with Seth, I am thrilled to be involved in this benefit as I am admittedly a crazy cat lady who spoils rotten her one-year-old kitten.
|Rumble puts up with my singing 24/7, so it’s only fair I should sing publicly in his honor.|
Founded by Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters, this event lets you rub elbows with Broadway’s biggest stars, while also adopting a homeless dog or cat. Recently on The View, Peters talked about how there are over 17 million animals in the pound today, and how most of those animals will be euthanized before ever finding a home. Expect to see Peters and Moore in action, as well as other Broadway veterans. Watch live performances from hit Broadway musicals while you decide on which furry friend will be yours.
Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS
Broadway’s leading fundraising organization is Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS (BCEFA) which has raised over $225 million since its inception in 1988, for AIDS and family service organizations. BCEFA has a multitude of events that attract generous Broadway lovers, most notably Broadway Bares and my personal favorite, The Broadway Flea Market.
At Broadway Bares, audiences stand in a mosh pit and watch the most attractive dancers on Broadway strut their scantily-clad stuff in a glitzy, strip-tastic extravaganza. While this year’s theme was Americana, past years included Wonderland, Burlesque, Greek Mythology, and even a send-up to the internet age. Broadway Bares is the most hands-on fundraiser, as after the show, the dancers circulate on a runway and audience members are allowed to place dollar bills (or hundred dollar bills!) down into the costumes of their favorite dancer.
|The more money you put in, the more costumes the dancers take off!–courtesy of Broadway Bares|
Broadway Flea Market
Shubert Alley is converted into blocks of thrift tables manned by Broadway cast members. The idea is that Broadway’s junk is someone else’s treasure – old posters, costumes, photos, even worn-out dance shoes, like the coveted satin green pointe shoes from Wicked will be for purchase.
This summer, step outside your apartment (yes, even if you have air-conditioning), meet your favorite celebs on the Great White Way, hear a concert of promising new composers, take home a puppy, or even a piece of Broadway. By opening your hearts and wallets, you will not only help these worthwhile causes, but attract good karma to your life. Now, that’s really something to sing about.