‘United Strips’: naughty Broadway fun for a good cause

strips3I don’t think there is a more entertaining annual benefit in New York than “Broadway Bares” which is presented every June as one of the major fundraisers of the charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Now in its 23rd edition, the show has gotten more polished and more spectacular each year, showcasing more than 200 Broadway dancers in a sexy striptease/vaudeville revue that is presented at Roseland Ballroom.

Created by dancer-turned-director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell back when he was a chorus boy in “The Will Rogers Follies,” the event is racy and sometimes threatens to tip over the edge into raunch, but the result would be rated R rather than NC-17 if it was on a movie screen.

Every year, I am amazed by the terrific dance numbers that are created to be seen just one time.

People have suggested more performances of “Broadway Bares” but because most of the participants are working in shows, Sunday night is the only time they can donate their talent.strips2

The dancers and other performers somehow squeeze rehearsals for the show into their always packed and demanding 8-performance Broadway schedule.

A big part of the fun of each year’s show is to see what theme Mitchell and his collaborators have come up with and how it will play out in the numbers.

Recent themes have included “Masterpiece” (dances based on famous paintings), “Strip-opoly” (sexy board games) and “Click It!” (Internet fun).

The theme of this Sunday’s show is “United Strips of America” — allowing for what would appear to be virtually unlimited sexy territory involving people and places in this great land of ours.

“Broadway Bares” is designed so that guest stars can be fit into the event the week before it’s presented and Kristin Chenoweth and Vanessa Williams (above) are just a few of the stars who have popped up.

Over the years I’ve taken a lot of friends to the show and they have all — without exception — been knocked out by the talent on display and delighted by the teasing sensuality of the dances.

And the bottom line is that all of the money goes to a great charity. Last year, BC/EFA raised $1,254,176 in one night.

The two performances are at 9:30 p.m. and midnight Sunday at Roseland. While BC/EFA will generally say the event is officially sold out on the day of the performances, you can usually score a cancellation at the will call window or an extra ticket or two from someone waiting on line. I plan to live Tweet from the show elsewhere on this page. (For complete event information, go to www.broadwaycares.org)


Joe Meyers