Red Bucket Follies' Return Raises Over $4.5 Million for Broadway Cares | Playbill

Broadway Cares Red Bucket Follies' Return Raises Over $4.5 Million for Broadway Cares

After a four-year hiatus, the star-studded variety show returned December 4-5 at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre.

Jelani Remy Rebecca J Michelson

Red Bucket Follies returned December 4 and 5 after a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic, and announced a fundraising total of $4,553,203 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. 

The variety show, featuring songs, dances, and original skits created and performed by ensemble members and special guests, marks the official end of six weeks of Red Bucket fundraising that takes place twice a year. This year's show was held at Broadway's New Amsterdam Theatre.

The top overall fundraiser for the year was the Broadway revival of Merrily We Roll Along, which raised $631,932. The highest fundraising Broadway play was Purlie Victorious, which raised $87,781. The top Off-Broadway fundraiser was Little Shop of Horrors, raising of $52,727, and the highest fundraising national tour was the Munchkinland company of Wicked, which raised $202,894.

The award for best presentation went to the company of The Lion King, who presented a piece challenging toxic masculinity, with choreography by Ray Mercer and spoken word poetry by Daniel Watts. The runner-up was the company of Back to the Future: The Musical for an original number, which featured Broadway modes of transportation like Greased Lightning and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang auditioning for the role of the DeLorean.

READ: Red Buckets Return to Theatres, Launching 6-Week Broadway Cares Fundraising Campaign

Seth Rudetsky hosted the return of Red Bucket Follies, which was directed by Jason Trubitt with Bernadette Schoenborn serving as production stage manager. Ted Arthur served as music director, with Charles Gordon as music coordinator. Lighting design was by Anthony Pearson, and sound design was by Marie Renee Foucher

Jed Resnick penned this year's opening number, which was directed and choreographed by Andrew Turtletaub and featured J. Harrison Ghee (Some Like It Hot), Bonnie Milligan (Kimberly Akimbo), and Jelani Remy (Back to the Future: The Musical). 

The Follies also included performances by Thayne Jasperson and Hamilton company members; an original Christmas carol with a Filipino twist composed by Angelo Soriano and performed by Here Lies Love company members; a number, directed and choreographed by Jasperson, honoring the national touring shows that participated in the fall fundraising; and a performance of "Mexican Shuffle" from Sweet Gwen Suite shared by The Verdon Fosse Legacy.

Performers included Christine Pedi; Rachel Bay Jones; Lillias White with special guests Bobby Daye, J. Harrison Ghee, Ta'Nika Renee Gibson, Leslie Odom, Jr., Jelani Remy, and Kimber Elayne Sprawl; Sierra Boggess; Len Cariou; Marc Shaiman; Jenifer Lewis; Danny Burstein; Jessica Hecht; Andrea Martin; Tyler Eisenrich; and Sam Faulkner.

Presenters included Julie Benko, Sierra Boggess, Danny Kornfeld, Zal Owens, and Chip Zien (Harmony); Corbin Bleu (Little Shop of Horrors); Victoria Clark (Kimberly Akimbo); Lorna Courtney (& Juliet); and Jelani Remy (Back to the Future). Appearances were also made by Roger Bart (Back to the Future), Alex Brightman (The Shark is Broken, Spamalot), and Danny DeVito (I Need That). 

This year's judges included producer and Museum of Broadway co-founder Julie Boardman; Casey Cott and Courtney Reed (Moulin Rouge! The Musical); Charlotte d'Amboise and Kimberly Marable (Chicago); Lucy DeVito (I Need That) and Melanie La Barrie and Ben Jackson Walker (& Juliet). Also on the panel were Corey Brunish, Gary Wendlandt, and Peg Wendlandt, who won their judging spots by bidding on VIP packages at the 37th annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction in September.

Since 1989, the 31 editions of Red Bucket Follies (formerly called Gypsy of the Year) and last fall’s in-theatre fundraising effort have raised $91.4 million to benefit Broadway Cares.

Broadway Cares 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 Broadway Cares has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with HIV/AIDS and other critical illnesses across the United States.


Photos: 2023 Red Bucket Follies

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