Broadway Bares: Game Night’s Record Breaking Evening

by Michael Mahany | 6/19/2018 4:10 PM


Broadway Bares: Game Night. Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles

 

Over 200 of Broadway’s best dancers and performers came together Sunday night at The Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street in Manhattan to raise money for the annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS’s Broadway Bares. This year’s event, titled Broadway Bares: Game Night, raised a record breaking $1,875,090.00 for the charitable organization.

 

The annual concert, started in 1992 by TONY® award winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell, has raised over nineteen million dollars in its twenty eight incarnations. The much anticipated event brings many of Broadway’s top talent together to strip down and “bare” it (almost) all for the well respected and enormously successful charity, BC/EFA. Two performances, a 9:30pm and a midnight showing, were both fit onto Sunday night’s bill in order to accommodate the high demand for tickets.

 

Broadway Bares: Game Night was directed by Broadway’s Nick Kenkel and featured the choreography of fifteen of theatre’s hottest choreographers. With the program’s theme being “game night” choreographers were privy to options ranging from board games, video games, and everything in between.

 


Broadway Bares Game Night. Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles

 

Kenkel, on top of his directorial duties, choreographed the opening number, Let’s Play. The original song, Let’s Play, was composed by Lynne Shankel and Amanda Green— both successful musicians and writers in the Broadway echelon. Kenkel’s choreography featured a group of four friends who, after falling into a real life game of ‘Clue’, became surrounded by a maid played by Olivier® winning actress Lesli Margherita (and, who, in the finale provided a surprise twist), a butler, played by SpongeBob SquarePants’s Wesley Taylor, and a whole host of valets, chauffeurs, and housekeepers made up of some of Broadway’s highest caliber performers.

 


 

Other highlight numbers included pieces like Laya Barak and Jonathan Lee’s board game inspired Battleship, Michael Lee Scott’s Pictionary, Nathan Peck’s vintage card game inspired Old Maid, Kellen Stancil’s Ouija, Al Blackstone’s Candyland, Olivia Cipolla’s Video Games, and Charlie Sutton’s Operation.

 

Richard J. Hinds’ number, Pinball, featured, among other expert performers, dancer and acrobat Jena VanElslander. VanElslander, who played the “pinball”, brought down the house with fiercely strong choreography, tumbling passes, and a stunning costume. The number, a particular audience favorite, was choreographed to The Who’s Pinball Wizard.

 

Lisa Stevens, who set the movement to Parcheesi, brought the production some Bollywood inspired choreography. Stevens served as the associate choreographer, swing and dance captain on Broadway’s 2004 production of Bombay Dreams.

 


Broadway Bares: Games Night. Photo Credit: Andrew Eccles

 

The penultimate number of the night, Flashlight Tag, combined both Broadway dancers and aerial artists from Las Vegas. The awe inducing imagery of the number was created when suspended flashlight strapped aerial artists hung and spun from two opposite-turning and multi-leveled horizontal wheels high above the stage floor, while stage level dancers swept across the deck with lyrical hip-hop choreography. The haze filled theatre was aglow with specifically directed and mesmerizing flashlight-ography,

 

The cast from the Broadway play, The Boys In The Band, made a special appearance midway through the evening. Cast members Matt Bomer, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesús, Andrew Rannells, Michael Benjamin Washington, and Tuc Watkins played a game of onstage strip-trivia.

 

Cecily Strong of Saturday Night Live, made a special appearance, via video, to the Sunday night’s two performances, as well.

 

Broadway Bares: Game Night’s finale, Life, reunited the entire company of the two-hundred-plus performers singing and dancing to a Broadway Bares re-lyriced version of Jon Bon Jovi’s 2000 hit, It’s My Life.

 

Broadway Bares creator Jerry Mitchell and two time TONY® award winning actress Judith Light, addressed the performers and the audience after the finale number, thanking the hundreds of volunteers, companies, artists, and businesses who donated their time to the annual production.

 

The tradition known as “rotation”, where the two hundred dancers take turns rotating on stage so audience members can freely donate cash to their favorite performer’s BC/EFA campaigns, was introduced by two time TONY® nominee Christopher Sieber.

 


The cast of Broadway Bares: Game Night. Photo Credit: Jonathan Tichler

 

For more on Broadway Bares or Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, visit BroadwayCares.org.

 

Michael Mahany is a writer, host, and serves as the New York City Correspondent for Dance Network. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.