Virtual Edition of Broadway Backwards Breaks Fundraising Record

Broadway Cares   Virtual Edition of Broadway Backwards Breaks Fundraising Record
 
The streaming event benefited Broadway Cares and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.

The free, virtual edition of Broadway Backwards, which premiered March 30 and is available for viewing above through April 3 at 11:59 PM, raised a record-breaking $749,555 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.

Featuring gender-reversed and star-studded twists on classic and modern favorites, this virtual, 15th edition of Broadway Backwards surpassed the previous record of $704,491, which was set at the last in-person version of the show in 2019. Last year’s performance was canceled just days before the Broadway shutdown. Every dollar donated helps those affected by HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and other critical illnesses receive meals, lifesaving medication, mental health support, and other health and wellness services.

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Jay Armstrong Johnson Roberto Araujo

The stream opened in pandemic New York City, where Billy (Jay Armstrong Johnson) made his way through a slush-laden winter day. Following him were visions of Stephanie J. Block, Deborah Cox, and Lea Salonga performing Dear Evan Hansen’s “Waving Through a Window.” Billy distracts himself from his isolation with wine, prescription medication, and an imaginary late-night TV show hosted by Jenn Colella.

A rendition of "You Will Be Found" also featured performances by Amy Adams, James Monroe Iglehart, Cheyenne Jackson, L Morgan Lee, Raymond J. Lee, Telly Leung, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Ruthie Ann Miles, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jessie Mueller, Kelli O’Hara, Karen Olivo, Bernadette Peters, Sis, and Elizabeth Stanley with special appearances by Debbie Allen, Matt Bomer, Brenda Braxton, Len Cariou, Glenn Close, Loretta Devine, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Cherry Jones, Aasif Mandvi, Michael McElroy, Javier Muñoz, Jim Parsons, Eve Plumb, Roslyn Ruff, Tony Yazbeck and journalists Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Robin Roberts.

The stream also included memorable numbers from previous editions of Broadway Backwards featuring Joshua Buscher-West, Marty Lawson, Alfie Parker Jr., Waldemar Quinones-Villanueva, Alex Ringler, Ryan Steele, Darren Criss, Ward Billeisen, Michael James Scott, Chita Rivera, Gaelen Gilliland, Eric Petersen, Heather Lea Bair, Marty Lawson, Bonnie Milligan, Debra Monk, Tituss Burgess, Charl Brown, Jaime Cepero, Steven Cutts, Brandon Pearson, Dennis Stowe, Curtis Wiley, Tony Yazbeck, Eddie Korbich, Ariana DeBose, Cynthia Erivo, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Andy Kelso, Michael McElroy, and Bryan Terrell Clark, among others.

Lea Salonga, Deborah Cox, and Stephanie J. Block
Lea Salonga, Deborah Cox, and Stephanie J. Block

The stream featured an introduction by Chasten Buttigieg and special appeals by Ariana DeBose, Debra Messing, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tony Shalhoub, and Ben Vereen.

The company also included Danyel Fulton, Sam Gravitte, Shelon Henry, Diana Huey, Aaron Libby, Nathan Lucrezio, Melinda Porto, Shelby Ringdahl, Vishal Vaidya, and Blake Zolfo.

Creator Robert Bartley returned as writer and director, joined by Mary-Mitchell Campbell as music supervisor, Ted Arthur as music director, Eamon Foley as director of photography and video editor, Joshua Buscher-West as associate director, Nick Connors as orchestrator, Benedict Braxton-Smith as music producer and audio engineer, Matt Kraus as sound designer, Tyler Milliron as VFX designer, Samantha Rodriguez as costume designer, and Larry Smiglewski as stage manager, with thanks to Chad Eric Murnane, and Mark Brandon at Binder Casting.

To donate, visit BroadwayCares.org.

This year’s Broadway Backwards reflected the isolation, despair, and challenges so many face. If you or someone you know needs help, there is 24/7, free, and confidential support at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. For young people in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, The Trevor Project’s Trevor Lifeline is available at (866) 488-7386.

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