Another naughty, record-breaking ‘Broadway Bares’

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The guest stars at the annual “Broadway Bares” benefit last week might not have been as impressive as the turn-out at previous years’ shows — it will be hard to top the opening number with Vanessa Williams and Kristin Chenoweth in 2010 — but the dance numbers were some of the best ever.

The theme of the 23rd annual Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS benefit was “Happy Endings” with most of the numbers taking off from fairy tale characters such as Rapunzel and the Pied Piper.

Director Lee Wilkins pulled together one showstopper after another, with an especially spectacular Bollywood-style Aladdin number choreographed by Dontee Kiehn.

I started going to “Broadway Bares” ten years ago and the way that the one-night-only show has grown each year is mind-boggling.

The numbers are put together in a few weeks’ time, with more than 200 Broadway dancers taking part. The results are as polished and as exciting as anything you might see in a major musical.

The show has served as a launching pad for several top choreographers, starting with Jerry Mitchell, who created “Broadway Bares” and went on to stage everything from “Hairspray” to “Legally Blonde,” and Christoper Gattelli who won the Tony last month for his work on “Newsies.”

It is hard to imagine the logistics of putting “Broadway Bares” together while most of the performers are doing eight shows a week in musicals — the pressure to exceed people’s expectations from the previous year’s show must also be considerable.

It’s sad that “Broadway Bares” is only performed for one night at Roseland but there is literally no way it could be expanded because of the dancers’ commitments to the musicals that pay their rent.

Despite the constraint of a one-night stand, BC/EFA somehow manages to beat the previous show’s fundraising total every year.

The 2012 total was $1,254,176 and funds will keep coming in via the many souvenir items that BC/EFA sells online all year long — including a very sexy 2013 “Happy Endings” calendar.

You can find the merchandise at www.broadwaycares.org and many more photos from the show at www.broadwayworld.com

Joe Meyers

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