Entertainment » Theatre

Broadway Backwards is Back

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Monday Mar 17, 2014

On March 24, Broadway's hottest young stars will join legendary performers of the Great White Way at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre for the ninth annual edition of Broadway Backwards, a one-night-only performance produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and benefiting BC/EFA and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York.

"With an extraordinary team of theatre professionals on both sides of the footlights, Broadway Backwards offers a special once-a-year evening of some of the great songs of musical theatre sung by our favorite Broadway performers in a new context that is meaningful to this audience of gay and lesbian supporters and friends and allies. Moving, funny, sometimes even outrageous -- it's both entertaining and meaningful," said BC/EFA Executive Director Tom Viola.

The roster of Broadway stars joining this year's Broadway Backwards includes Bryan Batt ("La Cage aux Folles," TV's "Mad Men"), Tony Award nominee Stephanie J. Block ("The Mystery of Edwin Drood"), Tony winner Len Cariou ("Sweeney Todd," TV's "Blue Bloods"), two-time Tony nominee Robin De Jesús ("La Cage aux Folles," "In The Heights"), Tony nominee Jonathan Groff ("Spring Awakening," TV's "Looking"), three-time Tony nominee Judy Kuhn ("Fun Home"), Tony nominee Jessie Mueller ("Beautiful: The Carole King Musical," "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever"), Krysta Rodriguez ("First Date," TV's "Smash"), Cass Morgan ("The Bridges of Madison County"), Tony Yazbeck (Encores!'s "Little Me") and Patricia Morison (Broadway's original Kate in "Kiss Me, Kate" and a veteran of several other original Broadway companies including "The King and I"). Additional performers will be announced in the coming weeks. Performers subject to change

"Every year I am overwhelmed by the sensational talent volunteering their time to perform and the enthusiastic response from ticket buyers so excited to support two organizations that are deeply important," said Robert Bartley, the show's creator. "Through the eight editions of Broadway Backwards so far, we've been able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars that help provide lifesaving medications, counseling and support for LGBT youth and those struggling with HIV/AIDS."

Bartley will again direct and choreograph, with additional choreography by Amy Jones and Melissa Rae Mahon. Mary-Mitchell Campbell returns as music supervisor with Tim Rosser as music director.

This Year’s Event to Benefit The Center

Broadway Backwards is an annual celebration where gays and lesbians see their stories told through the great songs of musical theatre, sung by their favorite Broadway performers. It began as a grassroots concert performed at the Center in 2006. In subsequent years, the event grew quickly, performing Off-Broadway, then on Broadway for the last five years. Last year’s sold-out show raised a record-breaking $347,060 for the two organizations. So it’s fitting that this year, it returns to The Center for its beneficiary.

"Broadway Backwards started in 2006 as a small but wonderful benefit called Broadway Backwards: Songs of Survival and Love for the LGBT Center -- actually in the large room on the 3rd floor of the Center. It was spearheaded by Robert Bartley, who still remains the director," said Viola.

From that first year at the Center, the event has grown and, in 2010, Broadway Backwards became a joint fundraiser produced by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and benefiting both the Center and Broadway Cares. The funds raised help Broadway Cares ensure that men, women and children across the country who are affected by HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses have access to medications and health care, emergency financial assistance, supportive housing programs, nutritious meals and much more.

The funds raised also help the Center reach young at-risk LGBT teens, provide much-needed counseling and support, offer rich cultural programs, and connect couples and individuals who want to start a family with the resources to do so.

"Since Broadway Backwards started at The Center in 2006, we’ve been thrilled to be involved with an event that celebrates so many things that we love: Broadway theater and the chance for our LGBT community members to see their favorite performers telling their stories through song and dance," said Glennda Testone, The Center’s Executive Director. "Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is an amazing partner, and it’s always a fantastic experience to work together to raise these vital funds that keep our community healthy and happy."

Established in 1983, The Center is at the heart of the LGBT community in New York City, providing quality health and wellness programs in a welcoming space that fosters connections and celebrates our cultural contributions. They strive to serve the LGBT community with a full-service, multi-faceted approach to programming, from hosting arts and entertainment events, advocacy groups and family gatherings to offering youth, recovery and overall wellness programs. Each year, The Center welcomes more than 300,000 visits to their building in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

"We’re proud of this partnership with the Center and the example this sets for other nonprofits that two organizations can collaborate and pool their resources in wonderful and successful ways," said Viola.

Broadway Cares awards annual grants to more than 450 AIDS and family service organizations nationwide and is the major supporter of the social service programs at The Actors Fund, including the HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS 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 BC/EFA has raised more than $250 million for essential services for people with AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.

VIP tickets for this year’s Broadway Backwards include premium seats and a special post-show party with the cast. A limited number of "Backstage & Beyond" ticket packages also are available, which include the opportunity to see the dress rehearsal, exclusive backstage access, a "meet and greet" with some of the stars of Broadway Backwards, premium seats for the show and more. The presenting sponsor of Broadway Backwards is Lifetime Networks with generous support from The New York Times and United Airlines.

This year’s edition of Broadway Backwards (#bwaybackwards) will be held at 8 p.m. on Monday, March 24 at Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 302 W. 45th Street. Tickets starting at $85 are available exclusively at broadwaycares.org or by calling 212-840-0770, ext. 268.

For more information, please visit Broadway Cares online at broadwaycares.org, like them on Facebook at facebook.com/BCEFA, or follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/BCEFA. For more information about the Center, visit gaycenter.org.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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