This year's Broadway Backwards raised a record-breaking $758,582 at the May 23 event supporting Broadway Cares and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City.
Tony nominee Jenn Colella (Come From Away) hosted the event, after leading the last in-person Broadway Backwards in 2019 and appearing in the 2021 virtual event. The night included 86 performers and a 13-piece orchestra. Held at the New Amsterdam Theatre, the evening opened with a rendition of “Le Jazz Hot” from Victor/Victoria by 2022 Tony nominee Matt Doyle (Company) and closed with 2022 Tony nominee Joaquina Kalukango (Paradise Square) performing Company's "Being Alive" with Broadway Inspirational Voices.
Performances included three-time Tony winner Bernadette Peters' big band rendition of “Nothing Like a Dame” from South Pacific, Mrs. Doubtfire’s J. Harrison Ghee and Z Infante’s "Impossible" from Cinderella, Andrew Keenan-Bolger's (Newsies, Tuck Everlasting) "He Plays the Violin" from 1776, MiMi Scardulla (A Beautiful Noise)'s “Get Me to the Church on Time'' from My Fair Lady, Pulitzer Prize winner 2022 Tony nominee Michael R. Jackson's "Bill” from Show Boat, 2022 Tony nominee Sidney DuPont (Paradise Square)'s “The Man That Got Away” from A Star Is Born, and host Colella and Tony winner Lauren Patten (Jagged Little Pill)'s “The Next Ten Minutes” from The Last Five Years.
Also heard were Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch) and Mary Testa (Oklahoma!) singing Fiddler on the Roof’s “Do You Love Me?,” John Riddle (Frozen, Phantom of the Opera) and Company’s Claybourne Elder performing a reimagined “One Second and a Million Miles” from The Bridges of Madison County, Tony winner Lillias White (The Life, Fela!) and Ernie Pruneda (Sister Act) singing a duet arrangement of “Stand By Me," Be More Chill’s George Salazar singing “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors, Tony nominee Brandon Uranowitz (Falsettos) offering Songs for a New World's "Just One Step," Tony winner BD Wong (Pacific Overtures) singing “Model Behavior” from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and Broadway mainstay Ken Page (The Wiz, Cats) with Fats Waller’s “Squeeze Me", dedicated to Ain’t Misbehavin’ star Armelia McQueen, who originated the song on Broadway and passed away in 2020.
Of course, Sondheim tributes abounded as Tony winner Lena Hall (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) brought a rocker edge to Sweeney Todd’s “Johanna,” and original A Little Night Music cast member Len Cariou performed "Send In The Clowns." Cariou has performed in every Broadway Backwards since its second year.
Alexandra Billings’ (Wicked) also reinterpreted “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago, sharing that when she was suicidal in the late 1970s, she saw transgender women on TV and, for the first time, realized, “there I am!” She altered the lyrics in the final verse to end with “everyone will know I’m there,” garnering a standing ovation.
Tony winner Danny Burstein also made a special appearance to discuss the impact of Broadway Cares and The Center.
Broadway Backwards creator Robert Bartley wrote and directed this year’s return to the stage alongside associate director Adam Roberts. Bartley and Roberts joined James Kinney and Joshua Buscher-West in choreographing the show. Mary-Mitchell Campbell served as music supervisor; Ted Arthur was music director with Nicholas Connors and Nick Wilders as associate music directors. The creative team included lighting design by Craig Stelzenmuller; costume design by Tyler Carlton Williams, Jeff Johnson-Doherty, John Kristiansen, and Natalie Loveland; prop design by Jenna Snyder and Alexander Wylie; and sound design by Marie Renee Foucher. Jeff Brancato was production supervisor and Gregory R. Covert was production stage manager. Binder Casting’s Mark Brandon and Chad Eric Murnane served as casting consultants.
Broadway Backwards began as a grassroots concert performed at the Center in 2006. The event quickly grew and now is performed every year in a Broadway theatre. In 2020, Broadway Backwards was just four days away when the pandemic shut down theatres. A 2021 virtual edition raised a record $749,555. In its 16 editions, Broadway Backwards has raised $6.3 million for Broadway Cares and The Center.
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/Equity Fights AIDS has raised more than $300 million for essential services for people with HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 and other critical illnesses across the United States.
See Photos From The Event Below: