At the Nov. 26 evening performance of “The Music Man,” audience member and Oscar-winning actor Nicole Kidman pledged $100,000 to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS during the post-curtain call fundraising campaign.
“The Music Man” on Broadway is one of dozens of shows participating in Broadway Cares’ Red Bucket fundraising campaign, which began on Oct. 21 and will conclude on Dec. 4. The campaign earns its name from the red collection buckets. As part of the bi-annual tradition, members of the casts of shows on Broadway, off-Broadway and on the road deliver a short speech to audiences after bows to appeal for donations to Broadway Cares. Many productions offer incentives, such as posters signed by the company, in exchange for a donation of a certain dollar amount. Some shows also include auctions for special items from the show.
On Saturday night, star Hugh Jackman began an auction for the boater hat he wears as Harold Hill. The bidding from the audience at the Winter Garden Theatre reached $19,000 when a voice cried out “100! Thousand.”
Applause and gasps erupted — as seen in a video published on social media — when the crowd realized the voice was Kidman’s. After an embrace between Kidman and Jackman, Kidman took the microphone to declare: “I love you. I love Broadway. And I love what they do [at] Broadway Cares!”
The $100,000 donation will equal 20,000 meals and 2,000 doctor visits this holiday season for those living with HIV/AIDS, struggling with COVID-19 or facing other life-threatening challenges.
In the caption to the video, Broadway Cares stated: “Broadway Cares is blessed with friends across Broadway. We have no greater champion than Hugh Jackman. This extraordinary gift from his pal Nicole is by far the largest donation for any one auction item ever.”
Typically, the fall fundraising effort culminates in the December “Red Bucket Follies.” According to Broadway Cares, “The two-day ‘Red Bucket Follies’ performances, which typically celebrate the end of the fall fundraising efforts, will remain on hiatus until fall 2023. As New York productions continue to evaluate and adjust their individual COVID protocols, safely bringing 300 performers, stage managers, musicians and crew from across Broadway into a single space is an endeavor best delayed until the spring ‘Easter Bonnet Competition.'”